A risk assessment looks at what can cause harm to people. It identifies if measures are adequate, or additional measures are required, to reduce injury and ill health.
Some risk assessments may be simple, for example, water spilled on the floor creating a slip hazard. Other risk assessments will be more complex, for example, the risks associated with handling activities.
Types of risk assessment
Generic risk assessment
This is an assessment of common hazards.
Examples of these hazards include:
- manual handling activities
Specific risk assessment
This is an assessment of high-risk work activities.
Examples of these activities include:
- chemical agents
- display screen equipment (DSE)
- pregnant employees
- task-specific manual handling - inanimate loads
- biological agents
- cytotoxic drug
- manual handling
- workplace stress
Dynamic risk assessment
A dynamic risk assessment assesses risk for employees in changing circumstances.
Examples include employees who:
- work alone
- work in environments with potential for aggression and violence
- deal with manual handling activities
A dynamic risk assessment is carried out informally. Issues identified must be addressed and reported to the manager.
As a manager, you are responsible for:
- ensuring that a hazard identification and risk assessment process is completed
- ensuring risk assessments are reviewed regularly, at least annually and in the event of any significant change
- ensuring that risks that cannot be controlled locally are incorporated onto the relevant risk register and prioritized for action or notified to the next level. In the interim, the risk must be continued to be managed and monitored so far as is reasonably practicable.
Employees have a responsibility for their own safety, health and welfare.
This includes reporting to their manager as soon as possible any:
- work that may endanger the health and safety of themselves or others
- defects in the workplace, systems of work or substances
- breach of health and safety legislation
Steps in the risk assessment process
- Identify the hazard. This includes physical, chemical, biological and psychosocial hazards
- Identify the risk associated with the hazard, including who might be harmed. This applies to visitors, contractors, staff, students and the public.
- Assess the risk, taking account of existing control measures and their effectiveness. Use the HSE risk assessment tool.
- Identify if any extra control measures are required.
Record the risk assessment
The results of the risk assessment must be recorded.
Monitor and review
Control measures must be evaluated regularly. This should be done through a monitoring and review system.
Risk assessments must be kept up to date and must be reviewed when there is:
- a significant workplace change - to the premises, plant, work practices or procedures
- evidence that the risk assessment is no longer valid
Amend the risk assessment as necessary following the review.
It is best practice and HSE policy to review risk assessments at least annually.