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Why Are Risk Assessments So Important?

Posted on 20th Sep, 2017 | By Lorretta Tatham

As any expert will tell you, forward planning is an integral part of keeping people safe. Quick and decisive responses in times of emergency can minimise health risks and injury, whereas solid planning – by identifying and mitigating risks in advance – can prevent them from happening at all. In times of emergency, the difference between being proactive and reactive could even end up saving someone’s life. This is just one of the reasons why proper risk assessments and emergency plans are so important, and integral to maintaining a safe workplace environment.

Risk Assessments Help You Stay Prepared

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Proper risk assessments are crucial to preventing accidents in the workplace, cutting down on injuries and even saving lives. By highlighting specific hazards and potential threats, a risk assessment helps to generate appropriate awareness of them amongst both employees and managers. As well as this, risk assessments can also help managers identify who especially is at risk, and how to implement measures to protect them accordingly. Even if such measures are already in place, regular risk assessments are still important to ascertain whether these are up to scratch, or whether new ones need to be created to replace them.

Risk assessments are standard practice in all workplaces, but especially rigorous in active, hands-on environments such as warehouses. Small, relatively fast-moving vehicles such as forklifts often pose significant danger to pedestrian workers, and so are vital factors to take into account in risk assessments. Another example is the matter of spillages, which can lead to slips and falls. Cleaning equipment and appropriate signage should always be on hand for such occurrences, both for dealing with the spillage itself and for making sure that all surrounding personnel are made aware of it in the meantime.

However, risk assessments are no less important in the average office, which can pose less obvious but still dangerous hazards to the safety of employees. Trailing cables, for example, or overloaded plugs, or precariously balanced stacks of books or other items might well all be taken for granted by employees, but they’re the sort of things a thorough risk assessment will flag up instantly, recommending a course of action and thereby preventing potential injuries.

Emergency Planning Saves Lives

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There’s no question about this – while risk assessments can help avoid individual accidents, a solid, well-thought out evacuation plan guarantees the safety of everyone in the building. They’re required by law under the Management of Health and Safety and Work Regulations 1999.

While a fire evacuation plan is the most common instance of such a procedure, it’s your responsibility as an employer to consider other emergency scenarios. For example, an asbestos outbreak, an explosion, or a chemical leak. This is because in some cases, plans may need to be adjusted, or there may need to be multiple instances in place for each one. Electrical fires usually necessitate an evacuation, but in the case of certain chemical leaks, the expert advice may be to stay put and seal off the room as best as possible – this action may well be the best way to minimise the chances of anyone coming into contact with the chemicals.

Of course, an emergency plan will generally be drawn up based on the relative likelihood of the various risks. However, in all cases, it’s vital that they’re clear and comprehensive. A disorganised evacuation can lead to confusion, property damage or even injuries. People may try to leave the building using unsafe routes and end up trapped, or someone may slip and fall in the rush to the nearest exit. An evacuation plan, however, lays out clear instructions for what to do in an emergency, helping the response to remain calm and controlled, with the minimum risk of further danger or physical harm. The danger of mass panicking is not to be underestimated, so keeping everybody calm is a crucial element in keeping them safe.

Both in the cases of risk assessments and emergency plans, regularly retraining staff is at least as important as carrying them out in the first place – even the best evacuation plan is no good if no one remembers it on the day!

Here at Browns Safety, your physical wellbeing is of the utmost importance to us, which is why we run a number of courses designed to minimise the chances of workplace illnesses and injury. You can find out more about them here, or, to book your place on one, call us on 01282 615517 today!

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