You must manage the health and safety risks in your workplace. To do this you need to think about what, in your business, might cause harm to people and decide whether you are doing enough to prevent that harm. This is known as a risk assessment.
A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace. The law does not expect you to remove all risks, but to protect people by putting in place measures to control those risks. You are probably already taking steps to protect your employees, but your risk assessment will tell you whether you should be doing more.
How do I assess the risks in my workplace?
A good starting point is to walk around your workplace and look for any hazards - a hazard is anything that has the potential to cause harm. Then think about the risks - a risk is the chance, high or low, of somebody being harmed by the hazard, and how serious the harm could be. Think about how accidents could happen and who might be harmed. Ask your employees what they think the hazards are, as they may notice things that are not obvious to you and may have some good ideas on how to control the risks.
Concentrate on the real risks - those that are most likely to cause harm. Consider the measures you are already taking to control the risks and ask if there is anything you should do to make your workplace safer. Once you have identified the risks and what you need to do to control them, you should put the appropriate measures in place.
Then record your findings. If you have fewer than five employees you don't have to write anything down but it is good practice to keep a record. An easy way to record your findings is to use the risk assessment template.
Few workplaces stay the same and sooner or later you will bring in new equipment, substances or procedures that could lead to new hazards. It makes sense to review your risk assessment on a regular basis. If anything significant changes, check your risk assessment and update it.