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How To Perform A Risk Assessment In A Startup

Starting a business is a tremendously exciting time in an entrepreneur’s life. It’s a time for strategic planning, and hyper-focus on growth and scalability.

Amidst all the excitement, one key business function often falls between the cracks. Workplace safety and safety procedures and practices.

How To Perform A Risk Assessment In A Startup

Depending on the type of startup you are, negating health and safety measures can affect your business in one of two ways (if not both).

1. You lose out on a competitive advantage. Having solidified safety measures in place shows prospective companies that you are a stable organization.

Implementing safety practices can help you “punch above your weight class” and engage with reputable companies whose logo will help your court other partners.

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2. The cost of an accident can be an absolute backbreaker for a startup. The cost of a seemingly ordinary injury (like a bad back) can get expensive, fast.

Not to mention if something truly horrible happens like a death, where the average cost associated with the workplace is over 1.2 million dollars – that’s enough to bankrupt most startups.

The key here is actually having documented preventative measures in place. If you have documented procedures in place and an accident occurs you can avoid major penalties and fines.

Something that everyone in your organization should be familiar with (whether there are 1-5 people or 10-100 within your startup) is a risk assessment.

In this article, we’ll review the key components to conducting a risk assessment, and definitive action steps you can take to implement one in your startup today.

What is the purpose of a risk assessment?

In general, the purpose of a risk assessment is to thoroughly examine the workplace and identify situations and processes that may cause harm to people.

A risk assessment typically has four steps to follow:

1. Hazard identification:

The process of finding, listing and categorizing the hazards present for your workers and at your workplace.

As many of us shift to working from home, it is even more important that individuals can identify these hazards.

You can identify hazards before any new process or activity is performed. Think of new products, machinery, tools, or equipment changes as opportunities to identify hazards.

2. Risk Analysis:

During the risk analysis, we look for information that can provide insight into the hazards found.

3. Risk evaluation:

Now it’s time to evaluate the risk. Risk is typically evaluated on two fronts; severity and probability.

For example, if there is a high probability of an accident happening from a spill on the floor, you better take action fast before someone slips and hurts themselves.

Conversely, if a low-risk, the low-probability hazard is identified such as a wobbly shelf, you might leave it until the following day when the maintenance team can fix it up. Reference the chart below for a visual illustration.

4. Risk control:

The final step is about mitigating the risk. You’ll use your risk evaluation to determine the appropriate mitigation tactics.

Risk control is often where you’ll find compliance regulations. If you are located in the United States, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will guide the standards for safety, if you live in Canada, the CCOHS will guide the safety protocols that will keep you out of trouble should an accident occur.

impact of risk

Let’s go through an example. Say your start-up is in the air compressor business and you’ve been manufacturing and delivering straight to consumers.

There are plenty of risks involved in manufacturing, but let’s discuss a more obvious risk that may fly right under our noses: Delivering the product to customers. The hazard being, drivers are considered lone workers.

Working alone presents its own set of hazardous conditions. If the driver is in an accident or hurts themself by lifting the air compressor in or out of the vehicle they may be unable to call for help.

Now, to mitigate the risk you may need to provide the driver with two-way communication, a GPS in the vehicle or lifting straps to reduce the chance of injury.

These are the common types of risk mitigation your startup will want to keep an eye on.

Be prepared

Businesses can never eliminate risk altogether, but you can have plans in place and monitoring partners involved in your process of mitigating risk.

Assess and identify the risks in your business and be sure to inform everyone in your organization about the risks present.

Boast about your safety protocols

Once you have your new safety protocols in a place like your risk assessment, make them public on your website and post any safety certifications you have obtained.

Big players, especially in the oil & gas industry will not even consider working with a company unless safety standards are adhered to. Schedule regular training with your team, and post about it on social media.

Aside from attracting A-list clients, you also position yourself better to attract A-list talent to work for your company! Standardized safety procedures tell prospective employees that you care about their wellbeing and are an indicator of a good place to work!


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