One of the most important aspects of your risk assessment is to accurately spot the potential hazards in your workplace.
When you work in a place every day it is easy to overlook some hazards, so here are some tips to help you find the ones that matter:
- Walk around your workplace and look at what could reasonably be expected to cause harm.
- Ask your employees or their representatives what they think. They may have noticed things that are not immediately obvious to you. See consult your employees on health and safety.
- Check manufacturers' instructions or data sheets for chemicals and equipment as they can be very helpful in spelling out the hazards and putting them in their true perspective.
- Have a look back at your accident and ill-health records. These often help to identify the less obvious hazards.
- Remember to think about long-term hazards to health (eg high levels of noise or exposure to harmful substances).
For some hazards there are particular control measures that are required by law. A few examples of activities with a recognised risk of harm are working at height, working with chemicals, machinery, and asbestos. Depending on the type of work you do there may be other risks that are relevant to your business.
The Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) website has information on the potential risks in different industries to help you decide what you need to do about different risks.