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How do I carry out a risk assessment

Builders Hard HatWhat is a risk assessment?

A risk assessment is a careful examination of what could cause harm to people, workers or the public, in your workplace. It will help you determine whether you have taken enough safety measures or whether you should do more to prevent harm.

Why would you carry out a risk assessment?

A risk assessment is a legal obligation under Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regulations. It is a very important step in protecting your business, your workers and the public.

• You must assess the all risks or possible risks in your workplace and implement plans to control them.

• The law does not expect you to eliminate all risk, but you are required to protect people as far as is ‘reasonably practicable’.

• Accidents and ill health could ruin lives and also affect your business. Output can be lessened or lost, machinery could be damaged, you could have to go to court or your insurance costs could increase, especially your employers liability insurance.

A risk assessment could help to minimise these types of issues from arising in the first-place.

How to carry out a risk assessment?

When thinking about a risk assessment, you should firstly understand the difference between a hazard and a risk.

A hazard is anything that may cause harm, such as chemicals, electricity, working from ladders or an open drawer. The risk is the chance, high or low, that somebody could be harmed by the hazards, together with an indication of how serious the harm could be.

Risk assessment is a straightforward process that can usually be carried out by a competent member of your staff.

You can follow five simple steps that were previously publicised by the HSE:

1. Identify the hazards – walk around and look at what could reasonably be expected to cause harm.

2. Decide who might be harmed and how – identify groups of people that might be harmed, it will help you identify the best way of managing the risk.

3. Evaluate the risks and decide on precaution – when the hazards are identified, you have to decide what to do about them.

4. Record your findings and implement them - writing down the results of your risk assessment, and sharing them with your staff encourages you to put your results into practice, which will make a difference when looking after people and your business.

5. Review your assessment and update if necessary - every year, formally review where you are to make sure you are still improving, or at least not sliding back.

You should consider all significant risks when carrying out a risk assessment. You will be aware of some obvious hazard, such as a spill, which could result in a slip. Others may not be so obvious such as poor posture at a workstation, which could lead to back pain or future incapacity. This is the build-up of the effect of poor posture not simply one occasion.

A Risk Assessment and Policy Template can be obtained from the Health and Safety Executive website. This template brings together your risk assessment, health and safety policy and record of health and safety arrangements into one document to help you get started and save you time.

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