Health and Safety Policies: Risk Assessments
One of the requirements for joining a Part P scheme provider, such as the NICEIC, is that you have a Health and Safety Policy Statement and that you carry out Risk Assessments as appropriate.
In a series of resources, we are going to be looking at the various elements that make up your Health and Safety Policy.
What is a Health and Safety Policy Statement
Simply, it states how you manage health and safety within your organisation and who does what, when and how they do it. The HSE provide very good guidance on creating a policy for small businesses.
The HSE’s template lists what the policy should cover, with the key points being:
- To provide adequate control of health and safety risks arising around work activities
- To consult with our employees on matters affecting their health and safety
- To provide and maintain safe plant and equipment
- To ensure safe handling and use of substances
- To provide information, instruction and supervision for employees
- To ensure all employees are competent to do their tasks, and to give them adequate training
- To prevent accidents and cases of work related ill health
- To maintain safe and healthy working conditions
You may have noticed in the points above that there is a reference to employees; this is common across the majority of templates that you come across. It’s important to note though that all these points are relevant to you, even if you are the only one employed by your business. In the main during this piece we are going to discuss how all of this can be implemented with you as the sole employee of your company.
What is a risk assessment?
Firstly we are going to take a look at risk assessments in detail as they make up an important element of meeting the above points.
In short, a risk assessment is just an assessment of what could cause harm to people in your work. The important thing to remember with them is that it is an aid to making your work safer; it shouldn’t be seen as a tick box exercise. It is a legal requirement to make an assessment of the health and safety risks arising from work. When assessing risks you are looking at those that are likely to occur during the course of your normal work. The important thing to note with risk assessments is that they do not tell you how to perform a particular job or task. They just tell you what risks are present whilst performing that job or task and what preventative measures should be put in place.
What should be included in a risk assessment?
There are lots of free templates available to use to help you in creating your risk assessments; a good place to start is the HSE.
The key points that make up a risk assessment are:
- Identifying what can harm people in your workplace
- Identifying who may be harmed and how
- Evaluating the risks and deciding on the appropriated controls, taking into account the controls you already have in place
- Recording your risk assessment
- Reviewing and updating your risk assessment
In the diagram below you can see how the above points are used to create the risk assessment itself.
The purpose of your risk assessment
What you are aiming to be able to demonstrate from the risk assessment is that:
- A proper check was made
- Anyone who may be affected was considered
- All significant risks have been assessed
- The precautions are reasonable
- The remaining risk is low
Important things to remember when compiling your risk assessments
When describing what the hazards are, remember to list them all separately, you are describing the individual risks that may be present when performing a task, not the task itself.
When listing who may be harmed and how, you are concerned with anyone who may be affected; this includes members of the general public, customers as well as yourself and any employees.
When describing what it is that you are already doing, remember you don’t just need to list any protective or preventative measures that are already in place. You can also describe how you may be carrying out the task that gives rise to the risk differently, so that the risk does not arise at all.
If there is other actions you need to put in place to manage the risk take the time to consider if that measure can be used for other risks that may be encountered in your work. You may be able to kill two birds with one stone.
When deciding who it is that’s going to be carrying out any actions relating to the risk assessment, make sure that that person is fully aware of the risk and why it is one and that they are clear on what needs to be done to manage it. Make sure you have consulted the person on the action, especially if they are likely to be frequently encountering the risk as they may have effective solutions to manage it.
The timescale you set for the action to be implemented should ideally be as soon as possible depending on the level of risk. However, the timescale must be a realistic one. There is no point setting an unachievable date.
Reviewing your risk assessments
Your risk assessments should be reviewed periodically; how often will depend on the type of work you undertake. If it is the same repetitive task using the same materials and tools for example, then it could be argued that reviewing them yearly is adequate. If the task or role is constantly changing, such as different tools, materials, locations or the people involved in the task then the risk assessments should be reviewed every time there is a significant change.
If you’re not yet registered with a Competent Person Scheme, take a look at our guide to joining a Part P Scheme (NICEIC).