A risk assessment is an important part of overall workplace safety and can have a long list of benefits. However, to perform a risk assessment effectively, you need to know three key things: the what, the why, and the how. We're here to take a look at each and help you strengthen workplace safety to protect your employees and the organization overall.
What is a Risk Assessment?
As you've probably guessed just by the name, risk assessment is all about analyzing your workplace to identify what dangers or other risks might exist and which solutions should be in place to keep workers safe. The process involves an in-depth look at environments, tasks, systems, equipment, and other elements, culminating in a complete view of current workplace safety and often a few things to improve upon.
Here are the most important elements to know about a workplace safety risk assessment:
Is a risk assessment the same thing as a Job Safety Analysis?
No. A risk assessment covers your entire property or workplace, giving you insight into every moving part and how they all work together. Meanwhile, a Job Safety Analysis is generally focused on one task at a time, helping you assess how the task is performed, what the steps are, what risks are unique to this job, and more.
Who performs a risk assessment?
Unlike some inspections, a risk assessment isn't performed by an outside organization like OSHA. Instead, you perform a risk assessment yourself--which means you have a chance to catch and correct issues before they turn into a potential fine, health and safety risk, or other issue.
Are there different types of risk assessments?
A risk assessment can take many forms depending on what you need it to accomplish and what kind of information you're looking for. For example, some assessments are required for regulatory compliance, while others are more generalized and are designed to help you support other parts of your overall workplace safety approach.
Why Perform a Risk Assessment?
A risk assessment is an important tool in your workplace safety tool-belt. Consider these important benefits of performing a risk assessment:
- You'll identify issues before they happen.
When you plan a risk assessment, what you're really doing is being proactive. That's because risk assessments help you identify risks and put solutions in place before a worker is injured or some other issue occurs. This is great news for general workplace safety, but it's also an important step in protecting your budget.
- You'll avoid compliance fines.
Speaking of budgets, workplace safety oversights and regulatory compliance issues can come with hefty fines depending on what they are and how dangerous they might be. With a risk assessment, you have the opportunity to rectify issues before fines are even on the table.
- You'll learn more about how your workplace actually operates.
You might think you know the ins and outs of your workplace, but until you've performed a risk assessment, you can't know every little detail. Essentially, a risk assessment pulls back the curtain to help you see what's really going on, how all the pieces come together, whether rules are actually being followed, and more.
- You'll show employees that you value their safety.
A workplace safety risk assessment is a great way to prove to employees that you're actively improving their experience. They'll see firsthand that you care about their well-being and are taking steps to make sure they're happy, safe, and efficient on the job.
How to Plan Your Workplace Safety Risk Assessment
Now that you know the what and why, it's time for the most important element: the how.
Your first step is to consider the timing of your risk assessment. For example, you might perform an assessment before changing a process or adding a new piece of equipment to the workplace; after the change, you can perform another assessment and compare results.
Next, think about the focus. Are you trying to make sure you comply with certain regulations? Do you need to focus on a specific area of your workplace, like machinery or hazardous substances? Are you looking for ways to improve your overall workplace safety approach? Let these questions guide your plan and inform your process.
Finally, make sure to follow up on your findings. For example, if you find that employees are making mistakes because they never learned the proper way to do something, you can have workplace safety training courses lined up to get everyone on the same page.
In conclusion, a risk assessment is an important part of any workplace safety approach. It doesn't just help identify and reduce risk--it also gives you valuable insight, helps you avoid fines, and even shows workers you care.
Are you interested in performing a risk assessment? Looking for other ways to improve workplace safety? Contact us today for all the resources, support, and training courses you need to succeed.