What is it about a health and safety risk assessment that scares the living daylights out of people when you ask them to do one? There is a dis-proportionate fear of the process that acts as a block. As a result, the risk assessment task keeps getting pushed to the bottom of the “to do” pile.
What is a risk assessment?
Regulation 3(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at work Regulations states: –
(1) Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of—
(a) the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst
they are at work; and
(b) the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking,
In the workplace, this simply means carrying out the following steps:
- identify a hazard;
- assessing the level of harm that could be caused;
- deciding what we can do to either eliminate the hazard or minimise the harm.
The risk assessment process
Risk assessment is such a useful tool, in life and at work. We all carry out tens of risk assessments every day, every decision we make requires us to weigh up information and make a judgement or choice. We do it automatically, sometimes we choose well, sometimes not so well. But when we fail, we learn and tend not to make the same mistake again.
Risk assessment at work is just the same. We don’t need to eliminate all hazards (impossible in the real world) but we need to make reasoned judgements about how dangerous/how likely it is that something could go wrong and take action to prevent the worst case scenario. If we don’t get it quite right first time, we proactively keep making improvements. There is never an end to the process, it evolves with work, equipment, people, pressures, demands, environments etc.
In the eyes of an enforcing officer, to have at least tried to carry out a risk assessment and applied some protective measures will always be more favourable than hiding your head in the sand and trying to avoid it. And at what cost? No-one wants to find themselves or a colleague injured and know that they could have done something to prevent it.
Risk assessment training
If you have responsibility for staff, or specific health and safety roles in your workplace, building confidence through risk assessment awareness training and the hints and tips you’ll pick up to help you refine and improve your assessments will be invaluable.
The IOSH Managing Safely training course has been designed specifically to do just that, as well as giving you an excellent introduction to health and safety law in the UK and workplace hazards that you might encounter. It focuses on risk assessment and takes you step by step through the process with lots of examples, scenarios, group work and practical risk assessment exercises and assignments. By the end of the course, risk assessment will be a breeze.
If you think that this is a skill that you or your employees need, FD People is the place for you. As an accredited IOSH training provider, we have a Managing Safely Course starting in September at our Glasgow office. You can see further details of our course here.
Have a question or would like to speak to someone? Please contact email@example.com or call 0141 221 2984 and we will be happy to help.