When would you review a Health and Safety Risk Assessment?
It is crucial for employers to realise when they must review a risk assessment and where some may rely on an annual review, there are, however, times when assessments must be reviewed much sooner.
This article serves as a guide for employers on why and how often they must review a risk assessment.
Employers may realise the need for reviewing their assessment from time to time, and many employers opt to their risk assessment review once a year when all other safety documentation is reviewed.
Employers who do not review their documentation annually may often find themselves in a difficult situation when clients or other entities such as OHS accreditation schemes, ask them for updated information.
Changes in Legislation
OHS legislation is not something that is static as result of new techniques, technology, and work practices that evolve or emerge. Regulations are consistently reviewed, consulted, and updated. Changes in legislation may occur at certain times during the year, such as when the tax year starts or ends.
It is not set that regulation changes yearly, however, changes do occur. If the organisation’s risk assessment refers to a specific regulation or it complies with one, especially the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993, then it is imperative that the assessment is reviewed if there are any changes.
This ensures that the assessment is current and that the organisation and employer remains compliant.
Significant changes in the Task
Work activities will not remain the same and thus, they evolve over time with technology and the emergence of improved ways through which tasks can be carried out. Organisations apply new methods and technologies, introduce new tools and equipment, streamline the process, and find more ways to make it safer.
However, when changes such as these occur, it may mean that new hazards are introduced and when changes happen, it will require that the assessment be reviewed to ensure that control measures are still effective. It will also determine whether new control measures are necessary.
Improvements that have been made
Further action measures may have been recorded when the assessment is initially carried out followed by the implementation of an action plan for these improvements to be carried out.
For instance, installing a new conveyor belt with the purpose of reducing manual handling, installing new ventilation systems to reduce the exposure levels to dangerous chemicals and/or fumes.
Not all improvements occur instantaneously as budgets or timeframes may not allow for such. However, once they can be implemented, the risk level will have changed, and it is necessary for the assessment to be reviewed again.
Problems that arise from the Task
Once a risk assessment has been carried out, and the work starts, the employees that carry out the task may notice a problem with an existing control measure or a procedure that was not noticed during the assessment process.
It may be that a guard is not compatible with the material being used, or an item gets jammed. When this occurs, it is necessary for the activity to be reviewed and for the assessment to be updated so that control measures can be changed, or further improvements can be made.
Accidents or Near Misses
Accidents or near misses may occur and it is imperative to learn from them. When there are near miss reports for a specific area, task, or activity, it is a clear indication that the assessment must be reviewed and for the employer to see how the near misses can be stopped before an incident occurs.
Accident and near miss investigations are a good opportunity to identify where weaknesses are present so that tasks can be reassessed.
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