Managing Risks at Work

As an employer, you’re required by law to protect your employees, and others, from harm.

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the minimum you must do is:

  • identify what could cause injury or illness in your business (hazards)
  • decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously (the risk)
  • take action to eliminate the hazard, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk

Assessing risk is just one part of the overall process used to control risks in your workplace.

You need to take the right precautions to reduce the risks of workplace dangers and provide a safe working environment.

Health and safety management should be a straightforward part of managing your business as a whole. It involves practical steps that protect people from harm and at the same time protect the future success of your business

It is important before starting a risk assessment to know the difference between a ‘hazard’ and a ‘risk’.

Hazard is anything with the potential to cause harm e.g. wet floor, chemicals, electricity etc.  Hazards can be categorised as physical, psychological, biological and chemical.

Risk is the chance of a hazard leading to harm, the impact (in terms of injury, cost, business implications) if harm were to occur.  How frequently a person is exposed to a hazard, how they are exposed and the severity of the effects all influence risk.

Harm – is the adverse effect of exposure to a hazard.  This includes short term illnesses or physical injury, long-term effects on health and psychological effects such as stress, depression and anxiety.

Every day you will carry out risk assessment process in your head.  Before you cross the road, when you pick up the freshly boiled kettle to make your morning cup of tea through to climbing the stairs and walking through a car park.  You are risk assessing the activity to ensure you do not come to any harm.

Risk Assessments do not need to be overcomplicated.  There are 5 key steps to follow when carrying out a risk assessment and they are:

  1. Identify the hazards
  2. Decide who might be harmed and how
  3. Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions (control measures)
  4. Record your findings and Implement them
  5. Review the risk assessment and update as required

A risk assessment is simply 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. Workers and others have a right to be protected from harm caused by a failure to take reasonable control measures.

If you are in any doubt about any aspect of the risk assessment process don’t hesitate to contact BDS Wales for a free, no obligation consultation.

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