Keep Healthy and Safe in the work place.

Healthy Workplace LogoRisk assessment is an important step in protecting you, your employees and your business, as well as ensuring you comply with the law. You have a legal responsibility to carry out a risk assessment, however, it is often considered as a complicated process. This isn't necessarily the case, it is a very useful tool as it helps you focus on what, in your work, could cause harm to people.

212 people were killed whilst at work in 2005/2006, in order to reduce these statistics a sensible risk assessment approach is required. This entails identifying hazards and risks, which can be achieved simply by walking around your workplace and looking at what could reasonably be expected to cause harm, you can also gather valuable information by talking to your employees about hazards, as they may have noticed things that are not immediately obvious to you. You can also check manufacturers' instructions or data sheets for chemicals and equipment as they can be very helpful in spelling out the hazards and putting them in perspective. Have a look back at your accident and ill-health records too – these often help to identify the less obvious hazards.

Having spotted the hazards, you then have to decide who may be harmed. The law requires you to do everything 'reasonably practicable' to protect people from harm. It is also important to recognise that few workplaces stay the same, sooner or later, you will bring in new equipment, substances and procedures that could lead to new hazards. Whilst it is appreciated that if you have fewer than five employees you do not have to write anything down, it is certainly useful to do so, as it will make any reviews at a later date much easier.

If you get stuck, don't give up. There is a wealth of other information available to help you, on the Health and Safety Executive's website, www.hse.gov.uk, HSE Infoline (Tel: 0845 345 0055) or from Workboost Wales a free service for managers and staff of small and medium-sized enterprises that provides practical advice on workplace health and safety. Tel: 0845 609 6006 / www.healthyworkingwales.wales.nhs.co.uk/workboost-wales or from Ceredigion County Council's health and safety team on 01545 572105.