Introduction to risk assessments
Every year people working in Jersey suffer accidents and work related ill health. The impact on the individual can be severe, affecting not only their ability to work but also their personal life. Accidents and work related ill health occur in all sectors of employment, although those working in the construction sector are more likely to suffer an accident whilst at work. Manual handling and falls, including slips and trips, continue to be the main causes of accidents at work.
Many of the costs incurred by accidents and ill health are not covered by insurance and will have to be met by the business itself.
These costs can include:
- payment of wages for injured employees
- loss of production time
- cost of investigation into circumstances of the accident or work related ill health
- cost of remedial action required
- extra wages or overtime payments
- increased employers’ liability insurance premiums
Risk assessment employer's guide
Carrying out a risk assessment
Although there are a number of alternative approaches to risk assessment that have been developed, the 'Five step approach' is generally recommended as being appropriate for most organisations that operate in Jersey.
This process involves the following steps:
- look for the hazards
- decide who might be harmed and how
- evaluate the risks and decide whether the existing control measures are adequate or whether more should be done
- record your findings
- review and revise the assessment as necessary
Who should do the assessment?
In most cases somebody within the workplace will be able to do the assessment. The most important thing is for the person to have a sound knowledge of the work so that they know what happens, or might happen.
There may be times when specialist help is required to complete an assessment, for example when considering the design and installation of local exhaust ventilation, or when undertaking health surveillance procedures, etc. In these cases, employees actually doing the work must still be consulted.
Hazard and risk
Don’t let words in this guide put you off:
- hazard means anything that can cause harm (eg chemicals, electricity, working from ladders etc)
- risk is the chance, high or low, that somebody will be harmed by the hazard
The five stages of a risk assessment
Before starting the assessment, walk around the workplace to see what is actually going on. Depending upon the size and nature of the company, you may wish to break the task of risk assessment down into manageable categories, eg:
- separate work areas, eg office, stores, workshop
- stages in the production process, eg handling raw materials, machining
- defined tasks, eg use of powered equipment, scaffolding, manual handling
Stage 1: Look for the hazards
A hazard is anything which can cause harm.
There are lots of ways to help identify the hazards associated with your workplace.
- asking your employees. They will have hands-on experience and knowledge of the job which will be invaluable in identifying hazards. They may also have noticed things which aren’t immediately obvious
- looking at health and safety publications which cover your work activities. The Health and Safety Inspectorate publishes a wide range of guidance much of which is accessible through the website. These documents may provide guidance on the hazards which are likely to be in your type of workplace and what you should be doing to control the risks from them. The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also produces a wide range of industry specific guidance, much of which can be accessed through the website
- looking at manufacturers' and suppliers’ data sheets and instructions, which must contain health and safety information about their products
- checking with professional bodies and associations, who often produce health and safety information
- reviewing the accident record book
Once you have reviewed the above, you may find it useful to construct a preliminary assessment checklist, which identifies the main hazards you are likely to find within your workplace, and the associated issues you may wish to consider further.
UK Health and Safety Executive website
An example of a preliminary checklist for an office is shown here, in Table 1:
Table 1: Example of a preliminary checklist for an office
|Hazard||Issues to consider|
|Manual handling||Heavy loads, lifting equipment, training|
|Display screen equipment||Level of use, comfort of staff, training|
|Electrical equipment||Visual checks, routine maintenance|
|Fire||Means of escape, firm alarm and fire fighting, housekeeping, storage, smoking|
|Slips, trips and falls||Maintenance, housekeeping, training|
|Hazardous substances||Can use of existing chemicals be eliminated, or can safer substitutes be used? Also consider date sheets, procedures for use|
|Others||Toilets, washrooms, temperature, welfare|
Walk around the workplace using the preliminary checklist as a prompt. Make sure all areas and activities are covered, and talk to your employees actually doing the work to see whether they have any concerns or comments.
Stage 2: Decide who might be harmed and how
You need to consider who may be affected by the hazards in your workplace. This may include:
- your employees, not forgetting trainees, pregnant women, young workers, etc
- others, eg sub-contract cleaners, delivery personnel, maintenance personnel, anyone who may only be in the workplace for short periods of time or on an infrequent basis
- members of the public and other visitors
Stage 3: Evaluate the risks and decide whether the control measures in place are adequate
Risk is the chance that somebody will be harmed by the hazard.
You now have to decide, for each hazard identified, whether you have done enough to control the risk from it or whether you need to do more and, if so, what.
You need to check that you have:
- done all the things the law says you have to do, for example, there are legal requirements relating to the guarding of dangerous parts of machinery
- considered what is generally accepted as good practice in your industry
- considered whether there is anything else you can do to reduce the risk further
If you find something needs to be done, try and remove the hazard altogether. If this is not possible you need to control the risk so that it is unlikely to cause harm.
Try and follow the following principles, if possible in the order listed below:
- remove the hazard altogether
- use something safer, eg water-based paints usually present less of a hazard than solvent-based paints
- prevent access to the hazard, eg by guarding
- organise the work so as to reduce exposure to the hazard
- issue personal protective equipment
- provide welfare facilities, eg washing facilities for decontamination purposes
Stage 4: Record your findings
If you employ five or more employees you are required to keep a written record of your assessment of significant risks and the action taken to address them in your written health and safety policy. Ensure your risk assessment is dated and signed.
If you employ less than five employees, it is still recommended that you keep a written record of your assessment for future reference or use.
Stage 5: Review and revise the assessment as necessary
If you introduce a new machine, substance or procedure, you need to consider whether this will introduce new hazards by carrying out a risk assessment along the lines of that described above.
You also need to review your assessment from time to time to make sure that the precautions are still working effectively. When undertaking the assessment, make a date for the review and note it down.
Example of a risk assessment for an office
Completing the risk assessment
Make sure that you pass on the significant findings of your risk assessment to your employees.
Finally, remember that the risk assessment is a ‘means’ and not an ‘end’. If your assessment shows that you have more to do to control risk, then do it.
Managing health and safety
Prevent accidents and incidents of work related ill health by adopting a structured approach to managing health and safety. Ensure that hazards are identified and measures are taken to reduce risks.
This approach, generally referred to as risk assessment, is one of the key steps to managing health and safety. A risk assessment involves finding out what in your work could cause harm to people and deciding whether you have done enough, or need to do more, to protect them.
An amendment to the Health and Safety at Work (Jersey) Law 1989, clarifies the need under Article 3, for employers to undertake risk assessment for their employees’ health and safety. Employers are also advised that carrying out a risk assessment approach to managing health and safety will be seen as an effective way of meeting the duty placed on them under Article 5 of the law.
Sources of information
Information on the local requirements for health and safety is available from the Health and Safety Inspectorate.
Further guidance on risk assessment is also available on the UK Health and Safety Executive's website.
Copies of the legislation may be purchased from the States of Jersey Bookshop which is located on the ground floor of Morier House, Halkett Place, St Helier, or by accessing the Jersey Legal Information Board website.
Risk assessment employer's guide
Risk assessment information on the UK Health and Safety Executive website
Jersey Legal Information Board website