Reflecting on the past year, Covid has highlighted the importance of risk assessment, Tips based on compiling risk assessments.
Risk assessment is the foundation of an effective safety management system. Because it is a systematic approach to identifying hazards and evaluating any associated risks within a workplace.
It’s obvious that this is a legal requirement. But beyond simply achieving compliance, conducting ‘suitable and sufficient’ risk assessments helps to
- Recognise and control hazards,
- Implement sensible control measures
- Raise awareness
- Reduce incidents
Getting it right is essential as it protects your employees and your organisation.
Even if we follow the procedure, chances are things can be missed. Many times it’s the incident investigations reveal the inadequacies of risk assessments which, had they been properly conducted and implemented could have avoided serious harm.
1. APPOINT ONLY COMPETENT STAFF
Any person completing a risk assessment must be competent to do so. Competence can be defined as those with the necessary Knowledge, Ability, Training and Experience (KATE) to identify hazards and implement sensible, proportionate solutions.
Organisations with a low risk profile can identify and upskill anyone with responsibility for conducting risk assessments. HSE guidance (INDG163 (rev4) ‘Risk assessment – A brief guide to controlling risks in the workplace’) together with interactive e-Learning courses can help achieve this. If an organisation is more complex in nature, risk assessor training packages are a great way to build competence.
2. INVOLVE ALL CONCERN
Remember: risk assessment is not a singular effort. Collaborate with those who undertake the activity you’re assessing and it is more likely you will emerge with something that it is suitable and sufficient.
3. CROSS REFERENCE WITH OTHER ASSESSMENTS
Ask yourself what already exists in your organisation? Investigate to prevent duplication and/or possible contradictory messages.
4. CONSIDER HOW SOMEBODY COULD BE INJURED
Sometimes the terms hazard and risk are confused. The hazard is something that has potential to cause harm. So they must be identified separately. Against the hazard, provide a description as to the risk of how somebody could come to harm.
Let’s take an example here. A rotating drill is a hazard and becoming entangled in it leading to significant injury is the potential risk . But the drill will present other risks which will demand separate attention, so its important to make sure the reader is clear on what risk control measures control what risks.
5. REFERENCE APPLICABLE GUIDANCE
To ensure you’re following industry best practice,you need to look at guidance published by your national regulator, trade associations and other expert organisations in the sector you are in. Use this guidance in your risk assessment to demonstrate robustness and increase confidence.
6. ADDRESS ALL THE BELOW POINTS
For any risk assessment, consider the following:
- Health monitoring/surveillance
- Maintenance and inspections
- Pre-use checks
- Previous accidents/near misses
- Safe systems of work for higher-risk activities/tasks/equipment
- Start-up/stop under normal conditions and isolation for maintenance
- Training Risk assessments, particularly for machinery, should be able to consider normal operating conditions and non-routine activities as well. (Such as maintenance, inspection and cleaning).
7. AVOID GENERIC, AMBIGUOUS TERMS
For example, ‘PPE’ and ‘heavy’. Instead, you should use more precise weight measurements, for example ‘up to 25kg’, and explicitly state the type of personal protective equipment (PPE) to be worn and the required standard of the PPE item. (These details can usually be found labelled on the item itself or in the manufacturer’s instructions). Along with these, you should be specific with your statements, for example ‘a person will/must/shall use hearing protection’.
8. PROVIDE A DEFINED MATRIX WITH DEFINITIONS
With a quantitative scoring system, the reader should understand how the level of risk has been determined, hence descriptors of likelihood and severity should be clearly avoided.
9. COMMUNICATE THE FINDINGS
If you are not going to share the findings with those who stand to be affected, There’s no point carrying out a risk assessment. An organisation needs to make sure risk assessments are shared with staff and keep documented evidence that they have seen them. Select the most appropriate medium for communicating the message with the corresponding teams.
10. REVIEW RISK ASSESSMENTS OFTEN
This must be done at least annually or whenever something significantly changes, giving you reason to believe it may no longer be suitable and sufficient. An unfortunate accident happening at work is one example of when you should review the adequacy of any relevant risk assessment.
11. STAY ORGANISED WITH A CENTRAL INDEX
A proper index can work as a quick reference guide which lists all assessments and the dates reviews are required. Ensure you stick to these dates.
12. REFINE GENERAL RISK ASSESSMENTS
Creating ‘general’ risk assessments that corresponds to certain activities that are common throughout your workplace and across other sites will be a good starter for 10. But its important to make sure the recipients of such risk assessments modify them if necessary, so that they are specific to the process you have and reflect conditions on site.
HTIPL, Hitech Safety Institute ensures the process of a delegate totally understands on our one day course with certifications on how to do a risk assessment suitable and sufficiently in a dynamic workplaces also.