Risk Assessment sits at the heart of everything we do in health and safety. 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,
Risk assessment is not something that we should be afraid of. It is simply a means of: –
⦁ identify a hazard, e.g., hitting a pedestrian or other vehicles with our car while reversing.
⦁ assessing the level of harm that could be caused, e.g., significant injury or death to a pedestrian, substantial vehicle damage etc.
⦁ deciding what we can do to either eliminate the hazard or minimise the harm, e.g., drivers must pass a driving test to ensure competence to drive, the test includes reversing; cars are fitting with rear view and wing mirrors to improve visibility, some vehicles also have reversing cameras or sensors to assist the driver.
The following steps will help you create risk assessments for your workplace: –
⦁ Identify hazards at work
Examine the workplace and look for hazards that have the potential to cause harm. Ask employees what they think, examine accident records, refer to manufacturer and supplier information, consult industry or sector guidance.
⦁ Decide who might be harmed
The risk assessment duty asks employers to consider the harm to employees and specifically requires you to consider employees who may be at increased risk, e.g., young workers, trainees, volunteers and unpaid workers, new and expectant mothers, persons with disabilities etc.
You are also required to consider other people who may be affected by the work you do, e.g., visitors to your premises, members of the public in the area where you are working, contractors, people you share the workplace with etc.
⦁ Evaluate the risks (with no control measures)
Consider how likely it is that each hazard could cause harm and the severity (impact) of the harm that could be caused using the matrix below. This will determine whether you need to do more to reduce the risk.
For example, a driver without a licence reversing a vehicle for the first time without adjusting their mirrors
⦁ LIKELIHOOD of striking something: POSSIBLE – LIKELY
⦁ IMPACT (harm that could reasonably be caused) – MODERATE – SEVERE
= RISK – MEDIUM – HIGH
We have assessed the risk as medium – high and know that we need to do more to reduce the risk.
⦁ Decide on the control measures necessary to reduce the risk
Look at what you’re already doing, and the controls you already have in place. Ask yourself:
⦁ Can I get rid of the hazard altogether?
⦁ If not, how can I control the risks so that harm is unlikely?
If you need further controls, consider:
⦁ redesigning the job
⦁ replacing the materials, machinery, or process
⦁ organising your work to reduce exposure to the materials, machinery or process
⦁ identifying and implementing practical measures needed to work safely
⦁ providing personal protective equipment and making sure workers wear it
Put the controls you have identified in place and re-assess the risk to confirm that it has been reduced to LOW.
You’re not expected to eliminate all risks, but you need to do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm. This means balancing the level of risk against the measures needed to control the real risk in terms of money, time, or trouble.
⦁ Record your findings
The risk assessment should be recorded and communicated to employees. We have provided a simple downloadable risk assessment form that you can use.
⦁ Reviewing Risk Assessments
Risk assessments should be reviewed at least annually or in the event of any of the following:
• A change to the task, process, or equipment
• A change in the work location
• A change to the employee(s) undertaking the task
• In the event of an accident or incident.