Managing Risk: From Assessment to Control. Bringing your Risk Assessment to Life!

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Guest article from Great Britain's regulator, the Health and Safety Executive.

As an employer, you're required by law to protect your employees, and others, from harm. Effective risk management systems allow an organisation, large or small, to meet its legal requirements in protecting workers by not only identifying risk but putting in place measures to ensure adequate risk controls. Too often risk assessment becomes a tick-box exercise but it's vitally important that the organisation is mindful of the risks that are identified and takes ongoing action to monitor and manage them. This strong focus on worker health and safety, in turn, benefits organisational performance.

Health and safety management should be a key element of your organisational management system. It involves practical steps that protect people from harm and at the same time enable the future success and the growth of your business. Risk Assessment in an essential part of the overall process used to control risks in your workplace. But don’t be tempted to stop there! It’s important to systematically consider your workplace risks but it’s equally important to then go on to put comprehensive measures in place to control them. You also need to make sure that you monitor them on a regular basis to provide confidence that they remain under control and to consider whether any new risks have been introduced. In summary the process should comprise the following steps:

  • Identify hazards
  • Assess the risks
  • Control the risks
  • Record your findings
  • Review the controls

You're not expected to eliminate every single individual risk but you need to prioritise your workplace risks and to demonstrate that you have done everything that is 'reasonably practicable' to protect people from harm. This means balancing the level of risk against the measures needed to control the real risk in terms of money, time or effort.

HSE have interpreted regulations and provided organisations with some practical guidance that they can use to help build a risk management programme:

  • All guidance is included on the HSE website risk assessment pages.
    - More detailed guidance for businesses on controlling the risks of a wide range of specific hazards can be found on The health and safety toolbox: How to control risks at work web pages (a printed version is also available).
    - Advice for employers in larger and higher-risk businesses and organisations can be found in Managing for health and safety (HSG65).
    - Employers in major hazard industries (COMAH) require more detailed arrangements for managing risks.
  • The Official HSE Health and Safety app for SMEs provides guidance at your fingertips. The app contains guidance from the website, The Health and Safety Toolbox publication (HSG 268), A guide to managing risk, and a section on work-related stress using HSE's stress management standards approach.
  • HSE also offer training courses, developed in-house to give further guidance for organisations, which offers the opportunity to engage with experts through online or face to face learning.
    - Our HSE Inspectors' Guide to Risk Management: Risk Assessment and Control training course is being delivered live online presently, presented by a senior HSE inspector with over 25 years experience.
    - In April 2021 we launched a new qualification, developed collaboratively with NEBOSH. The NEBOSH HSE Award in Managing Risks and Risk Assessment at Work is an introductory level qualification structured around HSE’s approach to controlling the risks caused by workplace hazards. This new course outlines the changes of emphasis within HSE guidance from Risk Assessment to Risk Control. It is designed to encourage organisiations to establish a culture which focuses on the whole process of proactively managing workplace risk, not just on the risk assessment activity alone.
  • Join us on 25 May when we are offering a free webinar to organisations looking to understand and control different types of risks in their workplaces. Managing Risk: From Assessment to Control. Bringing your Risk Assessment to Life will feature a panel of experts from HSE including HM Health and Safety Inspectors, and a representative from NEBOSH who will discuss current guidance and principles in tackling risk. We'll be taking questions and highlighting resources, products and services that can help you build a successful risk management programme that protects employees from harm.

At whatever stage of your risk management programme you are, and whatever the size of your organisation is, whatever industry you work in, HSE aim to help you control the risks in your workplace.