A healthy, safe and risk-free workplace doesn’t come about by chance, it requires planning, the establishment of processes, and regular reviews. And while it may seem morbid, it’s vital to think about what could go wrong at your workplace and what the consequences could be. And once identified, you are required as an employer to do whatever is ‘reasonably practicable’ to eliminate or minimise the risks arising from your business. To simplify this process we’ve outlined a step-by-step approach to ensure no risk goes unnoticed.
Fair Work Australia defines ‘reasonably practical’ as what is reasonably able to be done to ensure health and safety when taking into account:
- The likelihood of the hazard or the risk occurring.
- The level of harm that could occur as a result of the hazard.
- What the person concerned knows, or ought reasonably to know, about the hazard or risk, and ways of eliminating or minimising the risk.
- The availability of options to eliminate or minimise the risk.
- The cost associated with the available ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, including whether the cost is grossly disproportionate to the risk.
Fair Work acknowledges that there is a level of objectivity that comes into play when assessing what is ‘reasonably practical’. What this means is that everything that can be done should be, unless it is reasonable for a duty holder to do something less.
As well as being a legal requirement, risk assessments are vital in protecting workers and visitors to workplaces. They help employers focus on risks with the potential to cause harm in the workplace. In many instances, straightforward measures can readily control risks: e.g. clearing up spills to prevent slipping or removing trip hazards. It can mean simple, cheap and effective measures to ensure employees are protected.
The law only requires employers to protect employees as far as is ‘reasonably practicable’, but the law does require assessment of risks in the workplace to enable plans to be put in place to control those risks.
So a risk assessment is simply a careful examination of what could cause harm to people, so employers can decide whether there are sufficient precautions to prevent that harm or if more precautions need to be taken.
Reduce the cost of health and safety in your workplace
At Randstad, we understand the people issues managers and HR professionals face every day, including the pressures of meeting your workplace health and safety responsibilities. For this reason we’ve created The Human Resource Guide, an always-evolving online HR resource that delivers the answers to your day-to-day concerns. It’s like having your own personal HR advisor by your side, 24/7.
Learn more about the best-practice approach to people management with The Randstad Human Resource Guide.