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Risk Assessments and Checklists

A risk assessment is nothing more than a careful examination of what, in your work or activities, could cause harm to people, so that you can weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent harm. The aim is to make sure that no one gets hurt or becomes ill. Accidents and ill health can ruin lives, and affect your business too. You are legally required to assess the risks in your business.

The important things you need to decide are whether a hazard is significant, and whether you have it covered by satisfactory precautions so that the risk is small.

What is a Hazard and Risk?

Hazard - anything that can cause harm (e.g. chemicals, electrical installations, working from ladders etc).

Risk - the chance, high or low, that somebody will be harmed by the hazard.

What do I need to do as an employer/duty holder?

As an employer or duty holder you are legally obliged under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to carry out a risk assessment of the significant risks in your workplace or business. Where there are five or more employees a record should be kept.

The following guidance should assist you in undertaking risk assessments for your business. Once completed the risk assessment should be retained as a record in your health and safety file. You do not have to send the completed checklists or assessments to us.

How detailed will your assessment be?

This will depend on the type of operations and tasks performed. The assessor should look at the overall operations or tasks undertaken. Significant findings of the assessment should be recorded and kept. It may be helpful to use a checklist to aid this process.

Steps to a Risk Assessment

  • identify hazards or consequences
  • identify those at risk
  • evaluate the risk
  • eliminate or minimise the risk by introducing control measures
  • monitor control measures
  • review control measures.

Once this process has been started the work activities and workplace should be broken into small units and potential hazards identified e.g. workplace transport requires one risk assessment and poor light levels would require another. Specific conditions, such as snow, may require a risk assessment to be undertaken at the time or when conditions change.

We have produced some simple checklist forms to use when developing your risk assessments to identify hazards, those at risk and the control measures that need to be taken within your business. These checklists are not exhaustive and it is recommended that you use them as a starting point in the risk assessment process and amend or supplement it accordingly to suit your operation.

The person responsible for completing the risk assessment should sign and date them to validate the information.

Sample checklists to download and adapt

Remember - risk assessments should be reviewed on a regular basis or as and when situations or conditions change.

Further information

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