Put simply a risk assessment is about identifying what might go wrong and how likely it is to happen. Once you have established that, it is a case of deciding what you will do to avoid the problem and how you will deal with it if the worst happens.

HSE recommends you go through the following steps:

  1. Identify the hazards
  2. Decide who might be harmed and how
  3. Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions
  4. Record your significant findings
  5. Review your assessment and update if necessary

We suggest you start by writing down each of your locations, and splitting it up into areas that are used for a particular purpose eg Office, Warehouse, Factory.

Work through area by area and note down how many people work there (roughly) and what hours they are there (this helps you with having the right number of first aiders). Then you can start to look at what risks you face.  The best people to help you with this are the people that work in that area. Go and talk to them, and look around at things that might be an issue – hazards – anything from hot drinks to a nuclear reactor, and how likely a problem is – risk.

HSE defines:

  • a hazard is anything that may cause harm, such as chemicals, electricity, working from ladders, an open drawer etc
  • the risk is the chance, high or low, that somebody could be harmed by these and other hazards, together with an indication of how serious the harm could be

Once you have documented this you can start to write down your steps to prevent a problem and the type of help you may need to mitigate the consequences when something goes wrong. In most cases we see this as first aid for one or more of several categories:

  • Cuts and Bumps
  • Burns
  • Eyecare
  • Body fluids and sharps
  • Special equipment and defibrillators

Don’t forget that the people themselves might bring in hazards – someone with an allergy, heart condition etc increases the risk of an issue.

Once everything is written down (a legal requirement if there are 5 or more employees), share the assessment with everyone and decide when the latest time you will next review will be.

You can find out more at http://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/index.htm.

If it all sound a bit daunting, don’t forget we are here to help.