Risk assessment is fundamental to good health and safety management. All employers regardless of the size of business are required by law to carry out a risk assessment at their place of work and to keep a written record of that risk assessment.
People are often put off by the idea of Risk Assessment because they think it is over complicated, difficult to complete and unnecessary.
Risk Assessment is simply looking closely at what in your place of work or about your work activities could cause harm to your employees and visitors to your workplace (e.g. customers, suppliers, sales representatives etc) and determining the control measures you can implement to minimise the risk.
There are 3 basic steps to Risk Assessment:
- Identify the hazards (i.e. anything that has the potential to cause harm, in terms of human injury or ill-health. For example working with chemicals, dangerous substances or dangerous equipment).
Don’t overcomplicate the process. There is no need to consider every minor hazard or risk which we accept as part of our everyday lives. For example, you do not need to identify the lifting of a 1kg package as a workplace hazard; but lifting a 25kg box of 1kg packages would be a hazard.
- Identify the level of risk for each hazard (i.e. the chance/likelihood of harm occurring, coupled with how severe the harm or ill health could be). Decide who could be harmed and how and give consideration to vulnerable groups (e.g. young persons, the elderly, pregnant employees, shift workers etc).
- Identify the controls or improvements that need to be put in place to avoid or reduce the risk. Your control measures are the most significant part of the risk assessment, as they set out the steps that must be followed to protect people. Some control measures may already be in place. You will need to decide if additional measures are needed. Risk assessment will help you prioritise the high risk hazards first. More information on Hazards and Controls, including an explanation of the ‘Hierarchy of Controls’ can be found within the Learn More section of BeSMART.ie, the free, easy-to-use online tool for Risk Assessments and Safety Statements
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