Health and Safety Risk Assessments

A risk assessment is simply a careful examination of whatever, in your work or workplace, could cause harm to people, so that you can determine what precautions or controls are necessary to prevent harm. The intention is to prevent accidents or work related ill health in the workplace. The Control Measures that are determined to be necessary to adequately safeguard against accidents or ill-health must be specified in writing. This is the outcome of the risk assessment and it is your duty to ensure that it is fully implemented. In specifying the control measures, the risk assessment provides the practical and detailed roadmap to help you manage health and safety in your workplace.


When thinking about your risk assessment, remember:

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.

Risk Assesment

This assessment should:
· Identify the hazards
· Identify all affected by the hazard
· Evaluate the risk
· Identify and prioritise the required actions

No risk assessment will ever be perfect but it should be suitable and sufficient.

The risk assessment needs to show that a proper check was made, the correct people consulted, the results noted, suitable improvements made and that the remaining risk reduced. An action plan is a good way to deal with improvements over a period of time.
You will need to review your risk assessment over a period of time, along with your action plan. If there are significant changes to your workplace or working environment then you will need to update your risk assessment and action.

Once the hazards are identified, work out which group of people may be put at risk and identify how they may be harmed, which type of injury or ill health might occur. Some workers have particular requirements, pregnant women, inexperienced workers, cleaners, visitors.


Now that the risks are identified, it has to be decided how to deal with them. The law asks for the majority of risks that you implement risk reduction measures which are “reasonably practicable”.

The process commences with the employer taking reasonable care to identify the risks associated with (but not limited to):

Assessment area or Work premises
Work practices, systems and shift working arrangements (including hazardous processes, psychological and fatigue related hazards)
Plant (including the transport, installation, erection, commissioning, use, repair, maintenance, dismantling, storage or disposal of plant)
Hazardous substances (including the production, handling, use, storage, transport or disposal of hazardous substances)
Presence of asbestos
Manual handling (including potential for occupational overuse injuries)
Layout and condition of the workplace (e.g. lighting and workstation design)
Physical working environment (including the potential for any one or more of electrocution; drowning; fire or explosion; people slipping, tripping or falling; contact with moving objects; exposure to noise, heat, cold, vibration, radiation, static electricity or a contaminated atmosphere)
Potential for workplace violence and biological hazards.


The steps of a risk assessment are as follows:

· Step 1: Identify the hazards

· Step 2: Decide who might be harmed and how

· Step 3: Evaluate the risks and decide on precaution

· Step 4: Record your findings and implement them

· Step 5: Review your assessment and update if necessary


Identify the hazards

First you need to work out how people could be harmed. When you work in a place every day it is easy to overlook some hazards. Here are some tips to help you identify the ones that matter:

Walk around your workplace and look at what could reasonably be expected to cause harm. Ask your employees or their representatives what they think. They may have noticed things that are not immediately obvious to you.
The Public Health Hazardous Substances Act No.15 of 1973 and the Occupational Health and Safety Act Republic of South Africa No.85 of 1993 will give practical guidance on where hazards occur and how to control them. There is much information here on the hazards that might affect your business.
If you are a member of a trade association, contact them. Many produce very helpful guidance.
Check manufacturer's instructions or data sheets for chemicals and equipment as they can be very helpful in spelling out the hazards and putting them in their true perspective.
Have a look back at your accident and ill-health records – these often help to identify the less obvious hazards. Remember to think about long-term hazards to health (e.g. high levels of noise or exposure to harmful substances) as well as safety hazards.

Decide who might be harmed and how

For each hazard, you need to be clear about who might be harmed; it will help you identify the best way of managing the risk. That doesn’t mean listing everyone by name, but rather identifying groups of people (e.g. ‘people working in the storeroom’ or ‘passers-by’).
In each case, identify how they might be harmed, i.e. what type of injury or ill health might occur.

Remember:

Some workers have particular requirements, e.g. new and young workers, new or expectant mothers and people with disabilities may be at particular risk. Extra thought will be needed for some hazards
Cleaners, visitors, contractors, maintenance workers, etc, who may not be in the workplace all the time; members of the public, if they could be hurt by your activities; if you share your workplace, you will need to think about how your work affects others present, as well as how their work affects your staff – talk to them; and ask your staff if they can think of anyone you may have missed.

Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions

Having spotted the hazards, you then have to decide what to do about them. The law requires you to do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm. You can work this out for yourself, but the easiest way is to compare what you are doing with good practice.
So first, look at what you’re already doing; think about what controls you have in place and how the work is organised. Then compare this with the good practice and see if there’s more you should be doing to bring yourself up to standard. In asking yourself this, consider:
Can I get rid of the hazard altogether? If not, how can I control the risks so that harm is unlikely?

When controlling risks, apply the principles below, if possible in the following order:

Try a less risky option (e.g. switch to using a less hazardous chemical);
Prevent access to the hazard (e.g. by guarding);
Organise work to reduce exposure to the hazard (e.g. put barriers between pedestrians and traffic);
Issue personal protective equipment (e.g. clothing, footwear, goggles etc);
Provide welfare facilities (e.g. first aid and washing facilities for removal of contamination).

Record your findings and implement them

Writing down the results of your risk assessment, and sharing them with your staff, encourages you to do this. If you have fewer than five employees you do not have to write anything down, though it is useful so that you can review it at a later date if, for example, something changes.
We do not expect a risk assessment to be perfect, but it must be suitable and sufficient. You need to be able to show that:

A proper check was made; you asked who might be affected;
You dealt with all the significant hazards, taking into account the number of people who could be involved;
The precautions are reasonable, and the remaining risk is low;
You involved your staff or their representatives in the process.


Review your risk assessment and update if necessary

The following information is applicable for the reviewing of your risk assessment:

Few workplaces stay the same. Sooner or later, you will bring in new equipment, substances and procedures that could lead to new hazards. It makes sense, therefore, to review what you are doing on an ongoing basis. Every year or so formally review where you are, to make sure you are still improving, or at least not sliding back.
Look at your risk assessment again. Have there been any changes? Are there improvements you still need to make? Have your workers spotted a problem? Have you learnt anything from accidents or near misses? Make sure your risk assessment stays up to date.
When you are running a business it’s all too easy to forget about reviewing your risk assessment – until something has gone wrong and it’s too late. Why not set a review date for this risk assessment now? Write it down and note it in your diary as an annual event.
During the year, if there is a significant change, don’t wait. Check your risk assessment and, where necessary, amend it. If possible, it is best to think about the risk assessment when you’re planning your change – that way you leave yourself more flexibility.

Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment and Determining Controls

The Managing Director shall ensure that all hazards associated with its activities are assessed for risk so that precautions can be identified and actioned before work commences. The following aspects will be considered for risk assessment from preparation:

· Routine and non-routine activities
· Hazards originating externally to the workplace
· Work operations including contractor activities
· Use of infrastructure, equipment and materials
· Whenever change occurs to systems, processes equipment, personnel, materials etc.
· Changes in legislation
· Emergency situations & potential incidents e.g. fire, accidents
· Contractors and visitors to the workplace
· The capabilities of personnel including human behaviour
There are generic risk assessment forms available to simplify the process and can be adapted to your unique requirements. All risk assessments should be reviewed on a regular basis by a competent consultant to ensure that they are performed adequately. Copies of all assessments must also be given to the health and safety representative.
Unfortunately, hazards cannot always be avoided, and it is imperative that employees know what to do in an emergency.

Health and Safety Record Keeping and Management systems and practices
Records Management systems and practices should comply with the adequate records management framework, specifically the adequate records management standard, the document and records management system standard and will be audited to identify evidence supporting this compliance. Evidence consists of the following assertions:
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Record keeping


Official records are created in all appropriate circumstances

Official records are captured into corporate record keeping systems upon creation or receipt official records are disposed.

Access to official records takes place in a managed manner using prescribed policies and procedures.

Official records can be found upon demand.

Records management shall be managed and planned in a strategic and corporate manner.

All staff shall receive training on records management as outlined in the organisation’s records management training plan.

Organisations shall implement reporting mechanisms and progress in order to keep senior management informed about records management.

The organisation shall develop and implement records management policies and practices.

The employer will ensure compliance audits take place on a regular basis within agreed intervals of time, and the results of the audits and reviews will be documented and forwarded to the Department of Labour.

The employer will afford the inspector full cooperation throughout this process.

Employers are responsible for ensuring that sufficient evidence is immediately available for the inspector to complete the review. Failure to provide such evidence will require the Department of Labour to undertake the necessary analysis of the employer’s record keeping systems and practices at the organisation’s cost.”

The Audit Plan
Audit objective
The audit objective is to obtain a report of factual findings concerning the adequacy of records management practices in the organisation. The inspector is to report appropriately to the Department of Labour of non-compliance with controls or insufficient evidence of records for specific outcomes.


Standards

The audit checklist will provide measures against which the records management operations will be tested. The audit checklist consists of the ten outcomes from the Adequacy Standard.

Reporting
The consolidated Audit Report will include the following elements:
- Organisation ’s name
- Chief executive responsible
- Level of cooperation afforded
- Quality of evidence provided
- Auditor’s validation of scores
- Reasons for variance between scores
- Project improvements for the next 12-month period

Evidence
Evidence will be provided in some cases by a sample test of data and in other cases by 100% testing. The creation of official records, for example, will generally be sample tested, to give sufficient indication to form an opinion that this requirement is generally satisfied. In another example, assessing whether security measures are in place will usually require complete testing. Business requirements will include some sample testing, and some complete testing.

Annual Health and Safety Audit Form
An Annual Health and Safety Audit is recommended for all businesses/organisations. The employer must have arrangements for monitoring and review of his health and safety measures.
Objectives

The objectives of this form are:
Review of Health and Safety system, identification of areas of low/non compliance.
Identification of employee training needs to create a safer working environment.
Assessment of key hazards within the workplace, which will require a Risk Assessment.
Effectiveness of existing audits and management controls.
Recommendation for improvement actions for senior management team.

Annual Audit


The Health and Safety Annual Audit is divided into the following sections:
General Policy and Organisation
Arrangements to be considered
Plant and Substances
Other Hazards
Emergencies
Communication
Training
Supervision
Keeping Checks
Consideration of General Risks Identified during Risk Assessment
General Observations
Fire Precautions and Observations

This Health and Safety Annual Audit should be supplemented as appropriate by the Assessment Checklists available for specific hazardous issues. If individual hazards are identified these should be recorded and assessed on a Hazard Risk Assessment form.

All actions that are required as a result of the Audit should be recorded and monitored on the Health and Safety Annual Audit Action Plan. This should be done at least on an annual basis.
Single Hazard Risk Assessment Form
A Single Hazard Risk Assessment form should be used to evaluate, recommend actions required and record responsibility in respect of hazards and risks identified by Risk Assessment Checklists, Audits and Questionnaires, or those identified by occurrences in the workplace. These Single Hazard Risk Assessment forms (and the checklists) should then be managed and monitored by the relevant Risk Assessment Action Plan. This can be done at least on a quarterly basis or when need arises.

The Form
This form contains the following sections: -
Description/Identification of the hazard/risk
Consequences - description of the harm that might be caused by the hazard/risk
Identification of the persons at risk, and the level of risk
Consideration of precautions and controls
Record of the form's inclusion in the relevant Risk Assessment Action Plan

Small, office-based businesses may not require risk assessment documentation involving a range of checklists and action plans for specific undertakings, jobs, locations and equipment. It may be more appropriate for such operations to use either the Multiple Hazard Risk Assessment and Action Plan form or the Single Hazard Risk Assessment and Action Plan form.
These forms individually cover the "5 Steps" for risk assessment - identify hazard, persons at risk, level of risk, records and review. For businesses where there are substantial hazards or potential hazards, and the risk(s) could be severe and extensive it is recommended that the risk assessment process be recorded and monitored by using the relevant Checklist(s), Single Hazard Risk Assessment Forms and Risk Assessment Action Plans. The Checklists act as the starting point of this process.


5 Steps of Risk assesment

Alternatively, and where judged appropriate, the Single Risk Assessment and Action Plan or the Multiple Risk Assessment and Action Plan may be utilised.
This form is a standard format Risk Assessment Checklist to enable the employer to record details of precautions, controls, training, instruction, the provision of information, systems and procedures, and identify related hazards, potential hazards and risks.

The Risk Assessment Action Plan Standard Form should be used to record and monitor the actions to be taken in respect of hazards and risks identified by the completion of the relevant Checklist(s) and Single Risk Assessment Forms. It provides for recording and reviewing the following:
General information and Duty Holder responsibility
Reference numbers in respect of Checklist(s) and Risk Assessment forms
Descriptions of action(s) to be taken
Responsibility for the action(s)
Target Dates
Completion Dates
Verification of completion
Review timetable

In respect of businesses (or undertakings within businesses) with limited hazards and potential hazards, and the risks are unlikely to be severe or extensive it may be more appropriate to apply the Single Hazard Risk Assessment and Action Plan or the Multiple Hazard Risk Assessment and Action Plan. This is part of the process and must be done at least on a quarterly basis and if need arises to investigate unsafe practises.

Accident Record Form
An Accident Record form should be available to all employees so that an injured employee, or someone acting on their behalf, can complete the form as soon as possible after the accident. The Accident Record form should then be passed to the Duty Holder for secure safekeeping and monitoring.
The record provides for:
Record Number
Details of injured party
Details of reporting party
Accident details
Signature of reporting party
Internal Accident Investigation Report.

Framework and Safety Risk Assessment Form and Policies

The framework is described below:


  • Health and Safety Policy Statements: General statement and policy examples, including contractors.
  • Standard Health and Safety and Risk Assessment Forms: Annual audit, risk assessment forms & plans.
  • Environmental forms: Policy, assessment checklist & action plan and waste disposal note.
  • First Aid, Accidents and Disease. Accident, investigation, treatment and report forms.
  • Fire Safety. Risk Assessment forms, policy and procedures and records.
  • Smoke free, drugs and alcohol-free policy. Up-to-date policies governing smoking, drugs and alcohol.
  • Safe driving. Safe Driving Policy, Guidance for Employees who drive for work and vehicle checklist.
  • Display screen equipment. Questionnaire, identification & eyesight records and risk assessment.
  • Chemical and hazardous substances. Safety data, risk assessment and action plan forms.
  • Personal Protective Equipment. Risk survey and acknowledgement of use.
  • Manual handling. Assessment checklist & control forms, employee assessments and action plan.
  • Equipment and Machinery. Maintenance records, and risk assessment forms.
  • Hot work. Risk assessment, action plan and permit forms.
Asbestos containing materials. Inspection, assessment action plan, register, controls and disposal forms.
Policies must be in place for record management. Let’s discuss this.

Records management policies and legislation
According to the National archives and record service of South Africa Act no 43, 1996, the purpose of this Act is to provide for a National Archives and Record Service; the proper management and care of the records of governmental bodies; and the preservation and use of a national archival heritage; and to provide for matters connected therewith. It is therefore important for private and public companies to establish their own records management policies.

The objects and functions of the National Archives are to:
Preserve public and non-public records with enduring value for use by the public and the State
Make such records accessible and promote their use by the public
Ensure the proper management and care of all public records
Collect non-public records with enduring value of national significance which cannot be more appropriately preserved by another institution, with due regard to the need to document aspects of the nation’s experience neglected by archives repositories in the past
Maintain a national automated archival information retrieval system, in which all provincial archives services shall participate
Maintain national registers of non-public records with enduring value, and promote co-operation and co-ordination between institutions having custody of such records
Assist, support, set standards for and provide professional guidelines to provincial archives services
Promote an awareness of archives and records management, and encourage archival and records management activities
Generally, promote the preservation and use of a national archival heritage
Below are some guidelines on good record keeping and storage practises.

Retrieval of records

Control of records placed in archives and the archives annex remains with the office of origin. Retrieval of records from the archives and the archives annex is coordinated by the individual offices and the archives.
Destruction of records

This policy is applicable for all records not of enduring value. No record will be destroyed without the written permission of the office involved.
Confidential records must be shredded, burned or otherwise physically destroyed as to leave their content unreconstructed. Determination of what constitutes confidential records is the responsibility of the division.

At least once a year, each office will review its records retention and disposition schedules and determine which records have become obsolete.
It is the responsibility of the individual office to destroy its obsolete records.

The office is responsible for destruction whether the records are stored in archives or remain on site. For records destroyed on site, a departmental representative will make a destruction report for the records officer.

The destruction report will include the following:
Record Series destroyed
Inclusive dates of series
Number of cubic feet of records destroyed
Method of destruction
Departmental Representative








Posted date: 10th Jul 2019
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