Is your risk management checklist up for the challenge of keeping your employees and your customers safe?
Take calculated risks. That is quite different than being rash. - Gen. George S. Patton
There is no way around risk. Whether in life or business, risk is part of our reality. In business, there’s no shortage of risk. From competition to theft to accidents, you face any number of business risks every day. You aren’t helpless, though. There is plenty you can do to limit and prepare for risks, and it all starts with a risk management checklist.
You probably have a checklist for standard operating procedures, a checklist for opening and closing your shop, a checklist for emergency preparedness, a checklist for quality control, and maybe several different safety checklists. These are all important. Similarly, each type of industry or business can use an individualized risk management checklist, but the goal here is to get you started on some common points. While a restaurant will have different risks than a bookstore, some risks are shared by nearly every business.
Getting Started on Your Risk Management Checklist
It’s important to understand the risks that business owners, employees, and customers face. These can range from physical hazards, such as falling items or wet floors, to financial risks, such as credit card fraud and shoplifting. What might these risks look like? And what should be on your risk management checklist to prevent or mitigate the problem?
Physical risks and safety hazards are broad, as they are pretty much anything that could cause bodily harm to a person. These may include fire hazards, such as faulty electrical outlets or extension cords, tripping hazards, such as inventory left in walkways, chemical hazards, such as cleaning products or gases that may irritate skin or cause breathing problems, or tool/equipment-related hazards, such as using sharp knives in a kitchen or saws. What should be on your risk management checklist for physical hazards?
- All employees are adequately trained in identifying and reporting hazards specific to your business.
- You have an emergency evacuation plan that you practice and share with everyone involved in your business.
- Your office or shop meets fire code regulations. You regularly test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, and there is easy access to a fire extinguisher.
- Everyone knows your address in case they need to call the fire or police department.
- Employees are trained in using any cleaning chemicals.
- Heavy items are secure.
- Exit routes are marked and illuminated.
- Exit doors are unlocked or may be opened from the inside without a key or specialized knowledge.
- Work spaces are sufficiently lit.
As helpful as technology can be, it also brings risk into your business. This is an area where your security is only as strong as the weakest link in the chain. But perhaps the worst part of a technology risk is that it could not only affect your business, it could also impact your customers through identity theft. Make sure the following points are on your risk management checklist.
- You have a data security plan in place.
- You have a plan in place for what to do when (not if) you have a data breach.
- Your staff is appropriately trained on the data security methods that make the most sense for your business.
- Share access to data only on an as-needed basis.
- You change login information immediately when an employee leaves your business.
Employees are both your most significant resource and your biggest source of potential problems. Especially for a small business, it only takes one employee, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to do a lot of financial damage. Assuming a dishonest employee makes it through the hiring process, they can wreak havoc on your business. But honest employees, or even you, could make a simple mistake with big repercussions. Add to that the possibility of a shoplifter here or there, and you could be facing some extensive losses. Be sure that your risk management checklist accounts for human factors.
- Your hiring and training protocols are top-notch, and you follow them every single time.
- All employees are trained and regularly updated in risk management.
- All employees are trained in safety protocols.
- You have systems in place to limit or eliminate the potential for embezzlement and fraud.
- Your security system is installed correctly and tested regularly.
- Respect and responsibility are priorities in the workplace.
Though this isn’t an exhaustive checklist, but it should give you a starting point in creating or adding to your own. Risk is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept risk without taking steps to limit it.
For help with minimizing risk in your business, contact your local Pekin Insurance agent to find out about our loss control program.