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  7. The Importance of Regular Risk Assessments

The Importance of Regular Risk Assessments

A worker in a warehouse carrying out a risk assessment

For any business owner, there is always a real emphasis put on being able to keep people safe and secure when they come to visit your business. This, typically, takes a lot of time and patience and will usually require you to do a fair amount of back and forth work to get right. The best way to keep on top of things and ensure you are delivering the kind of performance demanded with regards to keeping workers safe is to have regular risk assessments carried out. This makes a massive difference, in general, to your safety performance and your reputation within the community.

If you have more than five employees, make sure assessments are put down in writing. An inability to make this clear to your staff can have a serious list of consequences down the line, not least because it can make things difficult for everyone to manage and prepare for.

What are Health and Safety Risk Assessments?

Health and safety risk assessments, as the name implies, are an assessment of the actual or potential risks which can endanger health or wellbeing. Depending upon the nature of the work/activity taking place, these dangers could affect the worker themselves, their colleagues, members of the public living and working nearby, as well as the environment in terms of plant, animal or aquatic life.

All current and planned works can create risks to health, as can stopping a process e.g. will a lack of activity lead to the growth of harmful bacteria in a drainage pond? Or will the abandonment of machinery create an environmental hazard as it corrodes over the months and years? This is why it is important that risk assessments are carried out before any changes to processes are made, as well as assessing the risks of those processes and practices already in operation.

Regular risk assessments are vital for a variety of reasons. As manager you have a responsibility towards health and safety, and hold the legal responsibility to make sure everything is up to scratch, so therefore it's vital to undertake these regular assessments. The last thing you want to do is put anyone associated with your business in danger. So, the best thing you can do is to carry out these regular risk assessment examinations - they will help you spot potential problems and dangers to health.

Likewise, the environmental impact of your business simply cannot be understated and this is something that you need to control and manage moving forward. Carrying out regular risk assessments both for the way that your business could endanger people today as well as the long-term is going to be vital to making sure you can retain the kind of reputation and standards that you would have hoped to have upheld until now. The best way to do this, then, is to go through a risk management structure that establishes a clear policy that must be adhered to at all times.

Regular checks of the premises and their overall conditions and quality is absolutely pivotal to taking things forward and giving yourself the best chance at creating and maintaining a safe workplace now and for the future. It will take some time to get things right, of course, but ensuring that frequent checks are carried out both inside and outside - as well as on your staff and their own capabilities - is going to make a massive difference going forward to your chances of legitimate success.

Law Changes & Health and Safety Risk Assessments

The conducting of a risk assessment should not be viewed as a task which needs to be completed no matter what at a regular fixed point in time such as one the same day of every year. Rather, it needs to be undertaken whenever there is a significant change or alteration to circumstances in the workplace. Articles on this site such as 'Why a Constantly Changing Construction Site is Dangerous' and 'Why is a Fire Risk Assessment Important?' highlight the fact that a workplace which undergoes a significant alteration - whether in layout, process, substances utilised etc - will end up being materially different to the place of work (and its associated risks) which were considered in the original risk assessment. In such a circumstance, it will be highly advisable to conduct a fresh risk assessment which will incorporate these new hazards to the safety of employees and members of the public, not to mention providing health and safety training to workers regarding these new dangers.

Changes to Health and Safety Legislation

One such change which will need to be accounted for is a change in the law. Health and safety legislation is frequently being introduced, altered and tweaked with the intention of making the workplace as safe as is reasonably practical for both employees and members of the public in the surrounding area. It is the responsibility of company directors and managers to keep abreast of changes to health and safety laws which are applicable to their business, and can include such actions as:

  • Frequently undertaking health and safety courses, including courses/units focusing on health and safety law and legislation such as the NG1 unit of the NEBOSH General Certificate qualification.

  • Watching and reading the news, including industry-specific publications, which will report changes to the law.

What to Do After a Change in the Law

Whenever there is a change to the law regarding health and safety (or any other subject concerning the business for that matter), changes will need to be made in order to conform to the new legal requirements, as a failure to comply can result in heavy regulatory fines and even criminal prosecution in some instances. Even without the moral obligations of preventing harm coming to workers, this is a good reason for directors to swiftly comply with health and safety requirements.

How Legislative Changes Can Require an Alteration to the Workplace

The alterations required will depend upon the specific requirements of the legislative changes, but will sometimes necessitate dramatic changes to any number of areas like:

  • The number of safety features such as a specific amount per number of employees
  • Minimum distances between certain processes
  • Increased robustness of storage and containment areas for hazardous substances
  • Prohibiting the use or storage of certain substances or raw materials/ingredients
  • A banning of a finished product, which requires a company to quickly switch to making something else

The list is endless, but as can be seen from the few examples listed above the potential consequences can result in significant and major changes to the current working environment. This will nearly always bring with it a whole host of new and different risks and dangers to health, safety and wellbeing to people and the local environment. As such, whenever this significant alteration occurs, a new risk assessment should be conducted to identify the risks and dangers posed by the changes so that appropriate steps can be taken, including the provision of updated safety training, to minimise the likelihood of an accident taking place.

Understanding Risk Assessments before Taking a Health and Safety NVQ

Risk assessments form a considerable part of workplace health and safety. The prevention of accidents and incidents is the ultimate aim of everyone, and is the reason why health and safety training is provided to employees, in order to educate them about the dangers which they may face or create whilst at work. Because an NVQ qualification is based around the collection of evidence rather than any information being taught as there is in a classroom-based course with a tutor, it is imperative that an individual has a thorough understanding of risk assessments before they enrol on a health and safety NVQ.

NVQs Require a Person to be in a Suitable Job Role and Have a Certain Level of Health and Safety Knowledge

The fact that health and safety NVQs are vocational qualifications which require evidence to be gathered as a person undergoes their normal workplace duties means that the individual also needs to have a comprehensive understanding of health and safety issues, including risk assessments, before enrolling. Of course, if a person is already in such a job role it is highly likely (hopefully) that they are already well-trained in such matters, but sadly this is not always the case.

A number of people are attracted to the fact that the NVQs are at the same qualification level as the NEBOSH National Diploma for instance, but do not require attendance at a training venue. Unfortunately though, not only can NVQs not be undertaken by those who are not in a suitable job role, as they will not be able to gather the evidence required for their portfolio, but a suitable level of knowledge regarding health and safety issues needs to already be in place. For instance, an individual cannot gather evidence about suitable risk assessments if they are not fully aware of what needs to actually be performed on a risk assessment.

The NEBOSH General Certificate Course as an Alternative to an NVQ

Anybody who is not in a suitable health and safety job role already, or who is but has had little health and safety training before and needs to acquire more knowledge of the subject, will benefit far more from taking the NEBOSH General Certificate course. This comprehensive health and safety course covers a tremendous range of health and safety issues and topics, looking at the most common hazards and risks which are likely to be encountered in a typical workplace. As well as these dangers, the NEBOSH General Certificate will also cover relevant issues such as applicable legislation (e.g. the Health and Safety at Work Act), policies, accident reporting and, of course, risk assessments. Please click here to go to the NEBOSH General Certificate page which provides a great deal of information about the course, as well as scheduled open course dates and prices.

Risk Assessment Courses

Please see below for the range of risk assessment courses that we offer:

Online Courses

Inspecting and risk assessing a place of work

After completing this online course, will have an understanding of what a risk assessment is and how to complete one. It will define important terms, provide some basic background information to explain how important risk assessments are, and discuss some of the legislation that applies.

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Assessing display screen equipment in a workplace

This online course covers topics relating to being aware of various DSE risks to health, and how you can prevent or minimise potential negative effects upon the body. It also includes modules on applicable Display Screen Equipment legislation, DSE risk assessments & risk control and prevention strategies.

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Classroom Courses

Assessing display screen equipment in a workplace

Our risk assessment course is aimed at anyone with specific responsibility for risk assessments, and will also be beneficial for anyone involved in the risk assessment or risk management process. Typical delegates include supervisors, managers, directors and safety representatives.

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A risk assessment instructor classroom course

Our risk assessment instructor course is aimed at employees within an organisation who have been tasked with training other colleagues in risk assessment. It covers a general overview of health and safety requirements, with a particular emphasis on the importance of risk assessment.

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Faulty electrics have a risk of causing a fire

The Fire Risk Assessment course is a 2-day fire safety training course which has been designed to help you comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which states that it is now compulsory for organisations to conduct a fire risk assessment.

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Faulty electrics have a risk of causing a fire

This course will cover how to assess workstations and implement controls to ensure that the workstation and working environment are satisfactory, in order to prevent injuries such as eye strain and back issues for example.

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