In every workplace new risks associated with materials, processes and products need to be properly anticipated, recognized, evaluated and controlled. Article 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Law, 1989, sets out the general duty on employers to ensure their employees are not exposed to risks to health and safety; Article 5 sets out the general duty placed on employers to ensure that persons other than their employees are not exposed to risks to their health and safety.

Although there are number of alternative approaches to risk assessment that have been developed, the 5 step approach is generally recommended as being appropriate for most organizations. After deciding the person who should do the risk assessment, which is normally a person who has a sound knowledge about the workplace and operations.

The first step of risk assessment, the hazards must be identified with the base documents such as health and safety publications, manufacturers and supplier’s data sheets or instructions, safety information from professional bodies and associations, accident record books and in consultation with the employees. The framework of hazard categories such as catastrophic, critical, marginal and negligible; must be used in any situation where death, system loss, or property, equipment or environmental damage is a concern. The criteria for defining hazard probability must be established. These two criteria must be carried out in a semi quantitative way for attending the hazard upon the prioritization.

As a second step, decide who might be harmed and how including all the employees, sub contractors, delivery personnel, maintenance personnel, members of the public and other visitors.

As the third step, evaluate the risks by checking the legal compliance and the differences in the present practices. If there is something needs to be done, remove the hazard by using something safer, prevent access to the hazard, reduce exposure, use personal protective equipment and provide welfare facilities.

As the fourth step, keep a record of the assessment of significant risks and the action taken to address them which can be retained for future reference or use.

And as the last step, when you introduce a new machine, substance or procedure or workers, review and revise the assessment as necessary. While the risk assessment is carried out, the existing controls and their effectiveness must be checked thoroughly to decide on the need of the further controls, set the priority and appoint the responsible person to carry out the activity. Get the risk assessment document signed by the authority carried out the activity, and the significant findings of the risk assessment must be shared with the employees involved.

Article written by

Ananth Tamilmaniarasu, 

HSE Trainer & Consultant,

Green World Group,Dubai.

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