How to manage work risks

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It is not enough to have simply identified your risks, you need to have a strategy in place for how you will manage them.

It goes without saying that a well planned strategy will mean that those risks will be easier to control. How much detail or level of compliance needed depends on the nature and
context of the activity, and on current industry best practice.

Once you’ve assessed the workplace risks associated with your business, you need to decide how you will deal with them. Consider first whether the risk be eliminated (eg can you remove the source of the harm?) If the risk can’t be eliminated, then it must be minimised using control measures.

To determine the control measures you should use

Think about the current control measures you have in place, and whether they are managing the risk.  If not: Find out if there are any legal requirements relevant to the risk, and if there are any standards or guidance materials you could follow. For example, handling asbestos or preventing falls from heights.

  • Ask others who do similar work to you how they manage the risk (within NZ and internationally).
  • Seek specialist advice from a competent health and safety professional.
  • Think about how easy and accessible the ways to control the risk are and whether they will work within your business.
  • Think about whether the controls you implement could create other risks.

The most expensive control option is not necessarily the best one. If the risk is well-known and if there are commonly accepted control measures to minimise it (eg industry standards), see if you can use those. Engage with your workers when making decisions about the ways to eliminate or minimise the risks. Communicate the risks and the control measures to your workers in a
way that is appropriate to their needs ( ie appropriate to the way they work, their work environment and their literacy and language).

Review for continuous improvement

You should also review your work activities on an ongoing basis to identify any new risks that might need to be managed. Reviewing also means thinking about the way you identify, assess and control risks – do your processes work, or is there a better way to do these activities? For example, could you involve workers more, do you need to have a different method to assess consequences and the likelihood of the risk happening, and could you improve the way that you monitor your risk control effectiveness? Your health and safety systems should be ‘living’ and become part of business as usual. You should check that the control measures you put in place are being used by your workers and are effective.

Monitoring mechanisms might include

  • Inspections, observations and walk-throughs
  • Meetings and worker feedback
  • Checklists and audits
  • Independent reviews
  • Technology (monitoring alarms on machinery, or gas alarms for example)
  • Health surveillance records
  • Environmental monitoring activity (eg air quality and noise testing).

Remember, It’s not all about paperwork

Good paperwork does not equal good health and safety. Documentation should be used where appropriate to support your health and safety processes but it is not however a substitute for having good processes and control measures in place to actively manage your health and safety risks.
The Restaurant Association’s Health & Safety Manual will assist you to comply with the Health & Safety at Work Act 2015 and to implement your own Health & Safety workplace policy.


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