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11th July, 2017

When should a risk assessment be carried out?

As we have previously discussed, risk assessments are required by law, so it is important that they are carried out. But when should a risk assessment be carried out?

Let’s take a look at what the regulations say.

(1) Every employer (and (2) self-employed person) shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of—

(a)the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work; and

(b)the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking …

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

Looking at this requirement, a risk assessment should be carried out to make an assessment of the risk arising from work activities.

If you’re starting a new activity of process that has not been risk assessed, it makes sense that a risk assessment must be carried out to assess these risks and the controls needed.

What about if your work activity changes, or a new process is used.

Well, it is likely that some risks may have been eliminated, but new ones may also have been introduced.

Those risks have not been assessed.

And, since every employer and self-employed person must make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks, those new risks need to be assessed.

A risk assessment should be carried out for any activity or change to an activity that may have introduced new risks.

As the name suggests, a risk assessment is needed to assess those risks. This is so controls can be put in place to reduce the risk and protect the health and safety of the workforce and anyone else who is likely to be exposed to those risks.

You should also consider if a new risk assessment should be carried out, or at least reviewed when the type of person carrying out the activity changes. After all, step 2 in the 5 steps of risk assessment is to consider who might be harmed and how.

If the person is exposed is perhaps a young or inexperienced worker, disabled, pregnant or vulnerable, then the existing risk assessment may not be suitable and sufficient for that person.

If the risk levels change significantly, or if the existing risk assessment is no longer suitable and sufficient, then a new risk assessment should be carried out.

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