As an employer, it's your responsibility to ensure that your employees are safe while they are at work. You can do this by carrying out risk assessments to ensure that your current procedures are still effective.
Download our sample risk assessment template to help you get started.
If you need immediate support in creating a risk assessment template, get in touch with one of our team of our experts here.
What is a risk assessment?
Risk assessments are an integral part of the risk management process. Your workplace must follow risk assessment laws and regulations. At a basic level, you have to identify and evaluate health and safety hazards that are present in your business environment.
These hazards are likely to cause harm to your employees if control measures aren't put in place to prevent or mitigate them.
If you have less than five employees you aren't required by law to write a physical risk assessment or health and safety policy. That said, it's best to keep a written record so you can refer back to it later on if you need to.
How often should risk assessments be carried out?
The responsibility for carrying out risk assessments is up to you, you should consider appointing a responsible person to fill out the risk assessment form. As a rule of thumb, a risk assessment should be completed before any work that may hold a physical or mental risk to an employee by a competent person.
After the initial risk assessment is carried out, it's important to keep an eye on the control measures you've put in place. This will help work out which measures and controls are working and which aren't.
In these cases, you'll be able to make adjustments to the existing control measures to make them more effective.
Benefits of a risk assessment
Aside from risk assessments being a legal requirement in many instances, they can offer a host of benefits that will both help train your employees and help understand where potential risks are within your business.
Greater awareness of risks in the workplace
Risk assessments can help raise and identify areas of the business that can pose a risk to employees or anyone visiting the premises.
By carrying out a risk assessment you are able to better identify potential risks and inform your employees of the risks and control measures you've put in place to mitigate the risks. The fact the risks are recorded helps you train your staff in the proper procedures they should be following for particular roles or situations.
Identification of likelihood and scale of potential hazards
A risk assessment isn't just a list of potential risks you have in your workplace. It's also a way of measuring how severe the risks are and measuring the likelihood of a critical incident happening.
By identifying the severity of the risk you are able to ensure that the appropriate control measures are put in place.
Determine what control measures should be in place
Your risk assessment will provide you with useful information that can be used to identify which areas of your workplace need to be adapted and where the most control measures need to be placed.
You need to have the proper documents in place. This will help you create a repository of the hazard findings in your workplace. This makes it easier to keep track of the hazards and what control measures you've put in place to mitigate them. You can use this to go back to adjust or check the control measures to ensure they are still effective.
Not only this, but keeping risk assessment templates and documents helps ensure that you are remaining compliant with health and safety policies and laws.
Help with budget allocation
When you are able to fully understand the health and safety needs of your business you can then start to work out what budget you can allocate to ensure the control measures are effective.
Reduce incidents in the workplace
Last, but not least, risk assessments are effective in reducing incidents at work. You are able to mitigate the risks or remove them altogether, meaning you are able to create a safer and more productive workplace.
Having a lower incident rate helps to show your organisation's dedication to making the workplace safe for employees and can benefit your unique selling points to clients.
What happens if I don't carry out a risk assessment?
One of the obvious answers to this is more incidents in your workplace. More of your employees may need to take time off work due to injury and be less productive. This, in turn, can lead to a civil legal claim being raised by your employee, and be a costly payout for your business.
Depending on the severity of the incident, it might attract the attention of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). They are capable of performing spot checks on workplaces, forcing a business closure, and handing out heavy fines.
This can cause reputational damage to your business, so it's best to ensure that you are fully compliant.
Steps to carry out a risk assessment
There are five steps in the risk assessment template process:
The first stage of a risk assessment is to look around your workplace and identify any hazards that could cause employees or visitors harm. At this stage, you should also be looking at the process of carrying out a particular task. For example, if your employee is carrying hot substances, or handling chemicals, they should be wearing the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) and using the correct tools.
- Unsafe and safe working practices.
- How plant equipment is being used (including the employees operating it).
- Is there exposure to chemicals and substances?
- The current work environment.
Deciding who these hazards might affect and how.
Once you've identified the hazards in your risk assessment, you then should look at who is exposed to the hazards. At this stage, you should take into consideration:
- Who's at risk of harm, and how are they at risk?
- Are there any existing control measures in place?
- Put in place further action to control risks.
- Who is responsible for carrying out the task?
- When do the control measures need to be implemented?
- Take into consideration those who aren't actively using the equipment or substances on site, but who could still be at risk of exposure, such as cleaners, contractors, visitors, and maintenance.
Consider control measures
As per the law (Health and Safety at Work Act 1974), employers need to take reasonable steps to keep their employees safe. You can ask yourself two questions:
- Can I eliminate the hazard altogether?
- How can I control the hazard to minimise risks?
You aren't expected to take away all the risks that might take place in your workplace, but you need to do everything you can to mitigate the risks and keep your employees safe.
Recording the findings from the risk assessment
If you have more than five employees working for your business, you need to physically record your findings from the risk assessment. This can be used as proof that you carried out a risk assessment later on, and what steps you took to reduce or eliminate risks in the workplace.
Your records should reflect the:
- Hazards identified.
- Who's at risk of harm and how?
- The steps that you've taken to control the hazards.
Reviewing the assessment to keep it up to date.
At the final stage, you should make sure that you are reviewing your risk assessment and ensuring that it's kept up to date.
You should perform a review at reasonable intervals, or if the control measure has become ineffective, if there is a change in the work process that could lead to new risks, or if one of your employees identifies an issue. You may also need to review a risk assessment if there has been a change in legislation.
Click below to download your sample basic risk assessment template
Conducting a risk assessment in the workplace is vital for ensuring the safety of your employees and is a legal requirement under the Management of Health Safety Regulation 1999, Regulation 3.
However, putting together a risk assessment template and ensuring that it is fit for the purpose of your workplace can be time-consuming. That's why we have put together a general, sample template that you can adapt to fit your workplace, including all the key areas you need to cover, definitions, and a risk severity rating key.
If you need any further support managing health & safety in your workplace, contact a Croner expert at 0800 470 2776.
This risk assessment template is provided ‘as is’ and Croner Group Ltd excludes all representations, warranties, obligations and liabilities in relation to the risk ratings template to the maximum extent permitted by law.
Croner Group Ltd is not liable for any errors or omissions in the template and shall not be liable for any loss, injury or damage of any kind caused by its use. Use of the template is entirely at the risk of the User and should you wish to do so then independent legal advice should be sought before use.
Use of the template will be deemed to constitute acceptance of the above terms.
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