Monitoring and reviewing H&S risk assessments
Written by Phoenix Health & Safety
15th May 2019
How health and safety risk assessments are monitored and reviewed
So you've conducted a health and safety assessment of your workplace and created a health and safety policy for the business. You're entitled to feel relieved; pleased that you've done all you need to comply with the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASAWA).
But of course life is never that simple. It's essential to not just make an assessment, but to keep the assessment up to date. That means constant monitoring and regular reviews, because if something significant has changed since the assessment, it may no longer be valid.
And that can put your people at risk and leave the business vulnerable to serious legal problems (who ever heard of non-serious legal problems?). So what sort of changes matter? Here are the likeliest examples.
If someone has joined the business since the assessment, they'll be less familiar with processes, procedures and the environment, which changes the level of risk as originally assessed - even if they've undergone full training.
New equipment or space
Replacing an existing piece of equipment or machinery, introducing something new or opening up a new part of your premises? At very least this means considering whether a risk reassessment is necessary.
An accident or incident
If an accident or health and safety related incident takes place, it's a sign that the risk controls in place have somehow fallen short. Cue for an immediate rethink and a careful analysis of what went wrong and why. And it's wise to define "incident" in the widest possible terms.
Has there been a "near miss", an accident that could have happened but didn't? Or did something relatively minor happen that could have been much more serious? The focus of the reassessment is "how can we prevent this happening in the future, could it have been worse, and what needs to change?". This may mean talking to health and safety experts, such as the Phoenix team, to be sure about where you stand legally.
Listen to your people
Senior management is often slightly out of touch from the everyday reality of a workplace. As a result, the people on the shop floor are likely to be the first to notice a potential health and safety problem or an increase in risk levels. A blocked fire exit or some exposed wiring for example. Is there a glitch in a process or a machine on the blink? Is a member of the workforce under stress or suffering from a work-related health problem? Management are often the last people to know.
Asking the right questions, encouraging a culture in which everything can be discussed, and listening carefully and sympathetically to concerns is crucial - and many of the higher level courses available from Phoenix are about creating the right culture rather just knowing the rules. If it can prevent someone coming to harm, or avoid a major financial loss to the business, that has to be worthwhile.
Regulations and laws change all the time
Even minor additions to or rewording of the many health and safety laws and regulations can mean you need to reassess risk and change your health and safety policy. And such changes are anything but infrequent. Having experts such as the Phoenix team on hand to alert you can make all the difference.
Review regularly even if nothing has changed or gone wrong
Most organisations run on a cycle of annual reviews - salaries, staff performance etc. So why not schedule risk assessment reviews in the same way? As Queen Elizabeth I reputedly said about baths "I have one every year whether I need it or not".
Do you feel you may need a professional risk assessment? Perhaps you're wondering if a health and safety course is advisable? Please don't hesitate to talk to the expert Phoenix team for free, no obligation advice.