Risk assessment is a four-stage process: hazard identification, risk assessment, implementing controls and monitoring that the controls in place are working. A hazard, in general, refers to anything with the potential to cause harm in terms of human injury or ill-health, damage to property, damage to the environment or a combination of these, e. g. chemical substances, machinery or methods of work, whereas risk means the likelihood, great or small, that an undesired event will occur due to the realisation of a hazard. Risk is dependent on the likelihood that a hazard may occur, together with the severity of the harm suffered/consequences. Risk is also dependent on the number of people who might be exposed to the hazard.
The main aim of any risk assessment is to make sure that no one gets hurt or becomes ill. Accidents and ill health can ruin lives, and can also affect business if output is lost, machinery is damaged, insurance costs increase, or if you have to go to court. Therefore, carrying out risk assessments, preparing and implementing a safety statement and keeping both up to date will not in themselves prevent accidents and ill health but they will play a crucial part in reducing their likelihood.
Reasons to carry out risk assessments:
- Prevent accidents;
- Prevent financial loss;
- Comply with current health and safety legislation;
- Moral and ethical reasons;
- Reduced insurance costs