The five elements to be considered in a risk assessment are:
- Identifying the hazards
- Spotting vulnerable groups
- Analysing and assessing the levels of risk
- Control measures
- Monitor and review
Risk assessments are really important for all workplaces, be it offices, construction sites or workshops. They are “a ‘suitable and sufficient assessment’ of risks to your employee’s health and safety”. No matter how safe you may think your work space is, you always need to do an assessment to identify all of the risks no matter how minor. As a result, if something poses a threat to health and safety even remotely, you must log it.
You need to consider all five elements because it is your legal obligation as an employer, under the health and safety regulations. Regulations that apply to risk assessments include the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) regulations 2002.
Doing a Risk Assessment
Firstly, you must perform one of the most important steps in an assessment: identifying hazards and risks.
Nowadays, organisations need to look after almost all aspects of an employee’s well being. According to WorkSmart, you need to look out for four types of hazard: physical, mental, chemical and biological. These categories cover all of the present threats, including slips and trips, DSE (display screen equipment), long hours, stress, cleaning fluids and infectious diseases like legionella.
Furthermore, it is really important that you don’t miss any, because it may be too little too late when you do realise it is there.
Spotting Vulnerable Groups
Secondly, you need to recognise groups at work that are vulnerable to the hazards.
With some hazards, their effects apply to everyone. For example, if a fire breaks out, everyone needs to evacuate. However, things like hazardous substances, trailing wires and using tools like hammers could only affect one person. It is important to make this distinction in the assessment, so you know where to direct resources and protective measures.
Analysing Levels of Risk
Next, you need to develop your ‘risk-based approach’ by ranking the levels of risk for each hazard.
Everything that you log in your risk register should be numbered using a scale system, such as 1-5. Therefore, it tells you that a hazard is particularly dangerous because it is very likely to happen and will cause large levels of harm.
Control measures are the next step in the risk assessment.
These are things that minimise the level of risk and reduce the risk of injury. For example, they can be as simple as making sure employees take breaks away from pieces of DSE or implementing an organisation-wide policy of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Measures need to be well-thought out in advance, and not just a quick-fix remedy for a problem that has already happened.
Monitor and Review
Finally, you need to monitor any policies for weaknesses and review and changes.
This last stage is key, because it provides feedback for your policies. Therefore, you need to update your risk assessment regularly, every time there is a change in workplace activities or an accident itself. In addition, it is good practice to update it every one or two years regardless of any changes.
What is important to note is that this process is a cycle, that should happen continuously in your organisation.
For more information, you can view our range of online risk assessment training. Most of them come with their own risk assessment template. Our risks and responsibilities course has RoSPA and CPD approval, and will prepare your employees for safety in the workplace.