Environmental Health - Health and Safety At Work

Risk Assessment Advice

A risk assessment is a key factor in managing health and safety and should be an active working document specific to your premises which, in order for it to be considered suitable and sufficient, must be reviewed regularly to ensure that wherever possible hazards can be eliminated, or adequate control measures put in place to minimise the risks to as low a level as is reasonably practicable.

Law: If you have 5 or more employees you must have a written risk assessment.

However even if you have less than 5 employees it is still the duty of every employer under The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to consider potential health and safety hazards that may affect anyone who comes into contact with their business activities and a recommendation that you document your findings.

A hazard is anything which has the potential to cause harm, and a risk is a chance, large or small, that someone will be harmed by the hazard.  Just some examples of things that you may need to consider include; electrical and gas safety of your installation and appliances, slip and trip hazards, manual handling activities, any work at height, presence of  asbestos material, use of hazardous substances such as cleaning chemicals, young workers (under 18), and new or expectant mothers.

It is important to remember that where your general assessment indicates hazards requiring specific assessments, for example manual handling activities then you are required to undertake more detailed assessments for those tasks.

There is no set way of undertaking a risk assessment but you need to follow these five steps:

  • Identify the hazards.
  • Decide who might be harmed and how.
  • Evaluate the risks and decide on precaution.
  • Record your findings and implement them.
  • Review your assessment and update if necessary.

Clicking here will take you through each of these steps and will help you focus on the risks that really matter in your workplace. 

35 example risk assessments case studies to help businesses understand how they assess and control risks in the workplace.     

The health and safety at work tool box  provides further advice to help businesses identify, assess and control common risks in the workplace.

The on-line interactive tool from which you can produce your own assessment by selecting the relevant hazards and thinking about how you control them. These include an office and shop risk assessment.

Answers to some of the questions you may have can be found using this link to the HSE website by clicking on their FAQS.