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“What exactly is a risk assessment and when do I need to do one?”  is a question we often get asked.

Risk management is a step-by-step process for controlling health and safety risks caused by hazards in the workplace. Risks need to be reduced or staff do not feel comfortable attending the workplace. The easiest and safest way to document these risks are to assess them. Therefore, a risk assessment. You do this by identifying hazards, assessing the risks they pose, documenting how to control those risks, recording your findings and reviewing them atleast annually but also when they; may no longer be effective, there are changes in the workplace (staff, processes, equipment used) that could lead to new risks, and if there have been any accidents or near misses. The reviewed document must then be updated with the review date.

Employer’s are required by law to protect employees, and others, from harm. Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the minimum they must do is:

  • identify what could cause injury or illness in your business (hazards)
  • decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously (the risk)
  • take action to eliminate the hazard, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk

For most small, low-risk businesses the steps you need to take are straightforward. You can do the Risk assessing yourself or appoint a competent person to help you.

Some workers have particular requirements, for example young workersmigrant workersnew or expectant mothers and people with disabilities. They need their own risk assessments.

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.

If you employ 5 or more people, you must record your significant findings.

Each individual working environment brings it own, often unique challenges. You must think about the specific hazards and controls your business needs. One thing we have learnt is that no two businesses, or their staff teams are the same, nor are the control measures that need to be put in place. Space and the ability to maintain social distancing throughout the working day are often top of the list. With many staff teams working effectively from home, those returning to the workplace are in some cases naturally anxious about coming back and in some cases now experiencing similar anxieties / concerns those many of us went through at the beginning of lockdown.

If you would like assistance with carrying out your risk assessment(s), you can book onto our half day Risk Assessment Training  which is aimed at staff with the responsibility for carrying out risk assessments within their workplace. This participative course leaves delegates with a clear understanding of the risk assessment process.  We look at a number of different risk assessment templates (including your own) and complete a number of practical exercises.

Alternatively, our consultants can be booked to carry out an initial risk assessment for you and they will leave you with the skills necessary to update and complete your own assessments in the future.