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Risk Assessments

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What is a risk assessment?

It is a careful examination of your workplace to identify anything that could cause harm and to take precautions to minimise the risk.

Every employer is responsible for making a “suitable and sufficient” assessment of:

  • The risks to the health and safety of all employees whilst they are working.
  • The risks to the health and safety of others not in your employment that a recreated because of your work (for instance visitors to your premises).

The risk assessment should consider:

  • What could cause injury or harm health.
  • Whether or not the hazards can be eliminated.
  • What control measures can be put in place where hazards cannot be eliminated.

Why is a risk assessment important?

A risk assessment carried out by a competent person will help to prevent accidents, ill health and even fatalities. It is a legal requirement as stipulated in The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

How to do a risk assessment

First of all, you need to understand what, in your business, might cause harm to people and decide if you are doing enough to prevent that harm.  Once you have identified areas where changes need to be made, you should plan how you can introduce control measures in order to minimise risk.

If you have five or more employees, you need to keep a written record of your assessment. Your written record should list:

  • Hazards
  • How they put people at risk
  • What you are doing to control the risk

You must ensure your record is kept current. So, if you make any changes, update it.

Risk assessment in 5 steps

The HSE recommends the following 5 steps when carrying out your risk assessment:

Step 1  Identify anything that may harm people in your workplace

Step 2  Who is at risk of harm? How are they at risk?

Step 3  Assess the risk

  • How likely it is that people will be harmed by existing hazards?
  • Are there controls you could put in place to minimise the risks?
  • Plan how and when to introduce these control measures – prioritise.

Step 4  Record the findings of your assessment

  • The record should include any hazards spotted and measures taken to reduce the risk.

Step 5  Review the assessment

  • The assessment should be reviewed periodically and when changes to working practices or equipment are made.

Read more about risk assessment legislation in The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

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