Everyone knows that you need to do a risk assessment before starting anything. The next bit is the tricky part, though. What do you actually have on a risk assessment?
Here’s a list of the five essential points to cover on any risk assessment.
- Identify hazards. A good place to start with any risk assessment is figuring out what the risks are in the first place. Sounds pretty obvious, right? Many everyday hazards exist all over the place. How about checking safety data sheets for chemicals or manufacturers’ guidelines? These will often point out what might be harmful, and are a great way to get you thinking about risk.
- Who is at risk? Once you know what the risks are, it is easier to determine who is at risk. Which people will come into contact with those risks? Are only employees at risk or could other people be harmed, too? What about members of the public or nearby businesses? Even after you think you have identified everyone affected, you still may have missed someone, so ask others who they think might be at risk too. As you can see, conducting a risk assessment means asking a lot of questions.
- How bad--and how likely--are the risks? Basically, this point is about evaluating the risks you have just identified, and that means asking even more questions--and these questions can be pretty tough. It is not enough just to know what the risks are, or who could be harmed. Before you can take proper actions against them, you need to know how likely they are to happen, and how serious they could be. If a potential risk is only likely to happen once in a blue moon, there’s little point in spending valuable resources to protect against it.
- What are the hazards?
- Who is at risk from them? Realistically,
how threatening are the risks?
- Have you written it down?
- Are you doing an assessment regularly?
Document everything important. This is critical, so pay attention. Find something important during the assessment? Note. It. Down. Record it. Write it. Share it. This won’t just help you to share information about potential risks. You’ll also be able to see how risks change over time. If the same risks keep coming up, it should ring some serious alarms.
- Review your assessment. Performing a risk assessment once in a while is not enough. If a risk assessment is out of date, it’s pretty useless. In fact, it could be downright dangerous because it may make you overlook dangers that you did not know were there. Review your assessment regularly. This could be once a year or once a month depending on your workplace. If things are constantly changing, then you need regular reviews.
David Cant, CMIOSH, has a wealth of industry experience and is the managing director of Veritas Consulting. He also blogs regularly, with the aim of flavoring health and safety with integrity, served with a side of humor.
Originally published March 6, 2017.