Workplace Safety Risk Assessment: Perform One Regularly

A risk assessment is a process by which a work site is evaluated for safety. It should be done before work commences by a competent, qualified, non-biased person. There are usually five steps to a risk assessment.

1. Identify the hazards:

  • A hazard is anything that can cause harm. It can be a chemical, electricity, falling objects, heights which can lead to falls, wet floors which can lead to slipping, etc. Identifying a hazard is not difficult and can be done by most competent workers with an open mind.
  • Walk around and look. Imagine the place once workers arrive. What will they be doing? Where will they be walking?
  • Check all the equipment that will be used, e.g. ladders, electrical, scaffolding, etc.
  • Ask the workers if they can identify any risks.

2. Decide what kind of harm, and to whom, these hazards might inflict:

  • Keep in mind young and inexperienced workers. Have they been trained properly? Have they been paired up with a more experienced worker?
  • Will anyone else, such as visitors, contractors, be visiting the site?
  • Is the area open to the public either during the work being carried out or after hours?

3. Evaluate the risks found then devise precautions to be taken:

  • What is the best way to totally eliminate a risk?
  • If it can only be reduced what methods can be used to achieve this? E.g. provide hand rails if there is a risk of falling, issue more appropriate protective equipment, provide training.

4. Implement the precautions decided upon and record what has been done:

  • Make the changes that you decided, then record them accurately for future reference.
  • Share this information with the workers.

5. Repeat assessment:

  • Because work environments change, sometimes daily, risk assessments need to be done regularly.
  • A danger that was not there yesterday might have presented itself today.

Other things to consider:

  • If something is beyond your scope of expertise additional consultation should be explored.
  • Accept feedback openly from workers as they are the ones directly involved in what is going on day to day and may notice things you don't.
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