Conducting risk assessments are very important. It will protect your workers and your business and ensures that you are complying with the law. In order to keep your employees safe, it is crucial that you have the right training and that you know how to carry out a complete risk assessment.
So what exactly is a risk assessment and how do you complete one? Let’s take a look at this very important element of workplace health and safety.
What is a Risk Assessment?
A risk assessment is a very thorough examination of a job, process or task within the workplace, in order to determine what potential risks might occur within that environment. Its intention is to discover any potential causes of harm, so that this harm can be avoided. Risk assessments need to be carried out in order to satisfy the requirements of legislation, but also to ensure the Health and Safety of all workplace employees. It is a vital element of health and safety in the workplace today and it is required under the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974.
Why is Risk Assessment Important?
One of the main reasons why it is crucial to carry out a risk assessment in your business is because it is required by law. The Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 states that all employers of five or more employees must conduct a risk assessment and must have a written statement of their health and safety policy.
However, not only is a risk assessment legally required for your business, it is also a smart move for success. It will keep your employees safer and it will reduce your business insurance costs on claims and premiums. Also, conducting a risk assessment and paying attention to health and safety in the workplace will bring down your employee absences and lost production time, as well as reducing machinery downtime. It also prevents employees taking legal action if they have suffered an accident in the workplace that becomes the businesses fault and your responsibility. A focus on health and safety has also been shown to improve the productivity and motivation of employees as they will feel safer.
How to Conduct a Risk Assessment
There are no fixed rules to how a risk assessment should be carried out, but there are some principles that should be followed, such as:
Identify the Hazards
The first step is to do a thorough assessment of your workplace and identify the potential hazards. Look for anything that could have the potential to cause harm, such as an uneven floor, an unsecured machine or an unventilated workplace that stores chemicals. You can spot these hazards by walking around the workplace, as well as by asking your employees to share any potential dangers they have noticed.
Don’t forget about potential risks that might take place outside of normal working hours, such as cleaning or waste compacting.
Who Might be Harmed?
When you have identified the potential hazards, you will need to figure out who might be harmed by them. Would this hazard hurt your employees or members of the public? Is there anyone in your workplace that is especially vulnerable to hazards, such as someone who is blind or someone who works with hazardous chemicals? Who is most at risk and how can you best protect them from potential harm?
Decide How to Control the Risks
After you know what the risks are and who might be harmed by them, you can figure out what to do in order to protect people from harm. Can you remove the hazard completely? If not, can you control the risk so that it is unlikely that anyone will be injured? Is there personal protective equipment that your employees could be wearing that would eliminate the risk? Is it possible to do things in a different manner so that the danger is reduced or removed?
Keep Good Records
If you are in a workplace with more than 5 employees you are legally required to write down the findings of your health and safety risk assessment. Make good notes on what hazards you have identified, how you planned to eliminate these risks and what took place afterwards. These records are very important, because they will allow you to keep track of what you have done. Also, they will provide helpful documentation should a court case of employee accident compensation ever arise.
Review and Update
Risk assessments are not something that you can just do once and then forget about. It is necessary to review your risk assessment regularly and update it – because workplaces tend to change over time and new risks can be introduced.
Make sure that all changes are also recorded and that all employees are informed of the new health and safety procedures.
Risk Assessment Training Will Teach You How
One of the best ways to learn how to properly perform a risk assessment is to take the IOSH Managing Safely training course. If you’re not a health and safety professional and you have responsibilities for your company’s health and safety you may also want to consider the NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health & Safety, alternatively read our post on health and safety officer courses or how to become a health and safety officer. During one of these courses you will learn a number of important tasks, including how to conduct a risk assessment within your work place.
There must be someone in your workplace who has attended risk assessment training, so that they will be competent and able to carry out this important task.
There are many different courses available, so it is important to choose the course that is best suited to your particular position and workplace environment. For example, three of the well-respected courses are listed below and you will learn how to conduct a risk assessment on all any them:
- IOSH Managing Safely
- NEBOSH General Certificate
- NEBOSH Construction Certificate
- SMSTS course – Site Management Safety Training Scheme
No matter what training program you take, knowing how to conduct a risk assessment is one of the most important things that you will need to know. Make sure that it is done right, so that you can keep your employees safe from the hazards of the workplace.