Managing health and safety at work means that business owners are required by law to carry out regular risk assessments for their employees. Risk assessments identify potential hazards in the workplace that can have detrimental effects on an individual's health and in some cases cause serious injury, ill health, and even death.
Most of us spend much of our time working and no matter what the industry or business, it's necessary for the risk of injury or damage to be minimised. It's far better for potential hazards to be identified and reasonable precautions taken to prevent harm, than to wait until it's too late.
Risk assessments should be done for permanent employees, contractors and visitors, really this should be carried out on behalf of anybody who could be seriously affected by hazards in the workplace, which could even apply to members of the public. Therefore, workplace environments should be very controlled, and whether someone enters your place of work every day or as a one-off, their safety is paramount.
Apart from the obvious personal and pastoral need to keep staff safe, a risk assessment can ensure that employees are productive and able to work more effectively - employers should take care that they don't avoid responsibility for health and safety issues which could easily be prevented, as both the legal and ethical repercussions can be incredibly severe.
Other benefits of carrying out risk assessments include well-informed employees that have a practical understanding of health and safety standards in the workplace, which should definitely reduce the number of incidents in the workplace and safeguard staff. Although, not all hazards are guaranteed to be removed when a risk assessment is performed. Risk assessments prove to employees that their safety is valued and at the same time, it sets the standard for safe and legal practices, which is a bonus for the reputation of any business.
A risk assessment can and should be done anywhere, whether in an office or on an industrial estate or building site. Every workplace has its own risks, and in each environment practical things should be done to improve standards of health and safety. This could include providing workers with helmets or protective clothing and up to date equipment, making sure clear signs are displayed on wet floors, preventing workers from accessing hazardous areas within the workplace, or making sure that cables and wires are not exposed and there is no risk of staff tripping up. Even the smallest, simplest preventative measures can stop serious accidents from happening.
Misuse of equipment is also top of the list of risk assessment mistakes, it includes things like power tools which do not have adequate safety guards, and poorly placed ladders. As with other risks in the workplace, fire and electricity hazards should be taken seriously, as the damage may not be recoverable.
Many businesses fail to carry out risk assessments, which is without doubt the biggest health and safety risk that a business can subject itself and its employees to. Businesses do not save money if they avoid completing a risk assessment. In fact, it could cost a business more money in the end, as abuse of legislation brought into effect by the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 can lead to a fine of up to £20,000 and criminal prosecution.
Working in a hazardous and unsafe environment is both unsafe and unpleasant for staff, especially in a business that has to handle or deal with dangerous equipment or material. Failing to properly conduct a risk assessment could be a big downfall for the success of a business.
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