Top 10 ways to minimise risk
Minimising risk is one way to reduce the likelihood of facing liability claims. This helps to maintain reasonable premium prices and avoid significant costs in court.
It can also help you to minimise disruption to your business. But with liability claims increasing, how can organisations reduce their risk and help to safeguard their financial stability?
Types of hazards and risks
Here are some of the biggest causes of liability and property claims for businesses with the proportion of injuries attributed to each.
- Slips and trips - accounting for around a third of employee injuries in 2020/21
- Being struck by an object/person - 10% of employee injuries
- Lifting, handling and carrying - 18%
- Falls from height - 8%
Other causes also include:
- Accidents with machinery, tools or materials
- Fire (arson)
- Fire (gas or electrical)
- Fire (processes or storage)
- Water damage
- Burglary or theft
It is estimated that in 2020/21, 441,000 people were injured at work.
Although minimising risk is the first step toward protecting your business against claims, it is also vitally important that you have comprehensive insurance cover, whether that is professional indemnity, public and product liability (general liability), employers’ liability, directors and officers liability, office buildings and contents or business interruption.
How can businesses minimise risk?
As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. Lots of accidents and injuries in the workplace can be prevented by implementing carefully planned out strategies to limit the risk to any individual involved with your business - whether that’s an employee or a customer. Here are our top 10 ways to reduce risk in the workplace:
1. Machinery training
In the workplace, you or your employees will likely have to use some form of equipment, whether it’s a printer, a circular saw or an industrial production line. Whatever the case, in-depth training should be available to make sure everyone knows how to use equipment safely without endangering themselves, their colleagues or your customers.
Even if you think your workplace is relatively low-risk, such as an office, it pays to make sure. Basic precautions like keeping liquids away from electrical equipment and tucking long ties away from shredders or printers can help to keep everyone safe and prevent insurance claims. You should also make sure all electrical equipment is in working order and has no parts missing or damaged.
If you come into contact with members of the public in the course of your work, you should take the relevant precautions to protect them from your machinery and equipment. For example, you may need to erect hazard warning signs or divert passers-by away from dangerous working areas.
2. Use appropriate safety equipment
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is designed to keep you and your employees safe, so it’s best to use it. If you work closely with clients - for example, doing a home renovation - you might need to carry extra PPE for customers to use. This doesn’t just apply to factories and construction sites, though - all workplaces should make use of safety equipment like wet floor signs to avoid slips and trips.
Furthermore, permanent equipment such as handrails, clear markings for uneven floors and low ceiling signs will also help to prevent accidents. Devices such as smoke detectors, fire alarms and fire extinguishers are mandatory. In addition, if you must work at height, you should use equipment such as scaffolding, ladders and/or harnesses to keep yourself and any employees safe.
3. Wear suitable clothing or uniforms
Minimising risk in the workplace goes beyond wearing PPE - it also applies to the clothes you wear, too. The risk of slips and trips can be reduced by wearing footwear with a good grip and making sure trousers aren’t long enough to get underfoot. In addition, making sure clients are dressed safely can help to make sure they aren’t at risk when you’re working in their vicinity. You might need to provide them with PPE.
4. Perform regular safety inspections
Assessing the overall safety of your workplace and/or vehicles on a regular basis will help to ensure that any hazards are identified as soon as possible so risk can be managed effectively. For some types of insurance, this may be required, but it’s good practice even if not. It’s also important to have a system for reporting defects with equipment to make sure faults don’t get swept under the carpet.
5. Check the environment
Making sure your premises are big enough to prevent cramped working conditions will help to prevent accidents, as can regular cleaning and good lighting. Temperature control is also vital - being too hot or too cold can affect not only your employees, but your pipework, too. Protecting your business against cold weather can reduce the risk of burst pipes, and if you’re at risk of flooding, you could install temporary or permanent flood gates.
Wherever you’re working, it’s vital to assess the risks and try to minimise them to keep you and everyone around you safe. One of the best ways to reduce the risk to the general public is to keep them away from where you’re working wherever possible - block off the area if you can and use diversions to manage pedestrian traffic if not.
6. Hire qualified professionals
Of course, it’s important to hire the right employees for the job, but it’s just as important to do so with freelancers or contractors. People like plumbers, electricians, fire safety experts and the like should all be qualified and certified to ensure the job is being done correctly to minimise the risk of faults.
7. Fire safety training
Minimising fire risks is important for any workplace, so every business should provide adequate fire safety training. At the very least, you should have a plan for what to do in emergencies and carry out regular fire risk assessments, but it’s also worth educating yourself and your employees or customers as well. It’s no good having lots of fire extinguishers if no one knows how to use them.
Installing security equipment like CCTV and appropriate locking mechanisms will help to reduce the risk of arson, burglary and theft. If you have employees, develop a plan with them to keep your premises secure - this could include a closing routine of shutting windows, doors and external gates before leaving.
Security isn’t just about your physical business, though. It applies to your presence in cyberspace as well. Keeping accounts secure and preventing hacking or phishing attempts can help to prevent the theft of sensitive data online.
9. Alter your working methods
Is there an easier way of doing things that minimises risk? Make the change and choose the safer option every time to keep you, your employees and your customers safe. This could be as simple as designating walkway directions and avoiding working at height where possible, or it could mean hiring someone in to perform a maintenance task you or your employees aren’t trained to do.
10. General safety training
This final method of minimising risk is one of the most important for your business. It can be easy to overlook the obvious, by assuming that everyone else will also consider it obvious, but providing training in basic safety procedures can help to reduce the risk of preventable accidents in the workplace. Topics to cover could include food safety, lifting procedures and much more.
If you would like further advice on risk management, the following links may be of interest:
- Health and Safety Executive website, where you’ll find industry specific advice and statistics.
- As well as the top 10 risks mentioned above, be aware of other risks to your business. Good general advice is available via the government website.
- The Institute of Risk Management provides free guides to international risk management standards.
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