Creating a good workplace safety culture starts with performing a risk assessment. It can be challenging, though, to develop an effective risk assessment that examines every possibility of potential harm to employees and others if you’ve never done one before. This article will get you started with your own 5-Step Workplace Risk Assessment.
First, What Exactly Is a Risk Assessment?
A risk assessment is a close examination of the various aspects of your business that could cause harm to you, your employees, your customers, and workplace visitors. This in turn helps you decide how you can best eliminate or mitigate those risks.
The Importance of a Risk Assessment
You might initially think that a risk assessment is for the good of your employees—and that’s true. It’s also critical for the sustainability of your business. The costs associated with on-the-job injuries, no matter how minor they appear, can hurt your bottom line. Conducting a risk assessment, mitigating risk, and being compliant with safety rules and can also help to improve individual and company morale. People want to work in a safe environment, and your business can attract quality workers as a result.
The 5 Steps of a Risk Assessment
The person within your company who performs your risk assessment should be specially trained to do so by completing risk assessment training. Some skills learned through training include identifying hazards along with accurate categorization and evaluation of these hazards. This knowledge enables the individual to conduct a risk assessment that is deemed sufficient and suitable.
While there aren’t any specific rules for developing a risk assessment, it’s necessary to have a process in place to make sure that all risks are properly identified, categorized, and addressed with the appropriate safety measures.
You can complete a risk assessment by taking the following five steps:
- Identifying the specific hazards present
- Determining who is most at risk of harm and the specific types of potential injuries
- Assessing the risks presented and choosing the appropriate control measures
- Keeping written records of any findings and proper implementation
- Analyzing the assessment and making any necessary changes
Now that you have an idea of the steps to take to complete a proper risk assessment, let’s talk how you can put them into action.
1. Identifying the Hazards Present
Before you begin this step of the risk assessment, it’s important to keep in mind how a hazard differs from a risk. A hazard is defined as something that has the potential of causing harm to one or more people and a risk is the probability of people coming to harm. In other words, prior to determining risk, you need to identify the hazards that put people at risk.
You can pinpoint different hazards through various methods, including walking around the facility and observing or speaking with employees about certain hazards that they’ve observed.
2. Determining Who Is at Risk and the Types of Injuries They May Sustain
After identifying workplace hazards, you will need to determine who these hazards may affect. You will also need to determine precisely how the hazard could harm your employees to gauge the severity of the hazard. For example, you may note that the people at risk of a particular hazard could involve “machine operators” who are at risk of “crushing or impact injuries.”
3. Assessing the Risks and Figuring Out Which Control Measures to Use
Once you’ve identified the various hazards along with the employees who could be injured and how, the next step is to implement specific safety measures to minimize the possibility of harm. You can either attempt to eliminate a hazard entirely (if possible) or reduce the risks around that hazard if it’s required for certain processes.
4. Keeping Written Records of Your Findings and Safety Measure Implementations
If your company has five or more employees, you are legally required to keep written records of your risk assessment and the specific findings. Your records should detail each hazard you identified, the kind of harm they could cause to employees, and your in-depth plans to mitigate the risks or completely remove the hazard.
Avitus Group’s Regional Safety Manager, Stephen Kazimir, hosted a webinar about the importance of a documented safety program. You can watch / listen to it on-demand here.
5. Analyzing the Assessment and Making Any Changes as Needed
Equipment in the workplace will become worn or damaged over time, and other potential hazards will eventually begin to appear in the workplace. That’s why it’s important to re-evaluate the risks frequently and make modifications as needed. You may overlook new hazards if you rely on the results of a single assessment for a long period of time or even allow existing hazards to worsen. Either way, you put your employees at risk, so update your plans to eliminate the new and evolved hazards or reduce risks associated with them.
Taking all of these steps can help you complete a thorough risk assessment and maintain a safer environment for employees. With an accurate risk assessment and the proper measures in place, you’ll be able to remain confident that your workers, and your business, are consistently protected and compliant.
It’s often worth it to work with experts who can help you maintain a safe workspace and protect your business from certain financial losses that could otherwise be detrimental. Let us help. Schedule a free onsite or virtual workplace risk assessment today with the Safety Experts at Avitus Group.