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Example risk assessment for an office-based business

Important reminder

This example risk assessment shows the kind of approach a small business might take. It can be used as a guide to think through some of the hazards in your business and the steps you need to take to control the risks. Please note that it is not a generic risk assessment that you can just put your company name on and adopt wholesale without any thought. This would not satisfy the law - and would not be effective in protecting people.

Every business is different - you need to think through the hazards and controls required in your business for yourself.

Setting the scene

The office manager carried out the risk assessment at this company, which provides management and financial consultancy services, and which leases two storeys of a ten-storey office block.

Eighteen staff work at the company, one is a wheelchair user. The offices contain typical office furniture and equipment. There is a staff kitchen, where drinks can be prepared and food heated, and toilet and washing facilities on each floor.

The offices are cleaned every evening by cleaners from a general office cleaning contractors. They store the cleaning materials in a locked cupboard.

The office block was built before 2000. The landlord has surveyed the building for the presence of asbestos and has shared the findings of this survey with all of the tenants. Asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) were found but were in good condition and in places they were not likely to be damaged, worked on or disturbed, so it was decided to leave them in place.

The office block is locked from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am Monday to Friday and at weekends, although 24 hour/7 days a week security cover is provided.

Although this example risk assessment is for an office-based business, it may equally be applied to any business that has office-based functions within it.

How was the risk assessment done?

The manager followed the guidance in Controlling the risks in the workplace.

  1. To identify the hazards, the manager:
    • looked at HSE’s office health and safety web pages, including the Officewise leaflet [withdrawn], to learn where hazards can occur, and at the disability and risk assessment web pages;
    • walked around the office, noting things that might pose a risk and taking into consideration what was learnt from HSE’s guidance;
    • talked to supervisors and staff, including the member of staff who is a wheelchair user, to learn from their knowledge and experience of areas and activities, and listen to their concerns and opinions about health and safety issues in the workplace;
    • talked to the office cleaning contractors, to ensure that the cleaning activities did not pose a risk to office staff, and vice-versa;
    • looked at the accident book, to understand what has previously resulted in incidents.
  2. The manager then wrote down who could be harmed by the hazards and how.
  3. For each hazard, the manager wrote down what controls, if any, were in place to manage these hazards. The manager then compared these controls to the good practice guidance provided in HSE’s office health and safety web pages. Where existing controls were not considered good enough, the manager wrote down what else needed to be done to control the risk.
  4. Putting the risk assessment into practice, the manager decided and recorded who was responsible for implementing the further actions and when they should be done. When each action was completed, it was ticked off and the date recorded. The manager pinned the risk assessment up in the staff room for all staff to see.
  5. At an office meeting, the office manager discussed the findings with the staff and gave out copies of the risk assessment. The manager decided to review and update the risk assessment every year, or straightaway if any major changes in the workplace happened.
Updated 2015-05-06