It is important to complete thorough risk assessments to keep your employees, customers and the general public safe from harm. Risk assessments are an important way to manage your health and safety, preventing ill health and accidents that could result in injuries or fatalities. They are also a legal requirement and should be documented if you have more than five employees.
If you aren’t carrying out risk assessments, accidents are much more likely to occur and in the case that they do, could cost your business thousands of pounds or result in custodial sentences. Not only can the HSE or local authority take action against you under criminal law, the person affected can make a claim for compensation under civil law.
2018/2019 saw businesses pay out £54.5 million in fines resulting from prosecutions from the HSE (or COPFS in Scotland). (HSE)
What should risk assessments cover?
Risk assessments should be completed prior to work being carried out and should be understood and acknowledged, or signed off, by all staff and roles to which they apply. You should consider every task undertaken within your business and risk assessments should specifically cover activities such as working at height, manual handling tasks, stress, managing noise, lone working, and many other topics.
To complete a risk assessment, you should follow these five steps:
- Identify the hazards
- Decide who may be harmed and how
- Assess the risks and control them
- Record the findings
- Complete reviews
What does the law say about risk assessments?
As per the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulation (MHSWR) 1999, it is a legal requirement to have “suitable and sufficient” risk assessments in place. The detail you go into should be proportionate to the level of risk.
What are the benefits of risk assessments?
As mentioned above, the two obvious benefits to having appropriate risk assessments in place are that you are preventing accidents that could cause your staff harm and protecting yourself from legal action, however there are many more reasons that you should invest in comprehensive and complete risk assessments.
- Improved culture, boosted staff morale and reduced staff turnover. Staff who are safe when at work feel valued, are more likely to remain loyal to their employer and be more productive.
- Keep unexpected costs low. Any accidents experienced at your place of work will not only bring potential fines and compensation pay outs, but claims could increase your insurance costs and have an impact on other outgoings such as sickness pay and recruitment costs for replacing staff.
- Peace of mind that you and your team are safe. The larger the operation, the more responsibility sits with you. Ease those sleepless nights by putting safe practices in place now and managing them in the long-term.
- Regularly reviewing your processes can help you find improvements and efficiencies over and above the intended purpose of a risk assessment, helping you to get the most out of your operation.
The HSE estimates that 28.2 million workdays were lost to work-related ill health and injury in 2018-2019. (HSE)
What happens when it goes wrong?
Accidents happen, sometimes they are just that; accidents. However many are completely avoidable, caused by negligence and businesses not having safe systems of work in place. In 2018/19, 364 cases were prosecuted by the HSE, or COPFS in Scotland. These bodies look to see that the correct health and safety management is in place and will not hesitate to impose fines or prison time in cases where employers are found to have failed in their obligations to keep their employees safe whilst at work. Having watertight risk assessments in place largely protects you from these accidents occurring in the first instance but also in being found guilty of breaching regulations.
147 workers were killed at work in the UK in 2018/2019. (HSE)
What can CRAMS do to help?
CRAMS requires employees to acknowledge their assigned documents and this can be tracked and chased up by line managers and admins. You’ll never miss a review again as automatic reminders are sent to your Competent Person or admin when risk assessments are soon to expire. Take the pain out of creating and managing risk assessments, protect yourself and your staff with CRAMS.