Health and safety at work
As an employer, you must ensure the health and safety of your employees in every aspect related to work. This means you must evaluate all the risks your employees may be exposed to and put in place preventive, and protective measures, such as ensuring that each worker has received the necessary health and safety information and training.
Sometimes, you might have to take additional measures, for example, to prevent dangerous situations occurring and provide training on first aid, fire-fighting and evacuation of workers. You should also appoint at least one trained staff member to ensure these measures are complied with.
There are no EU rules that describe exactly how you should conduct risk assessments, however, in some countries, national rules may include more detailed requirements concerning the content and form of risk assessments.
There are certain actions to take while conducting a risk assessment:
- Collect the relevant information
- Identify the possible hazards
- Assess the risks arising from the hazards; for example, estimate the probability and severity of the consequences and decide whether the risk can be tolerated
- Plan actions to eliminate or reduce risk
- Document the risk assessment
When making a risk assessment you will also need to pay attention to workers who might be especially vulnerable, and to others who might come to your premises such as contractors or visitors.
After identifying the hazards and their possible effects, you will need to evaluate and prioritise the risks. You should also verify whether there are any legal obligations; these may be detailed in the risk assessment specifications or connected to more specific training of workers related to a given risk or activity sector.
Health and safety specialist
If you don't have the necessary competences to conduct the risk assessment or to organise the preventive and protective health and safety measures within your company, you will need to ask a health and safety specialist to carry it out for you.
Depending on what kind of business you are operating, you can also carry out a risk assessment with the help of a free online tool.
How do you document the risks?
Once you have conducted the risk assessment you will need to document the results.
There are no specific EU requirements, but it's recommended that the written document includes at least the:
- name and function of the person(s) carrying out the examination
- hazards and risks identified
- groups of workers facing particular risks
- necessary protective measures – when you would plan to introduce them, who would be responsible for them and how you would monitor progress
- information about the involvement of workers and their representatives in the risk assessment process.
For more details of what you have to do in a particular EU country, check the national health and safety at work rules.