Workplace Risk Assessment: Employer Advice

Fiona Burns

Fiona Burns

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07 Mar 2019

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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 and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, Regulation 3.

However, it can be confusing to pinpoint exactly which type of assessment you need to carry out, and how each of them differ.

Unfortunately, it’s due to this that some employers switch off and return to the old saying, “health & safety is just common sense.”

Here’s why that isn’t true. 

Why is a risk assessment important in the workplace?

What constitutes "common sense" is different to everyone, and if you don’t know the legislative requirement, how can you apply common sense?

Some work practices require specialist training, such as the handling of dangerous substances or operating machinery.

These practices throw up a plethora of potential health & safety issues that you need to address.

The main purpose of an assessment is to identify and raise awareness of these hazards and risks.

This serves as the first step in developing an occupational health & safety management plan.

That isn’t the only benefit however, they also help in:

  • Identifying individuals at risk.
  • Determining if existing precautions are adequate.
  • Preventing illness or injury (ensure you review a risk assessment following an incident).
  • Prioritising high-risk hazards over low-risk ones.
  • Meeting legal requirements and maintaining compliance.
  • Continual improvement and improving safety.

What are the types of risk assessment?

You can carry out a risk assessment for any number of hazards or risks in the workplace.

For example, you could choose to conduct a workplace stress assessment that focuses on the mental wellbeing of your employees.

Or, you could conduct a review on manual handling, operating heavy machinery, handling hazardous substances, etc.

Ultimately however, there are two types of risk assessment:

  • Qualitative.
  • Quantitative.

You base the former assessment on evidence and circumstances. You base the latter on personal judgement that you glean from data.

The two are not mutually exclusive, and it is often worth conducting the two together to form a more well-rounded view of the risks.

Whichever approach you choose, the HSE guidelines propose following five rigid steps.

What are the five steps to a risk assessment?

These are as follows:

  • Step 1: Identify the hazards.
  • Step 2: Decide who might be harmed and how.
  • Step 3: Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions.
  • Step 4: Record your findings and implement them.
  • Step 5: Review your assessment and update if necessary.

So long as you follow these five steps, you can’t go far wrong.

What are the benefits of workplace design and risk assessment?

Aside from keeping you, your employees, and anyone visiting your premises safe, conducting risk assessments helps identify risks which in turn helps you develop health & safety management plans.

Having up to date and comprehensive health & safety policies and procedures in place helps you stay legally compliant.

The assessment itself is not the end of the story.

Risks take many forms, and can impact a workplace and its people in multiple—and sometimes surprising—ways.

Maintaining constant vigilance by conducting and reviewing assessments regularly is the best way to guarantee safety and security in your workplace.

Risk assessment template for the workplace

The HSE provide a number of templates, including a workplace risk assessment form, policy, and guide. You can find them all here.

If you wanted more detailed guidance, or a sounding board for you to bounce ideas regarding health & safety in your workplace, why not speak to a Croner expert on 01455 858 132?

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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