Risk Assessment is the corner stone in the management of health and safety at work.
It underpins safe working practices for all activities in the work setting as outlined by the relevant legislation such as Health & Safety at Work Act etc. 1974 and Statutory Instruments Health and Safety at Work Regulations and of course the Safety, Health and Welfare Act 2005 in Ireland.
The Health and Safety Executive publication “5 steps to risk assessment” is a good practical and simple guide in this regard. There are also obligations under some hazard specific legislation to carry out risk assessments. For example:
- COSHH, Manual Handling, Fire, Display Screen Equipment, Confined spaces, Noise, Asbestos and others.
The absence of any risk assessment can be taken as an indication of legal noncompliance and inadequate safety management and this can mean no defence in the court of law.
As an employer you need to decide which situations justify separate risk assessments and this will depend upon the complexity of your organisation’s undertakings. Equally so, a good generic risk assessment will cover the vast majority of situations for the majority of employers and can provide an excellent frame work for deciding what controls and safeguards you need to put in place.
Suitable and sufficient risk assessments should be broadly proportionate to the risk and should:
- ensure all relevant hazards are addressed
- address what actually happens in the workplace or during work
- ensure all groups affected are considered taking account of groups who are particularly at risk
- take account of existing preventative or precautionary measures and decide what other measures need to be implemented.
‘Risk controls’ can include workplace precautions such as physical safeguards, containment of contaminants including noise, safe systems of work and competency and personal protective equipment.
We can help you design and deliver risk assessments and advise on the appropriateness of controls related to health risks. This can be done by an experienced occupational health nursing advisor or doctor depending on the circumstances.