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Producing a risk assessment

Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 Regulation 3 of the Management of Health & Safety Regulations 1999 (MHSW) requires employers to carry out 'suitable and sufficient' Risk Assessments.

So what are Risk Assessments? A Risk Assessment requires that you assess all the risks in your workplace. That is, what could cause harm to yourself, your employees (if any) and members of the public, and the likelihood of an incident occurring. You then need to decide what precautions you must take to prevent this happening, or how to reduce the risks to an acceptable level.

Hazard and Risk Don't let the words put you off!

Hazard means anything that can cause harm (e.g. chemicals, electricity, working from ladders, etc).


Is the chance, high or low, that somebody will be harmed by the hazard. What does suitable and sufficient mean? - The detail required in the risk assessment should be proportionate to the severity of the hazard or risk. In deciding the amount of effort you put into assessing risks, you have to judge whether the hazards are significant, and whether the precautions you have taken have reduced the risk to an acceptable level.

The five step process:

Risk assessment and hierarchy of risk Requirements

The Management Health, Safety & Welfare Regulations 1999 require that "suitable and sufficient" risk assessments are to be carried out by an employer. Risk Assessments are a legal requirement under Regulation 3 stating: (1) Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of- (a) the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work; and (b) the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking, for the purpose of identifying the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon him by or under the relevant statutory provisions and by Part II of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997.

(2) Every self-employed person shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of - (a) the risks to his own health and safety to which he is exposed whilst he is at work; and (b) the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking, for the purpose of identifying the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon him by or under the relevant statutory provisions.

(3) Any assessment such as is referred to in paragraph (1) or (2) shall be reviewed by the employer or self-employed person who made it if - (a) there is reason to suspect that it is no longer valid; or (b) there has been a significant change in the matters to which it relates; and where as a result of any such review changes to an assessment are required, the employer or self-employed person concerned shall make them.

(4) An employer shall not employ a young person unless he has, in relation to risks to the health and safety of young persons, made or reviewed an assessment in accordance with paragraphs (1) and (5).

(5) In making or reviewing the assessment, an employer who employs or is to employ a young person shall take particular account of - (a) the inexperience, lack of awareness of risks and immaturity of young persons; (b) the fitting-out and layout of the workplace and the workstation; (c) the nature, degree and duration of exposure to physical, biological and chemical agents; (d) the form, range, and use of work equipment and the way in which it is handled; (e) the organisation of processes and activities; (f) the extent of the health and safety training provided or to be provided to young persons; and (g) risks from agents, processes and work listed in the Annex to Council Directive 94/33/EC[8] on the protection of young people at work. (6) Where the employer employs five or more employees, he shall record - (a) the significant findings of the assessment; and (b) any group of his employees identified by it as being especially at risk.

Guidance on risk assessments can be found in 'A guide to risk assessment requirements - common provisions in health and safety law' ref INDG218 03/02 C400 published by the Health & Safety Executive.

A logical approach is necessary to produce a meaningful risk assessment. There are 5 steps to a risk assessment

This document can be found on the Health & Safety Executive's website and its reference is INDG163(rev1) 5/98 C5000 1. Look for the hazards 2. Decide who might be harmed and how 3. Evaluate the risks arising from the hazards & decide whether existing precautions are adequate or more should be done 4. Record your findings 5. Review your assessment and revise it if necessary from time to time

Hazard & risk

Hazard & risk are often confused. HAZARD: is the potential to do harm The hazards include...

Access bandit sites, projections, locked doors, manual handling Workplace heights, uneven/slippery surfaces, ladders, noise Weather snow, ice, wind, rain, fog, sun, extreme temperatures Biological bird droppings, animal faeces and air conditioning units Substances dust in vents, soot and grease in flues & chimneys, asbestos Radiation antennae, especially monopoles (pager aerials) Your complacency, ignorance, attitude, health, inappropriate clothes

RISK: is the likelihood of that potential being realised. combined with the severity of the consequences.

The risks include... Access personal attack, collision injury, lock outs, strains Workplace slips, trips, falls, falling objects, hearing loss Weather sunburn, hidden hazards, blown off roof, lightning, hatches/doors blown shut Biological Psittacosis, tetanus, hepatitis, Weils disease, Legionnaires disease, HIV Substances asphyxiation, cancer, respiratory & skin disorders Radiation tissue heating, You not taking proper precautions

Risks can be controlled but hazards cannot be controlled Levels of risk High: The risk is intolerable and urgent action is required Medium: The risk in this area should be reduced as low as reasonably practical. Low: Broadly acceptable, existing controls are adequate.

N.B There are NO fixed boundaries between levels of risk. A good approach * Ensure safe access & egress * Design & build installations to high standards * Provide adequate information and training * Implement safe systems of work * Maintain high standard of working environment * Empower all employees * Protect the public

The assessment of risk is a structured and systematic means of evaluating the adequacy of existing control measures for each hazard identified under different conditions. Employers need to demonstrate that following the risk assessment there is a formal risk management system to ensure that all risks are adequately controlled and it is an ongoing process.

There is no standard technique for carrying out a risk assessment. However, any risk assessment should satisfy three basic requirements. It should be structured, systematic and thorough. There are a number of techniques that can be used for hazards identification and analysis, depending on the degree of detail for the assessment and degree of human involvement in the process/activity.

There are two general approaches to risk assessment. These are:

* Workplace-based approach in which hazards presented in different parts of the structure or workplace are identified and then the question is asked as to who may be exposed to each hazard and when. * The task-based approach, in which an individual or group of individuals are followed in their work activities and hazards associated with each step of their task are identified. This approach is based on task analysis.

The task-based approach to risk assessment is more appropriate to climbing activities. Assessment of risk These should be considered (but not limited to) when drawing up a risk assessment Can the risk be avoided? What are the performance characteristics required for effective PPE? Compare proposed PPE with the requirements in the risk assessment Review the risk assessment regularly Write a 'Work method statement' - how you will do the work Write a 'Safety method statement' - what things you need to consider regarding safety, for example rescue of a casualty.