Some of the Common Questions We Get
- When do I need to do a risk assessment?
- What should I include in my risk assessment?
- Who should my risk assessment cover?
- What do I need to record?
- What does ‘reasonably practicable’ mean?
- What is a hierarchy of control?
- Is risk assessment a legal requirement?
- What do I need to do in terms of fire safety?
- Who is responsible for doing a risk assessment?
- What training/qualifications do I need to do a risk assessment?
- Who do I involve in a risk assessment?
- How do I prioritise the actions from my risk assessment?
- What are significant risks?
- When should I review my risk assessment?
- What should I do if one of my employees’ circumstances change?
- What responsibilities do my employees have?
- What should I do if I share my workplace with other employers?
- What are risk matrices?
- How long do I need to keep my risk assessment for?
Assessments are required prior to the completion of any work which could involve risk, for example injury. However, it is worth noting that this only applies to employers and self-employed individuals.
It is important to include information on all significant risks within your business and the individuals they can affect. You should also include details on the current controls in place and further controls which are required. The assessment should show that all eventualities have been considered and therefore the work in question can go ahead with little to no risk involved.
Your assessment should acknowledge any individuals who could be at risk from your business. These should include not only workers directly involved with the high risk activity but also those who may be affected indirectly. Special consideration should be given to older and younger individuals, migrant workers, new or expectant mothers and people with disabilities.
All of the relevant information should be recorded, this includes the risks involved, your current controls and further controls required. You should also provide information on individual or groups of employees who are particularly at risk.
It is worth pointing out that this only applies to businesses which employ five or more people.
This term describes the idea of comparing the level of risk involved with the resources required to deal with this risk, e.g. time, money etc. Although the removal of risk is obviously paramount there should be a reasonable balance between these two factors.
When attempting to reduce a risk there are specific control methods which should be employed. These methods should be utilised in a particular order and you should only move onto the next control when the risk is still prevalent, hence hierarchy. In order, these controls include elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative controls and finally, personal protective clothes and equipment.
Completing a risk assessment is a legal requirement for every employer and self-employed individual. However, as already discussed this only applies to those with five or more employees.
According to the Fire Safety Order of 2005 and under part 3 of the Fire Act (Scotland), employers and building owners are required to complete and maintain a fire safety risk assessment. This includes considering every aspect of fire safety, from structural damage to loss of life. Furthermore, this can be incorporated into the overall risk assessment for your business or can be completed separately.
As a business owner or self-employed person, you are responsible for the risk assessment- whether you complete it or not. Therefore it’s incredibly important that your assessment is completed by somebody who understands all of the aspects involved.
Other than a full understanding of the task at hand, there are no specific qualifications or training required. If you are finding any aspects of the assessment troubling there is help out there, including the HSE website and of course ourselves.
With a working knowledge of your business and its day to day running, your employees can provide useful information on the potential risks involved.
Many businesses will have to deal with a number of different risks and these should be prioritised according to how serious each risk is. For example a risk of serious injury should prioritised before other aspects within your business.
Significant risks are just that, anything which poses a real threat to health and safety. These may vary from business to business but they should be relatively easy to recognise.
A review of your risk assessment is required if it’s no longer valid or if there has been a change within your business. This may include the introduction of new equipment, substances or even new employees.
This may require you to review and amend your risk assessment in order to accommodate these changes. The health and safety of your employees is paramount and this may involve adapting their workload to their particular circumstances. Changes to look out for include employees who have become pregnant, undergone surgery or become disabled.
Health and safety represents a cooperation between yourself and your employees. As well as looking after themselves and fellow workers, employees should comply with legislation, complete any relevant training and follow any instructions which have been provided. It is also important for employees to provide information on any potential risks or controls which have failed.
This situation requires cooperation and communication between you and the fellow employer or self-employed individual. Both parties should discuss the specific risks within their own businesses and how these could affect the other employer.
Risk matrices are tools which can help employers to ascertain which risks should receive the highest priority. Basically, risks with the highest potential severity of harm and the highest likelihood of harm occurring should be prioritised. Risk matrices aren’t mandatory but some employers may find them useful.
Your risk assessment records should be kept for as long as they are relevant. If you are required to change your risk assessment for whatever reason then they can be replaced with the updated records.