You must manage the health and safety risks in your workplace. To do this you need to decide whether you are doing enough to prevent harm. This is known as a risk assessment.
A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about taking sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace. You are probably already taking steps to protect your employees, but your risk assessment will tell you whether you should be doing more.
How do I assess the risks in my workplace?
The following steps form part of your risk assessment:
- A good starting point is to walk around your workplace and look for any hazards. A hazard is anything that may cause harm.
- Then think about the risks. A risk is the chance, high or low, of somebody being harmed by the hazard, and how serious the harm could be.
- Think about how accidents could happen and who might be harmed. Ask your employees what they think the hazards are, as they may notice things that are not obvious to you and may have some good ideas on how to control the risks. Focus on the real risks - those that are most likely to cause harm.
- Consider the measures you are already taking to control the risks and ask if there is anything you should do to make your workplace safer.
- Once you have identified the risks and what you need to do to control them, you should put the appropriate measures into place.
- Then record your findings. If you have fewer than five employees you don't have to write anything down but it is good practice to keep a record. An easy way to record your findings is to download the risk assessment template. HSENI also provides an example template for workplaces carrying out a risk assessment for COVID-19.
- Take a look at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)'s selection of example risk assessments. They show you what a completed risk assessment might look like for your type of business. You can use these as a guide when doing your own.
- You can get more help and ideas on ways to control your risks from HSE.
- Few workplaces stay the same and sooner or later you will bring in new equipment, substances or procedures that could lead to new hazards. It makes sense to review your risk assessment on a regular basis. If anything significant changes, check your risk assessment and update it.