A risk assessment is vital for any business to comply with detailed health and safety management and looks to reduce the level of accidents and incidents at work, with its main objective being to determine the required measures of compliance with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, along with associated regulations. The Health and Safety Executive defines a risk assessment as “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”.
According to audience response technology specialist ClickPad, risk assessments are so important as they contribute significantly to the protection of workers throughout the business and allow businesses to comply with the law. Risk assessments must be carried out before any work is done by any employee or worker anywhere on the premises that could potentially pose a threat to their health or cause injury.
Risk assessments or risk assessment training should be attended by every employee or worker based at the premises as this will guarantee that the individual is fully competent within the organisation and is fully aware and capable of analysing potential risks and identifying hazard warnings. A suitable and sufficient risk assessment can only be conducted when these abilities are taught to every worker.
Risk assessments do not have set rules as far as content is concerned, although there are many online templates available for organisations to utilise should they be looking for modern strategies for an effective risk assessment. However, there are some general principles most organisations will follow when carrying out a risk assessment, including the following five steps:
- Identifying the potential hazard
- Deciding who is at risk of being harmed
- Evaluating the risk at hand and deciding on the appropriate control measures
- Recording what you have found and implementing these conclusions
- Review how you have assessed the risk and update if necessary
These five steps encourage an effective, well-planned and informative risk assessment that not only allows you to comply with Health and Safety regulations, but also provides every worker or employee with all the information they need to address any potential risk and avoid injury or ill-health.
There is a difference between a ‘hazard’ and a ‘risk’ and this is something you must realise before coming up with an answer to the first step. A hazard has the potential to cause harm to an individual, whereas a risk is the likelihood or probability of the potential harm being realised.
Deciding Who Could Potentially Be Harmed
Once you have come up with a number of different hazards scattered throughout the workplace, it’s time to decide who may potentially be harmed and in what way. People operating within a warehouse are more likely to be harmed by heavy duty machinery for instance, while members of the public exposed to heavy machinery may also be harmed.
Evaluating Risks and Concluding Which Control Measures Are Required
Once you have identified the hazards and found out who is most likely to be harmed by these hazards, it’s now time to find out how you can protect people from harm. You must address the hazards and come up with a plan of action that ultimately nullifies the threat. Hazards can be removed entirely or controlled and this can be discussed during any risk assessment. You can even use audience response technology to collect data from everyone present in the risk assessment to accurately assess which approach is most preferred.
Keeping a Record of Your Findings
If an organisation is represented by 5 or more employees, it is a legal requirement to keep written proof of your findings. The written content should state detailed information regarding each hazard you have managed to identify along with how you have decided to approach them. You should also write down who is under threat from these potential hazards.
Reviewing Your Assessment and Updating
Workplaces often change in layout and design, with any extensions or renovation work often carried out to meet other business-related requirements. It is essential that this information is recorded and a new risk assessment is carried out that focuses on the new layout or extension.