How Many Steps are There to a Risk Assessment?

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We often watch in the news or read in the newspaper of employees getting injured at work or their health 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 have to understand what risk assessment is.

Risk assessment is a dynamic process that allows organisations to undertake and implement a proactive policy of managing workplace risks. Risk assessment works towards the safety of the employees by reducing the risk involved in the work.

A proper risk assessment ensures that relevant risks are taken into account, efficient safety measures are adopted, the outcomes of the assessment are documented and the assessments are reviewed regularly.

Learn what is a risk assessment, its importance and how many steps are there to a risk assessment from this blog.

Table of Contents

What is a Risk Assessment?

Risk assessment is the process of identifying potential hazards that may cause harm or injury to any individual, group of people and their possessions. 

In the workplace, risk assessment is conducted to evaluate risks and undertake preventive measures to avoid the risk and ensure workers’ safety and health from workplace hazards. 

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Why is Risk Assessment Important?

Risk Assessment in the workplace holds immense importance as it can protect your business, employees and also improve your organisation’s risk management ability. It is a legal requirement for employers to ensure risk assessment and must be documented wherever five or more people are employed.

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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 that “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 be a potential threat to business growth.

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Who is Responsible for Conducting Risk Assessments?

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 within the organisation to carry out the risk assessment. 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?

Risk assessments should be carried out whenever there are any new machines or substances that can lead to new hazards.

Employers should carry out risk assessments when-

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, there are five general steps that organisations can follow regardless of the type of industry. The steps are as follows-

1. Identify the Hazards

The very first step while carrying out a risk assessment is to identify and locate 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, there are psychosocial hazards that 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 considering 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. 

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. The employee can be provided protective gloves, mops, and training for safely storing and handling chemicals to avoid any unexpected occurrence. 

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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 an easy way to keep track of the risks and control measures. The form should include:

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

Risk assessments should be reviewed and updated every time there are significant changes in the workplace. Since there is constant recruitment of new employees in any workplace, installing new equipment and materials, the office environment keeps on changing. So, it is recommended to update your risk assessment record with any changes that occur.

Conclusion

Risk assessment should be carried out in every industry or organisation to avoid unwanted business damage. It is an employer’s responsibility to appoint an eligible member from the staff 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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