A while ago, we wrote a blog that covered off the important issue of ‘What is a Risk assessment?’, now we’re going to take that a step further and look at the process of carrying out risk assessments. The importance of risk assessment training cannot be overstated, it is a fundamental aspect of a strong health and safety system. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be complicated, so we’ve broken it down into a few simple steps.
Classify your work activities in order to identify workplace hazards at each operational phase e.g. work equipment, substances and activities which could cause harm, for example: dangerous machinery; heavy loads; slipping, tripping and falling hazards; toxic and flammable substances; display screen equipment; vehicles. Always remember to be systematic and inspect the workplace. Study documentation and sector guidance. Consult your workforce and their representatives and observe work practices.
Work out how likely it is that each hazard might cause an accident or ill health and how serious the consequences might be (in other words, the risk). Consider how many people are exposed to each hazard, how often and for how long? Study sources of information such as:
- Accident and ill health statistics (in house and sector) and records
- Legislation and official guidance; workforce experience
- Evidence of ‘near-misses’
- Manufacturers’ information. Again, observe workforce practices
Use your judgements about likelihood and consequences of harm occurring to determine whether risks are: trivial, tolerable, moderate, substantial or intolerable. Prioritise risks to help you determine where you should be putting preventive effort.
Now determine whether or not ‘reasonably practicable’ control measures are in place for each risk.
- Check to see that these measures reduce risks to a tolerable level and/or that they comply with relevant legislation and/or official guidance or other standards. Improve where necessary
- Always go for risk avoidance, control at source or risk reduction before selecting controls which rely only on use of personal protective equipment and/or training
- Take account of employee’s personal characteristics. Also ensure that adequate emergency arrangements are in place (for example, first aid or evacuation procedures) in case controls should fail
- Decide if you need health surveillance to assess fitness for work or to look for early signs of health damage.
Make sure that competent people and appropriate procedures are in place so that control measures continue to be effective, such as:
- Necessary supervision and work authorisation
- Instruction; information and training
- Cooperation and communication maintenance programmes
- Investigation of accidents/problems and ‘near misses’!
Read more about our Risk Assessment training course here.
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