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A Guide to Conducting Risk Assessments at Work

A Guide to Conducting Risk Assessments at Work
Posted: 23rd July 2021

Conducting thorough risk assessments within the workplace helps to form the basis for the management of health and safety issues. By ensuring that you take the time to conduct your risk assessment effectively, you are taking every step possible to protect your employees and members of the public from potential harm within the workplace.

As an employer, you're required by law to protect your employees, and others, from harm. Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the minimum you must do is:

  • identify what could cause injury or illness in your business (hazards)
  • decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously (the risk)
  • take action to eliminate the hazard, or if this isn't possible, control the risk

One of the first things to do when conducting a risk assessment is to identify the hazards involved in the environment that you work within. Walk around the workplace and try to identify places that could potentially injure people, such as heavy machinery or hazardous substances. 

Next, identify who might be likely to be harmed, such as new employees, those with special needs, contractors, or members of the public. Then work out how likely it is that the risk will occur. This will help you to prioritise which actions must be taken to prevent an accident or ill health from occurring.

You will need to decide what action to take to remove or reduce the hazards that have been identified during the risk assessment. This could include providing PPE for your employees such as safety boots or respiratory protective equipment. You might find that you need to go further to provide protection and install safety barriers in the workplace or change the working system completely. 

You should check and monitor all safety equipment regularly, this ensures that it is suitable for the task that it is intended to do, and review your risk assessments regularly, updating them as necessary if things change.

If your business is larger or higher-risk, you can find detailed guidance here.

If you're self-employed, check if health and safety law applies to you.

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