Risk assessments are crucial to any business. They not only protect and prevent accidents, but are a legal requirement and an important step in ensuring a safe and healthy work environment. With that in mind, we explore how to review a risk assessment to help you focus on the risks which really matter in your workplace – the ones with the potential to cause real harm. 

Risk assessment is a term used to describe the overall process or method where you:

  • Identify hazards and risk factors that have the potential to cause harm (hazard identification).
  • Analyse and evaluate the risk associated with that hazard (risk analysis, and risk evaluation).
  • Determine appropriate ways to eliminate the hazard, or control the risk when the hazard cannot be eliminated (risk control).

A risk assessment is a thorough look at your workplace to identify those things, situations, processes, etc, that may cause harm, particularly to people. After identification is made, you analyse and evaluate how likely and severe the risk is. When this determination is made, you can next, decide what measures should be in place to effectively eliminate or control the harm from happening.

Time frame

Legally, businesses are required to review risk assessments regularly. Under the HSE’s guidance, most businesses review them once a year, but it is also essential to be sure that any changes in the workplace have not introduced new hazards or changed hazards that were once ranked as lower priority to a higher priority. Reviewing your assessments on a regular basis is imperative to make sure your control methods are still effective.

Response for change

In a ever changing work environment, you should always consider revising your risk assessments if any of the following changes are made to your business operations:

Accidents  Risk assessments must always be reviewed after an accident, incident or near miss, even if the assessment was recently reviewed. Accident and near-miss investigations are an opportunity to identify where weaknesses are so that you can re-assess the task and fill any gaps in your safety management.

New equipment  Risk assessments need to be reviewed in light of any new equipment or procedure adjustments so that hazards can be identified and control measures implemented.

Change of location/premises  Every work place is unique and although the actual work may be the same, the location may not be. A review will need to be conducted for a change of location or a one off working away from site.

New staff  An increase or decrease in staff will require a review, as will any new job roles/descriptions or change of responsibility to existing staff.

Legislation  Health and safety legislation is not static, particularly as new techniques, technology and work practices evolve. Regulations are constantly being reviewed, consulted on, and updated-your risk assessment reviews should reflect this.

Documentation  Make a record of significant findings (this is a legal requirement if you have five or more employees) – the hazards, how people might be harmed by them and the control measures in place to reduce the risks.

There is no legal time frame for when you should review your risk assessment. It is at your discretion to decide when a review is deemed necessary, but the risk assessment is a working document and, as your business experiences change, this information should be recorded and updated. For further information on how to review a risk assessment, please contact us here.