All workplaces have the potential to cause injury, ill-health or even death. As a result, properly documented risk assessments are a legal requirement for companies employing more than five staff. First introduced in 1992 to improve health and safety in the workplace, the purpose of risk assessments is to protect staff, contractors, site visitors and customers. By demonstrating compliance with Health and Safety legislation, businesses not only safeguard their people, but also reduce their legal liability arising from workplace risk factors and potential incidents.
The primary objectives of a risk assessment are the identification of workplace hazards, the implementation of measures to mitigate risks, and the clear communication of vitally important health and safety information to workers. Potential hazards need to be pinpointed, along with who they endanger and how they could cause an accident. Armed with this knowledge, employers are then empowered to take steps to mitigate risks and to educate and inform their staff — increasing their awareness of hazards and, crucially, the ways in which they can protect themselves.
Workplace risk factors take on many forms, from essential work equipment and machinery to cleaning products and chemicals; from physical site-specific hazards to everyday activities and working practices. An equally wide range of safety measures can be implemented to counter these potential risks. Existing equipment or products and materials can be replaced with safer alternatives. Personnel can be issued with PPE appropriate to the hazards in question.
And method statements can be drawn up, outlining safer work practices, standard operating procedures or new processes to mitigate risks. Regardless of the nature or location of the hazard, appropriate health and safety measures should be proportionate to the risk. Accordingly, minor injury hazards call for fewer steps than hazards that could cause serious injury or death.
As well as satisfying legal compliance requirements, risk assessment findings are recorded and must be shared freely with staff. Together with explanations of the safety measures and practices in place to protect workers, these assessments will also detail any control equipment and PPE that should be used and the ways in which staff are required to comply with health and safety protocols. In so doing, employers protect not only their staff and stakeholders, but also their own legal position.
Trusted by hundreds of businesses across multiple sectors, London-based health and safety consultants Derisk offer a comprehensive, pragmatic approach to risk management. The company is recognised for the wide-ranging expertise of its specialist consultants and the timely, efficient delivery of well-constructed health and safety assessments and solutions.
Discover how Derisk can help your business comply with Health and Safety requirements and legislation.