Assessing the level of risk
The level of risk arising from the work activity should determine how sophisticated the risk assessment needs to be.
For small businesses, with few or simple risks, a suitable and sufficient risk assessment can be a very straightforward process based on informed judgement and using appropriate guidance. There is more advice in Health and safety made simple: The basics for your business.
Medium-sized businesses or those with greater risks
In these cases, the risk assessment will need to be more sophisticated. You may need specialist advice for some areas of the assessment, for example:
- risks requiring specialist knowledge, eg a particularly complex process or technique
- risks needing specialist analytical techniques, eg being able to measure air quality and to assess its impact
Large and high-hazard sites
These sites will require the most developed and sophisticated risk assessments.
For manufacturing sites using or storing bulk hazardous substances, large-scale mineral extraction or nuclear plant, the risk assessment will be a significant part of the legally required safety case or report, and may incorporate such techniques as quantified risk assessment.
Other statutory requirements, eg the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations (COMAH) and nuclear installations licensing arrangements, include more specific and detailed arrangements for risk assessment.
When considering risk controls, discuss the issues with your workers and think about what is already being done, then compare it with the industry standard. For example, this could be industry-specific advice from HSE, an employer body, a trade association, a trade union or a safety organisation.
The risk assessment might have to concentrate more on the broad range of risks that can be foreseen:
- where the nature of the work may change fairly frequently or the workplace itself changes and develops (such as a construction site)
- where workers move from site to site
Recording your findings
Record the significant findings. These should include a record of the preventive and protective measures in place to control the risks, and what further action, if any, needs to be taken to reduce risk sufficiently, for example health surveillance.
If you have fewer than five employees you don’t have to write anything down.