A risk assessment is a process by which a work site is evaluated for safety. It should be done before work commences by a competent, qualified, non-biased person. There are usually five steps to a risk assessment.
Identify the hazards:
A hazard is anything that can cause harm. It can be a chemical, electricity, falling objects, heights which can lead to falls, wet floors which can lead to slipping, etc. Identifying a hazard is not difficult and can be done by most competent workers with an open mind.
Walk around and look. Imagine the place once workers arrive. What will they be doing? Where will they be walking?
Check all the equipment that will be used, e.g. ladders, electrical, scafolding, etc.
Ask the workers if they can identify any risks.
Decide what kind of harm, and to whom, these hazards might inflict:
Keep in mind young and inexperienced workers. Have they been trained properly? Have they been paired up with a more experienced worker?
Will anyone else, such as visitors, contractors, be visiting the site?
Is the area open to the public either during the work being carried out or after hours?
Evaluate the risks found then devise precautions to be taken:
What is the best way to totally eliminate a risk?
If it can only be reduced what methods can be used to achieve this? E.g. provide hand rails if there is a risk of falling, issue more appropriate protective equipment, provide training.
Implement the precautions decided upon and record what has been done:
Make the changes that you decided, then record them accurately for future reference.
Share this information with the workers.
Because work environments change, sometimes daily, risk assessments need to be done regularly.
A danger that was not there yesterday might have presented itself today.
Other things to consider:
If something is beyond your scope of expertise additional consultation should be explored.
Accept feedback openly from workers as they are the ones directly involved in what is going on day to day and may notice things you donít.