In every workplace environment there is a fundamental and legal need for managing health and safety factors. This is carried out by trained and skilled occupational health and safety professionals. Training has many different levels leading up to the NEBOSH National Diploma. This is a qualification for those individuals following such a career and can lead to a consultancy position with an organisation. |
Risk assessments are required by law and are overseen by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (Management Regulations). If you are a business with five or more employees then you must record significant findings by law.
Risk assessment is often carried out on a day to day basis within an organisation by delegated individuals who have fulfilled the necessary training. Two terms are fundamental to the assessment - risk and hazard. A "hazard" is anything which has the potential to cause harm, and risk is the actual likelihood of that harm occurring. So in effect an assessor needs to recognise the hazard in the work environment, gauge the likelihood of a harmful incident occurring because of it, and decide what preventative action needs to be taken if it were to occur.
As can be expected by the above description, one of it's chief criticisms is it can be very subjective. This is where the need for health and safety training such as the NEBOSH National Diploma can be paramount. An occupational safety consultant within an organisation can help support employees carrying out risk assessments and monitor internally.
A simple risk level indicator is filled out and updated on a regular basis (usually once a month or when there is a significant change to the environment or the individual factor) to determine which areas need attention.
The table created is a matrix between highly likely and unlikely, slightly harmful and extremely harmful and whether the risk is trivial, moderate, tolerable or substantial. On completing the assessment it is important to put your results into practice. Within your action plan the assessor needs to prioritise which factors are the most important. The record must be kept up to date and also the precautions that have been put in place must be monitored regularly to ensure they are still effective.
Risk assessment can be carried out by a delegated member of staff who has been trained by a superior member of staff to process it, or someone who has attended basic health and safety training. But risk assessment is only a minor part of the health and safety arena. As stated earlier, employees wishing to follow a career in occupational health and safety can attend in house training for their industry. Further qualifications can be attained for nationally recognised bodies such as NEBOSH.
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