Why are risk assessments important?
Risk assessment are important because they determine the controls needed to reduce health and safety risks to an acceptable level. This is not an exercise to create additional paperwork, but to document the risk-control processes. In order to know how to control a risk, you first need to understand the nature and level of risk that an activity or other hazard presents.
It is your responsibility as the employer, to ensure that all employees and non-employees, including customers, visitors and members of the public, are not put at risk by their work activities and that any risks are controlled and communicated sufficiently.
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What is a risk assessment?
This is a process by which the most significant workplace risks are identified and appropriate proportionate controls are put in place to manage these risks. Assessing risks allows the employer to prioritise the actions required to control risks. The requirement to ensure that adequate risk assessments are in place stems from the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Further information can be found here on the application of managing risks in your business.
What does an employer needs to show when an assessment is undertaken?
Any assessment must be suitable and sufficient. This means that it should concentrate on significant risks, prioritise measures to comply with legislation and be appropriate for the work carried out. It should also be valid over a reasonable period of time.
Documentation such as accident records, previous inspection and audit results and safety committee discussions can all help to decide what is a significant risk. Consultation with workers will enable the employer to gain a full picture of the real risks involved in work processes. For example, those carrying out tasks on a daily basis will be able to provide information on how tasks are actually done and whether any short cuts are taken to speed up work processes which could actually increase the risks involved
When should a risk assessment be carried out?
A risk assessment should be carried out before the activity or task is undertaken. That’s why it is important that all activities that may pose a risk are looked at first. The process of how to carry out a risk assessment is covered in detail here. If you know what might cause harm then the necessary precautions can be put in place to ensure that when the activity is undertake it is done safely and with minimal risk.
It is important that those involved in the risk assessment process are competent. One of the best ways to demonstrate competence is through training. We have a comprehensive training course for those involved in carrying out risk assessments. The online course is available 24/7 and once trainees have completed the training they can download their embossed training certificate. Further details are provided in the link below.
Burden on employer to prove what they have done is suitable and sufficient?
Ensuring that adequate risk assessments have been undertaken in the workplace is essential in ensuring that if something does wrong (employee injured), the employer can prove that what they have done was suitable and sufficient. The burden is always going to be on the employer.
- Although it’s vital that you have records of your risk assessments, the most important factor is that you can prove you’ve acted upon them. For example, if you identify that a hazard exists, you must specify how the associated risks will be reduced. In several cases that have resulted in prosecutions, hazards were not identified, nor were adequate control measures introduced to reduce the risks.
- Keep detailed records of any actions you have taken to reduce risks, e.g. repairs or modifications. Your records should be dated and identify who completed the work.
Steps to completing a risk assessment?
The 5 steps that are commonly associated with this process are on a dedicated page and can be found here