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Risk management involves spotting what could harm your organisation or people and then taking appropriate action to control or reduce the risks.
Every charity should have one or more health and safety representatives who ensure your organisation takes appropriate measures to prevent accidents and work-related ill health. It is also the charity directors and trustees’ role to ensure staff and volunteers are suitably trained for all aspects of their work and made aware of the risks they face. Organisations with more than five employees are legally obliged to keep written records of their health and safety policy and risk assessments.
Communication is key. Keeping everyone apprised of the hazards and the relevant preventative measures is essential. Display health and safety posters and evacuation routes in prominent places, keep a well-stocked first-aid box, and ensure enough people are on site who know the emergency drill.
The first step towards managing risks is identifying everything that could harm your charity or the people involved. You should conduct risk assessments for each activity and event as weather, equipment, location and people’s experience level could vary each time. You should also consider risks to your property, such as theft or damage to your buildings, and your reputation, such as negative publicity.
The next step is noting who or what may be harmed by each hazard and how badly. This means considering what injuries or damage could occur, and identifying the most vulnerable people.
The chances of each hazard actually occurring will vary just as much as the severity. Assigning each risk a category from low likelihood-low severity to high likelihood-high severity, will help you see what risks are acceptable to you (often referred to as your risk appetite) and which you should address as a priority.
Risks you cannot eliminate should be reduced by limiting the potential harm to an acceptable level. This could be through providing more training, more adult supervision at children’s events, or a change of venue.
Of course, no matter how careful you are, accidents do happen and natural disasters are unavoidable. Your charity should have a recovery plan for serious incidents, so you can keep your staff safe and get things up and running again ASAP to reduce the impact on your operations. For more information see our blog post "Business Continuity Planning - Hope for the best, plan for the worst".
Not all safety measures are feasible or affordable, so for risks that you cannot control or remove, you should take out insurance to protect your charity against financial losses. A specialist insurance broker who understands the risks and liabilities that charities face can provide expert advice and help you get the right protection for your organisation.
To speak to one of the team at Unity Insurance Services, call 0345 040 7702, and we’d be happy to talk through the best insurance options for your charity’s risks.
The following websites provide useful and practical advice on managing your organisations risks:
Health and Safety Executive: Managing risks and risk assessment at work
The UK Government: How to manage risks in your charity
The Scouts: Risk assessments
Our blog post "Business Continuity Planning - Hope for the best, plan for the worst".