Risk Assessment

A risk assessment is simply a careful examination of what, in your work, could cause harm to people, so that you can weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent harm. 

How to assess the risks in your workplace

  1. Identify the hazards 
  2. Decide who might be harmed and how 
  3. Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions 
  4. Record your findings and implement them 
  5. Review your assessment and update if necessary 

When thinking about risk assessment, remember:

  • a hazard is anything that may cause harm, such as chemicals, electricity, working from ladders, an open drawer etc
  • the risk is the chance, high or low, that somebody could be harmed by these and other hazards, together with an indication of how serious the harm could be. 

To avoid management performing comprehensive risk assessments of the same jobs, central risk assessments are carried out on certain high risk types of work and are called generic risk assessments. However, where there is no generic risk assessment or where it does not cover the particular work being done, because of local variations, management will need to conduct a full local risk assessment. This assessment should involve others including Union Safety Representatives as well as members of work teams engaged in the work activity being assessed, and any significant findings should be recorded.

Although managers have the prime responsibility for risk assessment everybody has a role to play before they start work. An on site risk assessment should be undertaken by the individual where they should check the working conditions actually faced against the information, training, equipping and experience they have. If the work situation faced is beyond their capability, knowledge or experience they must not begin work before their manager has been consulted; or if the circumstances surrounding them deteriorate during the course of the job they must stop immediately ensuring that the work site is as safe as possible.

An individual has the absolute and final decision on whether work can be undertaken safely. No person has the authority to overturn an individual risk assessment.


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