How should local governments approach the management of high risk assets?

Risk Matters - Summer 2022 / 23

Picture of Jakeb Norman

Jakeb Norman

Senior Risk Engineer

Jakeb is a chemical engineer providing risk engineering services across various industry sectors including mining, oil and gas, rail and marine logistics, aviation, food and beverage, manufacturing, IT and real estate. He has done many property risk services for clients including property risk evaluation surveys, property risk audits, natural catastrophe modelling, and maximum foreseeable loss studies. Jakeb regularly assesses local government assets around the state as part of the LGIS Risk Program.

When considering high risk or high hazard assets, it is important to adopt a proactive approach while managing them. Due to resource constraints, property risks are commonly managed in a reactive manner after an incident, near miss, or workplace inspection by a regulator or LGIS.

But this reactive approach can result in direct and indirect costs, and interruption of services that may far exceed the cost of proactively managing a risk.

Moving to a proactive process, where critical risks are identified and controls implemented before risks materialise, provides asset owners with a more robust process for the management of property risks. To achieve this, it is recommended that local governments implement a system that strives to meet best practice risk management standards across their property portfolio.

LGIS, has developed a Good Practice Property Risk Management Audit Protocol. The protocol targets a number of critical areas that are crucial in a mature property risk management program.

Even with advances in building designs and technologies, the fundamentals of fire risk assessment for industrial buildings remain more or less the same, with a focus on construction types, good work practices and adequacy of protection systems. While work practices change and new technologies continue to emerge, the common causes of building fires often revolve around two simple factors – people and processes. The key focuses of risk management when striving for best practice include, but are not limited to, the following:

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Property safety systems management

  • Structural maintenance;
  • Plant maintenance regimes;
  • Electrical safety and inspection;
  • Plant and equipment risk;
  • Hazardous chemicals;
  • Utilities and infrastructure

Public / asset liability

  • Public liability management;
  • Security and access control;
  • Traffic management;
  • Emergency management;
  • Technology reliance and vulnerability

Natural perils

  • Bushfire;
  • Cyclone;
  • Flooding

Essential fire safety measures

  • Fire equipment maintenance;
  • Fire and life safety;
  • Isolation procedures

Contractor management

  • Induction
  • Permits To Work,
  • Contractor performance reviews

Risk management practices

  • Hot works management;
  • Policies and procedures;
  • Training

Where gaps are identified, practical recommendations based on industry better practice applications of risk management, are provided. A key benefit of the implementation of an asset wide Good Practice Property Risk Audit Protocol is the ability to benchmark the performance of their own assets against each other, but also against the local government industry sector Australia-wide. 

This can give asset owners greater confidence in the overall performance of their risk management systems, as well as highlighting those areas where focus can be applied to move towards a Best Practice Property Risk Management System,
or assets where greater investment or resources are required to improve.

Example benchmark breakdown – What are the strengths and weaknesses?

The goal of this analysis is to help asset owners identify areas where capital spending or investment can have the greatest impact on improving risk management. It can also be used to identify trends across a property, or asset type as well as the wider sector. 

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