Why a WHS Risk Assessment is Important for Your Business
What is a workplace health and safety risk assessment? It’s an evaluation of potential hazards in your workplace that can lead to injury or illness. A risk assessment helps you identify potential risks, and develop solutions to reduce them as much as possible.
A WHS risk assessment prompts you to think critically about how your business operates, what tasks are performed in each area of the business, who is permitted access to those areas, and so on. It might seem like common sense at first glance—but it’s these little details that could lead to accidents later on.
Let’s take a look at why a WHS risk assessment is important for your business.
What is Contained within a WHS Risk Assessment?
A WHS risk assessment is a process that identifies potential hazards that could lead to an accident or illness. A hazard is anything that poses a risk to people—whether it’s people inside or outside the workplace. Hazards can be physical, chemical, biological, psychological, ergonomic, or a combination of any of these things. It’s important to identify potential hazards in your workplace because they can be the cause of injury or illness.
A WHS risk assessment is typically conducted as a broad overview of your workplace. This is in contrast to a site-specific risk assessment, which is conducted at one particular location. A risk assessment for a specific site is useful for determining what hazards exist at that one location, and what solutions can be put in place to reduce those hazards. WHS risk assessments may also focus on a specific process or piece of equipment.
Is a WHS Risk Assessment a Legal Requirement?
It is a legal requirement for businesses to identify hazards, assess risks and implement control strategies to manage these risks, and a WHS risk assessment is a crucial tool in meeting these legislative requirements. This means that you need to identify and control hazards that may be present in your workplace. If you operate a business in Australia, for example, you need to meet the requirements of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act 2011). Meeting the requirements of the WHS Act 2011 means you’re providing a safe and healthy work environment, and protecting your business from liability.
Protect your Business from Liability
As we mentioned above, you can meet the requirements of the WHS Act 2011 by identifying and controlling hazards that may be present in your workplace. If there is an accident, and a hazard you could have identified and controlled has contributed to the accident, then you may be held liable. If a member of staff is injured, or they become sick (for example, a respiratory illness), you may be held liable if a hazard in your workplace contributed to the accident or illness.
If you conduct a workplace health and safety risk assessment and identify hazards, it may be easier to avoid liability. Since you’ve identified the hazard, you’ll know what to do to control it. If there is an accident or illness, you can show that you’ve taken steps to avoid the hazard. You can read more about the penalties and costs of non-compliance in our article What are the WHS Penalties for Non-Compliance?
Improve Productivity for Employees
A risk assessment can identify aspects of your business that could be improved to reduce the risk of workplace injuries and illnesses. This might be something as simple as a poorly placed drainage grate that could cause someone to trip and fall. A risk assessment can help you identify ways to improve the way your business operates, which can help your employees to be more productive.
There may even be ways to improve productivity through simple changes, like switching to a safer chemical for cleaning your products. This could be more effective than the chemical your business currently uses, while also reducing the risk of injury.
A WHS risk assessment provides a framework to help you identify potential hazards in your workplace. It can also help you meet WHS legislative requirements, and protect your business from liability. The main goal of a risk assessment is to help you identify potential hazards in your workplace, so you can reduce their impact. A risk assessment can provide you with information about the current state of your workplace, and help you create a plan for improvement.
You can read more about WHS risk assessments and general WHS risk management at WHSQ’s Managing Risks page.
If you want help conducting a WHS risk assessment in your workplace or any other assistance contact us.