SQE Health and Safety

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Risk Assessments

In order to successfully manage the risks within your business you will need to think about what might cause harm to people and decide on reasonable steps to prevent that harm. This is called risk assessment and is something you are required by law to carry out.

In order to undertake a risk assessment you need to know the difference between hazard and risk.

  • HAZARD – anything that has the potential to cause harm, such as electricity, working at height, chemicals etc.
  • RISK – the likelihood that someone could be harmed by that hazard and how serious that harm could be.

The 5 steps to risk assessment

1) Identify the hazards

There is no hard and fast rule on how a risk assessment should be carried out. Walk around, ask questions observe behaviours whatever needs to be done in order to identify the potential hazards present.

2) Decide who might get harmed and how

Once the Hazards have been identified look at who is likely to interact with them and in what way.  When identifying people at risk you will need to think about the person undertaking the activity, as well as those that may be affected by it (members of the public, passers-by etc.)


3) Evaluate the risks and decide on suitable control measures

Having identified the hazards and potential people involved you then need to decide what the likelihood is that harm will occur. Risk is everywhere and you are not expected to eliminate all risk completely. What you should do is make sure you are aware of the main risks and do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to manage them, taking into account cost, time and trouble.

When evaluating the hazards for your risk assessment you should use the hierarchy of control.

  • Elimination – Physically remove the hazard
  • Substitution – Replace the hazard
  • Engineering controls – Isolate people from the hazard
  • Administrative controls – Change the way people work
  • PPE – Personal Protective Equipment

4) Record your findings

Maintain a record of your significant findings. If you have less than five employees you are not required to write them down but it is a good idea to record them as it will make it easier to review if something changes. If you have more than 5 employees the law requires you to document your significant findings.

5) Review your risk assessment and update if necessary

Change is a part of life and sooner or later there will be new people, equipment, working practices that could introduce new hazards so review your risk assessment at regular intervals.

A risk assessment is an important step in protecting your workers and your business, as well as complying with the law.

SQE will assist or prepare on your behalf the risk assessments needed to ensure compliance, focusing on the ones with the potential to cause harm, not the immaterial.

Manage the risk not the paperwork.

To find out more about how SQE can assist, call now on 029 2036 2033

T: 029 2036 2033 E: info@sqe.ltd.uk