Workplace Risk Assessment

Workplace safety should be the highest priority in any business. It should be planned, methodical and cover all potential hazards and risks. By implementing an effective risk management system you improve not only the health and safety of your workers but also their productivity.
According to Safe Work Australia, by eliminating and controlling workplace risk and hazards it can help to:
- prevent and reduce the number and severity of workplace injuries, illnesses and associated costs
- promote and improve the health and wellbeing of your workers, and
- helps in fostering innovation and improves the quality and productivity of work.
Each year in Australia hundreds of thousands suffer a workplace injury or illness. In 2019 alone, 162 Australian were fatality wounded in the workplace. Your business can be fined up to $800,000 if found in failing to provide a safe workplace.
It is critical you properly assess your workplace. There are four essential steps you need to take to assess workplace hazards and risks.
Step 1. Identifying Potential Hazards

To identify any potential hazards in the workplace you must determine situations or items that could potentially cause harm to people. There are four key aspects of work that can cause workplace hazards.
1. The physical work environment
2. Equipment, materials and substance use
3. Work tasks and how they perform
4.Work design and management

For more information see Safe Work Australia.

Table 1: Common Hazard Safe Work Australia
Hazard Example Potential Harm
Manual tasks Tasks involving sustained or awkward postures, high or sudden force, repetitive movements or vibration Musculoskeletal disorders such as damage to joints, ligaments and muscles
Gravity Falling objects, falls, slips and trips of people Fractures, bruises, lacerations, dislocations, concussion, permanent injuries or death
Psychosocial Excessive time pressure, bullying, violence and work-related fatigue Psychological or physical injury or illness
Electricity Exposure to live electrical wires Shock, burns, damage to organs and nerves leading to permanent injuries or death
Machinery and equipment Being hit by moving vehicles, or being caught in moving parts of machinery Fractures, bruises, lacerations, dislocations, permanent injuries or death
Hazardous chemicals Acids, hydrocarbons, heavy metals, asbestos and silica Respiratory illnesses, cancers or dermatitis
Extreme temperatures Heat and cold Heat can cause burns and heat stroke or injuries due to fatigue. Cold can cause hypothermia or frost bite
Noise Exposure to loud noise Permanent hearing damage
Radiation Ultra violet, welding arc flashes, micro waves and lasers Burns, cancer or blindness
Biological Micro-organisms Hepatitis, legionnaires’ disease, Q fever, HIV/AIDS or allergies
Step 2. Identifying Potential Risks

In assessing your workplace risks you need to consider what happens if someone is exposed to a hazard and what the likelihood of it happening. A workplace risk assessment can help you to determine the following:
- how severe a risk is,
- whether your existing measures are effective,
- what actions you should take in controlling the risks, and
- the urgency of the risks
There are many hazards with well known associated risks that also have already established an accepted control measures. It is not necessary in these situations to formally assess the risk in these situations. By applying these established control measures you will effectively manage the hazard.

For more information see Safe Work Australia.

Step 3. Control Risk

There are many ways to control workplace risks. The most important step is controlling the risks is by eliminating or minimising the risk so far as is reasonably practised. The best way of doing this is by consulting your workers and their representatives.
When considering how to control these risks, it is important to look at which option will most effectively eliminate the hazard or minimize the risk. This may be a single control measure or the combinations of multiple control measures. Whichever is chosen needs to provide the highest level of protection. The risk control measure are ranked from the highest level of protection to the lowest. This is called the hierarchy of control measures.
It is important to consider the time it will take to implement these control measures. Some may be easily fixed and implement straight away, others will require more planning before implementation.

For more information see Safe Work Australia.

Step 4. Review Control Methods

Once the control measures are put in place it is important to continuously review them. Over time equipment may need to be replaced or procedures may need to be changed. It is important to consult your workers and their health and safety representatives and consider the following:
- Are the control measure working effectively in both design and operation?
- Have the control measures been work effectively in both design and operation?
- Have any new problems arisen from the introduction of any control measures?
- Have all hazards been identified?
- Consider where the new work method, new equipment or chemicals made the job safer.
- Are employees following the safety procedures?
- Has the training and instructions provided for workers been successful?
- Are workers actively involved in the identification of hazards and risks still in the workplace?
- Are the frequency and severity of health and safety incidents reducing overtime?
- Have new legislation or new information been released, which would affect the way you approach WHS in your workplace

For more information see Safe Work Australia.

First Aid in Risk and Hazard Assessment
Suitable first aid kits, first aid supplies and first aid equipment are key to ensuring safety in the workplace.It’s critical you properly assess your workplace.
There are four essential questions you need to answer to assess workplace first aid requirements.
Question 1. What is the nature of the work?
Is it a high, medium or low-risk business?
For example, steel manufacturing is a high-risk business while a warehouse is medium-risk and a small accounting firm low-risk.
Question 2. What are the hazards at the workplace?
Is there machinery at the factory? Do they use a forklift? Is there a burns risk in the kitchen?
Question 3: What is the size and location of the workplace?
How many different work areas are there? Is it remote or far from emergency services? Are workers ever more than three minutes from a first aid kit?
Question 4: What is the size and composition of the staff and others?
Are there contractors, subcontractors and volunteers on site? Does anyone have a disability or known health concern? Are there students, spectators or other members of the public around?
Many businesses find Australian workplace safety regulations complex and confusing. We’re here to help make your work a safer place with simple, sustainable and efficient solutions.
If you have any concerns about ensuring safety compliance in your workplace, call Brenniston Customer Care on 1300 730 079.