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Why do we have risk assessments in the workplace?

Written by Phoenix Health & Safety
10th May 2019
Risk Assessment

The short answer is "because it's every employer's duty".
Being an employer is about much more than just obeying the letter of the law, of course. You also want to make your workforce as productive as possible. And you need to attract talented people by being a good place to work.

Nevertheless, the bottom line is that employers have a legal obligation to manage health and safety in the workplace. That means controlling risk. And risks can only be controlled once they have been identified and quantified.   

That’s why it’s the responsibility of every employer to conduct a health and safety risk assessment. Defining the hazards present in the workplace so that action can be taken to manage them. 

Does the risk assessment need to be in writing? 

The law is crystal clear on this point. Businesses with five or more employees must not only conduct a risk assessment, but also record the findings in a written report.  

Organisations with fewer than five employees are still required to assess the risks in the workplace. There's no obligation to write the results down, but there's a strong case for doing it anyway. Creating a written report clarifies matters, focuses minds and makes it much easier to update the assessment when things change. If a new process or fresh equipment is introduced for example. 

Self-assess or call in the experts?

If you are confident you understand the risks in your workplace, you can conduct your own workplace risk assessment. But if you’re in any doubt about any aspect of the assessment or the level of risk, it’s wise to call in the experts. Conducting expert risk assessments is a key aspect of the service available from Phoenix.  

Before deciding whether you need expert advice, consider the worst case scenario. Imagine finding yourself in court because of a Health and Safety incident in your workplace. That's when an inaccurate or incomplete risk assessment can cost you a big fine, and perhaps even close the business down.  

If you need to conduct a risk assessment or are not sure the one you have in place is fit for purpose, don’t hesitate to contact the Phoenix team for free, no obligation advice.