Your business or organisation is required by law to protect its staff and other visitors from harm. One key element of doing this is to conduct a workplace risk assessment. This will help you meet the requirements covered in The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which state the minimum you must do is to:
- Identify hazards that might cause illness or injury within your business
- Determine the likelihood of someone being harmed and how seriously
- Take steps to remove the danger or take action to control the risk if it cannot be eliminated
The process of performing a workplace risk assessment is straightforward enough, even for small businesses with low risks. HSE provides detailed guidance for larger companies with a high risk.
What to include
Your health and safety risk assessment is a step-by-step process that you can complete or outsource. You should include the following three elements in your workplace risk assessment:
- Hazards identified
- An evaluation of the risks
- How you will control the risks
Your workplace risk assessment should document your findings, and then you should review the controls that you have in place.
Your first step is to inspect your workplace and look for potential hazards. It would help if you made a note of chemicals and substances that are in use, how plant equipment is used, unsafe working practices, and the general state and condition of your premises.
It is also helpful to go back and read through your accident book, which might highlight less apparent risks. Remember to consider maintenance operations, cleaning, non-routine operations, and changeovers between production runs.
When you have listed the hazards within your company, you need to assess how severe an injury could be. Your workplace risk assessment should include:
- Who might be injured and how
- Your existing controls
- Any further action you need to control the risks
- Who will carry out control actions
- When those actions will be completed
How can risks be avoided?
Completing a workplace risk assessment will allow you to look at what you are doing and determine if you can eliminate the hazard or better control the risks. Options that you can look at include:
- Replacing machinery, processes, or materials
- Redesigning the job
- Providing PPE (personal protective equipment) or appropriate safety workwear and ensuring workers use it
- Implementing practical measures for safe working
- Reorganising work to lower employee’s exposure to machinery, materials, and chemicals
It is not always possible to remove all risks from the workplace, but you must do all that is reasonably practicable to protect your staff from harm. You might find it helpful to download an HSE risk assessment template instead of making your own.
Once you have finished your workplace risk assessment and put in new controls, you must check they are working. You need to update your paperwork when changes occur, including changing processes, your staff, production substances, and equipment.
If you are responsible for your premises, you also need to complete a fire risk assessment. A fire risk assessment follows a similar process, and you should:
- Identify fire hazards-and-risks
- Determine who is at risk assessment
- Remove the risk or reduce it
- Prepare an emergency plan, make a record of you finding, and provide training
- Update your fire risk assessment regularly