Why is health and safety important, and why should we write a Risk Assessment? To prevent ourselves or others getting hurt.
A hazard is something that has the potential to cause harm, while a risk is the likelihood of potential harm from a hazard being realised. A risk assessment may not always be something formally written down – often it’s a mental process that we do almost sub-consciously – in which we measure the level of risk.
- Identify the hazards
- Decide who might be harmed and how
- Evaluate the risks
- Record these (a legal requirement if employing more than 5 people)
- Review regularly and with each change in circumstance.
The major legislation that is relevant is the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act (key phrases being the employer or self-employed person’s duty of care to prevent harm to health so far as is reasonably practicable) and the 1999 Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulation which states that every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of health and safety risks.
An RA might be detailed in a grid system with risk likelihood (certain-rare) plotted against severity (catastrophic-negligible) or may simply be a list of hazards, risks arising from those hazards, and control measures to mitigate against these. Control measures can be listed as a Hierarchy of Controls with 1 being the most effective and 5 being the least:
- Elimination (physically removing the hazard)
- Substitution (replace the hazard)
- Engineering controls (isolating people from the hazard)
- Administrative controls (change the way people work around the hazard eg through signage, briefing etc
- PPE (protect the worker with Personal Protective Equipment)
A risk assessment can be general but should be tailored to a performance/event to make it unique, taking into account differences in:
- Audience type
- Time of day
The DuPont Bradley curve describes how a ‘safety culture‘ can be developed within an organisation or community.
- Set out the process of a given task, taking into account the control measures in your risk assessment
- Should be set out in such a way that other competent (experienced and trained) people could complete the given tasks safely and effectively without supervision
- Should cover all aspects of a given task including preparation, delivery and packing up