Risk Assessments

Step 1

Identify the Hazards

One of the most important parts of your risk assessment is accurately identifying the potential hazards in your workplace. When you work in a place everyday it's easy to not notice some hazards. Here are some tips to help you identify the ones that matter:

  • Check manufacturers' instructions or data sheets for chemicals and equipment as they can be very helpful in spelling out the hazards and putting them in their true perspective.
  • Look back at your accident and ill-health records - these often help to identify the less obvious hazards.
  • Take account of non-routine operations.
  • Remember to think about long-term hazards to health
  • Visit the HSE website

Step 2

Decide who might be harmed and how


Think how employees might be harmed. Ask your employees what they think the hazards are. Your employees may notice things that are not obvious to you and they may have some good ideas on how to control risks.


Remember:

  • Some workers have particular requirements, for example new and young workers, migrant workers, new or expectant mothers, people with disabilities, temporary workers, contractors, homeworkers and lone workers.
  • Think about people who might not be in the workplace all the time, such as visitors, contractors and maintenance workers.
  • Take members of the public into account if they could be hurt by your activities
  • If you share your workplace with another business, consider how your work affects others and how their work affects you and your workers. Talk to each other and make sure controls are in place
  • Ask your workers if there is anyone you may have missed

Step 3

Evaluate the risks


Risk is a part of everyday life and you are not expected to eliminate all risks. Your risk assessment should only include what you could reasonably be expected to know - you are not expected to anticipate unforeseeable risks. Ask yourself:

  • Can I get rid of the hazard altogether?
  • If not, how can I control the risks so that harm is unlikely?

Some practical steps you could take include:

  • trying a less risky option
  • preventing access to the hazards
  • organizing work to reduce exposure to the hazard
  • issuing protective equipment
  • providing welfare facilities such as first aid and washing facilities
  • involving and consulting workers

You may decide to apply these 'model' assessments at each workplace, but you can only do so if you:

  • satisfy yourself that the 'model' assessment is appropriate to your type of work
  • adapt the 'model' to the detail of your own work situations, including any extension necessary to cover hazards and risks not referred to in the 'model'

Step 4

Decide who might be harmed and how


That doesn't mean listing everyone by name, but rather identifying groups of people.

Remember:

  • some workers have particular requirements, for example new and young workers, migrant workers, new or expectant mothers, people with disabilities, temporary workers, contractors, homeworkers and lone workers.
  • Think about people who might not be in the workplace all the time, such as visitors, contractors and maintenance workers.
  • Take members of the public into account if they could be hurt by your activities.
  • If you share your workplace with another business, consider how your work affects others and how their work affects you and your workers. Talk to each other and make sure controls are in place.
  • Ask your workers if there is anyone you may have missed

Step 5

Review your risk assessment and update if necessary


Few workplaces will stay the same. New equipment, substances and procedures that could lead to new hazards. Look at your risk assessment again and ask yourself:

  • Have there been any significant changes?
  • Are there improvements you will need to make?
  • Have your workers spotted a problem?
  • Have you learnt anything from accidents or near misses?

Make sure your risk assessment stays up to date.