WHAT IS A RISK ASSESSMENT?
Simply put: A risk assessment is the overall process of hazard identification, risk analysis and evaluation and ultimately, controlling these risks.
It’s an in-depth examination of how your workplace functions, where there are areas of hazard, how serious these are, and what measures can be put in place to remove or control these risks.
HOW TO CONDUCT A RISK ASSESSMENT
1. Start by identifying the hazards. This is anything that may cause harm in the workplace and it’s not just physical. The classifications include:
- Physical: lifting, machinery, slips and trips etc.
- Psychological: excessive workloads, long hours, workplace bullying
- Chemical: asbestos, aerosols, cleaning chemicals…
- Biological: infectious diseases like hepatitis or tuberculosis.
2. For each hazard, determine who might be harmed and in what way. Although the immediate thought is full and part-time employees, the risk to visitors and temporary workers also needs to be taken into consideration.
3. Measure the extent of the risk and what precautions could be taken. Below we’ve listed the potential actions for reducing or eliminating the risk:
- Avoid the risk completely – redesign the process to remove the danger
- Substitute – use less hazardous materials which still perform the same job
- Minimise – limit exposure to workers, e.g through job rotation
- General control measures – guards, barriers and warning signs and systems
- PPE – protects only the individual, so should be used as a last resort alongside all other safety measures.
- Training and awareness – give toolbox talks to make workers aware of the hazards and help keep safety at the forefront of their minds=
4. Document the findings and implement across the company/site – you can use HSE’s risk assessment and policy template as a guide. (If you have fewer than five employees you don't have an obligation to write anything down.)
5. Review your assessment and update if necessary
When working out which area to prioritize once you've written up the risk assessment, something like the matrix shown below may be useful. For each hazard, give it a rating of how bad the consequence could be and how frequently it is likely to happen.
Anything from 8-15 needs to be resolved as soon as possible, seeking external help if necessary. Results scoring 16 or above are very serious and that area/process should be put on hold until suitable safety precautions have been put in place.
Following on from step 5, it is vital that the risk assessment is seen as a live document and is revised whenever there are:
- Changes in working practices
- New machinery
- Changes in legislation
- As a result of an accident or significant increase in near misses
Keeping this up to date will show the employees that you care about their welfare and you're actively looking out for improvements that can be made.
HOW TRAFFIGLOVE CAN HELP
As hand protection specialists we'll be delighted to assist with identifying and discussing hazards which may involve the hands and which glove may be the most suitable for that specific task.
However, as we mention earlier gloves and other categories of PPE are an important part of hazard prevention but a last resort once measures have been taken to reduce the risk itself.
If you're intending to review your risk assessment soon and want to improve your hand protection scheme - we'd love to assist. Our colour-coded system for safety gloves has been proven time and time again to reduce hand injuries and save time and money.