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Risk Management

Completing a Risk Assessment

1. Identify the hazards

This is the most important aspect of your risk assessment. A good starting point is to walk around your workplace and think about potential hazards. When you work in the same place every day, it is easy to overlook hazards. Follow these tips to help identify the ones that matter:

  • Take account of non-routine operations, such as maintenance or cleaning operations.
  • Think about long-term hazards to health, such as exposure to harmful substances.
  • Review data sheets and manufacturers’ instructions for chemicals and equipment—they can help explain hazards.
  • Look back at your accident and ill-health records to identify less obvious hazards.

2. Think about who might be harmed and how.

Ask your employees what they think the hazards are, as they may notice things that are not obvious to you and may have ideas on how to control risks. For each hazard, be clear about who might be harmed—it will help you identify the best way of controlling the risk. This doesn’t mean listing each person. Identify groups of people, such as employees or passers-by.

  • Identify how people or groups may be harmed and what type of injuries may occur. Think about people not in the workplace all the time, such as visitors or contractors.
  • Include people with disabilities, contractors or members of the public. Remember that some workers may have particular needs, such as young employees or expectant mothers.

3. Evaluate the risks and decide on precaution.

Risk is a part of everyday life—it is impossible to eliminate each one. However, be sure you understand the main risks and how to manage them responsibly. Generally, you must to do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm. This means balancing the level of risk against the measures needed to control the real risk in terms of money, time or trouble. If possible, eliminate the risk altogether. If this is not possible, you must determine how to control the risk so that harm is unlikely. Some practical steps you could take include finding safer alternatives to current work practices, reducing exposure to a hazard and consulting with workers to ensure their health and safety.

4. Record your significant findings.

Make a record of your significant findings—the hazards, how people might be harmed by them and what processes you have in place to control the risks. A risk assessment should be able to demonstrate that:

  • A proper check was made and you involved your employees or their representatives.
  • You considered who might be affected and involved your employees in the process.
  • You dealt with all major hazards. The precautions are reasonable and the remaining risk is low.

5. Review your assessment periodically and update when necessary.

Few workplaces stay the same. Eventually, you will bring in new equipment, substances or procedures that could lead to new hazards. Review your risk assessment on an ongoing basis, and ask yourself:

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

Sample Risk Assessment

All employers must conduct a risk assessment. If you have fewer than five employees, you don't have to write anything down. We started the risk assessment for you by including a sample entry for a common hazard to illustrate what is expected. Consider how this template applies to your business. Identify the hazards that are high priority and complete the table to suit. You can print and save this template to review and update the information when needed. You should review your risk assessment if you think it might no longer be valid (eg following an accident in the workplace or if there are any significant changes to hazards, such as new work equipment or work activities).

What are the hazards? Who might be harmed and how? What are you already doing? Do you need to do anything else to control this risk? Action by whom? Action by when? Done
Slips and trips Staff and visitors may be injured if they trip over objects or slip on spillages General good housekeeping is carried out. All areas are well-lit, including stairs. No trailing leads or cables. Staff keep work areas clear (eg no boxes left in walkways). Boxes are delivered and stored immediately
  • Better housekeeping in staff kitchen needed ( eg on spills).
  • Arrange for loose carpet tile on second floor to be repaired/replaces.
  • All staff, supervisor to monitor
  • Manager
  • From now on
  • xx/xx/xx
  • xx/xx/xx
  • xx/xx/xx

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