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Just doing a risk assessment isn’t enough. This may sound obvious, but they have to be done right. Here are a few things not to do, and what to do instead.

If you’re looking for the steps you must take when carrying out a workplace risk assessment, check out The Five Steps to a successful Risk Assessment.

  1. Set and forget it
    Once completed, a risk assessment document cannot just be left indefinitely. If there is an incident, or a change at site that makes you think it may no longer cover all that it needs to, it’s time to review. If not, be sure to review them at least annually. 

    Top tip: Set up reminder to ensure that essential document reviews aren’t forgotten.

  2. Use vague wording

    What is ‘heavy’ varies person to person. If you mean 25kg, say it. Equally, if there is a piece of protective clothing or equipment required, specify exactly which this is rather than saying ‘wear protective clothing’.

    Top tip: Have a member of another team or colleague read through your document and confirm wording is all clear and easy to understand.

  3. Assume that one size fits all

    It is often a good idea to use other risk assessments to help inform another. This can prevent contradictions and ensure that consistent language is used. But if the same equipment is to be used at a different site, don’t forget to add or remove information to reflect a different environment. 

    Top tip: Check out industry templates and standards (available online) for guidance.

  4. Doing it from the office (or home)

    A risk assessment isn’t about what should happen, but about what could happen. To spot these things, you need to have risk assessments filled out by someone on site.

    Top tip: Ensure you have processes in place that make sure that both generic and dynamic (i.e. new sites/jobs) risk assessments are completed by the most appropriate people.

  5. Filling it and filing it

    Once completed, a risk assessment isn’t just to be filed away, job done, tick. If people don’t know about the risks of safeguards, they won’t be able to protect themselves. Ensure that you share the findings with all relevant parties.

    Top tip: Store site specific risk assessments centrally, (ideally on a cloud-based system,) so that all those re-visiting a site will have access to historic information.

Avoid these common pitfalls and you’ll be well placed to keep your field teams safe.

A risk assessment plays a crucial part in Occupational Health and Safety management as employers are required by law to protect employees, and others, from harm. The purpose of a risk assessment is to reduce all reasonably foreseeable risks to as low as is reasonably practicable. 

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends employers follow the following five steps when carrying out a workplace risk assessment:

Step 1) Identify the Hazards

Employers have a responsibility to assess the health and safety risks faced by their employees. You must thoroughly review what may cause harm and be potential hazards. You can do this in several ways, such as walking around the workplace or asking your employees.

Step 2) Spot who may be harmed and how?

Once you have identified your potential hazards, you need to consider how your employees, visitors, contractors, or members of the public may be harmed and how serious this could be. 

Step 3) Evaluate the risks and decide on control measures

Once you know who may be harmed and how, the next step is to prevent this from happening. You need to consider if you can remove the hazard altogether or put appropriate control measures in place to decrease the level of risk. You are not expected to eliminate every risk but do need to do everything reasonably practicable to protect people from harm. This means balancing the level of risk against the measures necessary to control the real risk in terms of cost, time or trouble.

Step 4) Record your findings

If you employ five or more people, once you have completed the previous steps, it is a legal requirement to record your findings. You should then share your findings with your employees.

Step 5) Review RA

Your work isn’t finished quite yet as workplaces very rarely stay the same, and therefore risk assessments need to be continually reviewed and updated where necessary. For example, your control measures may no longer be effective, or you’ve had significant changes in the workplace such as staff, new machinery, substances or equipment, or business processes that have changed over time. 

For more in-depth information from H&S Expert Nigel Stevens, Health Safety Environment Consultant, join our webinar on Wednesday, the 18th of August at 2pm. You can register now to book your place here: https://webinar.ringcentral.com/webinar/register/WN_L-F3lMJmQWy73-v2VR1A0A

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