A risk assessment is something that most businesses will need to complete at some point, ss they give you an indication of how your business is dealing with hazards and how their associated risk can be minimised.
The aim of a risk assessment is to improve current health and safety practices within the workplace but for staff in charge of health and safety, performing one may not come so easily.
We have identified the 5 key steps to follow when performing a good risk assessment, read on to find out more.
Performing a risk assessment
Step 1: Identify the hazards
The first step is to identify the hazards in your workplace. This will help you in managing them later on. Think about which activities and processes around your workplace could lead to ill health or injury. These hazards can occur both in routine work and activities that are non-routine; such as cleaning in an office environment.
Some Hazards are not as obvious as others. Think about the long-term effect an activity in the workplace could have on an employee’s health.
Asbestos was a long-term hazard to many in the construction industry. The diseases caused by the substance did not become apparent until years workers were exposed. It is an example of how a long-term unidentified hazard can cost lives in the workplace.
Step 2: Decide who may be harmed and how
Once the hazards for the risk assessment have been identified, the next step is to work out who is exposed to the hazard and how they might be affected. It is best to involve your employees in this process to get the best input into the risk assessment.
Grouping your employees based on their work schedules will make it easier for you to implement the resulting procedures from your risk assessment.
Step 3: Assess the risks and take actions against them
Once the risks have been identified you should evaluate how likely the risks are to cause harm. A common sense approach is useful here, as employers are only expected minimise risks with strategies that are ‘reasonably practicable’ in the workplace. You will not be expected to anticipate unforeseeable risks.
Looking back on previous practices will help you evaluate which methods of risk control could be improved. Common practical steps to reducing risk include:
- Handing out protective equipment
- Stopping access to the hazards
- Ensuring there are the correct welfare facilities within the workplace
Sometimes risks can be mitigated with simple changes to the workplace environment, for example the introduction of a non-slip matt on a slippery surface.
Some companies who operate several workplaces can apply ‘model’ risk assessments that evaluate common risks associated with the businesses industry. When implementing a model risk assessment ensure you tailor the model to your personal workplace.
Step 4: Record your findings
When you have taken steps to prevent risks in your workplace you must record the findings. Records should be concise and are useful to ensure you have an ongoing safe workplace. If you have less than five employees you do not have to have the review in writing.
A risk assessment should show that you asked for the views of those who may be exposed to the hazard and that you implemented reasonable measures against the hazard. In legal terms, a risk assessment must be ‘suitable and sufficient’.
Step 5: Review your risk assessment
The final ongoing step of your risk assessment is to review it in the future. As workplaces are constantly changing with new employees and equipment coming into the business. For example, in 2020 many businesses had to adapt their risk assessment to include COVID-19.
A regular risk assessment check will ensure you are complying with health and safety regulations and giving your employees a safe workplace.
A risk assessment is crucial for all sizes of workplaces as it gives you the chance to measure how safe your employees are. The peace of mind will allow you as a team to focus on your work.