Assessing the Risk
“A risk assessment is an important step in protecting your workers and your business, as well as complying with the law. It helps you focus on the risks that really matter in your workplace – the ones with potential to really cause harm.” – HSE
The HSE’s ‘five steps to risk assessment’ sets out five simple, easy to follow steps for all companies, big or small, to follow to ensure their risks assessments are up to scratch. Highwire Ltd has picked out some of the most useful hints from this guide for you to follow.
When thinking about your risk assessment, remember:
a hazard is anything that may cause harm, such as chemicals, electricity, working from height, an open draw etc.
the risk is the chance, high or low, that somebody could be harmed by these and other hazards, together with an indication of how serious the harm could be.
Step 1 – Identify the Hazard
Walk around your work place and look at what could reasonably be expected to cause harm.
Ask your employees or their representatives what they think. They may have noticed things that are not immediately obvious to you.
Have a look back at your accident and ill-health records – these often help to identify the less obvious hazards.
Decide Who Might be Harmed and How
Some workers have particular requirements, e.g. new and young workers, new or expectant mother and people with disabilities may be at particular risk.
Cleaners, visitors, contractors, maintenance workers etc, who may not be in the workplace all the time.
Members of the public, if they could be hurt by your activities.
Evaluate the Risks and Decide on Precautions
The law requires you to do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm. Think about what controls you have in place and how the work is organized.
Can I get rid of the hazard altogether?
If not, how can I control the risk so that harm is unlikely?
When controlling risks, apply the principles below:
Try a less risky option
Prevent access to the hazard (e.g. by guarding)
Organize work to reduce exposure to the hazard (e.g. mansafe systems when working at height)
Issue personal protective equipment (e.g. clothing, goggles, harness etc)
Provide welfare facilities (e.g. first aid)
Record your Findings and Implement them
Putting the results of your risk assessment into practice will make a difference when looking after people and your business.
You need to be able to show that:
A proper check was made.
You dealt with all the significant hazards, taking into account the number of people who could be involved.
The precautions are reasonable, and the remaining risk is low.
Review your Risk Assessment and Update if Necessary
Few workplaces stay the same. Sooner or later, you will bring in new equipment, substances and procedures that could lead to new hazards. It makes sense, therefore, to review what you are doing on an ongoing basis. Every year or so formally review where you are, to make sure you are still improving, or at least not sliding back.
To read the full guide or to download a risk assessment template please visit www.hse.gov.uk