What should I consider when doing a health and safety review?

All the risk factors to consider when performing your Health and safety review

Contents

The effectiveness of a risk assessment is dependent on carefully reviewing a workplace, recognising the problems and having enough knowledge to come to a sensible plan, and subsequently putting it into effect. Employers should always take the following actions, regardless of all other considerations:

• Provide adequate control of the health and safety risks

• Consult with employees on matters affecting their health and safety

• Provide and maintain safe plant and equipment

• Ensure safe handing and use of substances

• Provide information, instruction, supervision and training so that employees are competent to carry out their role

• Review and revise all these policies regularly.

More specifically, an employer should consider the following issues, and make plans to deal with any issues:

Slips and trips

• Do you have floors which can be slippery?

• Does spillage occur and is it dealt with quickly?

• Do people use unlit areas in the dark?

• Do you use floor cleaning materials anywhere? Are the right methods and materials being used?

Asbestos

• Do you know whether there is asbestos in your premises?

• Do you know whether there is asbestos in any of the materials you work with?

Hazardous substances

• Do you use chemicals at work (including cleaning materials)?

• Do you know suppliers of hazardous substances have to provide information to users, including safety data sheets and proper labelling?

• Are dust or fumes present in your workplace?

Working at height

• Do you carry out simple maintenance or cleaning tasks that require working where you could hurt yourself if you fell?

• Do you have the most appropriate equipment for the job?

• Is the equipment you have well maintained and do your employees know how to use it safely?

Sprains, strains and pains

• Does your work include strenuous lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, reaching or repetitive handling?

• Do you have repetitive finger, hand or arm movements which are frequent, forceful or awkward?

• Does your work involve twisting, squeezing, hammering or pounding?

Computers and other VDUs

• Is there regular use of display screens as a significant part of the work?

• Does anyone use a keyboard, mouse or other input device?

Excessive noise

• Are there times when the workplace is so noisy that people have to shout to each other at normal speaking distance to make themselves heard?

• Are noisy powered tools or machinery in use for at least part of the day?

• Are there noisy bangs from hammering, explosive or impact tools, or guns?

• Are there areas where noise could interfere with warning and danger signals?

Vibration

• Does anyone work with hand-held and hand-guided tools and machines such as concrete breakers and vibrating compactor plates and workpieces such as castings which are held against powered machinery such as pedestal grinders?

• Does anyone often drive off-road machinery such as tractors, dumper trucks or excavators or unsuspended vehicles such as fork-lift trucks?

Electrical risks

• Does anyone do electrical work in your business?

• Is your electrical equipment in good working order?

• Do you choose equipment that is suitable for its working environment, e.g. waterproof or dustproof?

• Do you dig in the street, pavement or near buildings?

• Do you work near or under overhead power lines?

Work equipment

• Do you use ladders or other equipment for working at heights? For example, it may often be safer to use an access tower or mobile elevating work platform than a ladder.

• Do you have machinery of any kind? You need to guard the parts that could cause injury; have the right controls, especially for starting and stopping; clean, or clear blockages in a safe way; and carry out preventive checks, maintenance and inspection.

• Are hand tools used in your workplace, e.g. screwdrivers, knives, hand saws, meat cleavers, hammers?

• Do you have lifting equipment such as pulley blocks, cranes, and lift trucks? Most lifting equipment will require regular thorough examination by a competent person.

Maintenance and building work

• Does anyone ever have to work on the roof, at a height or on fragile materials?

• Does anyone have to fault find and repair machinery or equipment when it breaks down?

• Is there a tank, pit, silo or similar confined space into which someone might go – and would you know if they did?

• Have you found out whether there is any asbestos in your buildings or plant which could be disturbed during maintenance or alterations?

Risks from transport

• Do you have vehicles in operation at your workplace?

• If so what kinds of vehicles are they?

• Are pedestrians separated from vehicle movements as much as possible?

• Are traffic routes suitable for the vehicles which have to use them?

• Are they clearly marked?

• Do you know who is allowed to drive or operate the vehicles?

• Are loading and unloading operations carried out safely?

• Do you actively control driving behaviour?

• Are all vehicles properly maintained?

Pressure systems

• Do you have any pressure systems or equipment in your business that contains a fluid under pressure?

• Do you ensure your pressure systems have been designed, installed, maintained and periodically examined so as to prevent danger?

Fire explosion

• Do you keep or use flammable substances?

• Do you use or store gas in cylinders

• Do you work with flammable dusts?

• Do you work with plastic foams or polyester wadding

• Do you spray flammable paints?

• Do you know the dangers of putting flammable liquids on fires to make them burn more intensely?

• Do you use oxygen for welding?

Harmful radiation

• Do people in your business spend a lot of time working outdoors?

• Do you have equipment which gives off ultra-violet radiation, e.g. for curing plastics or inks?

• Do you work with lasers?

• Is your business in an area where levels of radon are higher than average?

• Are any radioactive sources used in your business brought in by a specialist contractor, or do you transport them?

• Is X-ray equipment used?

Stress

• Do you have a high staff turnover, low productivity or low morale?

• Have you noticed bullying, changes in behaviour, staff working late or increased sickness absence?

• Do your employees seem happy to come into work?

• Are you aware that there are individual differences in vulnerability to stress and that situations outside work can also affect the ability to cope with excessive pressure at work?

Accidents at work

• Do you have at least the minimum first-aid provision at your workplace?

• As an employer you must provide first-aid equipment, facilities and personnel appropriate for the circumstances in your workplace. The minimum would be a suitably stocked first-aid box and a person appointed to take charge of first-aid arrangements.

• Do you know whether you might need to provide more than the minimum?

• Do you know which accidents and ill health cases to report, including who should do it, when and how?

• Do you know what accidents cost – and that insurance policies do not cover all the costs?