A risk assessment should involve the identification of significant hazards present in any working environment or arising out of commercial activities and work activities.
It should evaluate the extent of the risks involved, taking into account existing precautions and their effectiveness and look to ways of managing the risk.
Managing risk is not a complicated procedure. Simply look at what could injure people or make them ill, then decide how you are going to manage that risk.
A hazard is anything that can cause harm (this can include articles, substances, plant or machines, methods of work, the working environment and other aspects of work organisation).
A risk is the chance of someone being harmed by the hazard, whether high or low. The extent of the risk will depend on:
the likelihood of that harm occurring;
the potential severity of that harm, i.e. of any resultant injury or adverse health effect; and
the population which might be affected by the hazard, i.e. the number of people who might be exposed
The free HSE publication, 'Five steps to risk assessment', breaks the process into five stages:
Step 1 - Look for the hazards
If you are doing the assessment yourself, walk around your workplace and look afresh at what could reasonably be expected to cause harm. Ignore the trivial and concentrate on significant hazards which could result in serious harm or affect several people.
Ask your employees or their representatives what they think. They may have noticed things which are not immediately obvious. Manufacturers' instructions or data sheets can also help you spot hazards and put risks in their true perspective. So can accident and ill-health records.
Step 2 - Decide who might be harmed, and how
Even if you are self employed, and do not have employees, you still need to assess health and safety risks which may affect you and others, eg other contractors, office staff, members of the public.
Consider in particular
visitors and members of the public who might be affected by your work
you also need to give special consideration to workers who are young, inexperienced, new to the particular job, trainees or doing work experience
workers who have a disability
new and expectant mothers
You also need to take into account:
the health and safety of temporary workers, such as agency workers,
other people?s employees or self employed workers visiting or working on your premises ? for example cleaners or other contractors
any of your employees that work at client premises and how their activities could impact on employees of the client.
consider any of your employees who work at home or travel to different workplaces as part of their job.
Step 3 - Evaluate the risks and decide whether existing precautions are adequate or more should be done
Consider how likely it is that each hazard could cause harm. This will determine whether or not you need to do more to reduce the risk.
can I get rid of the hazard altogether?
if not, how can I control the risks so that harm is unlikely? In controlling risks apply the principles below, if possible in the following order:
try a less risky option
prevent access to the hazard (e.g. by guarding)
organise work to reduce exposure to the hazard
issue personal protective equipment
provide welfare facilities (e.g. washing facilities for removal of contamination and first aid)
Step 4 - Record your findings
If you have fewer than five employees, although useful to record, legally you do not need to write anything down. However, for the purpose of the Contractor Plus scheme, regardless of how many persons you employ, you must record the significant findings of your assessment.
This means writing down the significant hazards and conclusions. You must also tell your employees about your findings. Risk assessments must be suitable and sufficient. You need to be able to show that:
a proper check was made
you asked who might be affected
you dealt with all the obvious significant hazards, taking into account the number of people who could be involved
the precautions are reasonable, and the remaining risk is low
Keep the written record for future reference or use
Step 5 - Review your assessment and revise it if necessary
Sooner or later you will bring in new machines, substances and procedures which could lead to new hazards. If there is any significant change, add to the assessment to take account of the new hazard. Don't amend your assessment for every trivial change, or still more, for each new job, but if a new job introduces significant new hazards of its own, you will want to consider them in their own right and do whatever you need to keep the risks down. In any case, it is good practice to review your assessment from time to time to make sure that the precautions are still working effectively.
If you are a small business and you are confident you understand what?s involved, you can do the assessment yourself (you don?t have to be a health and safety expert).
If you are a larger firm, you could ask a responsible employee, safety representative or safety officer to help you. If you are not confident you should get help from a competent source. But remember - you are responsible for seeing it is adequately done.
Getting on to an 'approved' list will depend on a number of factors, one of which may be your health and safety performance. Of course, it is in your interests to work safely and without risk to health wherever you work, but if you want to work with other firms they will expect you to be able to explain how you manage health and safety.
Health and safety law applies to all businesses however small. It covers employees, full or part-time, temporary or permanent; self-employed; young people doing work experience; apprentices; charity workers; mobile workers and home workers. Even if you are self-employed, and do not have employees, you still need to assess health and safety risks which may affect you and others, eg other contractors, office staff, members of the public.
To enable us to asses your Health and Safety management systems and consider your company for approval under the ContractorPlus scheme, you will still be required to submit evidence of a written Health and Safety policy including arrangements and responsibilities for Health and safety, risk assessments, safe working procedures and any other relevant information.
Yes - you must appoint one or more competent persons to help you comply with your duties under health and safety law, so that you can prevent accidents and ill health at work.
In practice you could appoint:
yourself (if you are sure you know enough about what you would have to do);
one or more of your employees, ensuring you give them enough time and other resources to do the job properly;
someone from outside your business to help you, if neither you nor your employees have sufficient competence (or resources)
SM&MS can be appointed to act as 'competent person' on behalf of your company. Our Health and Safety services range from policy production, risk assessments, safe-working procedures to training and consultancy services. If you are interested in any of our services please visit our website www.sm-ms.co.uk or contact us for more information or a quotation on 01484 452349.
A health and safety policy means the health and safety arrangements for your business, such as the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring, and review of preventative and protective measures. Your Health and Policy is a starting point to managing health and safety in the workplace and sets out 'who does what', 'When they do it' and 'how they do it'. (See FAQ - What should the Health and Safety Policy Include?)
When drafting safe working procedures the following should be considered:
Who the procedures are for? ? Do the employees require appropriate training or authorisation to carry out the task?
What are the key steps? - Specify the steps to be taken, the order in which they are to be carried out, the tools to be used, etc.
Why is the procedure necessary? - Ensure this is included in the information provided.
Where is the task to be carried out? - Are there any problems associated with the location?
How should the task be done? - How many people are needed, specify tools, materials, specifications, etc.
What warnings and safety precautions are needed? - These let employees know the importance of key steps, information, critical points where safety controls are required etc. and of the key hazards and risks to themselves and others, immediately or later.
As an employer you must encourage compliance with procedures by:
Designing the job or task so that the correct procedure is hard to avoid
Basing the procedure on how the job is actually performed ? provided it is carried out safely
Address any incentives to take short cuts (e.g. work pressures)
Ensuring consistency in the procedures used across site for identical tasks or operations
Ensure procedures are reviewed on a regular basis and kept up to date
Involving the procedure users in the writing of procedures
Ensure all staff are trained in the procedures and any new or updated procedures
Ensure a monitoring system is in place to ensure compliance with procedures
Yes - Risk assessment is the key to managing health and safety within a business and is a legal requirement.
It is a requirement that all contractors provide copies of the risk assessments they have prepared in respect of all the activities they have indicated they carry out. (See FAQ - How to carry out a Risk Assessment)
It is a requirement of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 that all employers have a health and safety policy that is available to all employees.
The Policy should comprise the following:
The General Statement - This should be a declaration of the employers' intent to provide and maintain, so far as reasonably practicable, a safe and healthy working environment and to enlist the support of employees towards achieving this. The statement can be quite short; two or three paragraphs may suffice. The statement should be signed by the employer or chief executive, to demonstrate commitment to managing health and safety.
The organisation - To be effective, this should detail health and safety responsibilities within the organisation. Where appropriate key individuals or their job titles should be named, and responsibilities defined within a job description. This will apply to specialists (eg. safety adviser, works engineer, etc.) as much as to line management and supervisors
The arrangements - This part of the policy will need to cover the systems and procedures in place for ensuring employees' health and safety.
The policy may refer to other documentation such as risk assessments, training programmes, emergency instructions, etc. However, the policy statement should record the arrangements and procedures for how these matters are managed.
Topics to be covered in the arrangements section of the policy include:
managing risk assessments;
arrangements for consultation with employees
arrangements for maintaining plant and equipment
arrangements for safe handling and use of substances
arrangements for providing information, instruction and supervision
arrangements for training
arrangements for accidents, first aid and ill-health issues
arrangements for monitoring
emergency procedures arrangements
In addtion to these, procedures will be required in respect of the carrying out of all works and the activities you have indicated you carry out, detailed on the ContractorPlus application form.
You will only be approved to carry out those activities once satisfactory safe working procedureshave been received.
Safe working procedures are agreed safe ways of doing things. Written procedures usually consist of step-by-step instructions and related information needed to help carry out tasks safely. They may include checklists, decision aids, diagrams, flow-charts and other types of job aids.
Procedures are necessary to:
Standardise working practice
Provide a basis for training
Meet statutory requirements
The decision to rely on a procedure to control a risk must always come after reasonable attempts have been taken to remove or reduce the hazard. This should be identified in your risk assessment.
Once these hazards and risks have been identified procedures should be drafted for employees to follow.
Procedures will be required in respect of all work activities you have indicated you carry out in your ContractorPlus application. Approval will only be given in respect of those activities for which adequate procedures are provided.