At Sphere RHSM Ltd we have lots of experience in helping our business partners risk assess and safeguard their business, by protecting employees through simple risk assessments. Based in Kettering and near to Leicester we are always happy to give some free advice, just ring us.

I have put the basics of a risk assessment down for you to read through. If your business is based in Leicester then please feel free to arrange a 1-2-1

First rule is not to overcomplicate the process. In many organisations, the risks are well known and the necessary control measures may already be in place. You probably already know whether, for example, you have employees who move heavy loads and so could harm their backs, or where people are most likely to slip or trip. In all cases, you should make sure that you involve your staff or their representatives in the risk assessment process. They will have useful information about how the work is done that will make your risk assessment more thorough and effective. But remember, you are responsible for seeing that the assessment is carried out properly. If you work in a larger organisation, you could ask a health and safety adviser to help you with your risk assessment.

The main and first area for the risk assessment is to work out how people could be harmed. Walk around the workplace and look at what could be expected to be a risk. Feel free to ask your employees or their representatives for their opinion. Manufacturer’s instructions or data sheets are useful in specifying which chemicals and equipment has been used and the sheets spell out the hazards. Your accident and ill-health records are a good source of information. When you work in a place every day it is easy to overlook some hazards.

Deciding who might be harmed and how is the second area to consider during your risk assessment. For each hazard you need to be clear about who might be harmed; it will help you identify the best way of managing the risk. This simply means identifying groups of people (eg ‘people working in the storeroom’ or ‘passers-by’). In each case, the risk assessment should identify how they might be harmed, i.e. what type of injury or ill health might occur and where it may occur.

During the risk assessment, the third stage is to evaluate the risks and decide on the control measures. Having spotted the hazards, you then have to decide what to do about them. The law requires you to do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm. For instance, placing a mirror on a dangerous blind corner to help prevent vehicle accidents is a low-cost precaution. Failure to take simple precautions can cost you a lot more if an accident does happen. This is where your risk assessment can help identify these areas where accidents may occur.

It is important to record your findings and make sure you implement them during the fourth stage. Writing down the results of your risk assessment and sharing them with your staff, encourages you to do this. HSE inspectors acknowledge the efforts of businesses that are clearly trying to make improvements. Making a plan of action based on your risk assessment will help you to deal with the most important things in the right priority.

To review and update is the final and fifth stage. Workplaces very rarely stay the same. Sooner or later, you will bring in new equipment, substances and procedures that could lead to new hazards. It makes sense therefore, to review what you are doing on an ongoing basis by completing a new risk assessment. Once completed, are there improvements you still need to make? Ask your workers to see if they have spotted a problem? And of course, make sure your risk assessment stays up to date. Make sure you learn from accidents or near misses to avoid further accidents and incidents as the HSE are sure to provide improvement notices or prohibition notices for a lack of a workplace risk assessment

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