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Risk management (HSE guidance)

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The Law places duties on those people who create the risks to manage them. Risk management includes identifying and assessing the risks, then controlling the most serious risks and reducing them to an acceptable level.

  • Sensible risk management

    • Risk management is about taking practical steps to protect people from real harm and suffering - not bureaucratic back covering. Taking a sensible approach to risk management is about:
      • ensuring that workers and the public are properly protected
      • enabling innovation and learning not stifling them
      • ensuring that those who create risks manage them responsibly and understand that failure to manage significant risks responsibly is likely to lead to robust action
      • providing overall benefit to society by balancing benefits and risks, with a focus on reducing significant risks - both those which arise more often and those with serious consequences
      • enabling individuals to understand that as well as the right to protection, they also have to exercise responsibility
    • It is not about:
      • reducing protection of people from risks that cause real harm
      • scaring people by exaggerating or publicising trivial risks
      • stopping important recreational and learning activities for individuals where the risks are managed
      • creating a totally risk-free society
      • generating useless paperwork mountains
    • If you believe some of the stories you hear, health and safety is all about stopping any activity that might possibly lead to harm. This is not our vision of sensible health and safety - we want to save lives, not stop them.
  • Risk assessment

    • You should carry out an assessment before you do work which presents a risk of injury or ill health.
    • You only need to do a risk assessment if you are an employer or a self-employed person.
    • To do a risk assessment, you need to understand what, in your business, might cause harm to people and decide whether you are doing enough to prevent that harm. Once you have decided that, you need to identify and prioritise putting in place, appropriate and sensible control measures.
    • Start by:
      • identifying what can harm people in your workplace
      • identifying who might be harmed and how
      • evaluating the risks and deciding on the appropriate controls, taking into account the controls you already have in place
      • recording your risk assessment
      • reviewing and updating your assessment
    • Please see the Download: 5 Steps to Risk Assessment.
    • This is not the only way to do risk assessment as there are no fixed rules about how a risk assessment should be carried out. However, we believe that the 5 steps guidance provides the most straightforward way for most businesses.
  • What should be included in a risk assessment?

    • Your risk assessment should include consideration of what in your business might cause harm and how and, the people who might be affected. It should take into account any controls which are already in place and identify what, if any, further controls are required.
    • You should be able to show from your assessment that:
      • a proper check was made
      • all people who might be affected were considered
      • all significant risks have been assessed
      • the precautions are reasonable
      • the remaining risk is low
  • Who is at risk?

    • Your risk assessment should cover all groups of people who might be harmed by your business. 
      • Think about workers affected because of risks associated with the particular jobs they do, such as setting, production and breakdown/repair and maintenance. Contractors and shift-workers may not be familiar with what you do and the controls you have in place
      • Think about new and young workers and migrant workers. They may be inexperienced, and/or lack maturity/ experience to recognise risks. They may not be familiar with your workplace culture - what is and what isn't acceptable
      • Think about workers with poor literacy skills and both migrant and indigenous workers. If staff can't read, write or add up, this can affect their ability to read, understand and follow guidance and instructions
      • Think about new or expectant mothers and young people who may be more prone to health-related risks (physical, biological or chemical risks)
      • Think about people with disabilities whose disability may mean that reasonable adjustments are needed to enable them to do the work and minimise risks
      • Additionally, think about any other groups, such as members of the public and groups of people who share your workplace.
    • Your staff will be able to help you decide if there is anyone else you need to consider.
  • Keeping records of risk assessments

    • You do not need to include insignificant risks. You do not need to include risks from everyday life unless your work activities increase the risk.
    • Any paperwork that is produced should help with communicating and managing the risks in your business.
You do not need to include insignificant risks. You do not need to include risks from everyday life unless your work activities increase the risk.


5 Steps to Risk Assessment

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