Risk assessment in health and safety

All employers have a duty to care to their staff, customers, and visitors. Whether you run a factory, a betting shop, or an establishment which serves food, every potential hazard must be identified and then each of these potential risks must be mitigated as much as practicably possible.

How well do you feel your organisation is prepared? Are you worried that, through lack of training, you can’t see the potential risks that you need to see and, as a result, your staff, customers, and visitors may be in danger? Perhaps you would like to know more or you would like to delegate the responsibility for health & safety and the necessary identification of risks to a trusted colleague?

In this article, the In House Training Company team examines the basic principles underlying risk assessments, the penalties and consequences of not getting it right, and we introduce our BSC award in the Principles of Risk Assessment.

The principles of risk assessments

When carrying out a risk assessment, you or your colleagues must first identify the risk factors and hazards that can cause harm to your staff, customers, and visitors. Each business faces different risks related to what it is they do and their physical environment – for example, no two warehouses are used in the same way so each risk assessment must be bespoke to a specific warehouse. A food establishment will present completely different set of risks to an office environment – and a thorough risk assessment taking into its remit the characteristics of business’s activities.

When you’ve identified an area of concern, you then need to perform a risk analysis. That risk analysis will contain an evaluation of the level of risk involved and detail the way in which that risk can be controlled. The information contained in your risk analysis will often include the opinions of those who are at risk themselves from the hazard. For more complex risks, you may conclude that you have to invite an expert to give their opinion – this opinion will also be part of the risk analysis.

Once you have completed your risk analysis, you evaluate the risk by comparing it against a set of criteria in order to assess how significant the hazard is. The final stage is risk control where you and the staff you’ve involved in the process take a course of action to mitigate as much risk as possible from the hazard.

After this point, you and your colleagues should review you’re your risk assessment and update it when necessary.

Consequences of failure to conduct adequate risk assessments

Failure to perform adequate risk assessments often leads to severe financial and reputational damage for the business or organisation concerned.

Recent examples of health and safety risk assessment failures include:

  • PSL Worldwide Projects (engineering company) – two employees suffered life-threatening injuries from chemical burns and the company was fined £150,000 (source: Palmers Solicitors)
  • Jaguar Land Rover (vehicle manufacturer) – failure to carry out a proper risk assessment on the potential snagging onto heavy moulding dies of chains and hooks from its cranes – £50,000 fine (source: Safety at Work)
  • Mr Happy Restaurant and Takeaway – a York food establishment was ordered to pay more than £7,000 over a series of fire safety failings (Source: The Press)
  • Viridor Waste Management Ltd – fatal injury caused by a runaway lorry partially caused by the lack of a risk assessment of the operation of waste collection vehicles on site – £237,500 fine (source: Stallard Kane Associates)
  • Charlton Engineering Services Ltd – £60,000 fine for breaching fire safety regulations. The breach came to light following a fire at the factory when it was discovered that several fire exists were blocked or obstructed, there was a lack of staff fire safety training, and a alack of fire alarm and detection equipment (source: Sunderland Echo)
  • Prowell Ltd – £4,000 fine (plus £7,053 costs) after a worker suffered serious arm injuries following a general risk assessment failure (source: Health and Safety Practitioner)
  • Anchor Trust – a resident with dementia died in her room as a result of a fire. The victim’s nightwear came into contact with a naked flame. The Trust was fined £170,622 for a fire risk assessment failure (source: Fire Industry Association)
  • Brent Council – £100,000 fine over a risk assessment failure over its lone worker policy which, in the judgement of Westminster Magistrates’ Court, led to two social workers being seriously injured after being hit over their heads with a metal object. One was knocked unconscious which lead, at a later point, to a diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. (source: Health and Safety Practitioner).

As you can see from the variety of the organisations found guilty of risk assessment failures and the details of those failures, all health and safety risk assessments must consider the potential threat to any staff member, visitor, or customer from a variety of sources unique to those organisations.

Principles of Risk Assessment (Level 2) – BSC Award with the In-House Training Company

Our Principles of Risk Assessment (Level 2) BSC Award course is held over a day in a classroom setting for up to twelve people. Your tutor opens the course by looking at the main reasons behind fatalities, injuries, and ill-health caused by work. This wide overview gives learners a deeper understanding of the general principles of risk assessment. Learners are then shown how to provide information about risk assessments to management and how to correctly record them.

We go into the process for carrying out a risk assessment as well as examining some of the terms used in risk assessments when staff members are producing a report on potential hazards for management or for inspectors. The course concludes by covering the factors affect risk levels from hazards in the workplace, providing a logical approach to prioritising the risks.

To find out more, please click here for our course details. To speak with one of our team, please call 01582 714 285 or email info@tihtc.co.uk.

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