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What is a Risk Assessment?

Are you applying the correct health and safety practices in the workplace by utilising risk assessments?

Take a look at some frequently asked questions below to find out more about risk assessments.

What is a risk assessment?

It’s one of the first steps towards good health and safety practice. It is an examination of your workplace surroundings, discovering what could potentially cause a hazard.

Having an appointed person to carry these out can positively impact the business, as they can help prevent injury or ill health to your workforce. This makes the workplace a safer place for employees and visitors.

It’s important to know that it’s a legal requirement to conduct them. You must record any results from a risk assessment if you have five or more employees. Whereas, if you have less than five employees, it isn’t a requirement to write anything down, although it could be useful for reviewing them further down the line.

What are the 5 steps of a risk assessment?

Risk AssessmentThe five steps are:

  1. Identify hazards
  2. Assess the risks
  3. Control the risks
  4. Record your findings
  5. Review the controls

If you follow these steps correctly, they can apply to any environment to manage risk.

It is important to approach health and safety risk assessments in this way, so you don’t miss any of the mandatory steps. It helps you to focus on what has the potential to cause real harm and what takes priority to control.

Involving your employees will encourage engagement and earn their buy-in. This is when a method statement, following a risk assessment, comes in useful.

What is a method statement? 

It’s a document that provides employees with exactly how to carry out a job in a way that follows health and safety procedures and includes all control measures.

Learn more about how to improve workplace health and safety.

Examples of risk assessment

There are various types of risk assessments, and it is good to get familiar with them:

Qualitative – you’ll come across this type most often. This assessment is based on expertise and personal perspective.

Quantitative – this is usually a numerical system. The lowest number being minimal risk, with the highest number being the most dangerous. You see this in environments regularly using machinery, chemicals etc.

Generic – these are commonly used to cover usual daily tasks or when using equipment at different sites. The risks usually mentioned in this assessment are hazards that are often present.

Site-Specific – these tend to be a more in-depth assessment than those analysing common hazards. It will consider site location, environment and those doing the work. It might also apply to specific circumstances or on a certain day.

Dynamic – these are used for assessing uncertain risks right away. Emergency services are likely to use this as each situation is different to the previous one, leaving different risks to consider.

Who should perform a risk assessment?

The employer is responsible for appointing an experienced person to carry out a workplace risk assessment. This person should have knowledge of the necessary five steps mentioned above and should be able to carry out a the assessment correctly.

Is training required to perform a risk assessment?

Although taking a risk assessment course isn’t mandatory, it’s brilliant to have at hand.

Taking a course in this area will build on any current knowledge, making it easier to complete them and help you to fulfil your legal duties.

We deliver our Risk Assessment and Method Statement training course over three hours. It will educate the delegate on writing an effective risk assessment and method statement, and other topics. By completing the course, you will receive 3B accredited risk assessment certification.

We also offer a Risk Assessment eLearning course, which teaches you how to assess the risk found in a risk assessment. You will also learn how to produce a suitable method statement for all work activities.

When should you review a risk assessment?

It depends on the industry you’re working in and the risk it poses. If there are changes in circumstances every time you attend work, a risk assessment might be a part of your daily routine.

In many industries, employers review them annually, unless they have a reason to review them sooner. Reasons can include:

  • Introducing new machinery to the workspace
  • Different work processes are in place
  • An employer has reported a hazard
  • Due to an accident or injury

If you are unsure whether you need to review a risk assessment or you aren’t sure about the processes in the industry you work in, you can contact the HSE directly.

Health and safety in the workplace are very important for a smooth-running business. We offer a variety of different health and safety training courses, which teach delegates how to make their work environment a safer place to be.

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