In 2020, everything changed. Protecting workers’ health and safety from the risks of COVID-19 fundamentally changed what most had come to know as business as usual. The effects of this sudden disruption continue to ripple through many businesses’ day-to-day operations. 

Now, businesses must also contend with supply chain challenges, worker shortages, and inflation concerns. These immediate concerns often require the most attention, distracting leadership from the everyday incidents and compliance issues in their facilities. Common safety risks — from security gaps to employee injuries — haven’t gone away, and may be even more detrimental to your operations if time and resources are already stretched thin. 

If it’s been a while since you conducted a thorough risk assessment, now is the time to get back on top of your safety planning. After all, to be proactive is to be prepared, and safety is foundational to business success. Review the following points to help mitigate potential losses and protect your security team — and your business — from major safety risks.

Why now is a good time to reassess your risks

Supply chain concerns and staffing shortages have created new pressures for businesses to contend with. But think back to life before the pandemic: even under the best-operating conditions, everyone shares responsibility in taking the time to create a safe work environment for each other. 

If anyone questions the need to reevaluate business risks or doesn’t believe they can spend the time or resources conducting assessments, remind them the best practice is to conduct a risk assessment when:

·        You make workflow changes

·        You add a new process

·        You add, replace, or update equipment

·        You hire new staff or change job duties

Change is constant. Given today’s challenges, your business has likely made one or more changes since your last risk assessment. If that’s the case, a thorough review is probably overdue.

Employees reflect your commitment

Unfortunately, we’ve seen declines in employee training quality and quantity over the past few years. No matter your industry, occupational hazards exist in your workplace, and recent hires — or employees who have taken on new responsibilities — simply don’t know what they don’t know. Insufficient employee training can put your business at greater risk of employee injury and significant health hazards, workers’ compensation claims, equipment and facility damage, and security threats.

Investing the time and resources to adequately train your team may be challenging, but targeting those resources to minimize your risks is worth the initial investment. Conducting a thorough risk assessment helps you identify the most pertinent business risks and provides evidence you can use to teach your team members the unique roles they play in protecting themselves and others from danger.

Risk assessment process

While no two businesses operate exactly the same, the goal of any risk assessment is ultimately the same — to protect employees and comply with applicable laws. And while there are no strict rules on assessing your risks and ensuring compliance with safety regulations, we recommend the following process as a starting point.

1.  Identify the security risks

The first step is to broadly consider all the risks of your business — especially those that may be new. Find an insurance partner or safety consultant who can help you create a pinpoint assessment of your facility and business, including:

-      Physical hazards

-      Chemicals

-      Onsite equipment

-      Areas vulnerable to inclement weather

-      Cybersecurity risks


2. Define risk metrics

To create and prioritize risk mitigation strategies, hold all risks to the same standard in terms of likelihood and severity, regarding the danger they pose to your operation’s safety and security.

3. Evaluate your results

After considering all your risks and defining standards for their potential impact, identify which ones pose the biggest and most imminent threat to your business. Use that evaluation to plan how to allocate time and resources to your biggest threats.

4. Create security solutions

Take the time to consider what new safeguards can or should be implemented to help reduce the risk of loss. Whether it’s new processes, dedicated safety training, or additional physical protection, the plans you create now can help prevent losses from the key dangers you’ve identified.

5. Implement and follow up

While an initial assessment can make you more aware of potential risks, preventing losses requires action — and reevaluation. Did the solutions you created prevent injuries or business disruptions? Did they have any negative consequences, like new inefficiencies? With these strategies in place, are different risks now a higher priority?

Planning to reduce business risks should always be rooted in a why. Following this approach can help your business evaluate and avoid dangers as they arise. Commit adequate resources to prevent them and stay proactive rather than reactive as your operations evolve. 

While COVID-19 and its related economic challenges continue, it’s time to regain focus on setting your business up for future success rather than playing catch-up. 

This article originally ran in Security, a twice-monthly security-focused eNewsletter for security end users, brought to you by Security magazine. Subscribe here.