What is a Risk Assessment?
A risk assessment is identifying hazards and assessing the risks they pose. It is a systematic way of looking at all the things that could go wrong and deciding what must be done to prevent them.
Risk assessments are essential in all workplaces but vital in high-risk industries, such as construction and manufacturing. Risk assessments should form part of your general workplace Health and safety plan and can help to identify and manage risks to the safety and health of employees, customers, and the public.
Risk assessments can be carried out for specific tasks, activities, or areas of the workplace. They should be reviewed regularly to ensure that they are current and reflect any workplace changes.
The risk assessment process usually involves the following steps:
- Identify the hazards. This can be done by observing the workplace, talking to employees, and reviewing accident and injury records.
- Assess the risks. This involves considering the likelihood of a hazard causing harm and the severity of the harm that potentially could be caused.
- Decide what needs to be done to control the risks. This may involve eliminating the hazard, reducing the likelihood of exposure to the hazard, or reducing the severity of the harm that could be caused.
- Implement the control measures.
- Monitor and review the risk assessment.
Here are some examples of hazards that can be identified in a risk assessment:
- Slips, trips, and falls
- Trips over electrical cords
- Exposure to dangerous chemicals
- Working at height
- Repetitive strain injuries
- Workplace violence
Once the hazards have been identified, the risks associated with each hazard can be assessed. This is typically done by considering two factors: the likelihood of the hazard causing harm and the severity of the harm that could be caused.
The likelihood of a hazard causing harm can be assessed by considering factors such as:
- How often people are exposed to the hazard
- How easy it is to avoid the hazard
- The presence of any controls in place to reduce the risk
The severity of the harm that could be caused can be assessed by considering factors such as:
- The type of injury that could be caused
- The potential for long-term disability or death
Once the risks have been assessed, the risk assessor should decide what needs to be done to control the risks. This may involve eliminating the hazard, reducing the likelihood of exposure to the hazard, or reducing the severity of the harm that could be caused.
Some examples of control measures that can be implemented include:
- Providing training on how to avoid hazards
- Installing safety guards and other engineering controls
- Providing personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Developing procedures for working safely
Once the control measures have been implemented, the risk assessor should monitor and review the risk assessment to ensure that it is effective and that the risks are still being controlled.
Risk assessments are an important tool for managing risks in the workplace. By identifying and assessing the risks present in the workplace, businesses can take steps to prevent accidents and injuries from happening.