If your business has five employees or fewer, you are not legally obliged to have a written risk assessment, but that does not mean that you don’t have to think about and identify any risks to employees, or the general public. Part of your responsibility as an employer involves identifying and, where possible, eliminating potential dangers, and the best way to do this is to perform a thorough risk assessment.
Identifying the hazards
- To start with, a walk around the premises will help you identify some of the potential hazards; look at activities, processes and substances that are used by employees that could potentially endanger their health.
- Check Manufacturers’ instructions or data sheets for chemicals
- Look back at accident and ill-health records – this can help identify areas or situations that can be avoided in the future
- Take account of non-routine operations
- Remember to think about long-term health hazards
- Visit the HSE website – they publish practical guidance on hazards and how they can be controlled
Identifying who could be harmed and how
It is not only employees whom should be covered by a risk assessment; if any activity within the workplace has a potential to involve the general public, or visitors to the site, these risks must be identified and managed appropriately.
Evaluating the risks
Once the hazards have been identified, it must be decided how likely it is that harm could occur. Risk is a part of everyday life and it is not expected that you will or can eliminate all risks, but what must be done is to know about the main risks and the things you need to do to manage them responsibly. A simple way to look at this would be to ask ‘Can I remove the hazard altogether?’ and if not, how can the risks be managed to minimise danger. Some practical steps could be:
- Trying a less risky option
- Preventing access to hazards
- Organising work to reduce exposure to the hazard
- Issuing personal protective equipment
- Providing welfare facilities such as first aid and washing facilities
- Involving and consulting employees
What if you were injured at work?
If you have been injured at work, and you feel that the accident could have been avoided, you should contact one of our solicitors. They have years of experience in these types of cases and will swiftly be able to tell you if you could claim for compensation.