While risk assessments are frequently perceived as unnecessary red tape, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In almost all workplaces, risk assessments represent the only practical way of identifying and then mitigating hazards; without them, the workplace would be a far more dangerous place.
As a result of that, they’re almost always a legal requirement, but that’s not it – there are multiple reasons why risk assessments in the workplace matter. Let’s take a look at some of the most important ones.
Meeting your legal obligations
Before we even get into the practical benefits of risk assessments, it’s important to note that risk assessments are a legal requirement. Failure to procure the necessary documentation when asked can lead to legal action that’s damaging even if an accident hasn’t taken place.
If an accident has taken place due to health and safety failures, the following legal action could threaten the future of the organisation in question.
Protect your staff
The key practical reason behind why workplace risk assessments are important is that you need to protect your staff – it’s as simple as that. Your employees have a right to work in an environment that is not going to cause them ill health or injury, and risk assessments are often the best way of achieving that objective.
Maintaining this environment means that you can keep staff injury free and in good health, allowing them to stay in the workplace. The practical implications of having a workforce that is constantly injured or ill are dire. Not only will you run into legal issues, but it’s also simply impossible to run a business if your employees are unable to come into work.
Save money in the long run
Risk assessments are a minor inconvenience, especially when you put them in the broader perspective of how much they can save in the long run. Risk assessments help prevent situations from occurring that can lead to lawsuits, but they can also prevent damage from happening to both equipment and the workplace in general.
This can be something as simple as maintaining shelving in a warehouse environment. Without a comprehensive strategy in place, units like these can become weakened and, over time, fail. This can lead to damaged stock, broken machinery, and even injury – all far more expensive than dedicating some time to carrying out risk assessments.
Reassure staff, improve motivation
Countless studies are showing that people are more productive in positive work environments. While part of that consists of an open, friendly space where people feel at ease with their peers, a large part of achieving a positive work environment lies in making people feel safe from hazards.
Risk assessments allow employers to show their employees that they’re taking active measures to make their workplace as safe as possible. This in turn lets employees relax in the workplace, letting them properly focus on the tasks at hand and maximise their productivity.
While the data surrounding a safe environment and improved motivation are harder to quantify than other benefits, it’s one of the most important benefits of risk assessments in the workplace.
Safeguard your brand
For most businesses, their most valuable asset isn’t their premises or machinery, it’s their brand. While damaged machinery can be replaced in an instant, a damaged brand can be impossible to repair.
If an accident happens at your workplace, especially one that involves customers or the public, the damage done to your brand could be disastrous. Even if you’re able to come through the other side of regulatory procedures, tribunals and material damages relatively unharmed, the way that the public perception of your business will have shifted can take years to undo.
Safeguarding your brand should be a key consideration when it comes to risk mitigation. Risk assessments in the workplace are an effective way of ensuring that these kinds of events do not happen in the first place, avoiding PR and brand related disasters.
It’s often the case that unsafe procedures are also inefficient in the long run. Old and malfunctioning machinery or tasks done unnecessarily by hand may involve cheaper set up costs, but can increase the risk of injury while hindering the long term productivity of the workforce.
Risk assessments will frequently identify areas where technological solutions not only decrease the risk of an incident, but also increase productivity. An example of this could be warehouse workers lifting large boxes by hand. While there’s no setup cost associated with this, there’s a high risk of workers injuring themselves in the long run.
Implementing a solution like a smart loading system with a conveyor belt decreases the risk of injury, while maximising the efficiency of the task. While the set up cost may be significant, the ROI can be substantial, due to both decreased wage expenses and increased efficiency.
Talent retention and recruitment
The best employees want to work in a safe, hazard-free environment where they know that their employer will look after them. In the long run, through the talented employees you’ll be able to attract and then keep, this will more than pay for the cost and inconvenience of carrying out risk assessments. In the current economic climate, employers stand to benefit even more than usual from retaining staff and reducing recruitment costs.
Improve your business
Simply put, risk assessments allow you to run a better business. Risk assessments result in fewer unexpected accidents, the retention of better, more capable staff, and protect your brand from bad publicity.
Put together, this allows you to provide a better service or product to your clients. You can cut down on delays due to accidents and minimise disruption, all while cutting unexpected costs.
If you’re wondering how to improve your workplace conditions, consider consulting external health and safety services. They’ll be able to provide a professional, external perspective on what you can improve on, without the need to hire a full-time employee or department.