Practical Health and Safety in action

Risk assessment gets bad press, but this is only because people make more of it than they need to.

The Health and Safety Executive say they don’t want to see files of paperwork, just simple identification of what can happen and then appropriate management of the risk. So ask yourself: is your risk assessment process practical?

Here is a simple risk assessment for the task of moving office furniture:

Step 1 – Spot the potential hazards – pulled muscles, trapped fingers, back ache, etc.

Step 2 – Identify the level of risk by working out the likelihood of the hazard resulting in injury and the severity of any injury. For instance, people who move office furniture regularly are quite likely to get an injury such as a pulled muscle, lower back pain, or even a broken finger!

Step 3 – Identify the control measures that are in place (if any). For instance, have all personnel who are required to move office furniture been on a practical manual handling course to help them understand how to avoid injury?

Step 4 – Evaluate the residual risk after applying the controls. The likelihood of an injury will be much reduced after appropriate training.

Step 5 – If you identify the risk as significant, then you have a legal responsibility to record it.

Always remember to involve the people doing the job – they know the risks. Keep risk assessment simple, and if you need to put in any further controls, record what you have done and reassess the risk to confirm that they have worked.