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Health and Safety Executive

Five steps to risk assessment

This leaflet aims to help you assess health and safety risks in the workplace
A risk assessment is an important step in protecting your workers and your business, as well as complying with the law. It helps you focus on the risks that really matter in your workplace – the ones with the potential to cause real harm. In manyinstances, straightforward measures can readily control risks, for example ensuring spillages are cleaned up promptly so people do not slip, or cupboard drawers are kept closed to ensure people do not trip. For most, that means simple, cheap and effective measures to ensure your most valuable asset – your workforce – is protected. The law does not expect you to eliminate all risk, but you are required toprotect people as far as ‘reasonably practicable’. This guide tells you how to achieve that with a minimum of fuss. This is not the only way to do a risk assessment, there are other methods that work well, particularly for more complex risks and circumstances. However, we believe this method is the most straightforward for most organisations.

This is a web-friendly version of leafletINDG163(rev3), revised 06/11

What is risk assessment?
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. Accidents and ill health can ruinlives and affect your business too if output is lost, machinery is damaged, insurance costs increase or you have to go to court. You are legally required to assess the risks in your workplace so that you put in place a plan to control the risks.

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Health and Safety Executive

How to assess the risks in your workplace
Follow the five steps in this leaflet: Step 1 Identify thehazards Step 2 Decide who might be harmed and how Step 3 Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions Step 4 Record your findings and implement them Step 5 Review your assessment and update if necessary Don’t overcomplicate the process. In many organisations, the risks are well known and the necessary control measures are easy to apply. You probably already know whether, for example, you haveemployees who move heavy loads and so could harm their backs, or where people are most likely to slip or trip. If so, check that you have taken reasonable precautions to avoid injury. If you run a small organisation and you are confident you understand what’s involved, you can do the assessment yourself. You don’t have to be a health and safety expert. If you work in a larger organisation, you could aska health and safety advisor to help you. If you are not confident, get help from someone who is competent. In all cases, you should make sure that you involve your staff or their representatives in the process. They will have useful information about how the work is done that will make your assessment of the risk more thorough and effective. But remember, you are responsible for seeing that theassessment is carried out properly. When thinking about your risk assessment, remember: ■■ a hazard is anything that may cause harm, such as chemicals, electricity, working from ladders, an open drawer etc; ■■ the risk is the chance, high or low, that somebody could be harmed by these and other hazards, together with an indication of how serious the harm could be.

Five steps to risk assessmentPage 2 of 8

Health and Safety Executive

Step 1 Identify the hazards
First you need to work out how people could be harmed. When you work in a place every day it is easy to overlook some hazards, so here are some tips to help you identify the ones that matter: ■■ Walk around your workplace and look at what could reasonably be expected to cause harm. ■■ Ask your employees or their...
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