Managing risks

Managing workplace risks should be second nature to everyone

Create a safe work environment by building a culture of safe work practices – where it’s second nature for everyone to identify and report potential workplace risk factors and manage workplace risk.

By addressing key workplace risk examples, including security or mental health risks, you’ll be addressing everyone’s obligation to create a safe work environment.

Have efficient safety systems in place and ensure everyone is aware of them, understands them, and adheres to them. 

It’s not worth the financial risk

According to Safe Work Australia, the total economic cost of work-related injuries and illnesses is estimated to be around $61.8 billion dollars. 

If you fail to implement workplace risk assessment and management practices into your daily operations you could be exposing your business to the occurrence of workplace incidents. This can have a negative impact on your business with heavy financial penalties for serious workplace health and safety (WHS) breaches. 

Furthermore, workplace incidents or accidents can increase your workers compensation premium. You will also face loss of productivity and lowered employee morale, not to mention damage to your business’ reputation.

Accidents can also have social and financial impact on the individual and their loved ones.

No matter the size of your business or what sector you operate in, non-compliance in the area of WHS is certainly not worth the risks.

Implement an ongoing practice of identifying and controlling your business’ health and safety risks, reducing the potential for accidents, encouraging legislative compliance, and improving health and safety performance. This includes workplace risk assessment training on workplace security risk assessment, workplace stress risk assessment, and workplace violence risk assessment.

By having a proactive workplace risk management system, you are building a caring, socially responsible organisation.

Identify, assess, control and review

Though it’s primarily your responsibility that workers and visitors aren’t exposed to health and safety risks, it’s good practice when undertaking risk management to involve workers as well as health and safety representatives (HSRs) with the necessary skills and experience.

First, identify the hazard – anything that could be harmful to anybody. Some hazards are obvious, others more difficult to identify. Some can affect health over time, others may result in stress. 

Regularly walk around the workplace observing how things are done and ask questions. Speaking to workers can help you predict what could go wrong.

Analyse records of health monitoring, workplace incidents, near-misses, worker complaints, sick leave and results of inspections and investigations. 

Assess the risks – what could happen if someone is exposed to a hazard and the likelihood of it happening? How severe is the risk? Are existing control measures effective? What action is required to control the risk? How urgent is it?

By controlling the risk you are fixing the problem. Consider substituting the hazard with something safer, isolating it, or minimising it through engineering and administrative controls. Review personal protective equipment (PPE) worn in the workplace.

Review your control measures to ensure they are working as planned.

Bulletproofing your business

Effective management control will raise the standard of any health and safety measures you have in your workplace.

Apart from complying with legal requirements, if you fail to implement risk management practices you can be exposing your business to the potential for accidents to occur in the workplace. Not only can this have a negative impact on your business with heavy financial penalties for serious WHS breaches, but you may also face increases in insurance premiums. 

It‘s more cost effective to undertake this process and implement a risk management system than to have an incident on site and then, as a reactive measure, retrospectively create the risk management systems. 

Employing a hazard identification and risk assessment process is a proactive measure that can prevent the majority of incidents that may occur in your workplace.

Lack of a risk management system or reactive measures can also negatively affect your business in other ways, with loss of productivity and lowered employee morale, not to mention damage to your business’ reputation.

Controlling workplace risks must be an ongoing process because changes can occur regularly in the workplace requiring you to review procedures and risk controls regularly to ensure they are still effective.

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