Evaluate The Risks


Once you have identified the hazards, you need to decide what to do about them. You should think about what controls you already have in place, and how the work is organised. You should then consider if there is anything more you should be doing.

You'll need to prioritise the hazards you deal with. Consider your existing precautions and decide whether the remaining risk of harm from a hazard is high, medium or low.

If you decide that it is low, then your existing precautions are likely to be adequate. If you decide it is high or medium, it is likely that you need to take further steps to lower the risk. Remember that when evaluating risks you should pay particular attention to the following key areas:

  • Vulnerable groups such as disabled people, trainees, those working on their own and expectant mothers.
  • Visitors - for example, cleaning and maintenance contractors, suppliers, customers and members of the public who share or pass through your premises.
  • The wider environment - for instance, your local community could be harmed by poor waste management practices, eg by pouring chemicals down a drain. Such activities may also be illegal.

Take Steps to Control Workplace Risks

You are not expected to eliminate all risk, but you are required to protect people as far as 'reasonably practicable'. This could mean, for example:

  • replacing old cabling
  • replacing hazardous materials with less harmful ones
  • changing behaviour or work practices
  • changing workplace layouts or lighting systems

Think about whether you can:

  • lower the quantities of the hazardous item
  • reduce the number of people exposed to hazards
  • decrease the time that people are exposed to hazards
  • isolate the hazard
  • introduce equipment to control the hazard
  • introduce better working practices and systems
  • issue protective equipment or clothing

You can also consider improving communication in the workplace and developing better training procedures. If your industry has a trade association, it may provide guidelines on safety issues relevant to your business.

Leaflets on hazards and best practice control measures are available from the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) Website.