One of the major pointers covered in health and safety courses is risk assessments – what they are and how to perform them correctly. Risk assessments are one of the most important aspects of health and safety and they are essential for a secure and safe workplace.
A risk assessment is simply a very careful examination that looks at what could potentially cause harm to workers and customers within your workplace, so that you can identify which precautions to take to prevent such harm.
During a risk assessment you will take a close look at the working environment in order to identify any hazards and consequences as well as identify anyone in particular who is at risk. Once you have identified the risk, you can evaluate it and determine steps to eliminate it. If you cannot eliminate it completely, you will likely be able to minimise the risk by introducing measures of control. A good risk assessment will also include a plan for monitoring and reviewing these control measures.
Any health and safety course, especially those targeted toward managers and supervisors, will teach the basic steps for carrying out a risk assessment. Once you have done your first risk assessment, the process should be carried out on a regular basis or whenever working conditions or situations change.
Why Risk Assessments Are So Important
Why are risk assessments so important? There are many crucial reasons why risk assessments should be a part of any workplace. Here are a few of the major reasons:
They Are Legally Required
First and foremost, risk assessments are a legal requirement – so it is mandatory that you carry them out. As an employer, you are responsible for keeping your employees and the public safe. Of course, the law doesn’t demand that you remove all possibility of risk (as this would be impossible) it simply required you to do what is “reasonably practicable” to reduce the risk in the working environment. This includes setting up safe working procedures, ensuring that employees wear appropriate working gear and adhering to all health and safety regulations. Employers that do not comply with this, can be held liable for any accident that occurs and subjected to huge fines. All of the legal details of what you are required to do will be explained to you when you are taking a health and safety course.
They Help You Find the Less Obvious Risks
Perhaps you have already thought of the most obvious risks in your workplace and taken precautions to prevent them, but what about the other risks that are not quite as obvious?
Sometimes it is these hidden risks that can surprise you, your employees or your customers later on and cause an accident that you were not prepared for. Examples of this include faulty machinery, outdated practices, improper handling of chemicals and other unnoticed risks within the working environment.
A proper risk assessment will help you to make sure that all of the relevant risks are taken into account, even the ones that are not readily apparent. This means that you will be able to prepare for as many risks as possible in order to keep your employees safe – no matter what might happen to them when they are on the job.
They Help You Decide on Precautions
Conducting a risk assessment on your workplace will help you to determine what the best course of action would be for creating a safe working environment. You will be able to assess the risks that are the biggest dangers within the work environment and determine what the best way would be to eliminate those risks. In order to help you with this, you can find out what the industry generally considers good practice. Then, you will be able to match your risks with the right precautions so that you can make sure you are covered in any event. Knowing which precautions to use when it comes to different types of risks is something else that you will learn in your health and safety courses.
They Let You Monitor Risks
Risk assessments are not a “one time thing.” They are something that should be done on a regular basis continuously, so that you can stay aware of any risks within your workplace. Safety regulations change, employees let their good work habits slip and equipment becomes worn and faulty. Without regular monitoring, risks can develop over time and pose a problem. When you conduct a regular risk assessment, you will be able to keep an eye on these risks and deal with them right away so that they will not turn into major problems later on.
Accidents Cost You Money
Another one of the main reasons why risk assessments are so important is because it costs a lot of money when there is an accident at your workplace. You could lose output and your expensive machinery could be broken or damaged. Also, when there is an accident in your workplace your insurance costs will increase and you might even have to go to court. If you are found liable, you will need to pay compensation to the victim of the accident and their family.
More importantly than any lost revenue is the fact that accidents and ill health can ruin the lives of your employees. With one simple health and safety mistake, one of your employees could lose their life or become permanently disabled. This would be a terrible tragedy, especially since it could have been avoided by paying attention to health and safety.
These are just a few of the main reasons why risk assessments are so important in the workplace. Almost any type of manager or supervisor health and safety training will teach you how to properly carry out a risk assessment in the workplace, so that you can enforce the right precautions. Once you understand the process, risk assessments will become a very important part of the health and safety practice within your company.