A Health and Safety Risk Assessment Should Include 5 Steps
The simplest definition of a Risk Assessment is that it is a careful examination of what, in the workplace, could cause harm to people, so that employers can weigh up whether they have taken enough precautions, or whether more should be done to prevent harm.
A risk assessment is a crucial part for health and safety management and the main objective that it has is to determine the measures needed to comply with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 85 of 1993, and all other regulations and legislation, to reduce the level of incidents and/or accidents.
Why must a Risk Assessment be carried out?
A risk assessment can help the employer comply with their legal duty and it helps them protect their employees and their business.
There may be confusion as to when a risk assessment must be conducted, and employers may complicate the entire procedure by thinking that it is a complex and difficult procedure. A risk assessment can be conducted at any time, and it should be conducted before employees conduct a task, start work for the day, or do work that presents a significant risk of injury or ill-health.
Employers are legally allowed to appoint a competent person to conduct a risk assessment on their behalf. However, the competent person must possess the right qualification to do so in addition to the necessary skills, training, knowledge, and experience, for instance a Health and Safety Manager or officer.
How is a risk assessment carried out?
There are no fixed rules on how a risk assessment must be carried out, and the process may differ from one industry and business, to the next. However, there are a few general steps or principles that can provide guidance.
A health and safety risk assessment should include 5 steps, namely:
- Step 1 – Identify the hazards.
- Step 2 – Identify who may be harmed and how.
- Step 3 – Evaluate the risks and determine the control measures.
- Step 4 – Record the findings and implement them.
- Step 5 – Review the risk assessment and update it if necessary.
Identify the hazards
To identify the hazards, it is crucial to understand the difference between a hazard and a risk. A hazard is something that has the potential to cause harm whereas a risk is the likelihood of the hazard causing harm.
Hazards can be identified by using a variety of techniques, with the most common one a walkthrough which is conducted in the workplace.
Determine who may be harmed, and how
Once the hazards have been identified, it is crucial to determine the people, or groups of people who may be affected and how they could potentially be harmed. It is also necessary to identify vulnerable groups such as young and new workers, people with disabilities, pregnant women, and others.
Evaluate the risks and decide on the control measures
After the hazards have been identified and the people who may be affected have been identified, and how, the next step involves protecting these people from harm. The hazards can either be removed completely, or the risks can be controlled so that injury, accidents, or incidents, are unlikely.
Findings must be written down and a record of the risk assessment serves as proof that employers have done what is necessary to ensure that employees work in a healthy and safe environment. It also indicates how the employer plans to eliminate, control, minimise, and reduce hazards and risks.
Risk Assessment review, update if necessary
It is important to consider that conditions in the workplace will change and as a result, the risk assessment must be reviewed and updated when required. This is to ensure that all hazards are identified and that new ones are not introduced. Where needed, the actions may have to be updated, or additional measures implemented.
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.
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.
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