When was the last time you reviewed your business’ workplace risk assessment? Not just hastily flipped through it, but carefully reviewed it? Chances are it has been too long. Because employers are often bogged down by the day-to-day minutiae of running a business, they tend to forget about macro-level concerns like risk assessments.
But just because risk assessments can be easily forgotten does not make them unimportant. On the contrary, drafting or reviewing a risk assessment is one of the most important things you can do to protect your employees and your business. It is also the law.
Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (2000 in Northern Ireland), every UK employer must make a ‘suitable and sufficient’ risk assessment of the health and safety risks faced by workers and any other persons who may be affected by their businesses. These assessments help employers understand what procedures are necessary to keep employees and third parties safe throughout the working day.
Risk assessments are careful examinations of what things in your business could harm employees, customers or others. Employers with five or more employees are required to keep a written record of all risk assessments. Even if you employ fewer than five people, recording your risk assessment is still best practice.
Whether you are obligated to record your risk assessment or not, all employers must review their business’ risk assessments as the need arises. You should review your risk assessment on an ongoing basis, but especially when changes introduce new hazards into your workplace—changes such as new equipment, substances or procedures.
Whenever your business undergoes one of these changes, review your risk assessment immediately to see whether the recent change ushered in any new hazards which threaten the health and safety of your employees. Better yet, consider the impact of any potential changes on your risk assessment before you implement them. That way you will be more prepared for new hazards and how to minimise them.
When you review your risk assessment, remember that it should apply to everyone—your risk assessment should cover all groups of people who might be harmed by your business. That may seem like a daunting task, but it is not impossible. Think about the types of workers you employ—new and young, migrant, disabled, expectant mothers, etc.
At the same time, consider every hazard your business presents. Do this by slowly surveying the workplace. To avoid being overwhelmed, review one hazard at a time. That will help you compartmentalise each hazard and employee type rather than being faced with a slew of hazards you find difficult to organise.
Being behind on your risk assessment reviews does not mean you cannot catch up. We are here to help. Contact the insurance professionals at Bollington Risk Management for more information on creating, maintaining and updating your risk assessment, on 01625 854300.