How to Conduct a Workplace Risk Assessment

Conducting a workplace risk assessment is a crucial step to make to protect employees and safeguard a business, together with complying with the law. It helps to put a focus on potential risks that are present and analyse how dangerous they are and then allow for measures to be put in place to minimise the likeness of somebody getting injured as a result.

In most cases, the most simple and straightforward precautions can actively control risks in the workplace. For example, removing any trip hazards that are present in a busy corridor or swiftly cleaning up a liquid spillage that a worker could slip on.

Workplace accidents can cause life-changing injuries in the most extreme cases and severely damage a company both in terms of reputation and finances. If you own a company, then it is your legal obligation to conduct a risk assessment so you can put control measures in place to reduce the risk of accidents occurring.

How Can A Risk Assessment be Conducted?

At this point, we cannot stress enough the importance of not overcomplicating the risk assessment. There are many businesses out there that think having comprehensive paperwork will help them identify risks and put measures in place, but this isn’t the case. Think of it this way, if the person conducting a risk assessment has their head in bundles of paperwork then chances are, they are going to miss something, and that can put people in danger. There are 5 simple but highly effective steps to take when conducting a risk assessment.

Step 1. Identify the potential hazards that are present, who is at risk and what the severity of the risk is. It is always good to think about what injuries could be sustained as well.

Step 2. Thoroughly evaluate the potential risks and come up with measures to reduce the risk as much as possible.

Step 3. Document the risk assessment findings in a safe place where it can be found easily in the event of an emergency.

Step 4. Review the risk assessment to ensure that nothing hazardous has been missed. It’s good to review risk assessments on a regular basis especially if workplace operations chance. For example, maybe you get a new piece of equipment, this is when you need to review the risk assessment.

Step 5. Ensure all members of staff understand the risk assessment and are fully educated in the ways to reduce the risks to ensure a safe working environment for all.

Do I Really Need to Document My Risk Assessment?

If your company employs over 5 people, then the answer is yes you do. You will be required by law to document your risk assessment. If you company has less than 5 employees, then the law doesn’t require you to keep one. However, this is very bad practice, and we wouldn’t advise it. A risk assessment is an extremely important document that helps everyone within a company to stay safe. Whether it be employees or customers, it is your responsibility to keep them all safe.

Risk Assessment Definitions

When conducting a risk assessment, it is essential that you use the correct definitions as it might not always be you who is looking at it. Although the following definitions seem simple, these are the ones that are universally used.

Hazard. Something that has the potential to harm someone.

Risk. A combination of consequence and the likeness of the hazard causing harm.

Risk Rating. The measurement of the risk. Its good practice to using risk rating guide.

Likelihood. How often the risk might potentially cause harm to someone.

Consequence. What will potentially happen if someone has an accident with a highlighted risk.

Reduction. What can be done to reduce the harm of a risk.

Risk Scoring

As previously mentioned, it is good practice to using a risk rating when conducting an assessment as it better presents the severity of identified risks. Risk scoring depends on the type of company you are and the way you operate. But it is generally good to use a scoring card of 1 to 25. Please see our example below.

Risk scoring 1 – 5. Risks that score 1 – 5 and generally thought of to be low risk.

Risk scoring 6 – 9.  These are considered to be low to moderate risks but should still be treated as threats that can cause someone harm.

Risk scoring 10 – 14. If a risk scores this then it should be considered as highly dangerous. If you identify a risk that scores 10 – 14, then an action plan needs to be put in place to reduce the likeliness of an incident occurring.

Risk scoring 15 – 25. If a risk scores 15 – 25 then this should be regarded as a threat that can have catastrophic consequences. A thorough action plan must be put in place to minimise the likelihood of an incident taking place.  When identifying a risk of this magnitude, its good practice to call a meeting with your workforce to talk them through what safety procedures have been put in place and go through an emergency procedure with them should a serious incident occur.