In Kellerman Consulting’s third episode of the Risk Assessment in Food Businesses series, we look at the role leadership plays in development and implementation of documented risk assessments, as well as the follow up actions to make sure those risk assessments remain useful for the facility.
We will be building on the concepts of how to write a risk assessment discussed in our previous episode, and if you have not had a chance to download the free risk assessment tools on our website, we recommend that you take a moment to do so as you follow along with this episode.
We will be talking about the owner, CEOs or other upper management of food and food packaging companies when we speak about leadership. No matter what your role is in an organization, it is important to understand the importance of having the participation of decision makers in the risk assessment process.
The reason why leadership is so important for risk assessments, is that just as people see and handle risk differently in their own lives, employees may see risk differently in the facility, and that difference of opinion can make assessing and managing risk quite difficult.
If an employee that is not deemed to be a leader of the organization performs a risk assessment that is rejected by other employees, they may not be taken seriously, or may be outright ignored. Similarly, if the employee is not qualified to assess risk, or lacks sufficient information for assessing the risk for the business, the risk assessed may be too much, or too little, and it may cause the facility to act in ways which are inappropriate for the actual risk
Going along with choosing the proper risk assessment format, assuring that the risk assessments are accepted by personnel in the facility requires that the assessments come not just from quality assurance or the safety team, but also from upper management. Leadership also has a role to play in making sure that risk assessments are created and reviewed according to a schedule. We strongly recommend the scheduling of risk assessment creation and review as risk assessments are themselves at risk of getting lost or forgotten otherwise.
Another area where leadership involvement in risk assessments can make a huge difference is where assessments are regularly integrated into leadership walkthroughs. If the facility has two or three areas or practices where risk assessments have been performed and documented, it is fairly simple to remember to check up on those during walk through and see if observed behavior is in line with the expectations set in the risk assessment.
Where the risk assessments need to be changed, or no longer appear to be correct for observed activities, making sure that those documents are updated and reviewed following those updates should be closely watched by leadership. That is also true for communications and training on those assessments following changes.
In our next episode of the Risk Assessment series, we’ll discuss where risk assessments are required in food safety programs and how the safety team review of risk assessments should occur as part of those safety plan activities.
To learn more, visit the free food safety training videos & resources section of our website.