A beginner's guide to risk assessments
The first step of protecting your employees from harm in the workplace will always be to perform a risk assessment. After all, you can't keep them safe from a hazard if you aren't aware it is there.
However, this is not always easy if you are doing so for the first time. Knowing you are responsible for the safety of your colleagues can be nerve-wracking, so it is easy to miss one or two small things that could end up being vital. The process is easier than you think; there are just a few steps to it.
The first part is to actually identify all the risks that exist around your workplace. Some of these will be obvious - heavy machinery, for example, or anything that produces fire - while some will be more subtle like tripping hazards.
Get as much information as you can in this stage. If your workplace has an accident log, scour it for anything you've missed. You can also talk to your colleagues and see if they have anything they can add.
Make sure to think about all the different people that might be affected by any risks you find. Your employees might be fully versed in the equipment they use, but you also need to consider visitors, for example.
Now, you need to assess each risk. For this, you need to determine two things: the likelihood of an accident occurring, and the severity of the injury it would cause if it happened. Each of these is graded from one to five, then the numbers are multiplied to give a number from one to 25.
On the likelihood of an accident, one means it is very unlikely that it will happen, whereas five is certain. So an exposed electrical wire next to a large body of water would be a five, as an accident is very likely to happen, whereas an ordinary fridge would be a one; it is highly unlikely - but possible - that anyone would injure themselves with it.
For severity, a one indicates that the danger is no more than a scratch or minor bruise. The above fridge, for example, would get this grade. A five, on the other hand, indicates severe injury or death. The exposed wire would get a five, as an accident would cause serious electrocution.
Multiply these together to get the final number, which will indicate what action needs to be taken. The exposed wire, for example, would be a 25, meaning something needs to be done urgently.
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