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What is Risk Assessment?

By Garry Crystal
Updated May 16, 2024
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Within the workplace, owners of a business are legally required to assess the risks of injury and ill health affecting employees. Risk assessment is the careful examination of the diverse factors that can bring about these risks. It should also make sure that enough precautions are implemented in order to prevent harm coming to an employee.

Ill health and accidents can have a very serious affect on business, and they can ruin lives and damage business output. They can also lead to costly court cases and increased insurance costs. Risk assessment procedures should help to dispense with the above and make the workplace a safer environment for employees.

In this type of assessment, the most important factor is to decide what is a hazard in the workplace. If the risk is determined to be significant enough, precautions should be put into place so that it is minimized or dispensed with altogether. For example, electricity in the workplace is hazardous, but provided that all proper protection is in place, the risk to employees becomes insignificant.

There are five steps that should be undertaken when conducting a thorough risk assessment. The first step is to look for hazards and take a tour of the workplace to check for potential dangers. Individuals should concentrate on anything with the potential to cause serious harm to employees and ask for employee opinions on the subject. Accident and ill-health records are a good way of revealing why and how accidents have occurred in the past.

The second step is to decide who might be harmed and how. Reviewers should decide who might be particularly at risk, like trainees, young workers or expectant mothers. Members of the public who are not familiar with the workplace or anyone who is not in the workplace full time and may not be familiar with the layout may also be at risk.

With the third step, the evaluator must calculate whether there have been enough precautions put into place to counter the hazard. For each risk he finds, he should also make a decision about whether enough precautions have been put into place to reduce the risk. The assessment procedure must take into account all the health and safety aspects required by law. Reviewers should ask themselves if there anything further they can do to reduce the risk, such as issuing protective clothing or preventing access with guardrails.

The next step is to record the findings to show that the evaluator has dealt with all the obvious hazard areas. It should also show that he has checked with employees who might be affected and that any hazards that remain have been dealt with and are now reasonably low.

The final step is to review the risk assessment procedures and make revisions if necessary. In the future, whenever new machinery, substances or work procedures are implemented, a revision should take place to ensure that the work environment is risk free and will continue to be so in the future.

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Discussion Comments

By anon195695 — On Jul 12, 2011

"In risk assessment, the most important factor is to decide what is a hazard in the workplace" and that is what you call hazard risk assessment. So you have to remember this to avoid hazards.

By narasingarao — On Mar 09, 2011

I need a risk assessment and job safety analysis of a parapet wall.

By showered72 — On Jul 16, 2010

Salaries for a federal risk assessor can range from $35,000 to $80,000. This is based on level of education and experience. Private companies and consulting firms generally pay much more. Risk assessment is a career that requires significant intellectual, analytical capabilities and good communication.

By pistachios — On Jul 16, 2010

Ben Stiller played a risk assessment manager in the film Along Came Polly.

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