Identify the risks and hazards - Hazards

All hazards need to be considered in risk assessments. A hazard is anything with the potential to cause harm. A risk is the likelihood that someone could be harmed by a hazard, together with an indication of how serious the harm could be. The law doesn't require you to eliminate all risk, but you are required to protect people as far as is 'reasonably practicable'.

Identify Hazards in Your Workplace

The first stage of a risk assessment is to look for hazards. A hazard can be something easily seen, such as a trailing cable, a worn carpet or exposed wiring. Or it can be something less obvious - a slippery surface, for example.

It can be something general, such as poor lighting. Or it can be something specific to your business, such as the particular hazardous substances you use. A hazard can be something directly affecting your employees, such as exposure to bacteria - or something affecting the environment in general, such as your waste materials.

You should distinguish between:

  • workplace hazards, such as a workshop's layout
  • activity hazards, such as using grinding machinery in your workshop
  • environmental hazards, such as the dust created when using grinding machinery

When looking for hazards it can be helpful to:

  • walk around your business
  • talk to employees who may be more aware of your business' hazards than you
  • look at safety data sheets and manufacturers' instructions to identify potential problem areas
  • examine accident and health records to identify existing problem areas



Last Updated on Wednesday, May 8, 2024