Risk management in the workplace: what you need to know
Risk is a natural part of life – and, thus, of work as well. However, this certainly doesn’t rule out the need for you to evaluate what significant and foreseeable risks your workplace could pose. In fact, failing to heed this could see your organisation incur financial costs that it might otherwise have easily averted. Here are various tips for sensibly managing workplace risks.
The need for far-reaching formality
It is probable that some degree of workplace risk management is already underway on your part. However, it is worth, if you aren’t already doing this, embarking on a very formal and thorough procedure for handling risk at various ranks of the organisation.
This diligent approach is strongly advised for two reasons. One, it can help you discern the extent to which you have covered all of the necessary bases. Two, you would be better positioned to avoid the potentially large payout that would be necessary if someone – like an employee or member of the public – was affected by an accident on your premises and then successfully sued your organisation.
How can you control health and safety risks?
You can start by carrying out what the Health and Safety Executive calls a risk assessment. This is where you initially consider what parts of your organisation might bring harm to individuals. The next step is discerning the degree to which you are reasonably acting to prevent this harm.
If reading this has led you to picture reams of paperwork gathering in your office, then don’t worry – this isn’t the kind of endeavour that a risk assessment really calls for. While any significant risks that you discern should be recorded, you can leave out risks of an everyday nature.
UK law requires every business to write down its health and safety policy – unless its employees number less than five. That policy has to include a risk assessment. However, in any case, you are not legally expected to lift every single risk in your workplace; neither does the law deem it necessary for you to anticipate risks that can’t actually be foreseen. It is still important for workplaces to make sure they have steps in place to meet health and safety requirements. For example, a construction company, however small, will still need to have the right PPE for their employees, this means safety gloves (they can go to Unigloves to look at a range), eye protection, high-vis jackets, hard hats, etc., to keep risk at a minimum.
A step-by-step guide to assessing workplace risks
Start simply and then build up. Begin by just walking around the premises while looking for things that have the potential to cause harm. Then, for each identified hazard, consider the risk, how likely it is to harm somebody, and the possible extent of the harm. How could accidents occur and to who?
Also, don’t resist requesting your employees’ views about what their workplace’s hazards are. They could notice risks that have eluded your own attention; they might even have good ideas for how those risks could be controlled.
Still, all the while, keep your focus on the genuine risks – the ones that are likeliest to inflict harm. Look at what you are already doing to maintain control over risks and see whether all of the bases have really been covered. You should then enact measures for curbing those risks.
You also shouldn’t overlook that risks can change over time as the workplace does. For instance, new equipment and substances could be brought onto the premises. Alternatively, as your company expands, staff could take on fresh procedures that might pose unfamiliar hazards. Therefore, it would be sensible for you to regularly check the risk assessment and, when necessary, update it.
Act to cushion financial blows that could still arise
While following our advice to diminish workplace dangers could at least somewhat comfort you, it would be unrealistic to believe that, as a result, there would be no chance of harm still happening. Such an incident could still occur – and give rise to a successful claim for compensation.
Thus, your organisation should take out suitable types and levels of insurance to ensure that it can financially cushion itself in the event of such a claim. Making a compensation payout to an employee can be easier when you have employers’ liability insurance – which, in fact, is legally mandatory for almost all UK businesses. The HSE says that your business might not require this insurance if has no employees or employs only close relatives of you, the business owner.
Your organisation might often welcome members of the public into the building – for instance, because you are running a retail business. In that situation, it is recommended that you also have public liability insurance. For many firms, it is not legally required; however, a legal obligation is in place should your organisation be a horse riding establishment, the ABI cautions.
For protecting yourself against customers’ legal action, you can source public liability insurance from Call Wiser. This broker can assist you in comparing quotes for public liability insurance from major providers and schemes in the UK. Your cover can also be tailored to your needs.