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Think risk assessments are a once-off obligation? This assumption could be the reason the DoL shuts your company down

by , 05 February 2015
Many business owners think risk assessments are something they only have to do when they set up their health and safety programme.

This is a serious and costly mistake.

A mistake that could even lead to the DoL shutting down your company.

Read on to find out why so you can avoid this disastrous assumption...

Never assume you only have to do one risk assessment

Your risk assessment must form the base of your company's health and safety programme. This means it should be your very first step. 

This is why a lot of people think it's a once-off task you just have to do at the beginning.
This isn't the case.
Risks change constantly and because of this you have to keep reassessing and reviewing your risks. For example, if you hire new employees, your risks change.
These employees might have different health and safety training than your other employees. Because of this they might do things differently and cause an accident. If you don't review your company's risks, you might never know this problem exists.
Any time you leave risks like this undetected,  it can cause serious health and safety problems. And if a DoL inspector comes to assess your company and sees you haven't dealt with them, he could shut your company down for good.
To make sure this doesn't happen, you have to schedule regular risk assessments.
Here's how often you should do this.
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Here's how often you should do risk assessments

Do a new risk assessment once a year, but preferably every six month. This might seem like a lot, but risks can change very fast.
You also need to do a risk assessment if there are any changes in your business such as new employees, machinery, procedures or health and safety laws.
When you do this risk assessment keep your previous documents with you. This will be your risk register. Make sure you keep every risk register from all your assessments so you can document the changes in your risk levels.
You'll use this register to see the risks you identified originally and their risk level. This will help you see if any of the existing risks have changed.
Then look for new risks. Pay special attention to any changes in your workplace. To identify these new risks, do a full workplace observation and see what changed to create these new risks.
This is the only way to identify these risks. Simply drawing up the risks you think might exist isn't accurate.
Lastly, use your risk assessment to monitor your safety measures. This will help you see if they work effectively and help reduce your risk levels. This is important because ineffective safety measures can be just as dangerous as no safety measures.
If you plan and organise these risk assessments carefully, you can do them in an afternoon because you already have most of the ground work.
But if you're just starting out and planning your risk assessment process, check out the Risk Assessment Toolkit. It contains everything you need to plan and do your risk assessments effectively, each and every time. 

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