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10 ways you can improve risk management

Find out how to minimise the top 10 risks that small businesses face, from slips and trips to fires and burglary.

With increasing liability claims, being able to identify and reduce risks can help to safeguard your financial stability. Preventing claims can keep your premiums reasonable and also enables your business to avoid significant costs and downtime from dealing with accidents.

1. Accidents with machinery, tools or materials

For some businesses, working with machinery and tools is part and parcel of the job, so it’s essential to stay safe.

What you can do:

✔️ Guard machinery correctly with the appropriate controls fitted (including emergency stops and interlocks).
✔️ Routinely inspect all machinery.
✔️ Put an effective defect reporting system in place to help reduce misuse.
✔️ Provide adequate training for all equipment to ensure your employees are using machinery in the appropriate way.

2. Slips and trips

No matter where you operate, slips and trips are an all too common risk, from spillages on the shop floor to wires in the office corridor.

What you can do:

✔️ Ensure floors are in a good condition, adequately lit and with designated walkways.
✔️ Maintain good housekeeping standards.
✔️ Wear appropriate footwear.
✔️ Document a cleaning programme for any spillages.

3. Struck by object/person

According to the Health and Safety Executive, being injured by a moving object, like a falling object or a cut from a hand knife, accounts for over 10 per cent of major injuries reported in the food and drink industry alone.

What you can do:

✔️ Identify potential sources and causes of incidents.
✔️ Introduce appropriate control measures, which may include traffic control, good housekeeping and effective machinery guarding.
✔️ Store heavier items on or near the floor and stack items carefully to prevent them from falling.

 4. Lifting

If you or your employees need to lift heavy objects from A to B, following the correct precautions can help to prevent injuries. 

What you can do:

✔️ Eliminating the need to lift wherever possible is the most effective way to minimise risk.
✔️ If lifting does need to happen, provide personal protective equipment.
✔️ Lighten the load where possible and reduce repetitive movements.
✔️Ensure at least two able bodied people are available for lifting people or weights above a certain amount.

5. Fall from height

Effective risk management here could mean the difference between a serious accident and a successful, claim-free project.

What you can do:

✔️ If safer ways to carry out work can be implemented, then always choose these.
✔️ Carry out proper planning of proposed work with risk assessments and controls.
✔️ Provision of alternative equipment (e.g. scaffolding instead of a ladder).

Are you covered?

Having comprehensive insurance cover, whether it’s professional indemnity, employer’s liability, public and product liability, or business interruption insurance, can help you to minimise the impact of these risks.

6. Fire (Arson)

To minimise the risk of arson, adequate security is essential.

What you can do:

✔️Get an expert to check your locks, shutters and windows.
✔️ Install and maintain electronic security systems (intruder alarms and CCTV).
✔️ Use enclosed and lockable waste skips and bins.

 7. Fire (Gas or Electrical)

Not all fires are started intentionally. Without a thorough risk assessment, gas and electrical fires can pose a threat to your business.

What you can do:

✔️Ensure that all systems are installed by suitably qualified contractors (preferably NICEIC approved, or a member of the Gas Safe Register)
✔️ Regular inspection and testing will minimise the risk of electrical or gas fires.
✔️ Establish controls on the use of portable appliances – this is sometimes an insurance requirement.

 8. Fire (Processes and Storage)

Flammable or combustible materials should be stored safely to mitigate the risk of fires. The Health and Safety Executive offers detailed guidance on this.

What you can do:

✔️ Ensure appropriate cut outs or limiters/thermostats are installed where pre-heating is required.
✔️ Review the layout of storage to reduce the likelihood of combustible materials being kept near a heat source.
✔️ Install fire detection and protection systems.
✔️ Where possible, segregate process areas from storage areas.

9. Water damage

Whether it’s flooding or a burst pipe, water damage can detrimental to your property and stock.

What you can do:

✔️ Areas with water pipes should be kept above freezing point to prevent frost damage and lag any external pipe work.
✔️ Check if your gutters, downpipes and storm drains can cope with heavy rainfall.
✔️ Inspect and clean out your drains and gutters regularly.
✔️ Store any vulnerable stock at least 150mm above the floor.

10. Burglary/Theft

Similar to arson, the risk of burglary can be minimised by improving physical security.

What you can do:

✔️ Install electronic security systems such as CCTV, intruder alarms and security lights.
✔️ Improve perimeter security.
✔️ Install barriers and screens.
✔️ Use security personnel and contractors.

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