When should a risk assessment be carried out?

Every piece of legislation that covers health and safety includes the requirement to carry out risk assessments. This includes legislation relating to health and safety at work, fire safety, food safety, allergen awareness and first aid. So, when should a risk assessment be carried out? Let’s find out.

What is a risk assessment?

A risk assessment is a systematic process of identifying, analysing and evaluating potential risks associated with a particular activity, environment or situation. It involves assessing the likelihood and potential impact of risks and taking every measure to mitigate them to protect people from harm.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) define a risk assessment as:
‘…a careful examination of what, in your work, could cause harm to people, so that you can weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent harm…’

What legislation covers the legal duty to carry out risk assessments?

The requirement to carry out risk assessments in the workplace is covered in multiple pieces of health and safety legislation, including:
– Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
– Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999
– Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981
– Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO)
– Fire Safety Act 2021
– General Principles of Food Hygiene (CXC 1 1969)
– Food Safety Act 1990
– Allergen Act 2014

When carrying out risk assessments you need to consider the safety of every person who works in your building and who visits your building. This includes employees, contractors, clients and visitors.

When should a risk assessment be carried out?

A risk assessment should be implemented or reviewed in the following situations, but this list is not exhaustive:
1. New tasks or activities. When any new tasks, processes, or activities are introduced into the workplace a risk assessment should be conducted to identify and mitigate potential hazards.
2. Changes in the workplace. If there are changes involving equipment or technology, the layout of the environment, or activities are moving
to a new premises, a risk assessment will be needed.
3.Introduction of new substances and materials. When new substances, chemicals or materials are introduced into the workplace, a risk assessment is essential to understand and address potential hazards associated with their use, storage, or disposal.
4. New staff. When new staff join your organisation, it is important to update your risk assessment. For example, you must consider how to reduce risks for inexperienced workers, new parents, pregnant women, workers who are unwell or have disabilities and those who have been away from the workplace for some time.

In the event of an incident or accident a risk assessment should be carried out to determine the causes, identify preventative measures, and minimise the likelihood of similar incidents occurring in future.
Even if there have been no obvious changes in your workplace and no incidents have occurred, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends that you review risk assessments annually to make sure they continue to be effective.

Should risk assessments be documented?

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 state that companies with five or more employees must have documented risk assessments.
If your company has fewer than five employees, we recommend that you still document your risk assessments.
Documented risk assessments:
– Are a tool to help you identify risks.
– Aid the development of risk control strategies.
– Demonstrate compliance with the law.
– Provide evidence of risk management efforts.
– Facilitate communication and consultation with employees.
– Help you to review and update risk assessments over time.

Why is it important to consult with employees when carrying out risk assessments?

When you are conducting a risk assessment talking to your employees can help you identify any hazards you may have overlooked. Employees might also have ideas of how best to mitigate risks.

Once risk assessments are completed it is vital that they are communicated with employees and not simply filed away. Employees must
read and understand risk assessments so they can identify and mitigate risks. Under health and safety law, employees as well as employers have a duty of care for themselves and those around them.

Risk assessment at Innpacked

Health and safety training for confidence and peace of mind

At Innpacked we understand that conducting risk assessments and complying with health and safety law can seem daunting. Our experienced trainers can help you and your employees acquire skills that empower you with confidence and bring peace of mind. Our range of HABC accredited health and safety training courses can be tailored for individuals or groups. All our courses have been created by experts in their field.

We offer:

  • Experienced trainers who can come to you at your home for one-to-one training.
  • Bespoke training courses for staff at your venue.
  • Training delivered at a time and place that suits you.

To discuss your health and safety training needs, please contact our friendly team on 0800 078 6056 or info@innpacked.com.

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