Owning a business calls for constant risk management; continually assessing possible risks to your company, employees and clients, as well as implementing strategic plans to mitigate those risks. Oftentimes, we’re preoccupied with business-related risks; taking on a new client, proposing a new project or formulating budgets and where to cut costs – but we must also be equally concerned with risks to employee and client health and safety. Risk assessment is required for businesses under law.
By law, every employer and self-employed individual must carry out a risk assessment of any risks to the health and safety of employees or other persons. According to the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, you must.
- Identify potential hazards in your business that could cause injury or illness
- Determine the likelihood someone could be harmed and how seriously (the risk)
- Take action to eliminate the hazard or control the risk
- Record your findings
- Review and assess if your controls are sufficient
Identify potential risks
First, you must identify potential risks. This is an important first step, as acknowledging and determining risk is the best way to avoid it. The bulk of the work is determining and assessing the physical risks related to your business, and how you can avoid them.
When it comes to health and safety, the risks vary depending on the size and nature of your business. With a simple online search, you can find risk assessment templates and examples of how to assess and manage your risk. You can use these as a nice guideline to form your own risk assessment form and cater it to the specific concerns of your business.
Risk in your business
When determining risk in your business, think of who might be harmed and how. Ask yourself what you are doing to control the risks, and what more could be done. Who will make the adjustments and how, exactly?
A great way to identify risks is to talk directly to the people that are most exposed to them. Talk to your workers, and more importantly – listen. What are they most worried about? Who has gotten hurt and how? Is there something unsafe in their environment that they are currently trying to manage?
They will likely have not only the most to say about the topic, but also have great ideas and insights pertaining to how to fix them or create practices that would minimize potential harm. After all, they don’t want to get hurt, either. It will also show your employees you care about their health and safety.
Look at all records of any employees that had been injured on the job. Could it have been avoided? And did it happen again? If so, these will definitely highlight potential risks that need remediation.
Once you have determined the hazards, make a plan to eliminate or minimize them as much as possible. You must also remember to remain flexible in this process. You may have to change existing processes or materials, or put new procedures in place. Not all risk can be eradicated, but having a proper plan in place will help limit any accidents. Record your findings and stay in a constant state of review to monitor if the controls you put in place are working or need to change again.
These are necessary steps in properly monitoring the risk to health and safety. Knowing the hazards associated with your business is the best way to avoid them. Ask questions and think like a detective to make your work environment as safe as possible and ensure you have sufficiently assessed the risk to your employees and others health and safety.