Risk assessment refers to the process of evaluating risks to workers safety and health from hazards at the workplace.
What is the purpose of a risk assessment?
Many laws relating to safety and health at work require an assessment of risks, but even without a legal requirement to perform an assessment, it is good practice to do so as it allows effective measures to be taken to protect workers health. The accident prevention process starts with the reduction and, where feasible, total elimination of potential risks, followed by the implementation of collective prevention measures and, in the final instance, personal protection solutions. By identifying the hazards and evaluating the risks, the employer, or person in control of the work should be able to:
» Take a decision as to the protective measures required, taking into account relevant legal requirements;
» Check whether the measures in place are adequate;
» Prioritise any further measures found to be required;
» Show that an informed judgement has been made on workers safety and health (e. g. to workers or to the regulatory authorities);
» See whether an improvement in the level of protection to workers has been achieved.
A risk assessment
A risk assessment should match the hazards, risks and potential harm. For example, a large chemicals plant is likely to have a very technical system of assessment, whereas a small enterprise carrying out low-risk activities needs a simple straightforward system.
The risk assessment should:
» Identify the hazards;
» Identify the workers potentially at risk from those hazards;
» Estimate the risks involved;
» Consider whether these risks can be eliminated, and if not;
» Make a judgement on additional measures needed (if any) to prevent or reduce the risks.