Why is risk assessment necessary in the workplace?

Nebosh By Andy Taylor

Risk assessments… love them, hate them (or outsource them), as business owners we all know that they need to be done. But why? It may sometimes feel like a paperwork exercise, a literal ticking of the boxes, but there are some very important reasons behind the risk assessment and they really are crucial to running a smooth, effective business. Here’s why.

Awareness

Even if you think you know what all the risks might be, and even if you have done the same task a number of times before, creating a risk assessment and ensuring that you – or a member of staff – is able to understand why those risks might occur, and mitigate them where possible, is crucial.

It makes no difference if you are an expert or a novice; the risk assessment will bring a greater awareness of all the health and safety issues that you might have to face, and this in itself can be a great tool when it comes to being more conscientious in the workplace.

To ensure that this is the case, health and safety training will complete the picture, allowing everyone involved to be aware of hazards and risks around them and making the risk assessment completely accurate.

Who is at risk?

Another reason why a risk assessment is often necessary in the workplace is that it will tell you who is at risk. By identifying the specific types of people within your workplace who could be at risk due to the work that you do, or the building in which your business is located, you will better understand how to keep them safe. You will need to think about:
• Employees
• Members of the public
• Visitors
• Contractors
• And more

Anyone who comes near to your business and who might be subject to risks and hazards needs to be included, and kept safe.

Control programs

Some risks will be greater than others, yet they won’t be able to be reduced to a safe level because they are part of your business and the work involved is needed in order to complete your work.

Therefore, control programs will need to be put in place for some hazards. A risk assessment will allow you to determine exactly which hazards these might be, and create the ideal control program for them in order to keep everyone – employees and the general public if necessary – as safe as possible. Unless you carry out a detailed risk assessment, you might not realise that some hazards are there, or are as risky as they actually are.

Checks existing control measures

A risk assessment will also allow you to check your existing control measures and see if they are adequate or whether you can do more to keep everyone within your business and those who will come into contact with it safe.

Sometimes it is easy to simply put these measures in place and then never think of them again, but this can be a mistake; the people who come into your business might change over time, and the hazards might be more of an issue, for example. A risk assessment will ensure that you check your existing control measures on a regular basis and that you update them where and when necessary.

Prevents injury

A risk assessment will prevent injury or illness. The earlier it is done, the more chance there is of preventing anything from occurring, but no matter what stage – whether at the design and planning stage (which is ideal), or later on – a risk assessment will identify where the problem areas lie and will enable you to put specific measures in place to combat them.

The more in-depth your risk assessment is, the less chance there is of anyone being hurt.

Legal requirements

Finally, a risk assessment will meet any legal requirements that might be in place in your industry or place or work. In some cases, a risk assessment is a definite requirement, and in terms of your insurance it could be invalidated if there is no current risk assessment.

In order to stay completely in line with the law and to gain a good reputation for your business, you should complete your risk assessments in plenty of time and be able to show them to whoever needs to seem them when asked.


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