Key steps to managing health and safety in a business

Mar 11 15:08 2016 Innes Donaldson Print This Article

Key steps to managing health and safety in a business.

Hazards and risks

When carrying out risk assessments,Guest Posting it is important to appreciate the difference between the terms “hazard” and “risk”. A hazard is something with the potential to cause harm; risk is the likelihood the harm will occur. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends employers follow five basic steps in conducting risk assessments:

• Step 1: look for the hazards• Step 2: decide who might be harmed and how• Step 3: evaluate the risks and decide on the adequacy of existing precautions• Step 4: record your findings• Step 5: review and revise the assessments as necessary.

Step 1: Look for the hazards

Identifying hazards can be done by carrying out an inspection of your workplace, consulting with employees and keeping records of any hazards present. The range of hazards present will depend on the type of activities undertaken by the employer. Typically, they can include:

• physical hazards, eg machinery, noise, electricity, fire, vibration, work at height, etc• ergonomic hazards, eg working space, workstation layout, repetitive movements, etc• chemical/substance hazards, eg asbestos, cleaning chemicals, paints, thinners, etc• biological hazards, eg bacteria and viruses.

Step 2: Decide who could be harmed and how

The regulations require the risks to both employees and non-employees to be considered in any risk assessment. Therefore, where appropriate, risks to pupils and members of the public, contractors, etc need to be noted.

Employers must also appreciate that certain types of people may face an increased risk. New and expectant mothers, as well as young workers, need to be specifically considered in risk assessments.

Step 3: Evaluate the risks and decide on the adequacy of existing precautions

To assist in the estimation of risk, the following equation is often used: risk = likelihood x severity.In other words, risk is a combination of how likely it is that someone may be injured and the severity of the injury likely to be sustained. Qualitative measures for likelihood and frequency can be used, such as high, medium or low.

Alternatively, scoring systems can be used to give a semi-quantitative measure for the risk assessment.

Step 4: Record your findings

Employers with five or more employees are required to record, in writing, the findings of their risk assessments. No specific statutory form has to be used. However, the regulations require that “significant findings” of the risk assessment be recorded. These will include records of the precautions in place to control the risks and what further action (if any) was taken to reduce the risk.

The findings must also provide enough detail to prove that a “suitable and sufficient” risk assessment has been carried out. This will include:

• details of the work• equipment or process being assessed• the people at risk• the hazards involved and the level of risk.

Step 5: Review and revise the assessments as necessary

The duty to carry out risk assessments is not a once-and-for-all activity. If a risk assessment is going to be worthwhile, then the assessments need to be kept under review to ensure that they are applicable, valid and up-to-date. A review might be necessary as a result of any of the following situations:

• an accident has occurred during an activity that has already been assessed for risk• a workplace is reorganised• a new process or new technology has been introduced• there is a significant change in the law.

On that basis it is advisable to carry out risk assessments on a regular basis.

Health surveillance

In addition to risk assessments employers are also required to provide employees with health surveillance, as is appropriate. Health surveillance is essentially a “health check”, such as:

• biological monitoring, eg a blood test• biological effect monitoring, eg a lung function test• medical surveillance, including clinical examination and measurement of physiological or psychological effects• enquiries about symptoms, eg by a qualified occupational health nurse.

Health surveillance is also specifically required by other regulations, such as the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005, the Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 and the Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005.

 

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About Article Author

Innes Donaldson
Innes Donaldson

Innes Fresco has no end of experience in writing about health and safety matters for the likes of http://www.safe2use.com/health_safety_consultants_manchester.html and others.

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