What is a risk assessment and why is it important?

What is a risk assessment? 

Risk assessments are carried out to identify hazards or risks involved to employees and others when carrying out a task. They are a legal requirement, and all companies and self-employed people are required to consider health and safety risks in the workplace. Risk assessments help companies turn sites with hazards into a safe working environment for all employees.

Protecting employees from hazards and injuries

Every workplace has hazards that can lead to injury or illness. Risks range from something like a wet floor to exposure to hazardous substances. Sure, a wet floor may not seem like a major hazard. But, if an employee slips and sustains an injury, you would be responsible for not making the hazard apparent by using a wet floor sign, for example.

Risk assessments can save lives

As well as protecting employees and customers from harm, risk assessments can also save lives. Some hazards pose more significant risks than short-term injuries – they can cause life-threatening accidents or long-term health conditions. Radiologists, for example, are at risk of harming their health as a result of radiation exposure and infectious diseases. The Independent lists 37 jobs that are most damaging to your health. 

Poor risk management can result in financial strain on your business

Affected individuals might claim compensation if they sustain an injury at work. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) may issue fines if your company is in breach of health and safety legislation. These fines are not only costly, but they may also cause insurance premiums to rise. However, a complete and up-to-date risk assessment will demonstrate compliance with the HSE, avoiding fines for poor health and safety.

Risk assessments for lone workers

There is no legal requirement to conduct a specific, separate risk assessment for lone workers. However, you must include the specific risks to lone workers in your general risk assessment and take steps to avoid or control the risks where necessary. If you find it easier to conduct a separate risk assessment for your lone workers, then, of course, this is fine. 

So, what do you need? 

A risk assessment can be as straightforward as completing a basic risk assessment form for many generic tasks or activities.

However, you must make sure you record significant findings, including: 

  • Any hazards identified
  • What controls are currently in place?
  • Any individuals that have been identified as being at risk

First2HelpYou has a risk assessment template you can download. We have started the template to include a couple of hazards associated with lone working.