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What is Occupation Focused Risk Management?

Life’s a journey. I am sure we all heard this before. But it is also true when it comes to the employment of people. An employee in your company is on a journey towards retirement age and along the route may encounter various perils which could prevent the employee reaching his or her destination. Taking an occupation focused approach to risk management could however improve their odds of getting there.

In most OHS programs, the primary focus is on a risk assessment, and whilst the intent may be adequate, the result of these risk assessments mostly fall short in identifying long term impacts of work-life on individuals performing different tasks. With an occupation focused approach, an OHS program will change dramatically in how things are done in the Safety Department of your company.

To take an Occupation focused approach, our task is to identify both the common factors and the differentiating factors in their career paths.

The best way to describe it is to take a road as example. Two cars departs from Cape Town to Johannesburg at 09:00. One driver however decided to go via Bloemfontein, and the other via Kimberley. For 537km their common path will be along the N1, but one car will turn on to the N12, while the other stays on the N1. One car will travel 13h14 min and the other will travel 14h10 min. The difference in distance is 23km.

Between Cape town and the N12 turn-off, both cars will encounter the same hazards. Thereafter the hazards will differ, each car having its own set of hazards to circumvent.

Applying this approach to the workplace will give you the result needed to obtain an Occupation Focused Approach to Risk Management. I call it the OFARM program.

To quote from Kris De Meester’s article titled Mainstreaming OSH: Putting people and their work at the centre to ensure healthy and safe workplaces for the future, “Do not simply rely on a collective approach; don’t be afraid of looking at the individual. No collective system, no risk assessment tool is capable of capturing the true needs, personality and aspirations of individuals. So, allow individual workers, within a certain frame, to decide when, where and how to work to get results. Design jobs for autonomy, meaningfulness, progress and competence. That is participation, involvement and engagement in the true sense of the words.”

These are profound words and many would not grasp the concept, but the CEO’s or business owners who value their employees have already contacted me for a confidential discussion on the implementation of OFARM in their companies.