Five steps to risk assessments

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Five Steps To Risk Assessment 

Risk assessment is a critical aspect of maintaining health and safety in the workplace. The process involves identifying potential hazards, evaluating their likelihood and severity, and implementing appropriate control measures to mitigate the risks identified. A comprehensive risk assessment process typically consists of five key steps. In this article, we will explore these steps in detail. 

Steps 1 - 5 of conducting a risk assessment

The first step in conducting a risk assessment is identifying the hazards present in an environment or task. This involves reviewing various aspects of the work setting to pinpoint any elements that could potentially harm employees, members of the public or others. Common sources of hazards include machinery, chemicals, ergonomics, noise levels, and increasingly psychosocial factors such as stress and fatigue.

Once hazards have been identified, the second step is determining who might be harmed by them and how they may be affected. Different groups of people may be exposed to different hazards based on their job roles, tasks they perform or areas they occupy within the workplace. It is essential to consider not only full-time employees but also temporary staff, contractors, visitors and even members of the public who could be impacted by your organisation's activities. There may be other circumstances where an extra duty of care must be considered for people such as expectant mothers, young persons and those with disabilities.

The third step involves evaluating the risks associated with each hazard to determine their level of severity and likelihood. Various factors can influence a hazard’s risk level including frequency of exposure to it; probability that it will cause harm; nature and extent of harm that it can cause; existing control measures already implemented for it; legal requirements related to it etc. An effective method for assessing this information is utilising a health & safety risk assessment template in Excel format which allows you to input data & calculate scores accordingly.

Once risks have been evaluated, the fourth step is prioritising them, deciding on suitable control measures for mitigating these risks and recording these results. ontrols should be considered following a ‘hierarchy’ wherein elimination of hazard is preferred, followed by substitution (such as replacing a hazardous substance with a less hazardous one), engineering controls (physical changes to workplace or equipment), administrative controls (procedures and policies) and finally personal protective equipment (PPE). It is important to involve employees in this process as they may have valuable insights & suggestions regarding the most effective controls.

The final step in the risk assessment process is reviewing and updating the assessment regularly to ensure that it remains suitable and sufficient. This includes monitoring how well control measures are working, investigating incidents that occur, staying up-to-date with new legislation, technology or industry practices, and identifying any significant change in your organisation's activities that may introduce new hazards.

In conclusion, conducting a thorough risk assessment is essential for ensuring the health and safety of all individuals within your workplace. By following these five steps – identifying hazards, determining who might be harmed, evaluating risks, documenting control measures and reviewing assessments on an ongoing basis – you can effectively mitigate potential harm to your employees and others affected by your organisation's activities. 

Take a look at HandsHQ's free risk assessment template from HandsHQ. If you're in the habit of creating multiple risk assessments every month, why not experiment with our free RAMS calculator to evaluate its true impact on your organisation?