A6.1 Describe the task, activity or situation that you’re assessing from start to finish. This frames your risk assessment and makes it clear what needs to be included. Have you considered the HSE’s 5 step process in your risk assessment?
Step 1: Identify all hazards associated with the particular activity being considered.
Hazards may be identified by observation, using various sources of information such as legislation, published guidance, trade publications, industry codes of practice, manufacturers or suppliers information (e.g. Material Safety Data Sheets), STFC safety codes, incident records, or drawing on previous experience.
All aspects of the work must be considered, not just the obvious. For example, a raised paving stone on a path presents an obvious trip hazard, while the shedding of wet, slippery leaves from an adjacent tree may be overlooked if the assessor considers only summer conditions. In workshops the use of a band saw presents a hazard in terms of the cutting blade but there are also hazards associated with the release of dust in the atmosphere (explosion, inhalation of a hazardous substance). Similarly the use of a lathe will have particular machine hazards, but there may be other hazards associated with the use of cutting oils (skin contact with a potential carcinogen).
Non-routine aspects of the activity must also be considered e.g. during maintenance and repair.
Step 2: Identify groups of people of people who are not directly involved in the work but who could potentially be harmed (and how). Have you thought about anyone other than staff who could be affected by the activity, e.g. visitors, cleaners, maintenance staff, contractors, etc.?
Consideration must also be given to vulnerable individuals (e.g. those with certain medical conditions, which may be permanent or temporary) or specific groups (e.g. young or inexperienced workers who may lack maturity and expertise) and expectant or new mothers (e.g. who may need to refrain from manual handling or handling certain hazardous substances). However, other groups should not be overlooked e.g. persons with disabilities or impairments (ability to hear alarms, see / read warning notices, difficulties with access / egress) and some overseas workers (with experience of different safety cultures, and potential difficulties with the nuances of language or their comprehension).
Step 3: Consider all precautions and control measures that you already have in place and take account of them. Evaluate the level of risk.
The assessment should acknowledge any existing measures that control risk. These may have been introduced for other operational reasons but they may, nevertheless, mitigate problems. The assessment should also consider the impact of existing control measures suddenly becoming unavailable e.g. power loss to an external light or basement, or loss of mains water supply in a water cooled system.
Step 4: Record the finding of the risk assessment (and implement the measures identified)
Step 5: Review the risk assessment at regular intervals and when there are material changes.
The STFC proforma identifies these 5 steps so it is important to complete all entries.
Do you focus on prevention? The control hierarchy forms part of the control measure column in the proforma to ensure prevention is considered first. In deciding what additional control measures are to be applied priority should be given to those that protect the whole workforce or workplace, by avoiding the risk completely or combating risks at source.
A6.2 Does your risk assessment reflect what actually happens ’on the ground’? Is your methodology accurately reflected in the risk assessment? Should an incident take place and highlight discrepancies in the risk assessment, a court may rule that the risk assessment was not ‘suitable and sufficient’.
A6.3 Does your risk assessment consider factors that might adversely impact an individual’s ability to do the task? E.g. the ability to manually handle heavy items if the individual has a history of back problems?
A6.4 Is the focus on high risks, i.e. have you checked that major risks have not been overlooked and minor risks given too much priority? One way to help prevent this is rank the hazards in your assessment from high to low.
A6.5 Have control measures for the highest risks been incorporated into a regular monitoring scheme? Should the implementation of control measures take time, have interim measures been put in place to minimise risk?
A6.6 Do you involve your team:
- By asking their views about the workplace, they tasks they undertake, and the risk assessments that are relevant to them?
- By seeking their suggestions, advice and comments on potential solutions to problems (e.g. improvements to working conditions, changes in the way work is organised, etc)?
- By ensuring that people are empowered to contribute and feel that their views are listened to and acted on?
- By effectively communicating outcomes (e.g. action plans)?
A6.7 Do you seek to develop and adopt solutions that are 'reasonably practicable' (i.e. taking into account the cost and effort needed to reduce the risk against its likelihood of occurrence and potential severity)?
A6.8 Have all risk assessments been logged on SHE Assure and are all actions captured on SHE Assure action manager?