Risk assessment is an essential part of any health and safety management system. The aim of risk assessment is to identify significant risks and set priorities to minimize risks and make reductions in work related accidents and ill-health.
WHAT IS RISK ASSESSMENT?
A risk assessment is nothing more than a careful examination of what in work could cause harm to people, so that you can weight up whether you have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent harm.
The terms Hazard, Risk and Competence are used in health and safety and these are defined as:
A hazard can be defined as something with the potential to cause harm and covers health, injury, loss of production and damage to plant and property. Typical examples could be electricity and moving machinery.
Risk is the likelihood that a hazard will cause particular harm in the actual circumstances of use and the severity of the harm.
Whenever possible hazards should be eliminated, but if they cannot be eliminated then the risks will need to be minimized by such controls as handrails on stairs, etc.
A competent person is defined as someone who has a combination of training, knowledge, experience and personal qualities and also knowledge of their own limitations. Risk assessments should be carried out by a person or persons who have a thorough understanding of the processes and procedures involved. Also the risk assessor should have good communication skills.
THE RISK ASSESSMENT PROCESS
Risk assessment is a logical process of collecting information and making judgements against standards, often set out in law, to establish whether or not risks are adequately managed.
How a risk assessment id carried out will depend on local legal and best practice requirements, the nature of the work of business, and the types of hazards and risks. The risk assessment process should be systematic, practical, and take account of the views of employees and their health and safety representatives who will be able to contribute practical knowledge.
Suitable and Sufficient
A term used is that the risk assessment should be ‘suitable and sufficient’. To achieve this, the level of detail in the risk assessment should be proportionate to the level of risk. It should also:
- Ensure that all aspects of work activity are reviewed
- Take account of the way the work is organised
- Identify the significant hazards and risks
- Evaluate the risks
- Identify employees and others at risk
- Identify control measures
- Be appropriate to the nature of the work
- Ensure that residual risk is low
- Enable priorities to be set
- Ensure no-routine operations are taken into account
- Ensure staff undertaking the assessment have sufficient knowledge and experience
Ensure that the risk assessment is valid for a reasonable time.
(Get the full portion of this syllabus from the September Issue of Safety Messenger Magazine 2015)