Introduction

Risk assessments are an essential tool for occupational health and safety management. They give an idea of potential hazards and help prioritise the actions that are required to reduce or eliminate risks.

Other requirements for risk assessment come under various forms of health and safety legislation, of which some of the subject areas are listed here:

  • Access and egress
  • Asbestos
  • Control of substances hazardous to health
  • DSE (computer work stations)
  • Fire protection
  • Lead
  • Manual Handling
  • New & Expectant Mothers (Pregnancy)
  • Noise
  • Radiation (ionising and non-ionising) & nuclear facilities
  • Stress
  • Vibration

Legal Requirements

Employers have a legal obligation to protect their health and safety and that of their employees, as set out in the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and explicit duties under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, to risk assess their premises and processes, as set out below:

  • Assess the risks to the health and safety of their employees while they are at work (regulation 3)
  • Assess the risks posed to new and expectant mothers within the workplace (regulations 16 - 18)
  • Assess the risks posed to young people within the workplace (regulations 3(4) and 3(5), 19)
  • Take appropriate measures to eliminate or reduce the highlighted risks (regulation 4)

Legislation governing the areas listed in the introduction section should also be consulted.

Some aspects of risk assessments can be perceived as being specialist technical areas, or even too time consuming to carry out in-house. All Safe OH & S are able to provide consultancy services to review or carry out risk assessments.

Two of the most commonly asked for risk assessments in an occupational health setting are described below:

DSE Workstation Assessments

Introduction

For those working in an office environment, computer workstations that are incorrectly set up for their users can cause problems with musculoskeletal disorders, fatigue and stress. Employers have obligations as set out within the Display Screen Equipment (DSE) Regulating 1992, as amended 2002. These include conducting DSE workstation assessments and the provision of free eye tests at the request of employees.

What's Involved?

Computer workstation assessments look at the following factors:

  • Equipment
  • Environment
  • Computer & user interface
  • Meetings with managers or supervisors if applicable
  • Any special requirements resulting from the user's health status
  • Advice regarding reasonable adjustments
  • Advice about the applicability of the Disability Discrimination Act

An assessment can take between 45 minutes and one hour. It is essential that the person using the workstation is present at the time of the assessment, otherwise full ergonomic considerations cannot be taken into account.

Once the assessment has been carried out, a detailed report is generated and both the employer and employee are given sent a copy of the report.

New & Expectant Mothers' Risk Assessments

Introduction

Around 350,000 women continue to work during their pregnancy every year and of those, 69% return to work after giving birth (TUC 2005). The duty of employers to protect new and expectant mothers is given in the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999, regulations 16 - 18. Here an employer is required to identify and protect new and expectant mothers from any processes or working conditions that could cause harm. Risk assessment is an essential tool to comply with the above legislation.

Legal Requirements

  • The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 include regulations that protect the health and safety of new and expectant mothers who work.
  • Under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, if an employer fails to protect the health and safety of their pregnant workers, it is automatically considered sex discrimination.

What's Involved?

The Occupational Health Advisor can come onto the company premises and conduct a face-to-face new & expectant mothers' risk assessment, This can take between 45 minutes and one hour. For office based employees a DSE workstation assessment is usually carried out at the same time. The new & expectant mothers' assessment will follow the guidelines set out by the HSE taking into account general workplace risks, risks of infection and any other issues raised by the employee and her manager. A copy of the report generated will be given to the employee as well as the nominated person within her company.

 

Risk Assessment services are client specific and further details can be obtained on an individual company basis by contacting us.

 

Please contact us for further information and pricing

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