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How do I complete a risk assessment for my business?

Top tips to help you assess and control the risks in your workplace

A good risk assessment is part of making your business safe for you and your employees. Fintan O'Toole, from industry specialists the Health & Safety Dept, provides his top tips for completing a risk assessment.

Completing a risk assessment

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advise that under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the minimum you must do is:

  • Identify what could cause injury or illness in your business (hazards).
  • Decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously (the risk).
  • Take action to eliminate the hazard or, if this isn’t possible, control the risk.

The HSE have set out a widely recognised 5-step process that employers should follow with the assistance of a competent person if appropriate:

1. Identify Hazards

Look around your workplace and think about what may cause harm.

2. Assess the risks

Once you have identified the hazards, decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how serious it could be. This is assessing the level of risk.  

3. Control the risks

Look at what you’re already doing and the controls you already have in place.

Put the controls you have identified in place. You’re not expected to eliminate all risks but you need to do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm. This means balancing the level of risk against the measures needed to control the real risk in terms of money, time or trouble..

4. Record your findings

If you employ 5 or more people, you must record your significant findings

Do not rely purely on paperwork, as your main priority should be to control the risks in practice.

5. Review the controls

You must review the controls you have put in place to make sure they are working.

Find out more

You can read more about managing risks and risk assessment at work on the HSE website. Templates, guidance and support are also available. If you are preparing to carry out risks assessments, consider calling on a qualified Health & Safety practitioner to assist. 

It's also worth reading the government's guidance – 5 steps to working safely during the coronavirus.

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