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How to conduct a risk assessment for your business

10 July 2019

No matter the size of your business, a risk assessment is an important tool for managing safety. Although, conducting a risk assessment is a necessity, it can also be a useful tool to help you identify potential risks that you and your employees may encounter.

Identify potential hazards

The first step to take in a risk assessment is to identify potential hazards within your business. There are many risks which may immediately present themselves, such as trip hazards, or if employees regularly work at a height, but you can look to other sources for guidance, such as accident books, which can shed a light on issues which may have arisen in the past.

Remember also that there may be many long-term risks to employees which you should account for. This can include enduring loud noises on a regular basis, or repetitive manual lifting. Understanding these risks can help you to protect your employees and yourself in the long term.

Identify who is at risk

Now that you’ve identified the risks that may arise from your work environment, you need to look at which employees will be affected, and how they should act in order to keep themselves and others safe.

Identify methods of minimising the risk

When you’ve assessed what risk exists, and who it may affect, you can begin to look at the methods you need to take to reduce them.

The measure you need to take with the identified risks is known as “reasonably practicable.” This means that you need to weigh the risk involved in a situation against the time, money and trouble required to resolve it. For example, a low-risk operation with a low likelihood of occurring probably won’t take a lot of time or funds to mitigate, as simple solutions such as a change in work processes may solve the problem. However, it may take longer and cost more money to implement control measures for higher-risk operations.

Risk Assessment

The Hierarchy of Control

The hierarchy of control is the term given to the stages which can be used to reduce risk within the business environment. The top of the hierarchy is the preferred option, whilst the bottom represents the worst solution. As per the risk assessment, you should look at what is reasonably practicable for your business.

  • Elimination
    As the best outcome, removing the threat entirely can be achieved by redesigning the work environment so that a threat is entirely removed.
  • Substitution
    The second-best outcome is substituting the hazard for something with less risk. Whilst not removing the threat, it still significantly reduces the risk to employees.
  • Engineering controls
    Engineering controls use equipment to reduce risk in the workplace. It includes health and safety procedures such as providing adequate ventilation machinery to extract dust from a workplace.
  • Administrative controls
    Administrative controls are the routines which can be used to reduce risk to employees. This can include reducing the time that an employee is exposed to a potential risk, introducing the correct signage, or conducting risk assessments.
  • Personal protective clothing and equipment
    As the least preferable option, introducing protective equipment is necessary when all other steps of the hierarchy cannot be reasonably fulfilled. Where you cannot remove the risk entirely, you need to ensure that employees are provided with, and trained how to correctly fit personal protective equipment to promote their safety in the event of an accident. You should take steps to ensure that you conform to the highest possible stage on the hierarchy of control, rather than taking the easiest option.

Risk Assessment 2

Make notes and record your findings

If you have more than five employees, you are required to record the findings of your risk assessment. You should make a note of all the results of the previous stages of the risk assessment. It should reflect that a proper check was conducted, covering the previous points suitably and sufficiently, and should also prove that you consulted employees or representatives in order to complete the task.

When should I conduct a new assessment?

A risk assessment should be conducted when something changes in your business. If you buy new machinery, change premises, or introduce anything else that may present a hazard, you should assess how it will impact the health and safety of your employees. Your policy should be reactive to changes, such as equipment breaking, in order to keep your employees as safe as possible.

When conducting your risk assessment, it’s important to be as thorough as possible to make sure that you are doing your best to keep you and employees safe, and to keep your business operating legally.

Not sure how to conduct a risk assessment? Emprocom can help to make the process simple for you to follow and promote good health and safety practice in your workplace with our risk assessment service. Get in touch today to find out more!

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