Health & Safety Risk Assessment

A Health & Safety risk assessment is a vital task to stay compliant.

They help you to understand what can cause harm and how these can be reduced. The risk to you can be more than a costly fine – the resulting negative publicity can damage your reputation beyond repair! 

This is where having Ellis Whittam’s Health & Safety support making sure you are compliant is vital. 

Risk Assessment Duty

The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 say employers must:

  • carry out a risk assessment
  • identify any significant risks (must be recorded if five or more employees)
  • take steps to remove or control those risks
  • appoint someone competent to advise them

A general risk assessment may be used to ‘generally’ assess the hazards typically found in routine activities and workplaces.

More unusual activities or fewer routine workplaces may require a specific risk assessment.

Suitable and Sufficient

The Management Regulations say risk assessments must be ‘suitable and sufficient’. However, it doesn’t go on to define what this means!

Put simply though a risk assessment is a careful examination of what, in your work, could cause harm to people. The aim is to decide what steps are needed to reduce injury and ill-health and comply with Health & Safety law.

A general risk assessment should:

  • identify the significant risks arising from your activities
  • reveal your existing controls
  • identify whether those controls are enough to comply with Health & Safety law
  • if existing controls don’t reduce the risk of harm to an acceptable level, determine what other steps must be taken

Six-Step Approach

A risk assessment can be divided into a basic six-step approach:

  1. Identify hazards
  2. Decide who might be harmed
  3. Evaluate the risk level
  4. Decide whether existing risk controls are sufficient
  5. Keep a record of the findings
  6. Monitor and review

In identifying hazards, you may have noticed some risks have already been addressed. The legal duty is to reduce the remaining ‘residual risk’ to as low a level as ‘reasonably practicable’.    

Risk assessments typically judge whether the risk level of someone being injured is high, medium or low – thereby setting the timetable for reducing risk:

  • high-risk activities should normally be tackled immediately
  • medium risks in days/weeks
  • low risks in months

In some cases, no action will be needed. But you have to make sure you’re complying with the law by reducing the risk to as low a level as reasonably practicable.

Living Document

Risk assessments are living documents and need regular review. They must be reviewed if there:

  • is a reason to believe it is no longer valid
  • has been a significant change

Accidents, ill-health and dangerous occurrences or ‘near misses’ should always prompt review.

Who should do the Risk Assessment?

You can have it carried out externally by Health & Safety consultants or you can assess the risks yourself.  

However, the Management Regulations say employers must have Health & Safety assistance from a ‘Competent Person’. In other words, whoever does the assessment must be able to make sure you’re complying with Health & Safety law.

Small firms should only do risk assessments themselves if they confidently understand what’s involved.

The Management Regulations say the ‘Competent Person’ must have ‘sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities’ in order to:

  • be able to identify risks
  • evaluate how effectively those risks are being controlled

Get Specialist Help

In identifying and evaluating risks, much depends on the activity and organisation – and there can be no ‘one size fits all’ assessment.

The duty to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is, therefore, a ‘heavy’ one.

But if you don’t feel you have the required ‘training and experience or knowledge’ then let Ellis Whittam assess your risks for you.

Our Health & Safety specialists can:

  • act as your ‘Competent Person’
  • adeptly carry out risk assessments
  • expertly write you a Health & Safety policy
  • wholly support you on site in Health & Safety matters

Why Ellis Whittam?

Health & Safety law is huge, complex and constantly changes.

While there’s no shortage of Health & Safety consultants to help you develop your Health & Safety systems – ask yourself, what do they know about the law?

Talk to the Professionals

Ellis Whittam’s consultants have outstanding relevant qualifications and vast experience. Crucially, our Health & Safety consultants have real on-the-ground experience of Health & Safety compliance.

Ellis Whittam’s consultants are best placed to keep your organisation on the right side of the law!

Contact us for more information.