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Health and safety at work

Health and safety at work - what it means.

Risk assessment

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, all businesses must carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessments. This involves a detailed look at your workplace and work activities so that you can identify all the known hazards associated with them.

What is the Law?

What do I need to do?

Before you conduct a risk assessment, you must ensure that the person who is carrying out this work, is competent to do so. You should try and find someone within your own premises, as they will know the working environment better than anyone else, and the hazards involved. A competent person is someone who has the necessary Knowledge, Experience, Training, and Practical Ability (KEPT).


  • Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) - Basic Health & Safety
  • Institute of Occupational Health & Safety (IOSH) – Basic Health and Safety
  • National Examination Board in Occupational Health & Safety (NEBOSH) Certificate

The risk assessments should cover all the relevant hazards associated with your particular operation.

These should demonstrate that you have properly considered the whole business, and that proper attention has been paid to the site-specific issues of your premises. They should also take into account high-risk employees such as:

  • new and expectant mothers,
  • young people,
  • work experience staff,
  • inexperienced staff,
  • disabled and older members of staff,
  • employees whose first language is not English, or who have learning or literacy difficulties.

These groups of people are all more likely to suffer injury or ill-health from poorly controlled activities, due to their lack of awareness of risks, lack of judgement, poor training etc.

Therefore, you should consider the following hazards:

  • display screen equipment
  • electrical safety
  • falls from height
  • fire safety
  • gas safety
  • hazardous substances
  • kitchen safety
  • manual handling
  • needle stick (injury from hypodermic needles)
  • noise at work
  • slips and trips
  • stress
  • violence
  • work Equipment

This list is not exhaustive, and there are likely to be other issues that require your attention.

We have often found that many organisations have carried out unsuitable and insufficient risk assessments, and in many cases have failed to discuss the hazards and controls with the people who do the work.

Not only is this contrary to the law, but it is unlikely that you will prevent accidents and injuries. We understand that it is often daunting to those who have been given the responsibility of carrying out risk assessments.

Generic risk assessments

Employers who control a number of similar workplaces containing similar activities may produce a model or generic risk assessment reflecting the core hazards and risks associated with these activities. Model assessments may also be developed by trade associations, employers’ bodies, or other organisations concerned with a particular activity. Such model assessments may be applied by employers at each workplace, but only if they:

  • satisfy themselves that the model assessment is appropriate to their type of work; and
  • adapt the model to the detail of their own work situations, including any extension necessary to cover hazards and risk not referred to in the model. This is referred to as a site specific risk assessment. Enforcers will not accept generic assessments where a site specific risk assessment is needed and legal action may be taken against your company – particularly where a serious accident / incident has occurred.

Site specific risk assessments

These concern the specific hazards that are unique to your premises and workplace, and so are the most accurate way in determining whether you are doing everything you can to eliminate or subsequently, control the remaining risks.

Therefore, it is usually common to come across both generic and site specific risk assessments within a business – as long as they are accurate and apply to your workplace.

Published: 26 January 2022

Last updated: 6 December 2022