How Many Steps are There to a Risk Assessment?
We often watch the news or read in the newspaper about employees getting injured at work or their health being compromised in the workplace. But why do the workers have to suffer? Are these some unfortunate events or does all this happen due to the lack of awareness by the employers? If you are looking for an answer, you first must understand risk assessment.
Thus, risk assessment is a dynamic process that allows organisations to undertake and implement a proactive policy of managing workplace risks. Learn what is a risk assessment, its importance and how many steps are there to a risk assessment from this blog.
Table of Content
- What is a Risk Assessment?
- Why is Risk Assessment Important?
- Who is Responsible for Conducting Risk Assessments?
- How often should a Risk Assessment take place?
- How Many Steps are There to a Risk Assessment?
What is a Risk Assessment?
Risk assessment identifies potential hazards that may cause harm or injury to any individual, group of people and their possessions.
One should conduct a risk assessment in the workplace to evaluate risks and undertake preventive measures to avoid the risk and ensure workers’ safety and health from workplace hazards.
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Types of Risk Assessment
The types of risk assessment required within any workplace should be according to the operational activities being undertaken. Many industries have specific legislative requirements that may apply. Some of the common types of risk assessments include:
- Fire risk assessment: Fire safety management procedures are required to minimise the causes of fire hazards and let the employees know about evacuation procedures in the event of a fire in the workplace. This type of risk assessment is also known as Dynamic Risk Assessment (DRA).
- COSHH risk assessment: This is required in workplaces where hazardous substances are stored, used or manufactured.
- Manual handling risk assessment: This type of risk assessment should be conducted in any workplace where employees may be at risk of injury from lifting, carrying or moving loads.
- Display screen equipment risk assessment: This is required in workplaces where employees use computers, laptops and so on.
Why is Risk Assessment Important?
Risk Assessment in the workplace holds immense importance as it can protect your business, and employees and also improve your organisation’s risk management ability. In addition, employers must ensure risk assessment and document if it has five or more employees.
If it lacks necessary controls, any business organisation might face financial loss through fines, civil actions, etc. An article in BSC Safety Management magazine stated that “a food manufacturing business was fined £274,000 after two workers became trapped in moving machinery in two separate incidents.”
In the report, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Saffron Turnell noted, “Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.” He further mentioned, “These incidents could so easily have been avoided had appropriate controls been in place.”
In the absence of risk assessment, companies also face negative publicity, which can potentially threaten business growth.
Who is Responsible for Conducting Risk Assessments?
Before we see how many steps are there to a risk assessment, let’s see who is responsible for conducting the same. Subsequently, it is the employer’s responsibility to carry out a risk assessment within the workplace. The employer can appoint someone with relevant knowledge and skill to carry out the risk assessment. Further, the appointed individual must be competent to maintain all health and safety duties, essentially beginning with the risk assessment.
How often should a Risk Assessment take place?
One should carry out risk assessments whenever new machines or substances can lead to new hazards.
Employers should carry out risk assessments when-
- There is high staff turnover. The new staff should be provided training if necessary.
- Any unusual or alarming event occurs like a large volume of sickness or absence of employees, complaints of stress and bullying etc.
- An employee returns to work after a long period of sickness absence
How Many Steps are There to a Risk Assessment?
There are usually five general steps to a risk assessment procedure.
Since every workplace is different, the types of hazards will depend on the industries and the specific sites. However, organisations can follow five general steps regardless of the type of industry. The steps are as follows-
1. Identify the Hazards
The first step while carrying out a risk assessment is identifying and locating any potential hazard. Workplace hazards can be of many forms like physical, mental, chemical, and biological.
The physical risks include tripping or falling in the workplace, fatal injuries when lifting heavy materials or working with dangerous machinery. There are also biological and chemical hazards such as chemical cleaning products and infectious diseases.
Apart from these, psychosocial hazards can affect an individual’s mental health, for example, victimisation, stress and excess workload.
Now the question arises, how to identify these hazards? There are a number of hazards identifying techniques but the most simple one is walking around the workplace to see first-hand any processes, activities, or substances that may cause harm to employees.
To identify the indiscernible risks, you can check the previous records of accidents. You can also go through instruction manuals of equipment used in the workplace to indicate any risks involved in working with the machines.
2. Decide Who might be Harmed and How
After identifying the hazards in your workplace, you should consider who is at risk and how they are at risk. This may include full-time and part-time staff, people working in the warehouse or visitors.
You should also remember to consider employees working night shifts. Understanding who could be at risk will help individuals and organisations take the necessary preventive measures to keep people safe.
3. Evaluate the Risks and take Actions to Prevent Them
At this stage, you need to undertake preventive measures to create a safe working environment. Evaluate the possibility and severity of risks and then take precautions and control measures.
Further, the actions to prevent harm and risks might include trying less risky equipment or products, restricting access to hazardous areas, offering effective safety training, and issuing protective equipment to employees and contractors.
For example, if an employee is a cleaner, they will most likely come in contact with chemicals. Similarly, the employee can be provided protective gloves, mops, and training for safely storing and handling chemicals to avoid any unexpected occurrence.
4. Record the Findings
Recording the findings of your risk assessment so that you can review the assessment in the future. It is also a legal requirement to document the findings of risk assessments and the action taken to reduce the level of risk for employers with five or more staff.
A written risk assessment includes the hazard, the risks associated with the hazard, and the implemented control measures. You can record your findings in a risk assessment form, as it is easy to track the risks and control measures. The form should include:
- Found hazards
- An individual or group affected
- Risk management safety measures and the person responsible for monitoring them
- Who carried out the assessment
- Date of the last risk assessment
Keeping a risk assessment record means having proof of evaluated hazards and actions taken to reduce the risk. This proof can protect your business from legal liability in future.
5. Review the Risk Assessment
With the significant changes in the workplace, reviewing and updating risk assessments is a must. So, one should update the risk assessment record with any changes that occur.
I hope you have got your answer to how many steps are there to a risk assessment. To sum up, every industry or organisation should carry out a risk assessment to avoid unwanted business damage. An employer must appoint an eligible staff member to conduct the assessment and ensure that all the other staff cooperate.
A proper risk assessment undoubtedly plays a crucial role in reducing the risk and consequences of hazards in the workplace.
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