The main aim is to make sure that no one gets hurt or becomes ill. Accidents and ill health can ruin lives, and can also affect business if output is lost, machinery is damaged, insurance costs increase, or if you have to go to court. Therefore, carrying out Risk Assessments, preparing and implementing a Safety Statement and keeping both up to date will not in themselves prevent accidents and ill health but they will play a crucial part in reducing their likelihood.
Section 19 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 requires that employers and those who control workplaces to any extent must identify the hazards in the workplaces under their control and assess the risks to safety and health at work presented by these hazards.
What is a risk assessment?
Employers must examine and write down these workplace risks and what to do about them. Ultimately, assessing risk means that anything in the workplace that could cause harm to your employees, other employees and other people (including customers, visitors and members of the public) must be carefully examined. This allows you to estimate the magnitude of risk and decide whether the risk is acceptable or whether more precautions need to be taken to prevent harm.
Employers are required to implement any improvements considered necessary by the risk assessment. The aim is to ensure that no one gets hurt or becomes ill.
However, it is important to remember that, in identifying hazards and assessing risks, employers should only consider those which are generated by work activities. There is no need to consider every minor hazard or risk that we accept as part of our lives.
The results of any Risk Assessments should be written into the Safety Statement.
Why it is important to carry out a risk assessment and prepare a safety statement?
Employers, managers and supervisors should all ensure that workplace practices reflect the Risk Assessments and Safety Statement. Behaviour, the way in which everyone works, must reflect the safe working practices laid down in these documents. Supervisory checks and audits should be carried out to determine how well the aims set down are being achieved. Corrective action should be taken when required. Additionally, if a workplace is provided for use by others, the Safety Statement must also set out the safe work practices that are relevant to them.
Hence, it is important to carry out a Risk Assessment and prepare a Safety Statement for:
1. Financial reasons:
There is considerable evidence, borne out by companies’ practical experiences, that effective safety and health management in the workplace contributes to business success. Accidents and ill-health inflict significant costs, often hidden and underestimated.
2. Legal reasons:
Carrying out a Risk Assessment, preparing a Safety Statement and implementing what you have written down are not only central to any safety and health management system, they are required by law. Health and Safety Authority inspectors visiting workplaces will want to know how employers are managing safety and health. If they investigate an accident, they will scrutinise the Risk Assessment and Safety Statement, and the procedures and work practices in use. It should be ensured that these stand up to examination. If the inspector finds that one of these is inadequate, he or she can ask the employer to revise it. Employers can be prosecuted if they do not have a Safety Statement.
3. Moral and ethical reasons:
The process of carrying out a Risk Assessment, preparing a Safety Statement and implementing what you have written down will help employers prevent injuries and ill-health at work. Employers are ethically bound to do all they can to ensure that their employees do not suffer illness, a serious accident or death.