Risk assessments

It is a legal requirement for every employer and self-employed person to make an assessment of the health and safety risks arising out of their work (Regulation 3; Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999).

This assessment must be undertaken by a competent person and be suitable and sufficient (you may need the support of additional people to assist you (e.g. health and safety advisors, other staff members)) and this assessment should be formally recorded if you have five or more employees. However, even if you don’t have five or more employees you may still need a written risk assessment to be able to defend any civil litigation.

Hazards (things that have the potential to cause harm) must be identified and those at risk identified. The risks arising from the significant hazards should be assessed – this should take into account the combination of the probability (likelihood) of the risk and the severity of the possible outcome (consequences).

Control measures then need to be identified to reduce the likelihood of a problem occurring. Specific control measures should be identified and recorded for each hazard/risk. There may be additional precautions and practical steps that could be taken to remove or minimise the risk – these should also be documented.

In order to identify which hazards present the most risk to your organisation, you should choose a risk scoring mechanism that is simple enough for people to understand (e.g., a probability and severity matrix using High, Medium and Low categories). Assessments should be reviewed and updated regularly and here there has been changes in operations or an accident/incident.

Depending on what your organisation does, other Health and Safety legislation also requires specific assessments to be performed including (but not limited to):

  • COSHH (Hazardous Substances)
  • Manual handling
  • Display Screen Equipment(DSE)
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Noise
  • Vibration.

Forum members have access to a large library of relevant Health & Safety templates to help with these assessments. If you’re a member, you can access the templates here.

The Forum of Private Business Partner organisation, MD Safety Management Ltd, can assist you in developing specific risk assessments for your business. If you need assistance and further guidance, please contact our helpline in the first instance on 01565 626001.