Controlling the risks in your workplace is important to businesses of all sizes. A first step to controlling risk is conducting a risk assessment. This consists of a review of a job or process that is carried out as part of your business. By asking a series of questions, you can identify hazards, determine steps to prevent any harm, and make sure that you’re covered. This process is key to maintaining small business continuity in tough or unexpected times.
In this post, we’ll walk through the basics of a risk assessment. We’ll also walk you through some recommended steps you can take to conduct one for your small business.
What is a risk assessment?
In short, a risk assessment is a review of all tasks that you and/or your employees participate in at work that may potentially cause harm. The goal of a risk assessment is to identify any potential hazards and determine an action plan to prevent harm.
How to conduct a risk assesment
Below are the steps you can take when conducting a risk assessment for your small business.
Step 1: Identify the hazards
The first step of a risk assessment is identifying the hazards. Within a single task or activity, there could be one to many hazards involved. When assessing hazards, take time to consider tasks that may involve the following:
- Fire and Explosion
- Radiation / Biological Hazards
A few examples of hazards include:
- Direct contact with or vapor from cleaning chemicals that may cause health concerns
- Equipment that may cause burns
- Falling objects from work area that can cause harm
- Electrical tools that can cause harm
- Debris or spills that may cause trips and falls
- Working at height with the risk of harmful falls
Step 2: Determine who is at risk
Once you’ve identified all business hazards, consider who may be at risk. When you do this, don’t just think about those individuals who carry out the task. In addition to full-time employees, make sure to consider part-time or contract staff, visitors, customers, and members of the general public. This is particularly true if you are working in public areas or occupied buildings. Once you understand those at risk, you’ll be able to identify preventive measure to control the given risk.
Step 3: Evaluate the risks and determine control measures
As the next step, evaluate the severity of the risk and determine precautions. When doing this, consider the likelihood of each risk and the severity of harm that could occur. You should prioritize the higher risk tasks and decide on control measures for these first. If there are high risk tasks that don’t currently have controls in place, you should consider stopping those tasks until the risks have been controlled.
Step 4: Record your findings
Once you’ve evaluated the risks and determined ways to keep the risk in check, you should record your findings through the process. This written risk assessment can be used to communicate the risks and controls in your small business to show that you value the safety of your employees and customers.
Step 5: Review your assessment and update if necessary
As a small business owner, you know that things change over time. With that said, it’s important to routinely review your assessment and make any updates that are necessary. You should always revisit your assessment if any of your processes change, if you introduce new technology or equipment, and if any health or safety regulations change.
If you take the time to review and adjust your risk assessment, you can make sure you stay up and running and maintain small business continuity in a crisis.