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What is the five-point HSE plan for carrying out a health and safety assessment?

As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure employees work in an environment where hazards are minimised and their safety is prioritised. The Management of Health and Safety Regulations 1999 dictate that you must identify the hazards, understand the risk posed and take actions to minimise this. To do so, we recommend you perform a risk assessment covering the 5 points specified by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

These are:

  • Identify the hazards

Take a walk around your workplace and visually identify the hazards posed. These can be as simple as wires that haven’t been securely fastened and could cause trips through to exposure to chemicals in specific environments. Talk to your employees and ask for their opinion – remember they are the people who spend the most time in these settings so will have an in-depth understanding of risks.

It’s also worth reading the guidance available on the HSE’s website and speak to any trade associations for their professional opinion. If you work with specialist equipment or use chemicals on a regular basis, many of these come with the manufacturer’s instructions. These will highlight the potential risks along with suggestions on how to minimise them. Consider long-term hazards too such as extended exposure or technological difficulties.

  • Decide who might be harmed and how

Once you’ve written down the potential hazards faced in the workplace, you need to identify who is most at risk. Think in terms of people groupings, such as the elderly, young or pregnant women. These people are particularly at risk in many scenarios. Understanding the circumstances that cause certain people to be at risk will give a clearer understanding of how this harm can occur. And, therefore, how best to minimise the risk too.

  • Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions

Once hazards have been identified, come up with the ways in which the risk can be minimised. Think about whether the hazard can be eliminated entirely and how? In many situations, the risk is posed by factors that are essential to business life. Here, you’ll need to consider what actions can be taken to minimise the risk as much as possible.

An example would be on a building site where working at height is essential to completing a project. Here, the use of PPE is a reasonable precaution to minimise the risk of specific hazards and protect the safety of employees. Or to combat the ever-present risk of fires in office buildings, ensuring that fire doors remain unblocked and easily accessible minimises the risk of accidents in the event of an emergency.

  • Record findings and implement them

It’s important to make a record of the hazards and risks you’ve identified, along with the precautions suggested to minimise them. This process is normally collaborative and will need to be assessed later on down the line. Having an accurate recording of your risk assessment findings allows others to continue making informed decisions for your business.

There is no specified layout for this. Just ensure the information is clear, detailed and easily accessible by those who will need it.

  • Review risk assessment and update, if necessary

As we mentioned above, risk assessments will need to be reviewed on a regular basis. This is to accommodate emerging technology, changing business direction and growing employee numbers. Set an appointed time frame for readdressing these issues and make sure the information recorded is updated in line with this.

If you would like more information about risk assessments or how safety signs can help to minimise hazards, contact the team at Lasting Impressions today.