Risk management flow chart on paper

As part of a health and safety management system, employers need to take the necessary precautions to control risks. A risk assessment involves identifying what has the potential to cause injury or ill-health in the workplace and taking the necessary precautions to control risks. Not only is a risk assessment required by law, more importantly, it is there to protect employers, staff and the public from harm.

If you are a business owner, manager or supervisor, it is your responsibility to carry out a risk assessment. However, if you feel you lack the relevant knowledge or experience to perform an adequate assessment, you can enlist the help of companies such as Phoenix Health & Safety, who offer health and safety courses.

To highlight the importance of risk assessments, here’s a simple guide.

Legislation

It is not uncommon for businesses to incur regular visits from health and safety inspectors, who will be assessing how employers manage health and safety in the workplace. If an accident has occurred, inspectors will want to look at the risk assessment and evaluate the procedures that are currently in use. If they find an inadequacies, they can issue an Improvement Notice, whereby employers can be prosecuted if they fail to make progress in assessing workplace risks.

Financial implications

Occupational injuries and ill-health can also affect a business financially. If your organisation fails to comply with the law and an employee suffers an accident, you can face prosecution and be required to go to court. Insurance costs are also likely to increase if a serious accident has occurred.

Prevent accidents and ill-health

While it may be a legal requirement, the main purpose of a risk assessment is to ensure that no one is injured, killed or taken ill at work. Although not all accidents and injuries can be avoided, a risk assessment will help to significantly reduce the risk of occupational hazards and help to promote a safe working environment.

A risk assessment is not about ticking the right boxes, but rather about identifying the appropriate measures to control risks. A risk assessment will help you to determine if your existing control measures are adequate or if more precautions need to be taken. It will also help you to prioritise risks that are more likely to occur and those which will cause the most harm.

Tailored health and safety system

It is also important to make sure that the content of the risk assessment reflects the work that is being carried out. If you work in a high-risk environment, such as a construction site, a site-specific risk assessment will need to be performed. Certain risks will require specific control measures, and your risk assessment will help you to identify areas that need to be examined in more detail.

An in-depth health and safety assessment will also help to prevent harm to workers who have particular requirements, including new or young workers, pregnant women, elderly workers and people with disabilities.

Help you keep track

Keeping a record of accidents or mishaps that have occurred will help you to identify less obvious hazards. It is also important to review your assessment on a regular basis and make updates when necessary. This will ensure that the objectives are being achieved and health and safety rules are being adhered to.