Risk assessment involves taking into account various hazards to safety in your workplace and also looking at how likely these hazards are to become a problem to worker health risk. The basic process of risk assessment involves five steps, let’s go over them now.
Step 1: Identifying Hazards
Anything and everything that presents a potential danger to an employee is a hazard. The best way of figuring out your own workplace hazards is to go straight to the source: Ask your workers. Encourage workers to share their concerns and ask if anything is in need of repairs, could be re-positioned in the work-space, or needs to be flat out replaced in order to be safer. In addition, put yourself on the floor and see what you can observe – you might glean some hazards from this that your workers didn’t think of because their process might be automatic or something might not seem like a big deal to them when they encounter it every day.
Step 2: Who?
In this step you need to look at who might be harmed if one of your hazards injured someone. In most cases, this is going to be the employees working closest in proximity to the hazard. If it’s a piece of equipment, this is often the operators. Also consider what might be hazards to your customers or other non-workers that enter the space if applicable.
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Step 3: Risky Business
A risk is different than a hazard. While a hazard is a potential danger, risk refers to the likelihood of that hazard harming someone. Overestimate when evaluating the risk factors of your work place hazards and be willing to correct even the smallest of potential hazards. This step is two-fold: Once you evaluate your risks, implement solutions. Would it be best to eliminate a hazard completely? Or is it necessary for your business, and should therefore be repaired or altered instead? Ask these kinds of questions when making adjustments – this can also be a good time to trim your production of unnecessary parts.
Step 4: Jot ’em down!
You are legally required to document your safety steps when managing a large enough workforce, but even in a small business you should be keeping track of all of your observed hazards and any implemented fixes. This is also insurance for you because in the event of an incident down the road, you have documented evidence that you were actively assessing your risk and eliminating and/or fixing potential hazards to your employees. Most costs of a workplace injury are procedural, so this can save you a lot of time and headache later on should something go wrong.
Step 5: Keep Current
Round one isn’t the end of this whole safety thing; you should be regularly checking in and repeating the process. Plan to retrace your five steps a certain number of times per year (preferably a minimum of one or two). As your business changes size, laborers, or direction, it may be necessary to re-evaluate your safety adjustments.