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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Risk assessments in the workplace

By Steve Smith

This article provides a 5 steps risk assesment guide that will help businesses understand the key areas that need to be assessed within the workplace. This 5 step risk assessment guide is not the only workplace risk assessment strategy that businesses can use, but it is a sensible way of going about managing and assessing risks.

After all, people are more likely to make a claim these days at their place of work and therefore, employers must be completely aware of the potential hazards that employees may face. 

How to carry out risk assessments in the workplace

Five steps risk assessment:
  • Identify any current/potential hazards
  • Identify those who are in danger of the hazards identified
  • Evaluate the risks and decide on the actions you need to take
  • Make sure you record  findings and implement any necessary changes or additions in accordance with rules and regulations
  • Carry out reviews on your assessment to ensure the safety of others
Businessess should never overcomplicate the risk assessment process; many do and there’s really no need to. Overcomplicating the risk assessment process can easily lead to mis-judgements and mistakes, which inevitably puts the owner and others at risk of accidents and injuries occuring in the workplace. 

One of the main methods to minimse workplace risks is through staff training; staff must understand any dangerous hazards that could perhaps harm them.

Many people get the wrong end of the stick when it comes to the perception of health and safety; health and safety rules and regulations are implemented to save peoples lives and to protect them in general from dangerous or potentially dangerous risks in the work place.

Small business owners

If you run a small business you may be confident enough to carry out the assessment by yourself. If you decide that you want to carry out the risk assessment yourself then make sure that you understand the policies and laws required.

On the other hand, if you are part of a larger business, you may need or feel more comfortable if you were to receive the help and assistance of a health and safety executive.

No matter what method you decide on when trying to ensure the safety of your employees and visitors, you should involve all of your staff or their representatives when carrying out the risk assessment. Staff can help you to understand exactly how their work is carried out and what it involves and therefore, will provide a more precise account. Be sure to remember that the risk assessment is solely your responsibility, not the members of staff.
Remember the following two points and you won’t go far wrong:

Look for any potential hazards – a hazard is anything that could cause harm to others; electricity, having to climb ladders, electricity and so forth.

Measure the risk factor – look at the possibilities, high or low, that a person(s) could be harmed by the hazards identified and other hazards, and identify the seriousness that hazard could cause.

Health and safety continued…

Common sense

Many think that health and safety rules and regulations have gone too far and is true in some cases, in others Health and Safety is just used as a convinient scapegoat. However, there comes a time when people need to use commonsense as well as the fixed health and safety regulations and this isn’t just aimed at business owners, but staff need to do their bit as well t make the working environment safer.

Most of the potential risks within a workplace can be avoided just through staff using common sense, however, some just don't have it. In addition, you must ensure that the company is protected from  being prosecuted in the case of an accident. Teaching staff about the health and safety aspects relevant to the industry in which they work does help to minimise the risk of staff having an accident. 

About the author: Steve Smith is an expert in the industry and has worked with several professional Health and Safety Competent Person for over 2 decades. Steve has provided a vast amount of advice and information to businesses.

* Images: Author owned and licensed