Risk assessment in the workplace

09 November 2020

Anyone who’s working in an office, on a building site or in a cafe will know about health and safety concerns.

 

Extensive induction periods, seemingly endless training; it can all feel unimportant.

 

However, these can help to remove health and safety risks that might hurt an employee or even ruin a business. This is where risk assessments come into play.

 

They help you see the risks present in your workplace, as identifying potential hazards and lowering workplace risk is the primary goal of health and safety checks.

 

Health and safety law states that you must try to control the risks in a workplace and remove any potential to cause harm.

 

But why are risk assessments important in the workplace? 

 

A few answers to this question would include:

 

  • Preventing bodily harm
  • Avoiding hefty fines
  • Ensuring a work environment is healthy and happy
  • Keeping workloads on schedule

 

There are hazards and risks in almost every work environment. Potential hazards come with their own unique levels of risk, which is what your safety risk assessment needs to determine.

 

Record your findings and take steps to reduce the dangers involved with them. This way, you can make your working environment a safer place for everyone.

 

Benefits of these assessments in the workplace aren’t just limited to a safer working environment. It also protects a business in case anything does happen to an employee in the workplace.

 

Health and safety evaluations narrow down any areas that need attention to prevent harm to employees and harm to a business in all.

 

Now you know the power of a risk assessment, let’s look at what they can do for you and your business. 

 

What is a risk assessment?

 

The risk assessment definition is the systematic process of evaluating any potential risks. These risks can be within an area, building, or during a project.

 

This broad definition of a work risk assessment means that there are many examples of risk assessments in the workplace. 

 

This is why we offer comprehensive guides and articles, helping educate you on how to assess the risks in your workplace. 

 

It is also important to understand the difference in risks and decide how to approach them when conducting an assessment. 

 

This can include defining what each factor in an assessment means.

 

For example: 

 

  • An ‘accident’ is ‘an unplanned event that results in loss’. 
  • A ‘hazard’ is ‘something that has the potential to cause harm’. 
  • A ‘risk’ is ‘the likelihood and the severity of an injury or loss to the company that results from a hazard.’

 

With these appraisals conducted and known to employees, you can help to make work activities safer. 

 

Taking these steps help you put risk control measures in place, which protect both employees and the business.

 

You can protect employees and your company with safety evaluations because they:

 

  • Maintain safety: preventing injuries prevents an employee or employees around them halting their work. Preventing these injuries also protects a business from fines or tribunals. 
  • Keep morale up: ensuring that your employees feel safe in their workplace makes it much easier to have higher morale while at work.
  • Avoid external bodies complaining: external bodies will require you to maintain certain standards in a work environment. Failing to do so can result in hefty fines. Keeping ahead of anything capable of implementing risk ensures your business is safe from costly changes.

 

How to do a risk assessment

 

When conducting a risk evaluation it’s important to ask yourself vital questions. 

 

  • Are there any unique risks to my workplace/sector?
  • What type of risks can I expect in my workplace?
  • Can I safely carry out a health and safety evaluation?
  • Should I consider a health and safety assessment?
  • How do I prioritise risk evaluations?
  • Is this risk assessment evaluation for long-term or short-term purposes?

 

This latter question will depend on whether you’re conducting a risk assessment for a business or a short-term project.

 

Regardless of the purpose of the assessment, it’s important to conduct it properly and regularly.

 

One vital stage of this process is identifying the type of assessment you need to conduct. These types of evaluations include:

 

  • Manual handling: an assessment that focuses on risks of injury or ill health due to manual labour, such as lifting and carrying heavy objects.
  • Fire risks: an assessment that focuses on fire safety. These include establishing procedures that grant sufficient fire risk assessments to all workplaces.
  • COSHH/hazardous substances: these assessments are for workplaces that handle, store, use or manufacture hazardous substances. This includes harsh cleaning chemicals and medical waste.
  • DSE/display screen equipment: these assessments are for workplaces that see employees regularly use display screens. This includes office-based roles that often use computers and laptops.

 

Conducting a risk assessment in the workplace should include:

 

  • Plan your assessment: establish what work environments you need to evaluate. 
  • Profile the risks: identity potential hazards and risks and record your findings.
  • Implement risk prevention measurements: isolate hazards and risks and work towards installing ways of preventing them. This can be as simple as having warning signs nearby.
  • Spread awareness of risks: inform everyone in your company of potential hazards. Include what you have done to prevent them and what to be aware of.
  • Create a way to report risks: consistent feedback from your employees will help to prevent future risks. They will also make future assessments easier and more effective.
  • Establish your review process: conduct check-ups on risk prevention methods. Record any frequent risk reports or accidents. Improve your risk prevention methods when they require improvements.

    But, establish a timeline to review the levels of risk. This can vary depending on the risk and how extensively you will assess your business. For example, regular accidents should have risk prevention methods reviewed weekly. Reviewing large, business-wide risk prevention can occur monthly or annually. Set these review standards and stick to them.

 

Who carries out risk assessments in the workplace?

 

It is your responsibility to ensure your business carries out safety assessments. A person with the relevant knowledge and skills required should do this. This is where Peninsula Business Services can help.

 

If you have an HR department that wishes to conduct a risk evaluation themselves, they’ll need help to conduct a safety evaluation in the workplace.

 

Download your FREE guide and find how to carry out a professional risk assessment in five easy steps.

 

Learn how to identify hazards in your workplace. Find out how to take cost-effective steps to reduce risk. 

 

And get practical advice on how to keep your people safe and meet HSE laws.

 

Get your free guide today. Click to download now.

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