The Benefits of Outsourcing Health and Safety displayed by a worker and manager in a warehouse discussing plans over a tablet. The worker is wearing high visibility PPE and a hard hat.

What is a Risk Assessment?

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Written by: Alcumus
7th September

Do you need help understanding what is a HSE risk assessment?

The purpose of a risk assessment is to help to identify the significant hazards and evaluate any associated risks within the workplace. When a risk assessment is complete you can  issue appropriate control measures to protect employees and others against harm or injury.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires that “every employer shall make a suitable & sufficient assessment of the risks to the health & safety of their employees to which they are exposed to while at work”.

What is the purpose of a risk assessment?

A health and safety risk assessment needs to:

  • Establish the risks arising from any work activities.
  • Be appropriate to the nature of the work.
  • Be proportionate to the level of risk and the specific nature of that work.
  • Identify and prioritise the control measures required to protect the Health & Safety of employees and other persons who may be affected by that work activity.

Different types of Risk Assessment

In addition to the general requirements for workplace risk assessments, several sets of regulations, contain their own more specific requirements, these include, but are not limited to the following:

Fire Risk Assessments

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires that the Responsible Person of any non-domestic premises must carry out a fire risk assessment, to ensure that fire safety precautions are implemented and to protect the safety of their employees and other relevant persons. 

DSEAR Risk Assessments

The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002, require employers to assess any associated risks in order to prevent or limit the harmful effects of fire, explosion and other similar energy releasing events arising from any dangerous substances used or present within the workplace.

COSHH Assessments

Are required within any workplaces where hazardous substances are stored, used, or manufactured.

Display Screen Equipment Assessments

The DSE Assessment is applicable if employees use display screen equipment as part of their daily work, continuously for an hour or more, employers must carry out a workstation assessment.

Who is responsible for ensuring a health and safety risk assessment is carried out?

It is the responsibility of the employer (or the self-employed person) to carry out the risk assessment, or appoint someone with the relevant knowledge, experience, and skills to be able to assist with this undertaking.

When to prepare a HSE risk assessment

Employers (or the self-employed person) must ensure that a suitable & sufficient risk assessment has been produced prior to the commencement of a specific task or work-related activity in order to eliminate, reduce or suitably control any associated risks to the health, safety & wellbeing of any person involved with or affected by that task.

Employers should also ensure that employees are fully aware of any risk assessments that are relevant to a specific work-related project.

Below is a risk assessment template to guide your business through the process.

The risk assessment process

In order to complete a risk assessment, the HSE has recommended a five-step process, which should be suitable for most small, low risk businesses, if the business is larger or is classed as high risk, then a more detailed assessment of the associated risks will be required.

The Five Steps to complete a HSE Risk Assessment

Step 1: Look for the potential hazards

This is the process of identifying all of the hazards that exist within the workplace that may cause harm to anyone that comes into contact with them. Remember the hazards may not always be obvious.

Step 2: Decide who might be harmed

Once the hazards have been identified, the risk assessment then needs to establish who might be harmed and how, persons at risk could include on-site personnel, visitors, or members of the public.

Some hazards may present a higher and more significant level of risk to certain other groups including, young inexperienced workers, new or expectant mothers, new employees, or lone workers.

Step 3: Evaluate the risks

This is the process of assessing the significance of the risks and establishing suitable and effective control measures to reduce this level of risk.

Step 4: Record your findings

Employers with five or more employees have a legal duty to record their risk assessments in writing. Recording your findings on a risk assessment form is an easy way to keep a documented account of the risk assessments that are applicable to the workplace.

Step 5: Review the assessment and revise if necessary

All risk assessments should be reviewed periodically to ensure that the existing control measures remain appropriate and effective.

How Alcumus Can help

For more information & advice on workplace risk assessments. Please contact Alcumus PSM to speak to one of our qualified consultants who can advise you further on 02920 266 749 or email [email protected].