Under the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employers are required to set out regular workplace risk assessments. This assessment must be used to identify hazards that could cause harm or injury, determine the risk associated with the hazard, and control or eliminate the risk of injury occurring.
Depending on the size and type of business you have, the way to assess risk could be different from the next. But in this article, we’ll look at some of the basics in assessing and managing risks in the workplace.
Identifying potential hazards
Although every workplace is different, there are still things that can be found in every company that could cause risk.
Everything from how people interact with equipment, the tidiness of the office, or the substances and chemicals used on the premises should be taken into consideration.
To guide you, you can even take a look at past accidents or sick records to see where unexpected hazards may be increasing the risk of injury.
The assessment should be done from the perspective of everyday staff, contractors, customers and visitors, to ensure no stone is unturned.
Assess the risks, record the findings
While something may be a hazard, it doesn’t mean it will automatically cause harm. That’s where the risk comes in. How likely is the hazard to cause injury or illness?
To assess risk, consider the following:
- Who might get harmed by the hazard?
- How could someone be harmed?
- How can you reduce the risk of someone being hurt?
- Who is responsible for reducing risk?
- When should action be taken? (Now)
Reducing the risk or controlling it could be as simple as taping wires to the floor with hazard tape so to avoid trips. If a hazard can be removed from the area, it should be. If it is needed, what can be done to reduce the chance of harm?
If removed hazards aren’t replaced or taken away, and an employee trips or injures themselves, they may try to seek accident at work compensation, which you’ll have to pay through your Liability Insurance.
Findings from the health & safety assessment must be recorded – by law – for businesses with more than five employees.
Update the controls
If something changes within the workplace, you should update the risk assessment as soon as possible. If there are changes like substance use, new employees, or upgraded processes, the risk assessment should be monitored and updated. The same should happen if employees identify something that was missed on the initial assessment.
As well as having the assessment in place, it is a good idea to provide health & safety training to staff. This training will include things like handling heavy items, implementing a clean desk policy, and carrying out their own DSE assessments.
Although this feels very formal, it could save you hassle, time, and money in the future. Accidents at work can have serious consequences for you as an employer and your business as a whole. It’s better not to be caught out and put the right regulations in place from the start.
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