Risk Assessments – Common Mistakes
Risk Assessments – Common Mistakes
Risk assessments are crucial for employers to manage the health and safety within their business. They are also a legal requirement in the workplace. This is so that you can spot the risks and then put measures in place to control them. By law, if you have 5 or more employees, you need to have written health and safety documents that need to be communicated.
Some of you may think that a risk assessment is a simple process. But there are several common mistakes that employers can make when conducting them. This can lead to the workplace becoming unsafe and as a result employees getting injured. It is vital to get risk assessments right for the safety of your employees.
We have outlined some of the common mistakes below.
Risk assessments outdated
When was the last time you carried out your risk assessment? It is a legal requirement to review and update these at least every 12 months. However, if there have been any significant changes to legislation or your workplace, it should be updated sooner. A perfect example of this is Covid-19. Due to the outbreak, new hazards and therefore legislation has emerged. With the ever-changing advice, employers have had to review and update risk assessments regularly.
Workplace changes could include:
- New equipment
- An accident or injury
- Changes of personnel
- New or different premises
- Different work tasks or process
- Employees who are now working remotely
It is important to review and update as soon as any of the above changes occur. You could be held liable if someone gets hurt in the workplace if you cannot show that you have an up-to-date risk assessment and that you’ve taken the steps to reduce the risks that it includes.
Employees not involved
It is key to engage your employees to be involved when you carry out the risk assessments. This is such a vital step as it allows you as employers to consider your most vulnerable employees, and the measures you can implement to protect them.
A perfect example of this is a pregnant employee. They may have separate concerns to the rest of your staff as they are pregnant. This could include moving around on their feet for a long period of time, lifting heavy objects, going up and downstairs, and being exposed to potentially hazardous substances. Due to this, a separate risk assessment would be needed to reduce these risks.
Your employees’ safety is your priority. Therefore, you should communicate to check that they do feel safe in the workplace, and if not, why? Talking to your entire team may highlight risks that you were unaware of. It is better to be aware of these now, rather than later down the line when someone gets hurt.
- Talk to your team. Ask them to raise any concerns that they have regarding health and safety. Take these concerns and ensure there are measures in place to reduce the risks.
- Identify the employees that are more vulnerable than others, and therefore are at a higher risk. Again, take this and put measures in place to tackle them.
- Ask the team for ideas of how to reduce risks. They may suggest an idea you had not thought of.
- SHARE the completed risk assessment. This is so important. You shouldn’t just complete a risk assessment because it’s the law. You should complete it as it keeps your employees SAFE. Employees should read the risk assessment to check that they are happy and understand. They may have feedback that you should take on board and make changes if necessary.
By involving your employees, your health and safety policies will be embedded into the company. The more you involve them, the safer the workplace will be.
Use of generic risk assessments
We won’t pretend risk assessments are a quick and simple process. Due to the fact they can be time-consuming, some businesses will find a generic online template to save time and hassle.
This is ok for some smaller businesses, but only if they ADAPT to suit their business. Using it as a guideline is ok if employers are also considering other specific hazards that may affect their employees. Remember, your risk assessment has to meet HSE standards.
Your business will have hazards that are specific to your workplace and industry so adopting a generic risk assessment found online will not suffice. The risks that are specific to your business tend to be the most pressing so it is extra important to not forget these! If you want to use a template as a starting block, that’s fine. But make sure you take the time to sit down and build the risk assessment around this.
How can we help?
At HPC we understand that risk assessments can be a nuisance and time-consuming. That is why our team of Health and Safety experts can conduct your risk assessments for you. Our experts will do everything from identifying the risks to reviewing the paperwork. This will provide you with the confidence that your employees are safe and your business compliant.
If you have any concerns or would like to discuss the topics within this article further, please get in contact with the HPC team today.
T: 0844 800 5932