Why Are Risk Assessments Important?
Risk assessments are a legal requirement. All companies and self-employed people are required to consider health and safety risks in the workplace, and companies with more than five employees are legally obliged to record the findings of risk assessments.
But the importance of risk assessments goes beyond the fact they’re a legal requirement. They shouldn’t occur simply to achieve compliance.
So why are risk assessments important? Here are some of the reasons why companies and contractors need to assess hazards and risks and put effective control measures in place.
Protect People from Potential Harm and Ill-Health
At the heart of all effective health and safety policies, you’ll find risk assessments. And that’s because — when carried out properly — risk assessments can help companies turn sites rife with hazards into safe workplace environments.
There are five steps to the risk assessment process that involve identifying any hazards that could cause accidents, injuries or ill-health. The level of risk and likelihood of incidents occurring also need to be analysed, and effective control measures implemented and monitored. Risk assessment findings also need to be communicated across all levels of the company. These steps can help companies in all industries make sure their work environment is safe and protect people from harm.
Every workplace environment has hazards that could cause injuries or ill-health. Risks can stem from wet floors, dangerous work equipment, exposure to hazardous substances, fire hazards and more. But risk assessments can drastically reduce the likelihood of work-related accidents and ill-health. They raise awareness about hazards and the risks they pose and help employers identify ways to minimise health and safety risks.
Risk Assessments Can Save Lives
As well as protecting employees and customers from harm, risk assessments can also save lives. Some hazards pose bigger risks than short-term injuries — they can cause life-threatening accidents and health conditions.
For example, fire hazards put many people’s lives at risk. Prolonged exposure to dangerous materials like asbestos can cause long-term and potentially fatal health conditions — and dangerous work equipment such as heavy machinery can also take lives if not used correctly.
By identifying these risks, and outlining the control measures to implement, risk assessments can save lives. As long as both employers and workers familiarise themselves with the risk assessment findings and ensure safety measures are in place, the risk of fatalities in the workplace can be kept to a minimum, and potentially even eliminated.
Avoid the Unnecessary Costs of Poor Risk Management
Poor risk management can incur a lot of costs that put a huge financial strain on businesses. If employees are affected by work-related injuries or ill-health, they will need to take time off and companies may need to cover sick-pay and the cost of employment cover. There may also be legal fees to cover — affected parties may claim compensation, and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) may issue fines if companies are in breach of health and safety legislation. These fines can also cause insurance premiums to rise.
Carrying out a thorough risk assessment and taking steps to reduce the assessed risks can prevent accidents and ill-health — and the costs that come with them. A complete and up-to-date risk assessment can also demonstrate compliance with the HSE, avoiding fines for poor health and safety.
Risk Assessments Reduce Your Company’s Legal Liability
Anytime an incident occurs, the first question on people’s minds is “who’s fault was it?” If a business is at fault because of poor health and safety policies and procedures, this can result in serious legal cases and fines. The costs from these cases can amount to tens of thousands of pounds.
Risk assessments not only reduce the chance of incidents occurring but also demonstrate to employees and external bodies such as the HSE that companies have taken ample steps to protect people from harm and comply with legislation.
CHAS can help your organisation implement risk management best practices and improve workplace health and safety. Sign up for CHAS Contractor membership and you’ll gain access to a range of risk management tools, including risk assessment templates and training courses. You can also use our accreditation schemes to demonstrate your compliance to potential clients, prequalify for projects and grow your business.