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We do not expect a risk assessment to be perfect, but it must be suitable and sufficient. You need to be able to show that:
- a proper check was made;
- you asked who might be affected;
- you dealt with all the significant hazards, taking into account the number of people who could be involved;
- the precautions are reasonable, and the remaining risk is low; and
- you involved your staff or their representatives in the process.
If, like many businesses, you find that there are quite a lot of improvements that you could make, big and small, don’t try to do everything at once. Make a plan of action to deal with the most important things first. Health and safety officers acknowledge the efforts of businesses that are clearly trying to make improvements.
A good plan of action often includes a mixture of different things such as:
- a few cheap or easy improvements that can be done quickly, perhaps as a temporary solution until more reliable controls are in place;
- long-term solutions to those risks most likely to cause accidents or ill health;
- long-term solutions to those risks with the worst potential consequences;
- arrangements for training employees on the main risks that remain and how they are to be controlled;
- regular checks to make sure that the control measures stay in place;
- clear responsibilities – who will lead on what action, and by when.
Remember, prioritize and tackle the most important things first. As you complete each action, tick it off your plan.
Review your risk assessment and update if necessary
Few workplaces 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. Every year or so formally review where you are, to make sure you are still improving, or at least not sliding back.
Look at your risk assessment again. Have there been any changes? Are there improvements you still need to make? Have your workers spotted a problem? Have you learnt anything from accidents or near misses? Make sure your risk assessment stays up to date.
When you are running a business it’s all too easy to forget about reviewing your risk assessment – until something has gone wrong and it’s too late. Why not set a review date for this risk assessment now? Write it down and note it in your diary as an annual event.
During the year, if there is a significant change, don’t wait. Check your risk assessment and, where necessary, amend it. If possible, it is best to think about the risk assessment when you’re planning your change – that way you leave yourself more flexibility.
It is an employer's duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees, and other people who might be affected by their business. Your employer must do whatever is reasonably practicable to achieve this.
This means making sure that you and others are protected from anything that may cause harm, effectively controlling any risks to injury or health that could arise in the workplace.
Your employer has duties under health and safety law to assess risks in the workplace. Risk assessments should be carried out that address all risks that might cause harm in your workplace. Your employer must give you information about the risks in your workplace and how you are protected and instruct and train you on how to deal with the risks.
Your employer must consult you on health and safety issues, either directly or through a safety representative that is either elected by the workforce or appointed by a trade union.
All workers are entitled to work in environments where risks to their health and safety are properly controlled. Under health and safety law, the primary responsibility for this is down to employers.
As a worker, you have a duty to take care of your own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by your actions. Health and safety legislation, therefore, requires employers and workers to cooperate.
If you have specific queries on health and safety in your workplace, first ask your manager, or if you prefer, your safety representative or trade union representative.
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