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What Is a Risk Assessment?

February 27, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 159

A risk assessment is a process for identifying potential hazards, or risks, as well as actions to reduce or remove those risks. For most businesses, they are legally required for Health and Safety and Fire Protection, and most will also want to carry out an assessment for Security as well. If you have 5 or more employees, you will also be required to formally record your Risk Assessments.

Health and Safety Risk Assessments

Health and Safety assessments are required for nearly all businesses, and cover almost all aspects of that business, both on and off business premises.

Health and Safety is enforced by the Health & Safety Executive, and there is extensive legislation both for general Health & Safety and specific industries and environments. The legislation covers everything from lifting and handling to hazardous chemicals and machinery.

Fire Risk Assessments

Fire Risk Assessments are enforced by the local Fire & Rescue Service, who can issue enforcement notices and court-ordered fines if businesses do not comply. The main legislation is The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which outlines the duties of all businesses to carry our regular Fire Risk Assessments and act on the findings.

Security Assessments

While not a legal requirements, most businesses will want to conduct a security assessment to protect both staff and property. This will look for potentially vulnerable points, access control and alarm systems. Many insurers will insist on an assessment by a NSI (National Safety Inspectorate) accredited company and may insist on improved locks, access controls, security systems or CCTV systems.

What is involved in a Risk Assessment?

The HSE identifies 5 Steps for an assessment:

1. Identify the hazards

Look at areas or tasks where there is a potential hazard.

2. Decide who might be harmed and how

Businesses are responsible to employees - both on- and off-site - as well as customers and members of the public who may be affected by your activities. Some groups of workers, such as young workers or expectant mothers have extra protection.

3. Evaluate the risks and decide on precaution

Look at the likelihood and severity of the risk, and take steps to reduce or eliminate it. This could be as simple as a warning sign, or could require changes to working practices

4. Record your findings and implement them

You must be able to show that a check was made, what hazards were identified, the solutions suggested and that the solution was implemented.

5. Review your assessment and update if necessary

Risks are always changing, so your assessment must be updated to reflect that. Make sure you plan to regularly review your assessments and update it and take new steps as necessary.

Who Can Complete a Risk Assessment?

Most assessments require no formal qualification, only that they are a 'competent person' to carry it out. A competent person is someone who has knowledge of the work involved, understands both the principles of risk assessments and preventing risks, and understands the current legislation sufficiently to comply with the law.

Risk assessments can be carried out by anyone within your company with sufficient experience, but you may want to consider training them in proper procedures as well as any specific laws regarding your type of business. You can download sample forms which will help you to develop one that matches your requirements

Many businesses choose to contract out risk assessments for Health & Safety, Fire and Security to companies that specialise in these areas. Most of these companies will not only complete the assessment, but will help you develop a plan of action to reduce the risks identified.

Detect Fire & Security is a Hampshire based company offering Fire Risk Assessments and Security Assessments for businesses across the South of England. Working with companies from small retailers to large University campuses, they cover the complete range of fire and security systems planning, installation and maintenance.

Source: EzineArticles
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