Three risk assessment mistakes you need to avoid

  • Risk Assessment
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

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You probably know that a risk assessment is a legal requirement.

And if you handle health & safety, you might also know the process. Identify hazards, consider who’s at risk, reduce the risk, and write it all down...

Simple, right?

Well, not exactly. Employers often make big mistakes in their risk assessment – without even realising. And that could mean an unsafe workplace and a higher chance of injury claims.

To protect your staff and business, make sure you avoid these common mistakes...  

1. Not involving your staff

Whenever you carry out a risk assessment, get your staff involved.

Many employers miss this step – and it means they fail to consider ways to protect their most vulnerable employees.

For example, you might have a pregnant employee who has specific safety concerns. Whether it’s standing up for long periods or heavy lifting, you need to create a separate assessment to reduce these risks.

Plus, you need to speak to your entire team to see if (and when) they feel unsafe at work. This means you know exactly which workplace hazards you need to tackle.  

Taking everyone’s concerns onboard means your whole workforce feels safe. And your team might even have their own ideas on how to reduce risk – so it makes your job easier, too. 

Involve your staff from the very start of the process. Here’s how:

  1. First, ask your employees if there are any hazards they’re concerned about. If so, you need to take steps to minimize the risk.
  2. Then, check whether staff have any conditions or factors that could put them at higher risk.
  3. When it’s time to reduce risk, see if your staff have any ideas to create a safer workplace.
  4. Lastly, share your completed risk assessment with your team and ask if they have any feedback. It’s important you make sure employees can understand everything in your assessment.

2. Failing to update your risk assessment

You’ve reduced risk in your workplace and kept a written record. So you’re feeling relieved you’ll never need to think about it again…

Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

By law, you need to update your risk assessment every 12 months. And if anything significant has changed within that time, you’ll need to change it sooner.

For example, COVID-19 introduced a heap of extra hazards to manage. This meant that managers needed to review and update their risk assessment on monthly – or even weekly – basis.

Other workplace changes could include:

  • Different work tasks or processes
  • Any new equipment
  • New or different premises
  • An accident or injury

Whenever these changes occur, it’s time to update your assessment. Because when you leave it too late, you won’t be able to show you’ve taken steps to reduce the risk – and that means you’re liable when someone gets hurt on your premises.

3. Using a generic risk assessment

Carrying out a full risk assessment takes time.

So when you run a small business, it’s understandable if you want to find a shortcut. Whether you download a template or copy a risk assessment from elsewhere, you might use a generic risk assessment to save time. And that’s fine.

But if you don’t carefully adapt this template around your business, you might not be preventing hazards that are specific to your people. And these hazards are often the most pressing and dangerous risks for your staff and customers.

Let’s say you run a hair salon. Without tailoring your risk assessment around particular hazard – like skin rashes due to contact with bleach – you wouldn’t meet HSE standards.

So, to pass a health & safety inspection, you need to tailor your assessment around your own day-to-day processes.

There’s a better way to make risk assessments… 

You could constantly review your risk assessment to see whether it meets high HSE standards.

Or you could leave it to the experts…

From identifying hazards to reviewing your paperwork, our consultants guide you through every stage of the process.

And with access to 24/7 advice, you’ll never need to worry about making mistakes in your risk assessment again. It means you can keep your people safe and your business free from risk – without getting lost in complex health & safety rules. 

To learn more about our risk assessment support, call an expert for free on 0800 028 2420.

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