Does your business have to carry out risk assessments?
Yes, is the short answer. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) state that as an employer, you’re required by law to protect your employees, and others, from harm.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 sets a minimum requirement that businesses must
- identify what could cause injury or illness in your business (hazards)
- decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously (the risk)
- take action to eliminate the hazard, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk
To meet your duty of care, you will need to carry out and document a risk assessment.
Find out if the rules apply to you if you are self-employed.
Whilst not necessarily required by law, it also makes sense to carry out risk assessments linked to the running of your business. Knowing the possible risks that could threaten your businesses survival puts you in the best possible position to deal with them should they arise.
How to write a risk assessment
If you’ve not written a risk assessment before, it can seem like a daunting task. But it doesn’t need to be. The HSE suggest taking a 5-step approach to writing a risk assessment.
- Identify hazards
Hazards can be thought of as things in the workplace which may cause harm. Take a walk around your workplace and identify things which have the potential cause harm – this could be things which could injure, or things which could pose a long-term threat to health– manual handling, loud noise, or workplace stress for example.
When it comes to hazards think about working practices, processes, substances, and activities which could cause harm. And when identifying the hazards, think about how they could cause harm to employees, contractors, visitors, or members of the public.
- Assess the risks
Once you have identified your risks, then think about the likelihood of them happening and how serious it would be if they did.
The HSE recommends thinking about:
- who might be harmed and how
- what you’re already doing to control the risks
- what further action you need to take to control the risks
- who needs to carry out the action
- when the action is needed by
- Control the risks
Think about the steps you need to take to control the risks that you have identified.
The best possible outcome is that you can put controls in place which totally remove the identified risk. However, in many cases this just isn’t possible. So, you will need to think about the controls you can put in place to minimise the risks and the likelihood it will create harm.
Once you have identified the controls you need, put them into practice
- Record your findings
If you employ 5 or more people, then you must document the findings of your risk assessment.
You’ll need to include
- the hazards (things that may cause harm)
- who might be harmed and how
- what you are doing to control the risks
The HSE have created a risk assessment template to help you record your findings. And a quick Google search for ‘risk assessment template’ brings back multiple other template options which you may find useful and will mean you do not need to start from scratch.
- Review the controls
A risk assessment should not be thought of as a one time, box ticking exercise. It is important to that you review it on a regular basis. Make sure the controls you have identified remain appropriate and actually work in controlling the risks.
If anything changes in the way that you work (new staff, new processes, new premises etc) then make sure that you make a new assessment of the risks and work through the process listed above again.
COVID-19 is a good example of a new risk, requiring businesses to carry out COVID-19 specific risk assessments.
What type of risk assessment may your business need to carry out?
The obvious risk assessment that a business will need to carry out, and the one required by law referenced above, is linked to health and safety. Remember, you have a legal duty to protect your employees, and others, from harm
But there are also other risks which your business may face on a day-to-day basis, closely linked to your business success and survival.
So, you may need to carry out other risk assessments in areas such as:
You should be able to use the 5 principles above as a basis to writing any type of risk assessment.
Why your business should take risk seriously
Businesses face many risks in today’s environment. You just have to think of the shock which COVID-19 bought to the business world. And whilst it is one that we could not have foreseen, not giving enough time and effort to thinking about the risks your business faces and how you will respond if they should arise is a major risk to your business in itself.
At Anthony Jones we always say businesses should avoid falling into the trap of thinking ‘we would just….’ when it comes to risk management. The use of the word ‘just’ implies a level of simplicity in overcoming potential issues. But without prior thought, it is highly unlikely that you will have the answers to issues which may present themselves.
You also need to think about risk management when it comes to your insurance. Insurers are becoming increasingly selective, and we are seeing more requests for risk management information from insurers. They want to see how your business manages risk and how you are able to present this back can have a bearing on your ability to obtain the right insurance at the best possible price.
At Anthony Jones we focus on the areas of risk management with all of our clients. We work in partnership with Cardinus, a global risk and safety partner, to support our focus in this area. We can work with you to help you understand your business and attitude to risk and identify insurance covers which can offer protection. Get in touch with us on 020 8290 9080 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss any of your business insurance requirements.