Evaluate the risks
Having identified the hazards, you then have to decide how likely it is that harm will occur; ie the level of risk and what to do about it. Risk is a part of everyday life and you are not expected to eliminate all risks. What you must do is make sure you know about the main risks and the things you need to do to manage them responsibly.
Generally, you need to do everything ‘reasonably practicable’. This means balancing the level of risk against the measures needed to control the real risk in terms of money, time or trouble. However, you do not need to take action if it would be grossly disproportionate to the level of risk.
Your risk assessment should only include what you could reasonably be expected to know - you are not expected to anticipate unforeseeable risks.
Look at what you’re already doing, and the control measures you already have in place. Ask yourself:
- Can I get rid of the hazard altogether?
- If not, how can I control the risks so that harm is unlikely?
Some practical steps you could take include:
- trying a less risky option
- preventing access to the hazards
- organising work to reduce exposure to the hazard
- issuing protective equipment
- providing welfare facilities such as first aid and washing facilities
- involving and consulting workers
Improving health and safety need not cost a lot. For instance, placing a mirror on a dangerous, blind corner to help prevent vehicle accidents is a low-cost precaution considering the risks. Failure to take simple precautions can cost you a lot more if an accident does happen.
Involve your workers, so that you can be sure that what you propose to do will work in practice and won’t introduce any new hazards.
If you control a number of similar workplaces containing similar activities, you can produce a ‘model’ risk assessment reflecting the common hazards and risks associated with these activities.
You may also come across ‘model’ assessments developed by trade associations, employers’ bodies or other organisations concerned with a particular activity. You may decide to apply these ‘model’ assessments at each workplace, but you can only do so if you:
- satisfy yourself that the ‘model’ assessment is appropriate to your type of work
- adapt the ‘model’ to the detail of your own work situations, including any extension necessary to cover hazards and risks not referred to in the ‘model’