02-04-2014

When it comes to the safety of employees in the workplace, there are some things that can't be taken for granted and one of them, most certainly, is the adequate carrying out of a risk assessment.

The reason it is so important for any workplace is twofold.

Firstly, it helps you to comply with a number of legal requirements in terms of insurance as well as health and safety. These are imperative now in any modern office or workspace.

Legislation aside, a risk assessment is also vital from a human standpoint as well. It's crucial as it enables businesses to pinpoint exactly where the dangers are in the workplace and minimise the level as much as is possible.

Obviously not all risk can be completely ruled out within a company but carrying out an assessment of this type can go a long way to achieving this.

"The law does not expect you to eliminate all risk, but you are required to protect people as far as is ‘reasonably practicable’," the HSE says.

Many companies often find the execution of a risk assessment confusing and bewildering but it doesn't have to be a lengthy, complex process. Instead, when approached concisely and professionally, it can be done efficiently for the benefit of everyone involved in the business.

A risk assessment isn't a hard-and-fast document that is wide-reaching and applies rigidly to every business. While every business needs to carry one out, it is flexible enough to meet the needs of all industries and job types.

The main thing that companies must get to grips with is what, in your business, has the potential to cause harm to people. This is the principle idea behind the risk assessment and is essential for all those carrying them out.

After you have identified just what areas could cause problems, the next step is to come to a decision as to whether you are doing enough to prevent that harm. This requires a great deal of honesty and simply 'burying your head in the sand' could prove disastrous down the line. 

The next step is to identify and prioritise the implementation of sensible control measures which are appropriate to the business and would improve the safety in the workplace.

Once these steps have been implemented, the company needs to have properly recorded these steps in proper document, specifically a formal one that can be looked upon as and when, rather than a scrap of paper with notes dotted here and there.

It's essential to record it properly in a useable document as the next step is another crucial one. This being the constant updating and reviewing of risks in the workplace.

There is a Five Steps document available on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which they claim "provides the most straightforward way for most businesses".

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