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Risk Assessment

A practical approach

About this presentation

This presentation has been designed to give you the basic skills for carrying out a risk assessment. The skills should be applicable across a range of tasks and activities. The presentation is suitable for those new to risk assessment and those who have some experience of the process.

So what is risk assessment?

Risk assessment is a systematic approach to hazard identification and control. It should be seen as a process that helps you to identify what elements of an activity can cause injury to people and to introduce control measures that will reduce the risk of injury to an acceptable level. Risk assessment is not something dreamt up by the University Safety Adviser it is a legal requirement and so all departments need to carry them out where significant risks exist.

What risk assessment is not

Risk assessment is not a process that eliminates all hazards in the workplace. Nor is it a means of preventing dangerous activities from ever being carried out. We all have to live with some risk in our lives and some activities we do could be classed as dangerous. What risk assessment as a process does is ensure that we do all we can to reduce the risk of injury to as low a level as is reasonably practicable. As an example.

A child crossing a busy road

Do we tell children to never cross a road because we believe it is too dangerous? No - we assess the risk and introduce suitable control measures, e.g. Always use the green cross code!

Risk assessment legislation

Risk assessments are required by law, implicitly in law such as the Health and Safety at Work Act and more explicitly in particular regulations, e.g. Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 1989 Noise at Work 1989 Manual Handling 1992 Display Screen Equipment 1992 Personal protective equipment 1992

Risk assessment

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations make clear this requirement Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient risk assessment of the risk to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work

Some important points


The word shall means that carrying out risk assessments is not optional. Suitable and sufficient means that when you complete a risk assessment, you are expected to take reasonable steps to identify all the hazards, introduce suitable controls and so reduce the risk of injury to an acceptable level. This may require some input from other people who have more experience and knowledge about the task or activity. For example

Working off this tower

Obvious hazards include: People falling from height Dropping items Tripping over outstretched supports

But what about other hazards? Method of construction? Ladder use? Use of scafftag? Other activities in the area? You may need to speak to other people about these issues.

The University Policy statement

The Universitys own policy make it quite clear what needs to be done: All risks, other than trivial risks or risks from routine activities of everyday life, should be assessed and the appropriate precautions specified and recorded.

Types of risk assessments


Risk assessments can come in a number of forms, e.g. University codes of Practice Departmental codes of Practice Generic risk assessments that apply to common tasks (e.g. office work) Specific risk assessments (e.g. postgraduate projects) The bottom line is that they should all do the same thing, i.e. tell you how to carry out an activity or task in as safe a manner as is reasonably practicable

Risk assessment the process

5 steps

5 steps to risk assessment

The five steps process is advocated by the HSE and requires you to: 1.Identify the hazards 2.Identify who can be harmed 3.Identify the current controls and decide if more is required? 4.Record your findings 5.Review as necessary

Lets look at each of these in turn

Step 1. Identifying the hazards

The first thing you need to do is identify the hazards associated with the task or activity. One way of doing this is by using PEME. People Equipment Materials Environment

Lets look at People hazards first.

People hazards

People hazards cover a number of issues. Some of the hazards are to do with the individual themselves; other are to do with the systems that people have to use. When thinking about people hazards, words such as training, capabilities/restrictions, supervision, communication, adequate numbers and human error should come to mind.
Consider the following task

Are these people trained?

How can people make mistakes?

Are they adhering to correct procedures? Are they physically capable of doing the task? Does horseplay occur? How do they communicate (during the job and in emergency situations)? Are there enough people to do the work?

Is anybody supervising the work?

Equipment hazards

Equipment hazards will relate to the equipment used and will also cover tasks associated with the repair, maintenance, handling, cleaning, storage and operation of the equipment.
Consider the chainsaw task again. The chainsaw hazards would include

The weight of the equipment Sharp parts Incorrect gloves for holding the chainsaw Equipment noise

Lack of maintenance

Equipment vibration

Poor storage when not in use

Material hazards

Material hazards will cover any solids, liquids or gases associated with the task. This not only covers substances that are required for the specific task but also any bi-products or wastes generated by the task or activity.

With the chainsaw task we can consider the following to be hazards.

Petrol for the chainsaw

Wood dust generated

Oils/grease for equipment lubrication

What can these do to you?

Environment hazards

Finally, environment hazards are all about the surroundings you are working in. Depending on the location and the activity, hazards could include poor lighting, heating and ventilation, poor access/egress, tripping/slipping hazards, restricted space/visibility and other activities taking place nearby. The chainsaw work will include the following hazards....

Sunburn Possible space restrictions Lighting problems If carried out at night

Vehicle movement

Slip/trip hazards

Heat/Cold/wind Log removal activities

Identifying the hazards

Once you have gone through this first step you should have a list of hazards associated with the task that could potentially result in injury for those at risk.

So who is at risk? Step two asks you to look at who can be harmed. Consider the following construction work.

Step 2 - who can be harmed?

Who can be harmed?

Although the task seems to be well managed, if control measures fail then a whole range of people could be injured, e.g. Permanent workers in the area People visiting the area The general public walking alongside the site Intruders and children who break into the site

Your risk assessment should consider all those people who could potentially be harmed if controls fail.

Step 3 - What are the current controls?

Step 3 has two parts. Firstly, you need to look at what control measures are currently in place for each hazard you have identified. In some cases there may be no controls, perhaps because the hazard hasnt been considered. At the other end of the scale, there may be good controls in place because the hazard is obvious and easily controlled.
Consider the chainsaw task again..

Perhaps, noise hazards have been controlled by issuing hearing protection (e.g. small ear plugs). However, has anybody though about the vibration does the equipment have good anti-vibration properties; is it well maintained; are there time restrictions on use?

Step 3. What are the current controls?

When trying to identify the current controls remember that they can be broken down in 3 ways: 1. Physical controls (e.g. a metal fence around a construction site) 2. Procedural controls (e.g. a safe working procedure for the task) 3. Behavioural controls (e.g. adequate supervision and monitoring of behaviour) Examples of controls on a construction site

Procedural permits to work Current controls Procedural use of PPE for electrics

Procedural safe system of work handling of slab stones Physical fence Behavioural Supervision of work Physical signage

Physical trench supports

Behavioural reporting of defects by everyone

Step 3. Are further controls required?

You also need to ask yourself can more be done? What other control measures are necessary? Before you can do this we need to look at what is known as the hierarchy of control. Simply choosing a control measure is not enough. You need to be choosing the best, most effective controls so far as you can for all tasks. You may have looked at a particular task, identified the current controls and may be thinking about adding extra controlsbut how do you know which controls measures are best. Lets look at the hierarchy of control.

Hierarchy of Control

1 Eliminate the hazard 2 Substitute the hazard 3 Contain the hazard at source 4 Remove employee from hazard 5 Reduce exposure to hazard 6 SSW/SWPs 7 Warning signals 8 PPE 9 Discipline
Lets see this work in practice.......

The basic principle is that the more controls you use from the top of the hierarchy the better control you will have.

Preparing for a presentation

You have been asked to move the following items to a training room: * tv/video (16kg) * boxes (5 & 12kg) * flip chart (9kg) * display boards (1 x 6kg) * laptop (4.5kg)

Improving controls

The task involves carrying all the items from 24 Oxford Street over to a training room in the Rendall building. This involves going through doors, down stairs and across roads. One person is involved. The current controls are a basic risk assessment, a short written procedure and gloves are available if required.

Current control position


1 Eliminate the hazard 2 Substitute the hazard 3 Contain hazard at source 4 Remove employee from hazard 5 Reduce exposure to hazard 6 SSW/SWPs 7 Warning signals 8 PPE 9 Discipline/Supervision

The aim should be to use higher level controls can we do anymore? YES!.......

New control position


1 Eliminate hazard 2 Substitute hazard 3 Contain hazard at source 4 Remove employee from hazard 5 Reduce exposure to hazard 6 SSW/SWPs 7 Warning signals 8 PPE 9 Discipline/Supervision

Identify training room that provides tv/video and flipchart Dont use display boards Use flipchart instead Use one box and reduce weight Use trolley to move boxes Update risk assessment

It should be clear that by introducing the above simple changes the risk of injury has been significantly reduced.

Step 4. Record your findings

The fourth step is to record your findings. Any organisation with more than five people has to record their assessments. So you will need to: State clearly what task/activity the risk assessment covers. Ensure that the hazards and controls are clearly listed. Consider all those people who could potentially be harmed. Ensure that an appropriate member of staff signs off the assessment. Make sure that the completed risk assessments are readily available to those who might need them - Do not just file them away to gather dust!

Once these have been done the only thing left is...........

Step 5. Regular review of your assessments


Risk assessments must be reviewed on a regular basis (at the very least once every five years). The period of review should reflect the hazards, the greater the hazards the more frequent the review. They should also be reviewed if there is a significant change to the work or if you believe that it is no longer valid.

Remember the risk assessment should be a living document it should change as the work changes.

In Summary

Risk assessment is a process that can be applied to all activities in the workplace. The key elements are: Identifying the hazards do what is suitable and sufficient ; remember PEME Identifying who can be harmed Identifying what you are doing at the moment to control the risk and asking Can I do more? Recording and reviewing your assessments at regular intervals

Further information

Further information on risk assessment can be found on the University health and safety web pages. These will provide information on the basic principles of risk assessment and give you links to HSE publications on the subject. www.liv.ac.uk/safety/