A robust risk assessment process is a foundation part of your Safety Management System. This FAQ looks at some basic questions you may have.
What is a risk assessment?
A risk assessment is a systematic process of identifying, evaluating, and controlling hazards or potential hazards in a workplace. The aim is to minimize the likelihood of the hazard causing harm and limit the consequences if harm does happen.
A useful risk assessment will look at all areas of the hazard, including its potential impact on employees, customers, and other stakeholders.
Who is responsible for conducting a risk assessment?
Health and Safety legislation in Australia places the ultimate responsibility for health and safety on the “Person Conducting the Business or Undertaking” or PCBU. This reflects the varied nature of businesses. Examples of PCBUs include:
- The owner of a Sole Trader business
- The partners in a partnership
- The board of a company
This doesn’t mean they have to do everything themselves, just that they need to make sure it is done.
Managing risk is a key responsibility of the PCBU. They are responsible for a proper system being in place and ensuring that it is regularly reviewed and updated as necessary.
How often should a risk assessment be conducted?
A risk assessment should be reviewed and updated regularly, at least once a year, or whenever there is a significant change in the workplace that could affect health and safety.
Why is a risk assessment important in an office environment?
A risk assessment is important in an office environment as it helps to ensure the safety and well-being of employees and visitors. It also helps the organization comply with workplace health and safety regulations and meet its legal obligations.
It can be easy to think that there are no real hazards in an office, but this is generally not the case. They may not present an obvious level of risk as a large piece of machinery or plant, but hazards such as poor ergonomics or lighting can have a major long term impact, if not managed properly.
What hazards should be considered in an office environment?
Common hazards in an office environment include:
- ergonomic risk factors, such as prolonged computer use,
- electrical hazards,
- fire hazards,
- Psychosocial hazards such as bullying or harrassment; and
- slip, trip, and fall hazards.
How can employees contribute to the risk assessment process?
Employees can contribute to the risk assessment process by reporting hazards or potential hazards, providing feedback on the effectiveness of current controls, and suggesting additional controls.
What are the steps involved in conducting a risk assessment?
The steps involved in conducting a risk assessment include:
- Identifying the hazards
- Evaluating the risks associated with each hazard
- Determining control measures to eliminate or minimize the risks
- Implementing and maintaining the control measures
- Reviewing and updating the risk assessment regularly.
How can the risk assessment findings be communicated to employees?
The risk assessment findings can be communicated to employees through regular safety meetings, training sessions, posters, and notices displayed in the workplace. The findings can also be included in the organization’s health and safety policy and procedures.