What is a risk assessment and why do we need them?

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Understanding Risk Assessment: Legal Framework and Implementation

1. Introduction

The Evolution of Risk Assessment

Risk assessment made its debut alongside the COSHH regulations and the European six-pack regulations, which encompassed Management, Workplace, Manual Handling, DSE, Work Equipment, and PPE regulations in January 1993. The primary objective of risk assessment is to guide employers in determining the necessary measures for compliance with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

2. The Fundamentals of Risk Assessment

Rooted in Legal Obligations

The principles of risk assessment were officially outlined with the Management of Health and Safety Regulations in 1999. Employers were mandated to conduct a formal risk assessment, document their findings, and take appropriate action based on those findings. This critical process can be executed by a competent in-house professional or entrusted to an external company.

3. Dispelling Risk Assessment Myths

Focusing on Substantive Risks

Various misconceptions surround the practice of risk assessment, often diverting attention from core hazards to minor ones. However, risk assessments typically address the most significant risks. Employers can access checklists and flowcharts that facilitate effective risk assessments.

4. The Role of Risk Assessment

Identifying and Managing Workplace Health Risks

Risk assessments play a pivotal role in identifying and controlling health-related risks within the workplace. They furnish a documented account of the assessment process and the measures taken to mitigate or eradicate identified risks. It's important to note that complete risk elimination is not always feasible; the focus is on diligent risk identification and management. The HSE website provides illustrative risk assessment examples, accessible through the student download section of this course. For a more practical perspective, consider examining existing risk assessments within your workplace to gain insight into your company's approach to assessment and record-keeping.