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What is a Risk Assessment?



Risk Assessments. These are two words that people hear in their everyday life. However, do they actually know what those two words actually mean? Risk assessments aren’t just restricted to within your working lives, schoolchildren have for many years now been introduced to risk assessments and in my opinion that is a very good element to the national curriculum. When I first started out in my working life some 20 years ago (really was it that long ago?!), I had never heard of the word “risk assessment” and my first employer, which was a family run advertising and publicity agency never introduced me to them either or got me to sign onto them. This very same employer had over 5 employees therefore they were breaking the law by the very fact that they had no documented (written) risk assessments. The Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations states that “The main requirement on employers is to carry out a risk assessment. Employers with five or more employees need to record the significant findings of the risk assessment“. As a Health & Safety Adviser, I am still shocked to find that some employers are still unaware of their duty to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment. What is suitable and sufficient I hear you ask? Well suitable and sufficient is a word that we H&S Professionals love to use! In essence it means – Suitable: are measures relevant or appropriate Sufficient: Reasonable – do they take into account best practice and advice as well as Approved Codes of Practice/Guidance and of course legislative requirements? Or you could look at this simply by turning it on its head (so to speak) – Have appropriate measures been sidelined / ignored due to a comparatively small or nil cost because it’s too difficult or “we have always done it this way“.“We have always done it this way” is a surefire way to get the alarm bells ringing with any H&S professional! A Risk Assessment ensures that as an employer YOU have looked at the possible RISKS and HAZARDS within your workplace, have rated the likelihood of that risk occurring, what measures you have implemented to control those RISKS and HAZARDS and what your residual RISK to employees and others not employed by you once those control measures have been actioned and implemented. What I am increasingly finding when I visit businesses is that whilst some employers are aware that a risk assessment MUST be carried out, either they a) haven’t recorded it (written), b) have recorded it but not reviewed it or c) it is not suitable and sufficient or d) aren’t aware that they have to complete one! If there is one thing that you do this week within your business – make sure that you have a suitable and sufficient risk assessment (s) and that you regularly review them and have your employees signed onto them. A risk assessment does not have to be complicated or long winded – it does however have to show that you have assessed those RISKS and HAZARDS and what you are doing to control them. Joanne Moore Sirocco Safety 07471 896114 info@siroccosaftey.co.uk


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