While most of you are aware that risk assessments form the bedrock of every organisation, many are confused when it comes to the nitty-gritty of recording risks. As Britain’s longest established occupational safety experts, we are often asked where to find a blank risk assessment form or a risk assessment example. In this short guide we will look at the key components all risk assessments must include, as well as discussing why you need to tailor your risk assessment to your organisation.
What is a risk assessment?
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) you can define a risk assessment in the following way:
A risk assessment is simply a careful examination of what, in your work, could cause harm to people, so that you can weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent harm.
Regardless of the size of your organisations, you have a legal duty to undertake risk assessments in order to protect your workforce from risks that have the potential to cause harm under Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.
How to do a risk assessment
To do an effective risk assessment you first need to understand the possible elements in your business that might cause harm to people and decide what actions you are doing to prevent that harm. Once you have identified these elements, you need to suggest and priorities appropriate and proportional control measures. The HSE suggest you start by:
- identifying what can harm people in your workplace;
- identifying who might be harmed and how;
- evaluating the risks and deciding on the appropriate controls, taking into account the controls you already have in place;
- recording your risk assessment;
- reviewing and updating your assessment.
Although there are a number of different approaches to undertaking a risk assessment (particularly for complex circumstances), the HSE nevertheless promotes the five step approach as the simplest and most effective for most organisations. For a more detailed breakdown, please see our post on the five steps to risk assessment.
Risk Assessment Template
One size does not fit all when it comes to risk assessments, as each organisation’s activities and risk will differ. Organisations need to understand the importance of tailoring risk assessments to match their risk profile to ensure that all affected personnel and activities are covered. For Example, at RoSPA we can help organisations meet their legal duty to carry out ‘suitable and sufficient’ health and safety risk assessments, through consultancy services such as our Noise Assessment and Dust Surveys as well as our Fire Risk Assessment course.
The HSE website has some good risk assessment examples. However, please remember that simply copying the template and putting your company name on it will not be enough to fulfil your legal duty. Every business is unique, and consequently faces a unique set of risks and hazards and each organisation needs to understand the actual risk assessments that have been carried out. As the HSE points out:
‘Even where the hazards are the same, the control measures you adopt may have to be different from those in the examples to meet the particular conditions in your workplace.’
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