Being an employer brings a lot of responsibilities, every business owner or manager knows. One of the most important responsibilities is the legal obligation to manage health and safety in the workplace. The entails identifying risks and then assessing them.
Every employer has to complete a health and safety risk assessment; to define hazards present in the workplace and take action to manage them. Eastern Region Training provides a number of health and safety course online for convenience (see more info) and an onsite course (see more info)
What’s the difference between a hazard and a risk:
A hazard is anything that may cause harm, from chemicals, electricity or working from ladders to something as simple as a puddle of water or an open drawer.
A risk is the chance, however high or low, that somebody could be harmed by a hazard. You also need to assess how serious the harm could be
A written report of your risk assessment is needed by law by businesses with 5 or more employees. They have to record these findings.
You are still obliged to do a risk assessment if your employee total is less than 5 but writing it down is not necessary. However we strongly advise to have a written record.
Here’s a quick checklist of the areas you’ll need to cover, to help you keep your risk assessment short, relevant and focused;
- Identify each hazard.
- Decide who is at risk and how they can be harmed. Remember that this includes everyone – visitors and contractors as well as employees.
- Evaluate how likely each risk is to cause injury or illness and how serious the harm could be.
- Decide what you’re going to do to minimise each risk.
- Record your findings, the risks you have assessed and the precautions you have decided on.
- Update it when something changes – new equipment or changes to a process for example.
Can you do this yourself?
If you are confident you understand the risks in your workplace, you can conduct your own workplace risk assessment without being a health and safety expert. However, if you’re in any doubt about any aspect of the assessment, it’s wise to call in the experts.
To understand why you may need expert advice, you need to consider the worst case scenario. If you ever found yourself in court because of a Health and Safety incident in your workplace, an inaccurate or incomplete risk assessment could have serious repercussions.