Assessing the risks in your workplace: A simple guide
Published 18 February 2020
If you own or run a business, managing risks in your workplace is essential to your productivity, profitability and the safety of your people. Here are some suggestions for identifying potential issues and being proactive about preventing them.
Accidents happen but they are usually 100% preventable. Here’s some common situations where they might occur and what steps you can take to forestall them.
Common scenarios include
working at height
slips and falls.
Slips and trips result in thousands of injuries every year, according to SafeWork Australia. The most common are musculoskeletal injuries, fractures, dislocations, bruises and cuts but some can be more serious. Some of them can end up as damages cases against the premises where the accident occurred. This can be ruinously costly as settlements can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Slip and trip hazards include
spills or wet cleaning of floor surfaces
sudden change in floor surface or irregularities
changes in floor levels, such as thresholds, doorsteps or ramps
obstacles in traffic areas
low light levels.
Risk management involves taking a systematic approach to identifying hazards and initiating control measures. Click on the image to download and print off our slip, trip and fall prevention poster and put it up where all your staff – and you - can see it every day.
Injuries at work take the form of trauma, such as a fall, burn or pulled muscle; or conditions that develop over time, like repetitive strain injuries or reactions to working with particular materials.
Some key risk factors
Moving items, especially at height, because the necessary posture makes the load difficult to control properly.
Handling dangerous or potentially harmful materials, including products used for cleaning.
Repetitive movements and remaining in one position can lead to occupational overuse syndrome.
To assess the possibility of injuries in your workplace, do a walk-through of your premises, paying attention to your floorplan, fittings, equipment and storage arrangements as well as how work is assigned and performed.
Risk mitigation measures could include
ensuring workplace layout and placement of equipment enables free movement without tripping hazards
positioning office fittings or stock in a way that provides adequate walk-around space, clear sight lines and comfortable access
making sure work stations are ergonomically set up to facilitate good posture and straight-ahead viewing of computer screens
providing alternative ways to reach hard to access areas, such as a lifting platform
managing workloads to combine repetitive tasks with non-repetitive ones or scheduling frequent breaks.
Being robbed is highly disruptive, involving interruption, paperwork and the need to take emergency measures if vital equipment or large sums of money have been stolen. While some robberies are planned, many are crimes of opportunity, taking advantage of apparent vulnerabilities.
To reduce your chances of being a victim
make sure your security processes are adequate. This means having reliable locks that are kept closed and checked routinely
communicate your security protocols to your staff and check that they’re being adhered to. No leaving a door open for smokers!
regularly check and maintain security equipment
be selective about who has access privileges and is involved with security protocols – who has keys, security codes and is responsible for security and ensuring processes are followed.
Site security should include alarms and lighting, and you can also consider using closed circuit television (CCTV) and physical monitoring of the premises, especially during extended closure such as holidays. Similarly, securely garage your business vehicles.
Information has become a valuable commodity and no organisation is safe from targeted attacks by cyber criminals (or mistakes by employees that result in data breaches) – but you can take steps to manage the risk and minimise the impact to your business.
At a basic level these should include
turning on automatic updates for your computer operating system and the software you use and applying software patches as they are released
locking unattended devices and backing up your business’s data daily. Recovery should be part of your response plan if a data breach occurs
limiting access to sensitive information to as few people as practicable and applying double factor security (user name and password or phrase) controls which are not shared
training staff to recognise, avoid and report threats, such as fraudulent emails.
Creating your own risk management framework
Now with an awareness of potential issues in your business’s workplace your next step is to formalise a risk management plan, using the pointers below.
Conducting a risk audit
Identify hazards that present risks of injury, loss or that might compromise security.
How might they occur?
Are they environmental or process driven? What can you do to prevent or mitigate them?
How much of a risk do they present? This helps prioritise your response plan.
Strategy and actions
How can you prevent, mitigate or manage identified risks. Who us going to be responsible for what?
Review and update
You need to reassess your framework on a regular basis and maintain staff education, inducting new and casual employees into your practices and scheduling reminder sessions.
Get expert input
Workers’ compensation is regulated under different schemes according to the state(s) where your business operates. Added to this it’s a complex area. You need to be confident that your operation is compliant with the relevant legislation.
If you’re in doubt or want to check that you’ve identified all your relevant workplace hazards and approaches to managing them, contact your broker who will work with a workplace risk insurance specialist with the knowledge and skills to help ensure you’ve covered all your bases.
Gallagher provides insurance, risk management and benefits consulting services for clients in response to both known and unknown risk exposures. When providing analysis and recommendations regarding potential insurance coverage, potential claims and/or operational strategy in response to national emergencies (including health crises), we do so from an insurance and/or risk management perspective, and offer broad information about risk mitigation, loss control strategy and potential claim exposures. We have prepared this commentary and other news alerts for general information purposes only and the material is not intended to be, nor should it be interpreted as, legal or client-specific risk management advice. General insurance descriptions contained herein do not include complete insurance policy definitions, terms and/or conditions, and should not be relied on for coverage interpretation. The information may not include current governmental or insurance developments, is provided without knowledge of the individual recipient’s industry or specific business or coverage circumstances, and in no way reflects or promises to provide insurance coverage outcomes that only insurance carriers’ control.
Insurance brokerage and related services to be provided by Arthur J. Gallagher & Co (Aus) Limited (ABN 34 005 543 920). Australian Financial Services License (AFSL) No. 238312