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To some degree, all businesses assess and manage risk. There may be risks from clients, or suppliers or general risks in the marketplace. This allows businesses to understand and act on their strengths and weaknesses.
Health & Safety risk assessment is fundamentally no different. A Health & Safety assessment of risk is nothing more than 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. From a business perspective it makes good sense to work in a legally compliant manner and not injure people.
All businesses have a legal duty to carry out Health & Safety risk assessments and if they employ 5 or more people these should be documented. Risk assessments should be proportionate to the risk that they consider. The more likely and serious an injury is likely to be, the more involved the risk assessment will be.
Businesses normally have a good understanding of the Health & Safety risks that they face, they have an understanding of risk profile. A formal documented risk assessment allows businesses to record workplace risk. Not only does this ensure legal compliance but it also allows businesses to identify what could really injure people, impact on their reputation and potentially lead to legal action.
The risk assessment process does not have to be over complicated and can be broken down into a number of discrete steps.
- Identify the hazards.
- Decide who may be harmed and how (consider previous accidents and near misses).
- Evaluate the risk (likelihood & severity).
- Record the assessment.
- Monitor & Review
The outcome of the risk assessment will indicate what action, if any, is required and if the area of risk is being managed to a reasonable practicable degree. An example ‘generic' risk assessment template, for a lower risk environment can be found on the templates page.
For more complex and significant risks, an alternative format may be more suitable. This may include:
If a business's profile is low risk and it understands workplace hazards, many businesses will be able to carry out the formal risk assessment process themselves. The more complex, technical and hazardous workplace risks are, the more likely it is that specialist training or external assistance will be required in order for the risk assessment process to be carried out. Subsequently, businesses should always identify competent individuals to carry out their risk assessments.
Below you will find links to guidance on the general principles of risk assessment, along with a number of templates and information relating to some specific risk assessments required in any place of work.