Risk Assessment Advice

A risk assessment is a key factor in managing health and safety. This should be an active working document specific to your premises. In order for it to be considered suitable and sufficient, it must be reviewed regularly to ensure possible hazards can be eliminated, or adequate control measures put in place to minimise the risks to as low a level as is reasonably practicable.

If you have five or more employees, you must have a written risk assessment. It is the law.

Even if you have less than five employees, it is still the duty of every employer under The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to consider potential health and safety hazards that may affect anyone who comes into contact with their business activities and a recommendation that you document your findings.

A hazard is anything which has the potential to cause harm. A risk is a chance, large or small, that someone will be harmed by the hazard. Some examples include:

  • electrical and gas safety of your installation and appliances
  • slip and trip hazards
  • manual handling activities
  • any work at height
  • presence of asbestos material
  • use of hazardous substances such as cleaning chemicals
  • young workers (under 18)
  • new or expectant mothers.

It is important to remember where your general assessment indicates hazards requiring specific assessments. For example, manual handling activities you are required to undertake more detailed assessments for those tasks.

There is no set way of undertaking a risk assessment but you need to follow these five steps:

  • Identify the hazards
  • Decide who might be harmed and how
  • Evaluate the risks and decide on precaution
  • Record your findings and implement them
  • Review your assessment and update if necessary.

Managing risks and risk assessment's at work will take you through each of these steps and will help you focus on the risks that really matter in your workplace.

Use the health and safety at work advice and examples from HSE to help identify, assess and control common risks in the workplace.