What is a Risk Assessment?
A Risk Assessment is simply a careful examination of what, in your line of work, could cause harm to people so that you may weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions or need to do more to prevent harm.
The aim is to ensure that no one gets hurt or becomes ill, as accidents and sickness can ruin lives and affects your business if output is lost, machinery is damaged, insurance costs increase or result in going to court.
You are legally required to assess the risks present in your workplace.
Some assessments of the relationship between hazard and risk are very precise, based on numerical assignments of values which are calculated from detailed considerations of engineering and other disciplines, other risk assessments may be more task orientated such as Display Screen Equipment (DSE) risk assessments.
The important things you need to decide are whether a hazard is significant and whether you have it covered by satisfactory precautions to ensure the risk is minimised. This needs to be checked when you assess the risks. For example, electricity can kill but the risk of it doing so in an office setting is unlikely, provided that ‘live’ components are insulated and metal casings properly earthed.
So how should you assess the risks in your workplace?
HSE guidance promoted a 5 step approach to hazard identification and risk assessment :-
Step 1: Look for Hazards
Walk around your workplace and look for what could reasonably be expected to cause harm, not the trivial things but rather concentrate on significant hazards. Also ask your employees what they think and if they’ve noticed anything that you may not find immediately obvious.
Step 2: Decide who might be harmed, and how
This can include young workers, trainees, non-English speakers, cleaners, visitors, contractors, maintenance workers, members of the public or people you share your workplace with.
Step 3: Evaluate the risks and decide if current precautions are adequate or need improvement
When considering whether current precautions are adequate also consider if the remaining risk is tolerable or intolerable. If it’s intolerable than you need to re-evaluate the precautions and improve until the remaining risk is minimised.
Ask yourself, have you done everything required by law? But don’t stop there – your real aim is to minimise risk and to do so you may need to add further precautions.
Step 4: Record your findings
If you have more than five employees you must record the ‘Significant findings’ of your assessment, this means writing down the significant hazards and conclusions.
An example of this may be: ‘Electrical installations: insulation and earthing regularly checked and working as intended.
Your employees must also be informed of these findings.
Step 5: Review your assessment and revise it if necessary
Your business will inevitably evolve and as new equipment and procedures are introduced so too will new risks. When a significant change has been made, update the Risk Assessment as necessary. Do not do this for every trivial change.
It’s recommended that an annual Risk Assessment is conducted as a minimum to ensure that your business is as up-to-date as possible.
If you are looking for any assistance with Risk Assessments within your organisation, we may be able to help. Contact us on: firstname.lastname@example.org