29 Oct Safety Sense: Managing Workplace Risk
Employees are the greatest asset to any business. You’ve likely taken steps to keep your workers performing well and feeling satisfied with their jobs. But what are you doing to protect your employees from physical harm by minimising workplace risk?
The Work Health and Safety (WHS) legislation requires employers to provide a safe working environment for their employees. Your working environment includes materials, processes, and training.
Faulty wiring, unsteady steps, chemical exposure – any of these situations can lead to significant problems. A risk management plan minimises the probability of business risks. Simple steps prevent harmful situations and reduce safety hazards in your workplace.
Learn how to identify existing or potential hazards in the workplace and what you can do to control them.
The law suggests that a risk is something that can cause harm or injury. Businesses face issues specific to their own industries. Some common concerns include fire, chemicals, electrical danger, slip and fall accidents, disease, stress, violence, and harassment.
Here are some suggestions to help you to identify hazards in the workplace.
- Ask your employees what dangers they may have encountered.
- See your workplace from a different perspective. Walk around and observe potential harm.
- Review company and employee injury history.
- Conduct safety audits and inspections.
As you check your workplace, you aren’t limited to hazards that are already affecting employees. Take note of even small or potential dangers.
Now look deeper into the situation. An assessment determines how severe the risk is and what effects it will ultimately have on employees in the workplace. From this evaluation, you’ll be able to determine the severity of the hazard, the likelihood of injury, and possible consequences.
Once you determine the potential hazards in your work area, you have to do everything in your power to manage these risks. You should put tools and processes in place to deal with the consequences of the danger you identify.
Managers should take care of the more serious hazards first. Where possible, eliminate the problem from the workplace.
If you can’t remove the problem, minimise the risk. Managers can limit the amount of workers or time spent in hazardous areas. Workers also have responsibility for their own well-being. They must use protective equipment, comply with workplace instructions, and not put others at risk.
Plan Reviews and Improve Your Process
You will need to review and change your processes for risk management as your business grows.
Conduct regular reviews to ensure your safety controls are effective and implemented properly. Reviews can include workplace inspections, incident investigations, and employee consultations.
If problems continue, managers should take safety measures and precautions to the next level. A combination of safety measures can minimise risk and heighten control. Further steps include:
- Encouraging safe design with new materials, work systems, and equipment
- Creating safe barriers to protect specific work areas
- Replacing the hazard with less harmful substances
- Establishing procedures to reduce continued exposure
- Implementing training and enhanced supervision for workers
- Involving workers in decisions that affect their safety at work
Of course, your first goal in risk management is to keep your employees safe. But in following these safety measures, you will also ensure your company’s compliance with laws and regulations. As a business manager, these regulations could add to your expense or force changes to company processes. Routine assessments, training, and equipment will cost you as well, but to a much greater benefit.