Employers in each workplace have a general duty to ensure the safety and health of workers in every aspect related to their work. The purpose of carrying out a risk assessment is to enable the employer to take the measures necessary to protect the workers.
These measures include:
- elimination and prevention of occupational risks;
- providing information to workers;
- providing training to workers;
- providing the organisation and means to implement the necessary measures.
Whilst the purpose of risk assessment includes the prevention of occupational risks, and this should always be the goal, it will not always be achievable in practice. Where elimination of risks is not possible, the risks should be reduced and the residual risk controlled. At a later stage, as part of a review programme, such residual risk will be reassessed and the possibility of eliminating the risk, perhaps in the light of new knowledge, can be reconsidered.
The risk assessment should be structured and applied to help employers to:
- identify the hazards created at work and evaluate the risks associated with these hazards, to determine what measures they should take to protect the health and safety of their employees and other workers, having due regard to legislative requirements;
- evaluate the risks in order to make the best-informed selection of work equipment, chemical substances or preparations used, the fitting out of the workplace, and the organisation of work;
- check whether the measures in place are adequate;
- prioritise action if further measures are found to be necessary as a result of the assessment;
- demonstrate to themselves, the competent authorities, workers and their representatives that all factors pertinent to the work have been considered, and that an informed valid judgment has been made about the risks and the measures necessary to safeguard health and safety;
- ensure that the preventive measures and the working and production methods, which are considered to be necessary and implemented following a risk assessment, provide an improvement in the level of worker's protection.