Product safety – are we managing the risks?
Abstract:This paper is intended to raise risk management as a topic for discussion among product safety professionals and discuss one particular key element of understanding risk. Risk management is an essential part of good product safety management, whether at the policy level or the implementation stage, and is relevant to all those involved in the development and use of standards, including regulators and suppliers. The risk management process involves measuring the risks at the initial stage, by looking at consequence (possible injury) and likelihood (of that injury occurring) which then gives us the ‘inherent risk.' We then seek ways to treat the risks. A second assessment of the risks is subsequently done to establish the extent to which the treatment will address the problem (‘assessed risk'). In product safety, this means how dangerous is the product as it is and how effective will a measure be in reducing the risk. Communication is vital in this process. When standards are developed and policy adopted, the factors that are taken into consideration need to be properly documented. The rationales for decisions, i.e., what the hazard is and how it is treated by the product specification, should be recorded within the standard itself. In the absence of recorded reasons, assumptions are made and these may well be incorrect. This paper discusses this topic in some detail and provides illustrative examples.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2002-09-01