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Five stepsrisk assessmentFive stepsTOrisk assessment
2What is riskassessment?A risk assessment is nothing more than acareful examination of what, in yourwork, could cause harm to people, sothat you can weigh up whether you havetaken enough precautions or should domore to prevent harm. The aim is tomake sure that no one gets hurt orbecomes ill. Accidents and ill health canruin lives, and affect your business too ifoutput is lost, machinery is damaged,insurance costs increase, or you have togo to court. You are legally required toassess the risks in your workplace.The important things you need to decideare whether a hazard is significant,and whether you have it covered bysatisfactory precautions so that the risk issmall. You need to check this when youassess the risks. For instance, electricitycan kill but the risk of it doing so in anoffice environment is remote, providedthat ‘live’ components are insulated andmetal casings properly earthed.This leafletaims to helpemployersand self-employedpeople toassess risksin the work-place. It isaimed atfirms in thecommercial,service andlight industrialsectors.RISK ASSESSMENT5 steps to
How to assess the risksin your workplaceFollow the five steps in this leaflet:STEP 1: Look for the hazardsSTEP 2: Decide who might beharmed and howSTEP 3: Evaluate the risks and decidewhether the existing precautions areadequate or whether more shouldbe doneSTEP 4: Record your findingsSTEP 5: Review your assessment andrevise it if necessaryDon’t be overcomplicated. Inmost firms in the commercial, serviceand light industrial sectors, the hazardsare few and simple. Checking them iscommon sense, but necessary. Youprobably already know whether, forexample, you have machinery that couldcause harm, or if there is an awkwardentrance or stair where someone couldbe hurt. If so, check that you have takenwhat reasonable precautions you can toavoid injury.If you are a small firm and you areconfident you understand what’sinvolved, you can do the assessmentyourself (you don’t have to be a healthand safety expert!). If you are a largerfirm, you could ask a responsibleemployee, safety representative or safetyofficer to help you. If you are notconfident, get help from a competentsource (see under ‘Getting help’ on page8). But remember – you are responsiblefor seeing it is adequately done. 3Hazard and Risk – don’t let words in thisguide put you off!hazard means any-thing that can causeharm (eg chemicals,electricity, workingfrom ladders, etc)risk is the chance, high or low, thatsomebody will beharmed by the hazard.
STEP 1Look for thehazardsIf you are doing the assessment yourself,walk around your workplace and lookafresh at what could reasonably beexpected to cause harm. Ignore thetrivial and concentrate on significanthazards which could result in seriousharm or affect several people.Ask your employees or their represen-tatives what they think. They may havenoticed things which are not immediatelyobvious. Manufacturers’ instructions ordata sheets can also help you spot hazardsand put risks in their true perspective. Socan accident and ill-health records.STEP 2Decide whomight be harmed,and howDon’t forget:q young workers, trainees, new andexpectant mothers, etc who may be at particular riskq cleaners, visitors, contractors,maintenance workers, etc who may not be in the workplace all the timeq members of the public, or people you share your workplace with, ifthere is a chance they could be hurtby your activities.4
STEP 3Evaluate the risksand decidewhether existingprecautions areadequate or moreshould be doneConsider how likely it is that eachhazard could cause harm. This willdetermine whether or not you need todo more to reduce the risk. Even afterall precautions have been taken, somerisk usually remains. What you have todecide for each significant hazard iswhether this remaining risk ishigh, medium or low.First, ask yourself whether you havedone all the things that the law saysyou have got to do. For example, thereare legal requirements on preventionof access to dangerous parts ofmachinery. Then ask yourself whethergenerally accepted industry standardsare in place. But don’t stop there -think for yourself, because the law alsosays that you must do what isreasonably practicable to keep yourworkplace safe. Your real aim is tomake all risks small by adding toyour precautions as necessary. If you find that something needs to bedone, draw up an ‘action list’ and givepriority to any remaining risks which arehigh and/or those which could affect mostpeople. In taking action ask yourself:a) can I get rid of the hazardaltogether?b) if not, how can I control the risksso that harm is unlikely?In controlling risks apply the principlesbelow, if possible in the following order:q try a less risky optionq prevent access to the hazard (eg by guarding)q organise work to reduce exposure to the hazardq issue personal protective equipmentq provide welfare facilities (eg washingfacilities for removal ofcontamination and first aid)Improving health and safety need notcost a lot. For instance, placing a mirroron a dangerous blind corner to helpprevent vehicle accidents, or puttingsome non-slip material on slippery steps,are inexpensive precautions consideringthe risks. And failure to take simpleprecautions can cost you a lot more if anaccident does happen.5
But what if the work you dotends to vary a lot, or you oryour employees move fromone site to another? Identify thehazards you can reasonably expect andassess the risks from them. After that, ifyou spot any additional hazards whenyou get to a site, get information fromothers on site, and take what actionseems necessary.But what if you share a work-place?Tell the other employers andself-employed people there about anyrisks your work could cause them, andwhat precautions you are taking. Also,think about the risks to your own work-force from those who share your workplace.But what if you have alreadyassessed some of the risks?If, for example, you use hazardouschemicals and you have already assessedthe risks to health and the precautionsyou need to take under the Control ofSubstances Hazardous to HealthRegulations (COSHH), you can considerthem ‘checked’ and move on.More information about legal require-ments and standards can be found in theHSE publications An Introduction toHealth and Safety, Essentials of Health andSafety and Management of Health andSafety at Work: Approved Code of Practice.Details of these are given on page 8.STEP 4Record yourfindingsIf you have fewer than five employeesyou do not need to write anything down,though it is useful to keep a writtenrecord of what you have done. But if youemploy five or more people you mustrecord the significant findings of yourassessment. This means writing downthe significant hazards and conclusions.Examples might be ‘Electricalinstallations: insulation and earthingchecked and found sound’ or ‘Fumefrom welding: local exhaust ventilationprovided and regularly checked’.You must also tell your employees aboutyour findings.Suitable and sufficient – not perfect!Risk assessments must be suitable andsufficient. You need to be able to show that:q a proper check was madeq you asked who might be affectedq you dealt with all the obvioussignificant hazards, taking intoaccount the number of people whocould be involvedq the precautions are reasonable, andthe remaining risk is low.6
Keep the written record for futurereference or use; it can help you if aninspector asks what precautions youhave taken, or if you become involvedin any action for civil liability. It can alsoremind you to keep an eye on particularhazards and precautions. And it helps toshow that you have done what the lawrequires. There is an example at the endof this guide which you may findhelpful to refer to, but you can make up your own form if you prefer.To make things simpler, you can refer toother documents, such as manuals, thearrangements in your health and safetypolicy statement, company rules,manufacturers’ instructions, your healthand safety procedures and your arrange-ments for general fire safety. These mayalready list hazards and precautions. Youdon’t need to repeat all that, and it is upto you whether you combine all thedocuments, or keep them separately.STEP 5Review yourassessment andrevise it ifnecessarySooner or later you will bring in newmachines, substances and procedureswhich could lead to new hazards. Ifthere is any significant change, add tothe assessment to take account of thenew hazard. Don’t amend yourassessment for every trivial change, or still more, for each new job, but if a new job introduces significant newhazards of its own, you will want toconsider them in their own right anddo whatever you need to keep therisks down. In any case, it is goodpractice to review your assessmentfrom time to time to make sure thatthe precautions are still workingeffectively.7
Getting helpHere’s a selection of practical guidance tohelp you. If you are still stuck on theassessment, your local health and safetyinspector can advise you on what to do.You will find most of what you need to knowabout standards and legal requirements in:An introduction to health and safety: Healthand safety in small businesses LeafletINDG259(rev1) HSE Books 2003 (singlecopy free)Essentials of health and safety at workHSE Books 1994 ISBN 0 7176 0716 Xbut you might also find the following useful:Management of health and safety at work.Management of Health and Safety atWork Regulations 1999. Approved Code ofPractice and guidance L21 (Secondedition) HSE Books 2000ISBN 0 7176 2488 9Successful health and safety managementHSG65 (Second edition) HSE Books 1997ISBN 0 7176 1276 7Stating your business: Guidance onpreparing a health and safety policydocument for small firmsLeaflet INDG324 HSE Books 2000 (singlecopy free or priced packs of 5ISBN 0 7176 1799 8)Need help on health and safety? Guidancefor employers on when and how to getadvice on health and safety LeafletINDG322 HSE Books 2000 (single copyfree or priced packs of 10ISBN 0 7176 1790 4) COSHH: a brief guide to the regulations:What you need to know about theControl of Substances Hazardous toHealth Regulations 2002 (COSHH) LeafletINDG136(rev2) HSE Books 2003 (singlecopy free or priced packs of 10ISBN 0 7176 2677 6)Personal protective equipment at work.Personal Protective Equipment at WorkRegulations 1992. Guidance onRegulations L25 HSE Books 1992ISBN 0 7176 0415 2Getting to grips with manual handling: Ashort guide for employers LeafletINDG143(rev1) HSE Books 2000 (singlecopy free or priced packs of 15ISBN 0 7176 1754 8) Electrical safety and you LeafletINDG231 HSE Books 1996 (single copyfree or priced packs of 15ISBN 0 7176 1207 4)Managing vehicle safety at the workplace:A short guide for employers LeafletINDG199 HSE Books 1995 (single copyfree or priced packs of 10ISBN 0 7176 0982 0)Workplace transport safety: Guidance foremployers HSG136 HSE Books 1995ISBN 0 7176 0935 9Working with VDUs Leaflet INDG36(rev1)HSE Books 1998 (single copy free orpriced packs of 10 ISBN 0 7176 1504 9)Work with display screen equipment.Health and Safety (Display ScreenEquipment) Regulations 1992 as amendedby the Health and Safety (MiscellaneousAmendments) Regulations 2002.Guidance on Regulations L26 (Secondedition) HSE Books 2003ISBN 0 7176 2582 6Whose risk is it anyway? Hazard and riskassessment in a small firm VideoHSE Books 1992 ISBN 0 7176 1942 7Five steps to risk assessment: Casestudies HSG183 HSE Books 1998ISBN 0 7176 1580 48HSE priced and free publications are available by mail order from HSE Books, PO Box 1999,Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 2WA Tel: 01787 881165 Fax: 01787 313995 Website: www.hsebooks.co.uk (HSE priced publications are also available from bookshops.)
HSEofficesGovernment Buildings, Phase 1, Ty Glas, Llanishen,CARDIFF CF14 5SH Tel: 029 2026 3000 Fax: 029 2026 3120 Inter City House,Mitchell Lane,Victoria Street, BRISTOL BS1 6AN Tel: 01179 886000 Fax: 01179 262998 The Marches House,Midway, NEWCASTLE-UNDER-LYME ST5 1DT Tel: 01782 602300 Fax: 01782 602400 14 Cardiff Road, LUTONLU1 1PP Tel: 01582 444200 Fax: 01582 444320 Priestley House,Priestley Road, BASINGSTOKE RG24 9NW Tel: 01256 404000Fax: 01256 404100 Wren House,Hedgerows Business Park,Colchester Road,Springfield,CHELMSFORDCM2 5PF Tel: 01245 706200 Fax: 01245 7062223 East Grinstead House,London Road, EAST GRINSTEAD RH19 1RR Tel: 01342 334200 Fax: 01342 334222 1 Hagley Road, BIRMINGHAMB16 8TG Tel: 0121 607 6200 Fax: 0121 607 6349 5th Floor Belgrave House,1 Greyfriars, NORTHAMPTON NN1 2BS Tel: 01604 738300 Fax: 01604 738333 1st Floor, The Pearson Building, 55 Upper Parliament Street, NOTTINGHAM NG1 6AU Tel: 01159 712800 Fax: 01159 712802 Marshalls Mill,Marshall Street,LEEDSLS11 9YJTel: 0113 283 4200 Fax: 0113 283 4296Edgar Allen House,241 Glossop Road,SHEFFIELDS10 2GW Tel: 0114 291 2300 Fax: 0114 291 2379 9Arden House, Regent Centre,Regent Farm Road, Gosforth, NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE NE3 3JN Tel: 0191 202 6200 Fax: 0191 202 6300 Grove House,Skerton Road, MANCHESTERM16 0RB Tel: 0161 952 8200 Fax: 0161 952 8222 Marshall House,Ringway, PRESTON PR1 2HS Tel: See Manchester Fax: 01772 836222 Belford House,59 Belford Road, EDINBURGHEH4 3UE Tel: 0131 247 2000 Fax: 0131 247 2121375 West George Street, GLASGOW G2 4LW Tel: 0141 275 3000Fax: 0141 275 3100 Offshore Division, Lord Cullen House, Fraser Place, ABERDEEN AB25 3UB Tel: 01224 252500Fax: 01224 252662
STEP 1HazardLook only for hazards which youcould reasonably expect to result insignificant harm under theconditions in your workplace. Usethe following examples as a guideqslipping/tripping hazards (egpoorly maintained floors or stairs)qfire (eg from flammablematerials)qchemicals (eg battery acid)qmoving parts of machinery (eg blades)qwork at height (eg frommezzanine floors)qejection of material (eg fromplastic moulding)qpressure systems (eg steamboilers)qvehicles (eg fork-lift trucks)qelectricity (eg poor wiring)qdust (eg from grinding)qfumes (eg welding)qmanual handlingqnoiseqpoor lightingqlow temperatureSTEP 2Who mightbe harmed?There is no need to listindividuals by name – justthink about groups ofpeople doing similar workor who may be affected, egqoffice staffqmaintenance personnelqcontractorsqpeople sharing yourworkplaceqoperatorsqcleanersqmembers of the publicPay particular attention to:qstaff with disabilitiesqvisitorsqinexperienced staffqlone workersThey may be morevulnerableSTEP 3Is more neededto control therisk?For the hazards listed, do theprecautions already taken:qmeet the standards set by a legalrequirement?qcomply with a recognisedindustry standard?qrepresent good practice?qreduce risk as far as reasonablypracticable?Have you provided:qadequate information,instruction or training?qadequate systems or procedures?If so, then the risks are adequatelycontrolled, but you need to indicatethe precautions you have in place.(You may refer to procedures,company rules, etc.)Where the risk is not adequatelycontrolled, indicate what more youneed to do (the ‘action list’)STEP 5Review and revisionSet a date for review of the assessment (see opposite).On review check that the precautions for each hazard still adequately control the risk. If not indicate the actionneeded. Note the outcome. If necessary complete a new page for your risk assessment.Making changes in your workplace, eg when bringing in newqmachinesqsubstancesqproceduresmay introduce significant new hazards. Look for them and follow the 5 steps.
STEP 1List significant hazards here:STEP 2List groups of peoplewho are at risk from thesignificant hazards youhave identified:STEP 3List existing controls or notewhere the information may befound. List risks which are notadequately controlled and theaction needed:RISK ASSESSMENT FORCompany NameCompany AddressPostcodeASSESSMENTUNDERTAKEN(date)SignedDateASSESSMENTREVIEWDate
RISK ASSESSMENT5 steps toHSE priced and free publications areavailable by mail order from HSE Books,PO Box 1999, Sudbury, Suffolk CO10 2WATel: 01787 881165 Fax: 01787 313995Website: www.hsebooks.co.uk (HSEpriced publications are also availablefrom bookshops.)For information about health and safetyring HSE’s InfoLine Tel: 08701 545500Fax: 02920 859260 e-mail:email@example.com orwrite to HSE Information Services,Caerphilly Business Park, Caerphilly CF83 3GG. You can also visit HSE’swebsite: www.hse.gov.ukThis leaflet is available in priced packs of10 from HSE Books, ISBN 0 7176 1565 0.Single free copies are also available fromHSE Books.This leaflet contains notes on goodpractice which are not compulsory butwhich you may find helpful inconsidering what you need to do.© Crown copyright This publication maybe freely reproduced, except foradvertising, endorsement or commercialpurposes. First published 5/99. Pleaseacknowledge the source as HSE.INDG163(rev1)Reprinted 7/03C5000Printed and published bythe Health and Safety Executive
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