Risk assessment - achieving compliance saves lives

Most business owners hardly understand and others overlook the importance of a risk assessment in their facilities. It is viewed as a process that costs money. They overlook the fact that money can be saved when incidents are prevented and risks eliminated before incidents occur. Hospital bills, accident compensations, funeral expenses and ultimately, loss of productivity cost way more than a thorough risk assessment.

What is a risk assessment?
A risk assessment is a systematic identification of undesired workplace hazards and their causes. That is followed up by a thorough analysis of their potential dangers, both in the short and long term. The findings play a vital role in ensuring that the correct preventative measures and strategies are implemented. The risks and hazards identified are tolerated, transferred, eliminated, minimized to acceptable levels or completely avoided. Learners who attended the Makrosafe Health and Safety Certificate course are familiar with this explanation.

Who conducts a risk assessment?
An entry level risk assessment can be conducted by just any employee. Nevertheless, it is advisable to leave this job to health and safety professionals. They are educated, trained and skilled to identify even unforeseen future hazards. Employees, generally speaking, wouldn't recognize those hazards.

What aspects does a risk assessment look at?
A risk assessment looks at all aspects of the workplace. it aims to achieve a completely compliant, as well as, a safe and healthy workplace. Some of the most important aspects that can be considered are:
a) Proper working conditions- ventilation, lighting, Personal Protective Equipment, etc.
b) Safe working procedures- Equipment and Machinery (maintenance and data sheets), safe operating procedures, certification and training of machinery operators etc.
c) Emergency services – fire escape exits (if they are easily accessible accompanied by a correct compliant sign), fire fighting equipment, first aid kit and their maintenance data records.

The above mentioned are some examples of the aspects that a risk assessment looks at. If an Inspector from the Department of Labour comes across any aspect which is not satisfactory to him, he has the powers to halt any operation related to that aspect. This is stated in the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

A risk assessment is done by inspecting each aspect of the workplace. It looks for any defects, defaults, hazards and even future hazards it may cause. Advice and suggestions are given by inspectors on all areas where action is required.

There are various forms of risk assessment that can be conducted. One such is; a baseline risk assessment which helps determine premises' position with regards to health and safety risks. An issue-based risk assessment is also recommended. This is conducted whenever there are new changes in the workplace e.g. new technology or products introduced or after a near-miss incident has occurred.

Lastly, a continuous risk assessment is most ideal. This can be done by supervisors to monitor conditions in the workplaces. It can be done by means of pre-checklist (both for workplace and employees) before all shifts, audits and inspections.

A risk assessment is not just conducted to ensure a healthy and safe working place. It is a legal requirement therefore it is non-negotiable. It goes a long way in preventing Occupational Injuries, fatalities and deaths.

Are you unsure about your health and safety status in your premises? Contact MAKROSAFE for a comprehensive risk assessment.

Posted date: 21st Jan 2015
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