In order to prevent injuries and any harm to employees, companies have to manage and reduce risk. Completely eliminating risks can be hard, but trying to reduce risk can be beneficial as it decreases the threat to an employee’s wellbeing. The focus of an organisation shouldn’t be solely on making a profit but also on caring for the people who work for them. Keeping the workplace safe means attending to both high-level and low-level risks, as none of them should be ignored. What may start as a small or harmless threat may develop into a severe incident if neglected. 

Best ways to reduce risk 

To manage and reduce risk, companies need to allocate resources to an ongoing risk management plan. The plan should outline the following: 

  • Identify
  • Assess
  • Control
  • Review


As part of the identification step, the company will need to spot the threats. This includes all the possible ways that an employee could be hurt. For example:

  • Surfaces that could be very slippery when wet
  • Messy work environment 
  • Poor work layout and design
  • Aggressive behaviour
  • Lack of protective equipment
  • Chemicals
  • Higher than normal noise

To reduce risk, it’s important to know the signs that could lead to faster identification as well. Physical hazards may be easier to spot than mental ones. Mental risks to an individual’s health can show up in different ways. There are usually:

  • High levels of workload
  • Emotionally demanding job tasks
  • Lack of role clarity
  • Inadequate recognition
  • Poor support
  • Discrimination or harassment

These can indicate areas that the business will need to look at and determine whether risks arise from employee management. 


Once all risks have been identified, the company will need to assess them to determine how they can manage and reduce risk. This step is referred to as a risk assessment and it looks at what would happen if a risk did occur. It takes into account the severity and likelihood of a risk and whether the current controls in place would be effective against the risk. 

What would happen if an incident occurred? How quickly would the company have to respond and what would happen if they didn’t respond quickly enough? These are the types of questions the assessment step looks to answer.


In order to reduce risk, businesses would need to develop a proactive approach. There are a few options companies can look at: 

  • Eliminate risk
  • Avoid risk
  • Reduce risk

Eliminate risk

The ideal scenario is to eliminate every type of risk the company is facing. However, there are some considerations that need to be taken into account:

  • Whether it is realistic to eliminate the risk
  • The costs of eliminating a risk
  • How practical it would be to eliminate the risk completely

For example, the best scenario is to eliminate a hazard from the workplace but it may not be possible due to the office layout. Hence, businesses look to avoid or reduce risk.  

Avoid risk

Before looking to reduce risk, it could be worth considering the possibility of avoiding it. There could be a scenario where a company wants to partner with a new organisation. However, the organisation is under investigation for unethical practices. While the partnership could be profitable, it would be better to avoid the risk of associating with an unethical company by backing out early. 

Of course, risk avoidance means that the entity will miss out on potential opportunities and sacrifice potential income streams for the benefit of stability. 

reduce risk

Reduce risk

While avoidance and elimination can be favourable, they aren’t always possible. Businesses will need to look at the third option: Reduce risk to prevent detrimental outcomes. Risk reduction can be achieved through a number of ways:

  • Improve hazardous situations on the spot: If at any point higher ups notice hazardous situations, such as the lack of protective equipment, loose cables or low employee performance, then the best way to respond is to take care of the risk on the spot. Providing employees with the right equipment and tidying up the cables as soon as they seen them is the most effective way to reduce risk. 
  • Create policies to guide processes: Through policies and procedures, companies can establish expectations and give guidance to reduce risk. The policies can outline what training employees must complete before they handle certain equipment, as well as the behaviour that is appropriate in the workplace. This will prevent employees from injuring themselves and possible harassment cases. 
  • Develop contingency plans: Knowing what to do when things go wrong is really important for any scenario that arises. Contingency plans can walk employees through the steps they need to follow to minimise further harm and multiple risks materialising. 
  • Consider multiple perspectives before making decisions: Different employees will notice numerous ways of making the workplace safer. They might have seen suspicious behaviour,  hazardous areas or detected a threat that could have gone unnoticed. As staff perform tasks, they might come up with ideas to make them safer. Hence, they need to be involved in the risk management process to reduce risk successfully. Employees could propose alternatives to machinery or substances used, find ways to isolate colleagues from the hazard or recommend controls to strengthen the company’s measures. 
  • Adopt warning systems: Raising red flags or alerting staff of potential risks can prevent them from materialising. This could refer to warnings for potential fraud and cash mismanagement or machinery pings when certain safety precautions haven’t been implemented correctly. For example, if a certain protective shield hasn’t been lowered, the machine would stop working and alert employees of what needs to change in order for the equipment to work. 
  • Educate employees: To reduce risk, it’s important to provide employees with the necessary resources that will help them identify threats. These could include workshops on discrimination and unconscious bias, as well as modules to recognise phishing emails. 
  • Finalise cases quickly: The quicker cases are taken care of, the faster the team will be able to implement changes and move on to the next cases. This is why case management systems such as Polonious can be beneficial. Polonious not only helps with risk prioritisation but also enables investigators to fast-track their investigations. A more efficient and organised response will help in damage control and free up time for the parties involved. 
  • Run background checks: Before hiring an employee or entering into a partnership, it may be worth running due diligence investigations, especially if the employee will be in a position of power. This will reduce risks associated with power harassment, conflict of interest and fraudulent activities. A due diligence investigation can look into criminal history, financial hardship and previous workplace misconduct. 
  • Conduct audits: Audits ensure that the business operates in accordance with local laws and regulations. Scheduled audits can also detect any discrepancies and give managers a better idea of the risk level. Based on the audit, the company can make more informed decisions based on data and the current allocation of resources. 

Review control measures

To continue to reduce risk, it’s important to constantly monitor and review the current control measures and update them or replace them when needed. Control review recognises that the risk environment is changing quickly, and frequent evaluations are mandatory to effectively reduce risk. 

If the entity is experiencing unexpected growth or going through a great change, then a review of controls would need to happen sooner rather than later. As part of the process, each employee will need to be given certain responsibilities. For example, someone may be responsible for checking whether the control measures are working as designed. If not, then they will have to be modified. 

At what level is risk reduction satisfactory?

While these strategies can be beneficial in reducing risk, it’s necessary to figure out what level of risk the company would be comfortable with. Risk reduction can be better than risk avoidance as it allows businesses to minimise the possibility of an incident while also reaping the benefits of taking risks by operating and getting into new partnerships. However, reducing risk carries its own risks. It’s assuming that the controls implemented are enough to minimise the impact and likelihood of a risk. 

This means that a miscalculation can be very expensive for the company as it’s allocating resources to manage the risks. 

Keep looking for new ways to reduce risks

Businesses are now facing more risks than ever before. They have many things to worry about, from economic risks to cybercrime and complacency. This increased level of responsibility can be overwhelming as the only way to truly reduce risk is to keep looking for new strategies to implement. The threats companies are facing will get more complicated as time goes on, so the measures of yesterday will no longer be applicable to the problems of tomorrow. 

Managing risks and workplace cases can be time-consuming, especially if the cases are related to employee relations. To improve the handling of cases and enforce policies, our clients use Polonious. Through fast and efficient investigations, our clients achieve better results and we enable them to increase their levels of compliance. We help their investigation teams create better workflows, automate their tasks and visually check their risk levels so they can show employees how each threat is taken seriously.

Whether they report an incident of harassment, bullying discrimination or workplace conflict, employees are assured that issues will be investigated and action will be taken. As a result, individuals are discouraged from ignoring workplace expectations. If you are looking to reduce workplace risks, you are in the right place. Reach out and we will show you how our system has helped hundreds of teams resolve their cases in a timely manner.