So what is a Risk Assessment? Let’s start with what the Health and Safety Executive define as a risk assessment. A risk assessment is:
“….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….” Risk assessments are a vital component of any health and safety management system for any company regardless of size and they are also a statutory duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. So why carry out a risk assessment? A risk assessment will help protect your workers as well as your business and will also send out a positive message to your workforce that shows your company is committed to the health safety and welfare of every employee. Carrying out risk assessments will also help your business comply with health and safety law. So who should carry out risk assessments within your organisation? Risk assessments can be carried out by any person from your organisation who is competent to do so. Competency can be defined as a combination of Skills, knowledge, Training and Experience. Once a competent person/s have been identified, they may need to attend Risk Assessment Training. Risk Assessment Training will help to ensure competency and will also ensure that they gain abilities such as Hazard Identification and the ability to Evaluate Risk. Once these skills have been gained, a suitable and sufficient risk assessment can be carried out within your organisation So how do we carry out a risk assessment? While there are no hard rules as to how a risk assessment should be carried out. The Five Steps to Risk Assessment will help to ensure that a risk assessment is carried out correctly. The Five Steps to Risk Assessment are: · Identify the hazards · Decide who might be harmed and how · Evaluate the risks and decide on the control measures · Record your significant findings and implement them · Review your assessment and update if necessary 1. Identify the hazards. In order to identify hazards, you need to understand the difference between a hazard and a risk. A hazard is ‘something with the potential to cause harm’ A risk is ‘the likelihood of that potential harm being realised’ Hazards can be identified by using a number of different techniques such as walking round the workplace and observing or asking your employees. 2. Decide who might be harmed and how. Once hazards have been identified, you need to identify who might be harmed and how. This could be workers on site, subcontractors on site, visitors to site, pedestrians or members of the public. This could also be trespassers entering site or anyone unauthorised to enter site. 3. Evaluate the risks and decide on control measures Once you have identified the hazards and you have decided who might be harmed and how. You must then then protect those people who have been identified people from harm. This can be done by removing the hazards completely or by controlling the risks so that that injury is unlikely. 4. Record your significant findings Your findings must be written down where there are five or more employees. This is a legal requirement. By recording your findings, you are showing that you have identified the hazards, decided who could be harmed and how, and also shows how you plan to eliminate the risks and hazards. 5. Review your assessment and update as and when it is necessary. Never forget that very few workplaces stay the same and construction projects are generally dynamic and constantly changing throughout the duration of the project. No two construction sites are generally the same. As a result of this. Your risk assessments should be reviewed and updated as and when required. For more advice on risk assessments, risk assessment training or assistance with health and safety, please get in touch.