Identify the hazards
One of the most important aspects of your risk assessment is accurately identifying the potential hazards in your workplace. A good starting point is to walk around your workplace and think about any hazards. In other words, what is it about the activities, processes or substances used that could injure your employees or harm their health?
When you work in a place everyday it is easy to overlook some hazards, so here are some tips to help you identify the ones that matter:
- Check manufacturers' instructions or data sheets for chemicals and equipment as they can be very helpful in spelling out the hazards and putting them in their true perspective
- Look back at your accident and ill-health records - these often help to identify the less obvious hazards
- Take account of non-routine operations (eg maintenance, cleaning operations or changes in production cycles)
- Remember to think about long-term hazards to health (e.g. high levels of noise, exposure to harmful substances, common causes of work-related mental ill health)
- Visit the HSE website. HSE publishes practical guidance on hazards and how to control them
There are some hazards with a recognised risk of physical harm, for example working at height, working with chemicals, machinery, asbestos and of work-related mental ill-health e.g. where demands, control and support for individuals are not properly managed in the workplace. Depending on the type of work you do, there may be other hazards that are relevant to your business.