How Often Should You Carry Out a Risk Assessment?

Fiona Burns

Fiona Burns

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11 Feb 2021

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Part of your obligation as an employer is to ensure the health & safety of your workforce.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is the body responsible for protecting the safety of your staff at work. According to it, you must carry out assessments of your work environment and processes.

You’re also required to review the assessments to ensure they’re up to date with any workplace changes. It aims to identify existing or potential risks to your staff.

Failure to do so will leave you liable for fines based on the amount of business done that year.

But how often should you carry out a risk assessment? And how often should the risk assessments be reviewed? You don’t want to risk a fine when you feel like you have done the hard work already.

Let’s explore how you can prevent this by reviewing and redoing risk assessments at work.

Risk assessments and the law

  • To control the risks in the workplace you are required to assess the hazards and risks created by your activities. You’ll do this to identify what might cause harm and how  and prompt you  toconsider measures to eliminate the hazards or risks. You must keep a record of your assessment where the hazards and risks are significant. 

There are five steps in the risk assessment process:

  1. Identifying hazards.
  2. Deciding who these hazards might affect and how.
  3. Evaluating the risks identified and considering control measures.
  4. Recording the findings from the assessment (although those with less than five employees aren’t required to write down their finding, it might be a good idea to do so).
  5. Reviewing the assessment to keep it up to date. Remember to make considerations for new equipment, procedures or roles and the risks they may present to staff.

How often should you carry out and review risk assessments?

So how often should you carry out these assessments?

Although the responsibility remains yours, either you or an appointed delegate can carry out these assessments. You must carry them out before you do any work that may present a physical or mental risk to those doing the work.

It’s worth noting, while the legislation regarding health & safety does not necessarily impose duties on anyone that’s not an employer, employee or self-employed, there are still regulations you must follow to ensure you comply with the law.

There’s still more to do after the initial risk assessment. You’re also required to monitor the control measures you’ve put in place and review your risk assessment to account for changes to the work or work process.

While the HSE doesn’t specify how often you should review your risk assessment, they do inform us under what circumstances you should do it.

According to HSE, you must review them ‘regularly’ but especially where, if:

  1. It’s no longer valid.
  2. After an injury or near-miss,
  3. Where there has been a significant process or equipment change.

How often should a fire risk assessment be reviewed?

But what about considerations for fire safety? Under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, employers in the UK must carry out and maintain a fire risk assessment. You can either carry this out as part of your general evaluation covering all aspects of work or as a separate one.

So, how often should a fire risk assessment be undertaken?  While the legislation doesn’t offer specific guidance as to how often you should review the assessment, they do say you should carry them out 'regularly'.

And how often should fire risk assessments be reviewed? Just like those for other aspects of work, you must review your fire assessment following an uncontrolled outbreak of fire,  if you think the current assessment is no longer valid or if you’ve made any significant changes to your premises or processes since the last assessment was made..

Examples of changes include:

  • Alterations to the building.
  • Substantial changes to furniture or fixings.
  • Hiring an employee with some form of disability.
  • The introduction of or increased storage and use of dangerous and hazardous substances.
  • The introduction of a new process, new plant or new equipment.

 

So, a fire risk assessment must be reviewed how often? Whenever you think it isn’t valid due to workplace changes.

How often should COSHH risk assessments be reviewed?

COSHH, also known as the Control of Substance Hazardous to Health 2002, is the legislation that requires you to control exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace.

You’re required to review this assessment at appropriate intervals. But how often should you be doing this? According to the HSE Approved Code Of Practice on COSHH the reviews will depend on your judgment of when you think changes might occur and the type of work your employee does.

They go on to suggest situations that’d require a review of your risk assessment. It includes if:

  • You believe your previous assessment isn’t valid any longer. For example, if you receive reports of defaults in control systems etc.
  • There are any changes to work that would increase your employees’ exposure to hazardous substances.
  • And at regular intervals to check that nothing has changes, that no new substances have been taken into use and that formulations for substances in use have no changed over time.

It’s worth noting, this requirement is for a review of the assessment and not the whole process.

The aim is to evaluate the existing control measures to see if it’s still suitable and valid. If it is, you’re not required to do anything else, if it’s not, you’ll need to make amendments to reflect the change.

To get you on your way, consider using our template for recording the results of your COSHH assessment.

How often should a manual handling risk assessment be reviewed?

You’re required to monitor and review the arrangements in place for ensuring the correct procedures when work-related activities involve moving or handling.

Like the risk assessment for other elements of the work process, there’s no specific period in which you must review the assessment. You should carry it out whenever manual handling injuries or problems are reported by employees,  periodically or when there have been major changes to the work process.

How often should display screen equipment risk assessments be completed?

Under section 2 of HASAWA 1974, you’re responsible for ensuring the health & safety of your employees.

Part of this responsibility is to protect your employees from the risks of working with display screen equipment such as laptops, mobile phones and tablets.

Extended use of display screen equipment can present your staff with various health risks such as eyestrain, fatigue, back problems, repetitive strain injuries, etc.

You’re required to conduct this risk assessment as soon as an employee begins work. You must review the assessments when:

  • Major changes to the equipment, furniture, software, or work equipment.
  • Changes to the workstation.
  • You’ve changed the nature of work tasks considerably.
  • An employee reports that existing control measures are ineffective or causing other problems.

It is common for display screen user risk assessments to be reviewed annually using a self-assessment questionnaire as a starting point.

Expert support on risk assessments with Croner

Risk in the workplace can change, so your risk assessments should too. Ensure you remain compliant with the HSA by regularly reviewing your risk assessments and redoing them.

However, it can be difficult to create a properly compliant risk assessment. Not only that, reviewing them without proper expertise can leave you open to fines. Here at Croner, we have expert health and safety executives to help you.

You can contact the Croner team on 0800 124 4980 for free advice and up to date guidance on everything aspect of your workplace risk assessment. Clients of ours have access to our extensive documentation team, who can create the perfect assessment for you.

 

About the Author

Fiona Burns

Fiona Burns has practical experience in Health & Safety and Risk Management having worked for major insurer prior to joining Croner.

She has gained extensive helpline experience offering competent advice and timely support to large number of clients, in various industries and at all levels.  Completed the NEBOSH General Certificate, also passed NEBOSH Environmental Diploma Unit A, (IOSH Managing Environmental responsibilities). NEBOSH Fire and Risk Management Certificate, FPA Advance Fire Training, NCRQ Diploma – Distinction currently completing IPD and volunteering for Community project in Atherstone also as a Dementia support worker with CWPT.

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Fiona Burns

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