Why are risk assessments important?
A risk assessment is a vital element for health and safety management and its main objective is to determine the measures required to comply with statutory duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and associated regulations by reducing the level of incidents/accidents. It looks at what might cause harm and what is needed to avoid it, and assesses the effectiveness of any control measures in place. Extra control measures can then be used on the basis that they are “reasonably practicable”.
Who can do a risk assessment?
As an employer, you need to appoint someone competent to help you meet your health and safety duties. According to HSE, a competent person is “someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety”.
Any of the following can be appointed to do the risk assessments:
If you decide to carry out the risk assessments yourself or nominate someone in your organisation, you might decide to get some risk assessment training as it will then ensure that this person is competent and will gain abilities to identify hazards and categorise/evaluate risks. These abilities will allow a “suitable and sufficient” risk assessment to be conducted within your own organisation.
When should risk assessments be done?
You are probably already taking steps to protect your employees, but your risk assessment will help you decide whether you have covered all you need to. Start by using the five steps below, review any risk assessments you already have on an ongoing basis and always assess risks if new machines, substances or procedures are brought in.
How to do a risk assessment
There are no fixed rules on how a risk assessment should be carried out, but there are a few general principles that should be followed.
These Five steps to risk assessment can be followed to ensure that your risk assessment is carried out correctly:
- Identify the hazards
- Decide who might be harmed and how
- Evaluate the risks and decide on control measures
- Record your findings and implement them
- Review your assessment and update if necessary.