There are many reasons that conducting a risk assessment in the workplace is essential. Ensuring risks are kept at a minimum keeps your people safe, and this is of ultimate importance—but it’s a matter of law, too. The reality is, business owners and managers are required to maintain certain standards.
Safety is a priority, and so is the bottom line. Risk assessment affects both.
In order to protect your team members and avoid legal trouble, we have put together a guide to risk assessment. Read on to find out why ongoing checks are necessary. and the different ways to keep workplace hazards and risks minimal.
The importance of workplace risk assessment
Risk assessment in the workplace has many benefits; it’s more than just bureaucracy. To truly understand why it is crucial to keep up with an ongoing schedule of assessments, you need to know the good that will come from it.
When conducting constant hazard identification and analyzing risks, employers commit to the following outcomes:
- Finding and controlling hazards in the workplace,
- Creating employee awareness,
- Setting risk management standards that take acceptable safe practices and legal requirements into consideration,
- Lessening the number of incidents occurring in the workplace, and
- Saving money through proactive action as opposed to reactive action.
Although many believe that incidents occur as a result of negligence or employee mistakes, the truth is that the majority of workplace incidents stem from insufficient management controls. Putting risk control systems in place lessens the chance of health and safety incidents.
These systems might cover areas such as employee fitness, inspections, training, planned maintenance of structure and equipment, and ensuring adequate and competent supervision for all employees. Each workplace is different and will need different systems to guarantee the safety of its people and reduction of unfortunate incidents, injuries and workflow stoppages.
In essence, conducting risk assessment effectively raises health and safety standards, brings your company in line with the law and will save money and time in the long run. Committing to a proactive risk analysis process will reduce the costs associated with a workplace—primarily by cutting off costly incidents before they arise.
Risk assessment legalities
The federal level
The United States government has put federal legislation in place to ensure safety is taken into consideration in workplaces across the nation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration(OSHA) put the OSH Act in place, giving employers specific responsibilities. These responsibilities include the following:
- Maintaining specific basic records needed to enforce this Act,
- Adhering to several posting requirements,
- Complying with reporting procedures for work-related incidents that cause injuries or deaths,
- Being aware that all establishments covered by the OSH Act can be inspected by OSHA compliance safety and health officers (CSHOs),
- Understanding private-sector employees exercising their rights with the OSH Act in mind are protected from employer retaliation,
- Incorporating programs and training to prepare for or prevent accidents in the workplace, and
- Putting employee safe driving practices and policies in place for those driving for the company.
Through that Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970(OSH Act), employers are required to provide adequate working conditions for their employees. This means the working conditions must be free from all safety and health hazards that have the potential to cause harm—notably, resulting in or severe injury or death.
In the Safety, Health and Welfare Act of 2005, we see the legal requirements regarding the amount of risk allowed in the workplace. Requirements included in this act are as follows:
- Employers or persons in control of the workplace must carry out a risk assessment,
- Managing and conducting any work activities must be done in a way that takes providing safety, health, and welfare of employees into consideration, and
- The transport of hazards found in the workplace requires an assessment, as well as proper steps taken to diminish or lessen the risks that are observed.
As these are federal controls, all workplaces in the US must comply.
The state level
Some states have added requirements above and beyond the federal regulations for risk assessment. Following is a list of those which have their own set of laws for employers and managers to follow in addition to the federal laws:
Procedures for identifying risk in the workplace
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) encourages employers to follow a list of procedures when performing a workplace risk assessment. Understanding how to conduct a proper risk assessment means knowing precisely what to look for.
With this list of procedures to follow, you’ll find it easy to conduct a risk-based analysis. Read on for the six action items that guide employers and managers in the USA as they conduct their analyses.
1. Collect information about workplace hazards
The first step is identifying any hazards in the workplace, and the level of risk that each one poses. Employers must commit to conducting health risk assessments regarding factors that workers face. This includes checking for any mental, biological, physical, and chemical hazards that can have detrimental health effects to anyone nearby.
2. Inspect the workplace for safety hazards
Over time, safety hazards can come about without employers being aware. Equipment or tools wear out, maintenance is ignored, housekeeping isn’t done as often as it should—even changes in processes can become safety hazards.
Regularly inspecting every aspect of the workplace is essential. From the work areas to the equipment, inspections help keep safety hazards minimal. Regularity is a key to keeping up on workplace safety.
3. Identify health hazards
The next step is identifying any hazards in the workplace. Employers’ duties don’t stop there. Analyzing the risks and taking action is the next step. Evaluate the risks, and consider the likelihood that a hazard will cause some damage. This will help you come to a conclusion regarding whether or not they need to lessen the amount of risk.
4. Conduct incident investigations
Investigations ensure accountability. All injuries, close calls/near misses, illnesses, and other reports of concern will highlight and evidence hazards. Whenever something happens, you need to know the precise cause of the event in order to limit the chances of history repeating itself.
Through investigations, you can bring visibility into the workplace and prevent future incidents.
5. Identify hazards associated with emergency and non-routine situations
Emergencies are rare. Although they don’t happen often, recognizing and understanding the hazards that come with them is essential to risk assessment.
Once you have analyzed infrequent tasks and situations for possible hazards, you can create plans and procedures for an appropriate response. Having these plans and procedures in place ensures non-routine situations have a minimal chance of going any further awry. Knowing what to do in any situation always helps with a calm response, further limiting the risk of incident.
6. Characterize the nature of identified hazards, identify interim control measures, and prioritize the hazards for control
To understand the hazards and the type of incident which could result should they be left unmitigated, employers must carefully evaluate each one. This means considering the potential severity of an outcome, the likelihood of it, and how many people it may effect. Put interim measures in place while permanent solutions are being worked on, and prioritize the hazards so that those which pose the greatest risk are addressed first.
Use digital risk assessment tools
Risk assessment form identify and review any risks involved in the workplace. These can include situations, processes, activities and more—with a risk assessment form, it’s possible to evaluate all kinds of risks equally and without bias. Bonus: digital forms simplify the process and minimize errors!
What are some tips that have helped you to identify and reduce risk in the workplace? We want to hear your thoughts! And don’t hesitate to reach out to SafetyTek if you have any questions or concerns about your workplace safety.