Why do I need a Risk Assessment?
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states that in health and safety matters, employers must carry out risk assessments of all work activities:
- Carried out by employees.
- That may affect persons not in their employment.
If you are an employer with five or more employees you must record any significant findings of the risk assessment.
What is a Risk Assessment?
In a risk assessment you must make a careful examination of what, in your work, could cause harm to people. You can then weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions or if should do more to prevent harm.
Assessments must be carried out by a person with adequate knowledge of the work and workplace. This includes information, instruction and training to complete the task. The employer may carry out the assessment if their knowledge is adequate.
The Health & Safety Executive website has free leaflets which provide advice and information on carrying out risk assessments.
How do I carry out a Risk Assessment?
An assessment can start with something as simple as a walk around the workplace to help you to identify the hazards. A 'hazard' is anything that:
- Can cause harm, eg chemicals, electricity, working from ladders, or
- Could go wrong at each stage of what you do.
The next step is for you to decide how likely is it that this will happen. This is called the risk. You should then decide what could be the worst result, ie injury and how many people could be hurt if things go wrong. In a small business, most accidents are caused by a few key activities. Ignore the trivial and concentrate on those that could cause serious harm.
You will need to see if you are taking the right precautions. If something needs to be done, ask yourself:
- If you can eliminate the hazard, or
- If not how the risk can be controlled so that harm is unlikely.
A risk assessment should be straightforward in a simple workplace such as a typical office, but more complicated where serious hazards exist. This is a very basic risk assessment. It doesn't cover all the risks but it gives you an outline of the process.
||Who is affected?
|Who is likely to come in contact with the hazard
||Detail what is currently happening
||What further measures are necessary|
|The use of a dangerous machine
||e.g. staff, contractors, members of the public
||Are the moving parts of the machine guarded
||Training and instruction of operator|
|Use of cleaning chemicals
||Are staff aware of the procedures for safe handling of the product
Health & Safety Executive
Environmental Protection UK