On this page we have information on the following:
1.Your employer should conduct an investigation to ascertain what hazards are present in your work environment. A hazard is defined as something that has the potential to cause harm to people. Risk is the probability, or degree of chance, that someone will be harmed by a hazard.
2. The employer will then determine whether there are adequate existing systems to protect people or whether there is a need to take additional measures to eliminate or mitigate the risk of the hazards that have been identified.
Every employer is required, according to the law, to conduct a risk assessment. Risk assessment is the core duty of care under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992. These Regulations require all employers to:
Risk assessments should be adapted accordingly to the size and complexity of the company. How each company is to conduct these assessments should be addressed in the company safety policy. A number of regulations are targeted at specific individual hazards and stipulate risk assessment for these hazards.
Also, certain regulations apply to specific categories of employees who require risk assessments.
Risk Assessment constitutes the initial stage of a continuing process in the maintenance of a safe workplace. A credible risk assessment will:
A risk assessment will only be effective once the employer implements its conclusions.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) suggest that the optimum way to conduct a risk assessment is to adhere to a 5-step control plan. These steps are:
Step 1 Identify the hazards;
Step 2 Establish who could be harmed by the hazards and how these hazards might occur;
Step 3 Assess the risks these hazards present and determine whether existing safeguards are sufficient or if further action is required;
Step 4 Record the conclusions in writing, including the date the assessment was conducted;
Step 5 Re-evaluate the risk assessment periodically (do not merely wait until work patterns change), and implement any new findings.
Your employer must address the best way to deal with hazards in the workplace;
Safety representatives should ensure that their company follows this plan;
As a Safety Representative you should notify to your employer any hazard that you identify from your inspections. The Barbour Index Risk Assessment Guide suggests that potential hazards could be divided into three distinct areas:
i. General concerns;
ii. Emergency procedures;
Equipment hazards - examples include;
Physical hazards & the work environment
Approximately 25% of all workplace incidents reported to the enforcing authorities relate to manual handling incidents, the majority of which result in more than 3 days absence from work. Manual Handling is dealt with in the "Manual handling operations regulations 1992" and impose upon employers the following requirements:
Work involving display screen equipment is now an integral part of many people’s occupations. Those so engaged for prolonged periods may well experience a range of problems such as eyestrain, musculo-skeletal conditions, or stress. By conducting proper assessments of workstations, the potential for the occurrence of these problems can be identified and remedial action implemented. Employers are responsible for performing workstation assessments and providing all relevant training, eye and eyesight tests, etc for all their employees who use such equipment.
There exists specific legislation in respect of hazardous substances - "Control of substances hazardous to health," the so-called ’COSHH’ regulations. The principal obligation of COSHH is that employers must not perform any work liable to expose employees to any substance hazardous to health unless a "suitable and sufficient assessment has been made of these risks, and the steps taken to meet the requirements of the regulations".
For employees, COSHH imposes the following duties:
Waste control mechanisms to look for in pursuit of good health & safety practices
Access and egress for good health & safety practice
Spillage procedures for good health & safety
Validity of the assessment can only be accomplished if the current status of compliance with legislation, company internal procedures etc, has been reviewed.
This is the best option when rectifying hazards and should be the first strategy your employer considers because once a hazard is completely removed from the work place then its potential to cause harm no longer exists.
If it proves impossible to eradicate the hazard then the next most effective method of prevention is to control the risk. According to the Barbour Index Guide to Risk Assessment, after the preferred action of elimination, the order of priority for remedial action should be:
Can the risk be reduced at source?
i. Can the employee(s) be removed from the hazardous area?
ii. Can the hazard be contained by enclosure?
iii. Can the employee’s exposure to the hazard be reduced?
iv. Can protective equipment be deployed (an interim option)
Practical examples of such measures include:
Introducing permit-to-work systems which limit access to authorised staff for specific tasks;
Remember that protective equipment does not eliminate or reduce the risk at source, but is only intended to protect the worker from the consequences of harm because the risk still exists. Therefore, recourse to protective equipment is the least desirable type of control and should only be deployed as a last resort or in combination with other, more effective control measures.
The responsibility to ensure that risk assessments are conducted resides with the employer. The majority of employers will appoint a ’competent person’.
The Barbour Index Risk Assessment Guide suggests that such a person should possess relevant experience, knowledge, and training.
Possess the ability to make an assessment of the problem;
In addition, sufficient time, resources, and support must be allocated to these people to complete the task. This does not mean that employers cannot appoint a person who also happens to be a union Safety Representative. However, such an appointment should be on the grounds of experience and suitability within the company and not for the reason that they are a trade union Safety Representative.
Any Safety Representative who is appointed as a ’competent person’ must be conscious that:
If you are invited to become a competent person you should seek the advice of your trade union.
The role of a trade union Safety Representative is to ensure that risk assessments are correctly conducted and that proper measures are in place to protect the health and safety of colleagues.
Regulation 4A of the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 states that employers must consult Safety Representatives on:
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 state that employers must consult Safety Representatives "in good time." This means that Safety Reps should be consulted at the initial planning and development stage of health and safety measures.
Employers are obliged to consult Safety Representatives prior to any changes, and permit them sufficient time to deliberate the issues, consult their members, and then submit a considered response.