Health and Safety Risk Assessment – Part 1
The Risk Assessment is a Legal requirement in working environment as it froms a crucial part of a Health and safety management system
What is a Risk Assessment?
A health and safety risk assessment is a term which is used to describe an overall process involving:
- The identification of hazards as well as risk factors which have the potential to cause harm.
- The analysing and evaluation of the risk associated with that hazard.
- Determining the appropriate way to control the risk if the hazard cannot be eliminated.
A health and safety risk assessment is a crucial part of any effective occupational health and safety management plan. When an effective health and safety risk assessment is conducted, hazards and risks can be uncovered and the people who are most likely to be at risk can be identified and safeguarded.
Risk assessments involve a thorough inspection or check of not only the work environment but also equipment and machinery used, systems, and numerous other factors to determine potential hazards and implement adequate safety systems to prevent injury and damage to property, machinery, and/or equipment.
Why are they important?
Health and Safety Risk assessments are crucial in ensuring a healthy and safe workplace for all employees and visitors to the premises along with helping to:
- Create awareness of hazards and their subsequent risks.
- Identify employees or persons who are at risk of harm.
- Determine whether a control programme is required for a specific hazard.
- Determine if existing control measures are effective, or whether more must be implemented.
- Prevent injuries as well as illnesses, especially when risk assessments are done during the design or planning phase.
- Prioritise hazards as well as control measures.
- Meeting legal requirements, where applicable.
What is the goal of a risk assessment?
The aim of a risk assessment is to evaluate hazards and to subsequently remove them or minimise the level of risk by adding adequate control measures, where they are necessary. This ensures for a healthier and safer workplace.
When should a risk assessment be done?
The Occupational Health and Safety Act dictates that a health and safety risk assessment be done annually, unless:
- An incident has occurred, in which case, the risk assessment must be done again to assess and determine why the incident occurred.
- There are significant changes which have been made to the work environment, subsequently introducing new and different risks which must be listed in the risk assessment.
- Before new activities or processes are implemented
- When there are new hazards identified in the workplace.
How is a risk assessment planned?
The first step is to determine what the scope of Health and risk assessments is. Common categories of risk assessments include:
- Generic risk assessments – which are an overall evaluation.
- Substance risk assessments – which are used in workplaces where hazardous substances are used and present.
- Digital and equipment risk assessments – which are designed specifically to measure the risk to employees as well as the organisation from using digital tools and equipment.
- Manual handling risk assessments where and when employees must carry, lift, or move loads.
- Fire risk assessments – which include an evaluation of fire exposure sources.
There are also a variety of other risk assessments such as Baseline risk assessments, issue-based risk assessments, and several others that are conducted at various stages during operations. These are more specialised and it is imperative for there to be adequate recordkeeping of such risk assessments as they often form part of the health and safety files of the company.
When determining the scope for the risk assessment, it is imperative to develop criteria for identifying as well as defining varying levels and types of risk which includes the following:
- Risk Levels – how risks are being compared and measured to prioritise the most important things to address in the workplace.
- Probability – the likelihood that the risk will cause harm to either the business, people, or property. Here, both the possibility as well as the frequency of potential risks must be considered.
- Consequences – if something happens, what will the consequences be to health and safety? Another consideration is the potential consequences to business interruption, the environment, company reputation, and legal implications.
- Acceptable risk – in an ideal world, all risks can be eliminated, however it is likely that there will be a level of risk that remains which must be acknowledged and dealt with accordingly.
- Combined risks – which includes consideration where a combination of risk is concerned, multiple risks which may combined, resulting in increased consequences.
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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