Basic Health and Safety Risk Assessment
A basic health and safety risk assessment involves employers considering the risks in the workplace followed by implementing control measures to control and minimise them. The following handy guide will run through the rules and provide employers with the help they need to conduct an effective risk assessment for their organisation.
When must a risk assessment be done?
The purpose of a health and safety risk assessment is to identify sensible measures to control the risks in the workplace. The Occupational Health and Safety Act, 85 of 1993 requires that employers provide a workplace which is healthy, safe, and free of harm.
The easiest way to ensure this, is for employers to conduct a risk assessment. Those who are self-employed and work on their own are not held to such stringent requirements if their work does not pose a risk to the health and safety of other workers, or members of the public.
However, risk assessments must be done, and it is imperative to ensure that record is kept as it proves that the necessary steps were taken to ensure health and safety. Risk assessments must be done whenever there is change in the working environment, even if it is just a shift change that took place.
What is the process involved with carrying out a risk assessment?
The process which is involved with carrying out a risk assessment involves:
- Identifying the hazards
- Deciding who may be harmed and how
- Evaluating the risks and taking the necessary precautions
Identifying the hazards
Firstly, the potential hazards must be identified, and this can be done by doing a walkthrough of the workplace and considering all that could potentially harm employees, or cause damage to their health. Here, employers must consider activities, processes, and substances that have the potential to cause harm.
In addition to considering potential accidents, employers must also think about what could potentially cause long-term damage to health, such as high levels of noise, and other causes of work-related mental health issues.
To ensure that all the hazards have been considered, employers can view the manufacturer’s instructions, material safety data sheets, accident logs, and numerous other documents that can help identify hazards that may have been missed with the walkthrough.
Decide who may be harmed and how
For every hazard that has been identified, it is necessary to consider who may be harmed as it will help the employer consider the risk and how it can be controlled if it cannot be eliminated.
In addition to staff members, employers must also consider groups of people that could be harmed by activities in the workplace such as contractors, visitors, and other members of the public.
It is also crucial to consider some workers that could be vulnerable such as pregnant women, workers who have chronic conditions and/or disabilities, young workers, and other groups that require consideration.
Evaluate the risks and decide on preventative measures or precautions
Now that the hazards have been identified and those who may be at risks have been determined, the next step involves deciding on the level of risk and what can be done to manage it effectively to prevent harm.
It is not always possible to eliminate all the risk and employers are not expected to anticipate foreseeable risks, however, the law requires that employers must do what they can to manage the risk in a responsible and reasonably practicable manner.
Each hazard must be considered along with whether the employer can eliminate it or whether it can be controlled to make harm unlikely. Depending on the risk, employers can do several things such as blocking access to the hazard, providing washing facilities, PPE, and numerous other considerations.
How to write a risk assessment
Once the risk assessment has been carried out, the next step involves writing the findings down. Recordkeeping is an important factor as the risk assessment serves as written proof that the employer is compliant.
The risk assessment can also be written down so that it makes review easier in future. The written risk assessment must be a note of the main points of the significant risks along with the conclusions which were made.
This will make it easier to communicate the document and to manage risks within the organisation. If there are several hazards, they must be written in order of importance, starting with the most significant risks.
The greater the risk, the more robust and reliable the preventative measures must be. If adequate controls cannot be put in place immediately, the employer must identify any quick improvements which can be implemented immediately to prevent the likelihood and severity of harm.
How to keep the risk assessment up to date, and why
The health and safety risk assessment is not something which can be done once-off and never again. Workplaces undergo changes constantly and it means that hazards will change as well.
By implementing a process whereby risk assessments can be reviewed regularly, and updating it when necessary, employers can ensure that health and safety measures are not only adequate, but that they remain relevant.
With changes occurring, they must be noted along with their relevant preventative measures.
Health and safety and business insurance
Business insurance is another important factor in ensuring health and safety in the workplace. Accidents, incidents, and injuries still occur and for this reason, it is imperative that all employers register with COID to ensure that employees will receive compensation if they are harmed, or they become ill as result of a workplace risk or condition.
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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