Despite small and medium-sized businesses representing the vast majority of businesses globally, most of them rarely grow or even survive. Every year, low productivity, substandard products and services, marketing, and finance challenges drive thousands to bankruptcy. Business risk assessment is an aid to risk mitigation for SMBs to make workplaces healthier and safer, increasing efficiency, and competitiveness.
A risk assessment permits businesses and their workforce to tackle challenges, such as health and safety challenges, perform identity verification services, and develop cost-effective solutions. Further, a risk assessment can also aid in the establishment of priorities such that the most dangerous situations are mitigated first, with the minor hazardous conditions handled later. In addition, it helps small-medium businesses address their daily problems, reducing reliance on external experts and consultants. Here are steps you can use in assessing risk in your SMB.
Identify the Physical Hazards
The first step in assessing small-medium business risk is surveying the workplace and identifying any potential physical hazards. Without identifying a threat, you can’t manage it. Ensure your survey is as comprehensive as possible. Since you work in that place daily, it is easy to miss some critical hazards. Use the following tips to identify the risks:
- Walk around your workplace and identify what can reasonably cause harm.
- Ask your workers what dangers they imagine they can face in their job and ways to prevent accidents and ill-health in the workplace.
- Pinpoint the most dangerous activities and processes and their location in your workplace.
- Look at the manufacturer’s datasheet to help identify dangerous chemicals and equipment.
- Revisit previous accidents and work-related ill-health to identify the less obvious hazards.
Single Out Workers at Risk of Harm
In each hazard identified, be precise on who is at risk of harm and how. This implies identifying workers at risk of exposure to hazards, determining how they are at risk, and the potential damage to their health. Risk assessment doesn’t necessarily mean having each worker’s name but instead deciding groups of people at risk from a given hazard. This also includes performing identity verification such as reviewing current assets, former businesses, criminal records, and more. An SMB risk assessment may also include identifying affiliated entities.
Ensure you are very clear about what risks people may face. Assess their immediate safety and potential effects on their health as well as the long-term effects. In addition, consider workers with particular security and health vulnerabilities—for example, new or expectant mothers, new workers, people with disabilities, etc. Identifying workers exposed to each hazard is crucial since each threat has different risk mitigation measures.
Evaluate the Risk-What Are the Necessary Actions to Mitigate the Business Risk
For starters, what is currently being done? It is possible for some hazards you already have risk mitigation measures in place. Scrutinize the effectiveness of these already existing measures in minimizing the risks to workers and other people. This will help you determine which further steps are necessary for particular hazards.
If your existing measures are ineffective, identify further actions to be taken. Here is the hierarchy of risk control measures you can follow.
- Eliminate or substitute the hazards. This is the best mitigation measure since eliminating or replacing an element reduces anyone’s risk of exposure to zero or too minimal.
- If substitution and elimination are not possible, determine which tools, equipment, technology, or engineering measures are applicable. This ensures the overall safeguard of the workplace rather than protecting people only.
- Determine safe work methods and practices, work organization, training, and information requirements.
- Determine if your existing hygiene and welfare equipment are sufficient to deal with the risks from the identified hazards. These measures may not entirely protect against threats but rather reduce the effects of those hazards.
- Consider personal protective equipment (PPE) among the last safe measures. Keep utilization of PPE to a minimum, and don’t use it as the primary mode of protection.
- Lastly, consider health and medical surveillance measures offered by health professionals for workers at high risk.
Keep Clear and Precise Records
After identifying risks and necessary risk mitigation measures, implement the standards. Assign responsibilities within the SMB for the implementation within a given timeframe and document the date of execution. For each control measure, specify the person(s) implementing it and the completion date. While most SMBs may not utilize the risk matrix, such a tool helps work out risk levels associated with a particular issue.
Lastly, record and outline your findings, highlighting the most significant hazards identified and the group of people at risk. All the recorded information must be available at all times for workers, supervisors, and OSH inspectors. Although there is no set format for recording your findings, ensure your format for record-keeping is simple and readily accessible.
Risk assessments for small-medium businesses don’t have to utilize academic papers; OSH experts may write them. The aim is for the employer to implement the recommendations. The reported risk assessment should be practical and thorough. This means it should indicate:
- A formal investigation was undertaken.
- All significant hazards were identified and mitigated.
- The precautions are realistic and residual risk is minimal.
Let Us Support Reducing Your Business Risk
Risk assessment in small-medium businesses is a crucial step in growing your business. However, this can prove to be a daunting task. At Enformion, our team of experts is ready to assist you with all your SMB risk assessment needs. Contact us today to get assistance tailored to suit your individual needs.