The HSE’s definition of a risk assessment is: “a careful examination of what, in your work, could cause harm to people, so that you can weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent harm….”
A risk assessment is a vital element for health and safety management and its main objective is to determine the measures required to comply with statutory duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and associated regulations by reducing the level of incidents/accidents.
Why do a risk assessment?
A risk assessment will protect your workers and your business, as well as complying with law. As for when to do a risk assessment it should simply be conducted before you or any other employees conduct some work which presents a risk of injury or ill-health. How to do a risk assessment.
There are no fixed rules on how a risk assessment should be carried out, but there are a few general principles that should be followed.
In an ever-evolving workplace, safety practices and standards have very much started focusing on employee engagement and involvement in making safety decisions. This has even become more clear in the recently introduced ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management System, where employee participation in safety decisions is one of the key concepts being presented in the standard.
If health and safety standards are to improve, full cooperation and commitment of employees are essential. Where selected, they must be able to fully participate in the making and monitoring of health and safety arrangements within their workplace in order to gain their interest in accepting their full share of responsibility. Appointing a safety committee is surely one of the methods that can increase that commitment.
Five steps to risk assessment can be followed to ensure that your risk assessment is carried out correctly, these five steps are:
Step 1: Identify the hazards
To identify hazards, you need to understand the difference between a ‘hazard’ and ‘risk’. A hazard is ‘something with the potential to cause harm’ and a risk is ‘the likelihood of that potential harm being realised’. Hazards can be identified by using a number of different techniques such as walking round the workplace, or asking your employees.
Step 2: Decide who might be harmed and how
Once you have identified a number of hazards you need to understand who might be harmed and how, such as ‘people working in the warehouse’, or members of the public.
Step 3: Evaluate the risks and decide on control measures
After identifying your hazards and deciding who could be harmed and how, you are then required to protect the people from harm. The hazards can either be removed completely or the risks controlled so that the injury is unlikely.
Step 4: Record your findings
Your findings should be written down as it is a legal requirement. By recording the findings it shows that you have identified the hazards, decided who could be harmed and how, and also shows how you plan to eliminate the risks and hazards.
Step 5: Review your assessment and update when necessary
Risk assessments should be updated with
- Significant change in process/ situation
- Change in regulations
- Live Document
- Continuous Improvement
You should never forget that few workplaces stay the same and as a result this risk assessment should be reviewed and updated when required.