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What is a risk assessment and how should my business carry one out?

Having a good health and safety strategy is crucial to getting the best out of your business whilst also providing your employees with a safe place to work. Part of your strategy should be a regularly updated risk assessment of the practices in the workplace.

 

What is a risk assessment? 

In broad terms, a risk assessment is the combined process of analysing and managing potential hazards within a workplace. Risk assessments can take many forms and may require knowledge of COSHH in order to be valuable. It is worth noting that if you have 5 or more employers you have to have your risk assessment written down by law. 

How do I prepare a risk assessment? 

There are a number of steps that you must follow in the preparation of a risk assessment. 

Step 1: Identify the hazards in your workplace 

A useful technique in working out the hazards in your workplace is to think about the processes around the work. Are there any areas of the routine work which turn up exposure to hazards? From this step, you can start to work out who may be exposed to the hazards. 

 

Step 2: Decide who could be exposed to the risk and how they could be harmed

Our top tip is to keep your employees heavily involved in this part of the hazard assessment process; they will be able to give you insights into their work that you may not be aware of. Look at your employee’s work schedules and try to group them together, this will help illustrate to you those groups that are at risk. 

 

Step 3: Assess the risks and take actions against them 

Once you know who is at risk of the hazards it is time to take some actions against them. Some of the common ways of dealing with this include: 

  • The distribution of protective equipment 
  • Restricting the exposure and access to the hazards 
  • Make sure there are good care facilities if the hazard does affect staff 

Remember, as an employer you only have to do what is ‘reasonably practicable’ in terms of dealing with the hazards. That does not, however, mean you should be negligible in your dealing of them. 

 

Step 4: Record the findings 

Once you have carried out the three previous steps you follow your actions with a comprehensive record of the risks and management against them. This will help you manage hazards in the future development of your business. 

 

Step 5: Review the completed risk assessment  

When you have finished recording the results of your risk assessment you should make sure you review the findings regularly. This will help you cross-check previous risks with any new operations in the business.

To make the right kind of risk assessment for your business you should follow the best practice laid down by previous high-quality risk assessments. Following best practice and having a good understanding of COSHH will help you reduce the number of workplace incidents and improve overall health and safety.