Health & Safety update - Risk Assessment

Read the February edition of the monthly Health & Safety update. This month we look at Risk Assessment.

Why do we need risk assessments?
Risk assessment is a legal requirement and is necessary for effectively protecting University staff, students and visitors from harm.

What is risk assessment?
Workers and others have a right to be protected from harm caused by not taking reasonable precautions. Risk assessment is simply the process of examining what, in the workplace, could cause harm to people and ensuring that you have taken suitable precautions to prevent harm as far as reasonably practicable.

In many instances, straightforward measures can readily control risks, for example, making sure that spillages are cleaned up promptly so people do not slip, or keeping drawers closed to ensure people do not trip over them.

Who should do the risk assessment?
The law puts the responsibility on ‘the employer'. In large organisations like ours, the task of risk assessment is delegated to line managers. Heads of Departments must monitor the completion and regular review of the assessments for their department.

What should I include?
It is important to focus on the risks that matter in the workplace – the ones with a real potential to cause harm. Risk assessments must be ‘suitable and sufficient’ taking into consideration all the significant hazards of a particular task or procedure, and all people who may be at risk of harm including people who happen to be in the vicinity.

The law does not expect you to eliminate all risk, but you are required to protect people as far as is ‘reasonably practicable’. In most instances, that means simple and effective measures that ensure the University’s most valuable assets – its workforce and its students – are protected.

What resources are available to help me to carry out risk assessments?
University Health, Safety and Environment Service (UH&SE) provides professional advice on risk assessment. There is a standard risk assessment template on the Staying Safe and Well website, and a growing library of generic risk assessments for individual risk assessors to customise for their team’s specific circumstances. And there is a wealth of other information that can assist you to carry out a legally acceptable ‘suitable and sufficient’ assessment.

An interactive risk assessment training course is available to all line managers.

Contact UHS&E for further information or to book yourself on to a session.

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