As defined by the HSE, a risk assessment is “a careful examination of what, in your work, could cause harm to people”. It’s a legal requirement for all employers and self-employed workers.
Before you carry out a workplace risk assessment, you first need to be familiar with two important terms; hazard and risk.
- A hazard is anything that has the potential to cause harm. This can be anything from an exposed wire to cleaning products.
- A risk is the chance, no matter the severity, of somebody being harmed by a hazard. In your risk assessment, you should assess the extremity of this harm.
The importance of risk assessments
Now that we’ve established what a risk assessment is, let’s consider why they’re so important for workplaces to carry out.
It’s an all too common theme to see news of a major health & safety incident accompanied by the revelation that an improper risk assessment was carried out - or worse, none at all.
There’s often a negative stigma surrounding risk assessments, and more generally health & safety too, so organisations often overlook the importance of carrying out a risk assessment, seeing them as a “time-wasting exercise”. However, there are major benefits to completing them, benefits which go beyond legal compliance.
The main purposes of completing risk assessments are:
- To identify health & safety hazards and evaluate the risks they pose
- To assess existing control measures
- To ensure additional controls are implemented wherever necessary
An effective risk assessment allows businesses to identify the areas of their organisation in which employees are most at risk, and provide the opportunity to develop strategies to mitigate these risks.
It’s also advantageous to organisations to ensure that they’ve minimised the potential for harm to their workforce 'as far as is reasonably practicable', helping with legislative compliance and holding true to your moral responsibility as an employer to keep employees safe.
Our risk assessment tool
We’ve developed a free interactive tool, called My Risk Assessment that allows you to create unlimited risk assessments for your organisation.
The tool prompts you to think about the significant risks in your place of work and decide whether you need to implement safety precautions and procedures to control the risks that you identify. Simply register and gain instant access to our useful tool! Create your first risk assessment today by using our free, online risk assessment template.
This tool works hand-in-hand with our Online Risk Assessment Training course that teaches employees and employers alike on when to assess risks, why we should assess risks, and the five steps to risk assessment.