For many people risk assessments are the epitome of health and safety has gone ‘mad’. They find the mere thought of the workplace being made safe by a piece of paper laughable. This is, in fact,the way it is for many workplaces but it doesn’t need to be.
If your attitude towards risk assessments resonates with the above, then you have missed the purpose of risk assessments. Furthermore, you are missing out on they can bring to your company when done properly. Risk assessments can reduce your costs, increase productivity and help you win new business to name a few.
If you are not getting any of these benefits from your risk assessments, then they or your risk management regime is ineffective and, at worst, you may find yourself explaining why to the man person in the curly wig.
The Risk Assessment Basics
Firstly, I have to tell you that carrying out a risk assessment is a legal requirement. You MUST assess risks and, if you employ 5 or more people, you must record them. Assessing risks must be carried out to a level that is ‘suitable and sufficient’. In the criminal court, failure to properly assess risks can result in a £20,000 fine in lower courts and an unlimited fine or up to 2 years in prison in the higher courts (see the HSE’s enforcement policy
The Effect of Poor Risk Assessments
A well thought out risk assessment will reduce and, in some cases, eliminate loss. Loss almostalways has a cost associated with it. There are direct costs which can be easily tallied such as downtime, damage to equipment or claims to name a few. The costs get much greater when the indirect costs are brought into the picture. These include higher insurance premiums, increased administrative burden, effect on reputation, reduced productivity, poor staff morale, higher employee turnover and the list goes on.
Still not convinced? Dealing with losses that have occurred from poorly assessing the risks takes up personnel and management time that isn’t productive. This is time that could be spent delivering services, getting paid and growing your business.
By this point you should be asking yourself whether you are getting value from your risk assessments. If you are not, or you still think they are a waste of time then consider this. If someone was injured in connection with your work could you defend a claim or prosecution?I am asking you this because in the event of an injury claim or prosecution (as a result of a work related injury) your risk assessment and its effectiveness will be a huge part of your defence. Don’t leave it to blind luck, review your risk assessments.