5 Steps of a Health and Safety Risk Assessment


Employers who are doing a this for the first time, or even those who wish to brush up on the steps which are involved, can use the 5 steps of risk assessment in health and safety indicated below to conduct an effective, detailed risk assessment to ensure that there is compliance in the workplace in addition to ensuring that the workplace is safe.

What is a Risk Assessment?

The shortest Definition of a Risk Assessment is that it involves an examination of a given task or workplace which could potentially cause harm, or have factors that could cause harm, to people.

The goal of a risk assessment is to understand any potential hazards before the risks are outlined, and the necessary steps are taken to prevent harm. Therefore, it can help the employer understand and take precautions.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993, and all other relevant regulations will require that certain control measures be put in place, depending on the task, the hazard and subsequent risk, and the industry in which the organisation operates.

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Steps involved in an effective Risk Assessment

To be effective and to ensure that all hazards are identified, all risks are evaluated, and all control measures to mitigate, control, minimise, or eliminate the hazards are in place, employers can follow 5 steps of risk assessment in health and safety below.

Step 1 – Hazard Identification

Workplace hazards come in several forms, however, there are eight major groups that can be identified namely:

  • Physical
  • Mechanical
  • Electrical
  • Ergonomic
  • Biological
  • Chemical
  • Behavioural
  • Psychological

These hazards can be identified using a variety of different techniques with the one that is used the most, that of a walkabout. This involves walking around the workplace to see if there are any processes, activities, or substances that may injury or cause harm to employees or anyone that visits the premiss

However, working in the same environment each day may cause that some hazards go unnoticed, and it is for this reason that hazard identification also includes:

  • Reviewing accident and occupational diseases records.
  • Non-routine operations.
  • Long-term hazards to health.

Step 2 – Who can be harmed, and how

This step involves identifying those who may be exposed and this extends to full as well as part-time employees, contractors, visitors, clients, and other members of the public. It is also imperative to consider people who work shifts, lone workers, and vulnerable groups of people such as:

  • Older as well as younger people.
  • People with chronic conditions and disabilities
  • New mothers or women who are pregnant, and numerous other groups.

For each hazard that is identified, it is crucial to understand who may be harmed as it will assist in identifying preventative measures for each given risk that may derive from a hazard.

Step 3 – Risk evaluation and control measures

Once identified, the next step involves trying to eliminate these associated hazards. However, this is not always practicably possible and requires for certain control measures to be implemented.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is the last resort and priority must be given to measures that will protect more than just one person. Precautions must be considered in the following order:

  • Elimination
  • Substitution
  • Engineering controls
  • Administrative controls
  • Personal Protective Equipment

Step 4 – Record the findings

It is a legal requirement for significant findings to be recorded. These findings must include:

  • The hazards identified
  • The people who may be affected and how they could be harmed
  • The control measures implemented

This process need not be a lengthy exercise, employers can merely note down the main points about the significant hazards and what the employer has concluded. Keeping a record of this is important as it serves as proof that the employer has done all that they can to ensure the health and safety of employees and others.

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Step 5 – Risk Assessment Review

Over time, workplaces change and there may be new equipment, employees, substances, tasks, and numerous other factors that are introduced after a risk assessment was carried out. It is advised that it is reviewed as soon as there are any significant changes to ensure that the it remains relevant.

It also helps to identify new hazards caused by changes to determine whether additional control measures are necessary or whether the ones in place are adequate.

How does SafetyWallet support its subscribers?

SafetyWallet, in partnership with MAKROSAFE and OHS Online, ensures that subscribers can obtain the highest level of compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, all other Regulations, and more.

MAKROSAFE have been assisting clients for more than 23 years with recommendations and risk assessments for a hazard-free environment.
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Through the assistance and support in the health and safety programme of the subscriber, SafetyWallet helps subscribers with the health and safety risk assessments that must be conducted to ensure that subscribers are compliant in providing a healthy and safe working environment.

Keeping your workplace legally Health and Safety Compliant may seem like a daunting task. At MAKROSAFE, we have an experienced team of OHS experts available to assist in keeping your company Health and Safety Compliant according to South African Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 and Regulations.
The MAKROSAFE Health and Safety Risk Control Package will assist you with your Risk Management Programme.
By signing up with our Health and Safety Risk Control Package, MAKROSAFE will assist you with your Risk Management journey.
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Posted date: 18th Apr 2021
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