Every year millions of people in Australia are injured at work or participate in work-related activities that seriously harm their health. And this is a direct result of there being no substantial policies in place that implement control measures to reduce the chances of serious injury.

This is why many organizations are encouraged to put together a risk management procedure.

Risk assessments are a legal requirement for identifying possible hazards and evaluating any inherent dangers in the workplace. This makes it a necessary process that allows companies to implement a practical policy that manages the risks associated with the workplace.

Many organizations are not entirely aware that risk assessments are a legal requirement, so they tend to skip out on it.

Table of Contents

What is Risk Assessment?

Risk assessments save lives by protecting employees and customers from harm. Some hazards can cause long-term health conditions and life-threatening accidents.

Fire hazards post as a risk to people, but prolonged exposure to harmful chemicals can cause serious fatalities. Even work activities that involve the use of dangerous work equipment can lead to serious injury.

It’s important to familiarise oneself with the findings of a risk assessment and ensure that proper safety measures are in place to minimize and eventually eliminate fatalities.

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Let’s define three keywords that come up during the risk assessment process:

  1.   Accident

An accident is any unplanned event that results in a loss.

  1.   Hazard

A hazard is something that potential to cause harm to someone

  1.   Risk

A risk is the likelihood and severity of an adverse occurrence resulting from a hazard.

How To Carry Out A Risk Assessment

How do you go about making suitable arrangements to keep your employee safe?

Identify What The Hazards Are

When carrying out a risk assessment, the first thing to do would be to identify any potential threats to the workplace. Employees are often more aware of the hazards that befall them even though the issues aren’t as evident to seniors.

That’s why speaking to your employees is the best way to uncover that information. Also, observe them as they carry out their everyday tasks to determine if they are unsafe in any way during the job. These problems could have to do with the way they use equipment, machinery and do maintenance.

Some examples of common hazards include:

–          Electrical issues

–          Hazardous substances

–          Machinery maintenance

–          Transportation

–          Working at heights

–          Working within confined spaces

–          Work stress

Ascertain Who Would Get Harmed

Identifying potential hazards will help ascertain people who are the most at risk. You can identify them by groups such as floor managers, machine handlers, customers, contractors, and any other person affected by the activities.

Special consideration should be given to those at greater risk of getting ill or injured while on duty. This group of people includes migrant workers, pregnant women, young people, people with disabilities, or those with underlying health conditions.

Evaluate and Assess

It is important to evaluate and assess each hazard based on the likeliness of its occurrence and the severeness of the consequences.

This allows you to prioritize resources, ensuring they get to where they are needed the most. At this stage, approach your employees to understand their needs, ask for solutions and together find out what’s a good idea and what isn’t.

Share Key Findings

Once you have evaluated the risks associated with certain activities and decided on precautions, you should:

–          Record your key findings

–          Prioritize your actions

–          Set deadlines

–          Share this information with your employees.

All organizations must keep a written record of their previous risk assessment activities for at least three years. They are one of the first pieces of evidence requested by law enforcement during investigations.

Review Your Risk Assessment Regularly

Make sure your risk assessment is still valid by reviewing it at least once a year. It is also important to analyse their impact when making marked changes in the following:

–          Material

–          People

–          Equipment

–          Premises

It is crucial to review your risk assessment after an accident to prevent them from happening again.

Types of Risk Assessments

The different risk assessment needs of a facility should be balanced and relevant to the operational activities. Many industries have specific legislative requirements to fulfil, so also keep those in mind.

Here are some common types of risk assessment:

–          Fire Risk Assessments

Establish fire safety management procedures that also include a comprehensive but effective fire risk assessment.

–          DSE risk assessments (display screen equipment)

These assessments are required to be completed by employees who are using devices that are technically company property.

–          Manual handling risk assessments

These should be conducted in any workplace where employees could be at risk or suffer illnesses due to lifting, carrying, or moving heavy loads.

–          COSHH risk assessments

This is a requirement for workplaces where hazardous substances are both stored and manufactured.

Why Prioritize Risk Assessment As A Safety Precaution

Adequate risk assessments are a primary management tool. It is also important because businesses with more than five employees are mandated by law to assess internal threats and risks regularly.

The main purpose of the risk assessment is:

–          To identify core health and safety hazards and evaluate the risks presented within the workplace

–          To evaluable the efficiency and sustainability of any standing control measures

–          To ensure additional controls are implemented wherever the remaining risk is considered to be comparatively lower

–          To prioritize further resources to ensure employee safety

Businesses that don’t have the necessary protocols often learn about them the hard way. They may end up facing significant financial loss, be subjected to lawsuits and fines, also lose productive time, and face damage to equipment. And of course, the negative publicity for the company trumps all these issues,

It is ultimately the responsibility of the employer to carry out risk assessments at work to appoint someone who has relevant knowledge and experience to conduct the risk assessment.

Risk Assessments Reduces Legal Liability

Identify the hazards before they turn into bonafide issues, explore related risks and find ways to minimize their potential effects. The next crucial step for the employer is to clearly articulate the risk assessment and report to the relevant people.

This can help mitigate your liability in case something does go wrong.  Whenever an accident occurs, the first question on people’s minds is always “whose fault was that?”.

Inadequate health and safety policies and procedures can result in serious legal action and fines unless you have the proper paperwork to show that your company did all it could to ensure a safe working environment.

Risk assessments reduce the chances of fatal accidents and show employees that you are taking the necessary steps to protect them.

To Conclude

Risk assessments are an integral part of health and safety measures in the workplace because the welfare of employees takes precedence over everything else. It is important to ensure awareness and continued learning so your people know how to recognize and mitigate possible threats in the workplace.

Enrolling key personnel in courses like the Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety can provide them with the necessary skills to do that. It is one of the leading learning opportunities for Australian entrepreneurs, helping them understand how to keep their colleagues and organizations safe.

The Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety is an online course, making it easier for professionals. Online institutes like MCI Institute and others offer it via their websites as a remote learning course.