Risk assessment is the process of identifying, evaluating and putting in place appropriate precautions in the workplace. By doing a risk assessment, you protect your business and employees against potential accidents to the best of your ability and take a proactive rather than reactive stance.
There are many ways to carry out a risk assessment in the workplace. This is just one example.
1. Start by identifying the hazards/risks in your workplace.
For this step, you will need to look at how people could be harmed. Do this by:
- Walking around your workplace and looking at the various tasks/processes in place.
- Talk to your employees as to where they see potential hazards/risks.
- Look at the equipment your staff uses and consult equipment manuals/instructions.
- Look through your accident reports.
- Check the HSE website for further help.
2. Identify who may be harmed and how.
For this, step think about your workstaff and who is “at risk”. Don’t forget:
- New staff who may need training.
- Staff who have been with the company some time and who may need “refresher training”.
- Cleaners, visitors, contractors, maintenance workers etc, who may only work part-time.
- Members of the public, if they are near your workplace or could be hurt by your activities.
3. Evaluate the hazards/risks and how to deal with them.
The law requires you to do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect your staff from harm. Consider:
- Are all of your processes/work jobs absolutely necessary? If yes, is there a better/more safe way to do them?
- Ensure that training is given where required and that processes are followed correctly.
- Personal protective equipment (e.g. clothing, footwear, goggles etc) should be used where required.
- Reducing the risk of exposure to the hazard where possible.
4. Write down what you find in terms of risks and record how to deal with them.
It’s important to record the results of your risk assessment. Don’t overcomplicate the process. Remember to keep it simple. You can check on some example risk assessments, to get an idea what should be recorded.
You need to be able to show that:
- You carried out a proper check.
- You involved your staff or their representatives in the process.
- You have reduced risks wherever possible.
- You have precautions in place for risks that couldn’t be reduced and that the remaining risk is low.
5. Review your risk assessment on a regular basis and update as required.
Look at your risk assessment and think about whether there have been any changes in your workplace e.g. new equipment purchased, new process in place etc? Have your workers spotted a problem? Have you learnt anything from accidents or near misses? Taking all this into account make sure, your risk assessment is updated. Make a plan of action to deal with the most important things first until you have covered everything.
You can use the HSE Risk Assessment and Policy template to get started.
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