Risk Assessments – What’s the Mystery?

For many businesses a request for a risk assessment conjures up fear and mystery. It should not be this way and risk assessments are a straight forward and important tool for effectively managing health and safety.

Employers are required by law to make suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks posed to employees and other people by their work activities. The aim is simply to prevent accidents and ill health through adopting a proactive approach towards managing workplace safety.

The HSE defines a risk assessment as:

            ‘Nothing more than 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.’

Risk assessments need not be over-complicated but they should be formally documented and their findings communicated to all who may be affected. The key is to identify those hazards which are ‘significant’ (not every possible hazard) and to ensure that the safety measures in place are adequate for the level of risk.

The HSE’s Five Steps to Risk Assessment identifies the five key steps to take when carrying out a risk assessment:

Step 1             Identify the significant hazards.

Step 2             Decide who could be harmed and how.

Step 3             Evaluate the risks and decide whether existing precautions are adequate or whether more should be done.

Step 4             Record the findings.

Step 5             Monitor / review the assessment and revise it as necessary.

There are a plethora of different risk assessment formats available but it is important to find the format that works for your business. All risk assessments should be reviewed periodically (normally annually) and sooner if anything changes in terms of the work equipment, process or environment or in event of an accident.

TCG’s expert health and safety consultants can help you with all aspects of workplace risk assessments and remove the mystery from what is in reality a simple process.