Inspired HR – Risk Assessment
We all have a legal duty to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our employees at work. To do this correctly, you need to know the hazards and risks present in your work environment and those that your staff face when working at all your locations.
You need to assess what might cause harm or an issue to people, and take practicable measures to prevent any harm from happening to employees or visitors.
A risk assessment is an essential part of this process. Here at Inspired HR we have created a simple guide to help you through the process.
If you have five or more employees, you need to keep a written record of your risk assessment. Even if you have less than five employees, a written risk assessment is still best practice for any business owner.
If there is ever a personal injury claim, this could help you defend yourself in court. A risk assessment does not have to take a lot of time nor does it have to create a mountain of paperwork. It is just a simple way to identify the issues and what plans you must put in place to control the risks.
What you must do
The legislation states that employers must protect the health, safety, and welfare of their workforce.
You must assess all the hazards in your workplace, along with the risk of injury and ill health from any processes and tasks.
Employers must complete a risk assessment for all their business activities. You can delegate the tasks to trained advisors, but in general, managers or senior staff, and company directors will always uphold the responsibility to ensure risk assessments are complete and fit for purpose.
You should always consult and involve your employees with any workplace risk assessment. You will find that your staff are often best placed to advise on the risks involved in their day-to-day tasks.
They can also provide you with valuable insight into the hazards faced in non-routine tasks.
5 Steps to risk assessment
1 – Identify the hazards.
A key element of a risk assessment is the correct identification of potential workplace hazards.
Imagine, if you walk around your workplace – what do you see? Think about the hazards are present and consider how the activities, processes or substances in your workplace could cause harm.
Check manufacturer’s instructions/label on any equipment used by you and your staff. In addition, note any non-routine operations, for example, what happens if something breakdowns, maintenance, or changes in process.
If you use chemicals on site for any business purposes, your suppliers should provide you with safety data documents. Check these for any hazard warnings and make sure you are handling all the chemicals correctly.
Evaluate your accident book and remember to think about long-term hazards such as high levels of noise, vibration, or exposure to harmful substances. There so many more incidents that we do not even think about, but these could cause an issue for your employees.
2 – Identify who is at risk.
Once you have identified the potential hazards, now think about the people that could be at risk. These will include your own workforce, any visitors, potential customers, and members of the public.
If you share the building with other businesses, consider how your work could potential affect them.
3 -Evaluate and control the risk
Remember, some employees will face a greater risk than others. This is simply due to the nature of the job that they do, the age of some of your employees (those under 18 years old), new and expectant mothers, disadvantaged workers, and lone workers.
Consider how you need to control each hazard to keep the risks to a minimum. Review what you are currently doing and whether the controls you already have in place are suitable.
Remember to think about not just the legal requirements, but also the published standards, codes of practice and other official advice that gives specific detail.
But also, include your employees, its important to include them in the evaluation. This encourages them to protect their own environment but also keeps your business safe.
4 – Record and communicate
Keep a record of your findings, the hazards, how people might be harmed, what controls you currently have in place and any plans that you note for improvement.
Allocate improvement tasks to named individual’s, set target dates based on the importance.
If you can, get some quick wins implemented. This will help you trying to resolve the bigger issues.
5 – Review and deal with the actions
Nothing ever stands still in businesses. You will always hire new staff, implement new products, new equipment, and procedures. Any changes that you bring into the workforce could present new or different hazards and risks.
Notwithstanding you best intentions, accidents and incidents may still happen in the work environment. If they do, don’t panic, review the assessment for any associated task and pull a plan of action together to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Always set a quarterly target date to review your risk assessments as a matter of routine.
Consider each assessment and determine if anything in your workplace environment has changed. If everything has stayed the same, then leave your risk assessment as it is. But remember to write a note in the assessment to that fact. If things are different, then repeat the above five steps to bring your risk assessment up to date and in line.
Practical and sensible risk assessment with IHR
Throughout your risk assessment, remember that you are looking at reasonably foreseeable consequences of reasonably foreseeable acts. Please do not look for every worst possible outcome. When you record an assessment, all you need to do is keep simple notes of what you considered. Sometimes, it is useful to record what you measured against.
Once you have done a couple it will become easier and clearer as to what you must do.
The main purpose is to demonstrate that you have considered the hazards and risks and that you have suitable controls in place for a safe working environment.