What is a Risk Assessment All About?

what is a risk assessmentWhat is a Risk Assessment when it really comes down to it? Risk assessment is an important tool for Saving Money on Workers’ Compensation.

In today’s marketplace, one of the big differentiators between competing companies is the cost of workers’ compensation coverage.  Companies who pay more for coverage must pass the cost along to their customers. By default, these companies are at a competitive disadvantage because their hard cost of doing business is greater than their competition.

What is a Risk Assessment’s Impact On Loss Experience?

One of the biggest drivers of the cost of work comp is how your loss experience stacks up against all the other companies in your industry class.  Companies with poor loss experience pay more for insurance than companies with good experience.  Companies with extremely poor loss experience often find themselves at the mercy of the state fund – the insurer of last resort…  Penalties for poor loss experience can drive the cost up to 100% or more above the standard rates.

Perhaps the best way to control your workers’ compensation loss experience is to identify all the hazards inherent in your business and then work toward removing or abating them.  By removing the potential for a worker to have an on-the-job injury you lessen the likelihood that one will occur.  An honest assessment of the risks involved is a great place to start.

A risk assessment starts at the front end of your business and concludes at the back door. Identification of hazards like spots on the shop floor that can become slick, uneven walking surfaces on the parking lot, poor lighting, ergonomically incorrect work stations, inadequate personal protective equipment or PPE not being consistently used are all hazards that an honest risk assessment will identify.

Identify the Risk and Eliminate It

Once you have a list of the things that could possibly cause a worker to become injured it is time to begin working to get them fixed.  OSHA lists three acceptable means of controlling injury risks.  First is engineering controls.  By engineering the risk out of existence you remove the potential for injury.  This could involve something as simple as rearranging the flow of work in the shop, marking walkways and aisles with yellow stripes on the floor or correcting a workstation to fit the worker.

See also: What’s on the Fed’s Radar? Manage Your Compliance Risk

The second acceptable means of controlling an injury risk is to install guards or barriers that prohibit employees from placing themselves in harm’s way.  Making sure that all machine guards are in place or installing guard rails on an open stairway are examples.

The final – and OSHA’s least preferred method of controlling injury risk is through the use of Personal Protective Equipment.  PPE such as dust masks, safety glasses, and ear plugs can keep employees safe as they go about their daily tasks.  Selecting the right PPE and enforcing rules for consistent use by employees are a must.

A risk assessment can be a daunting task – especially if you lack the knowledge or skills to deal with conditions that can cause injury.  Aligning your business with a company like Employers Resource can make the task much easier.  Our regional safety managers perform a risk assessment – for free – for client companies who need some help.  Drop us a line today to find out how our safety team can reduce injury risks in your company.


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