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The cost of not carrying out a risk assessment

Updated: Feb 17

A risk assessment is:

  • one of the simplest things a company can do to ensure that its employees are properly protected against the risk of injury or even death.

  • probably one of the first things the enforcing authorities would want to see in the event of an accident, incident or inspection.

  • one of the easiest ways of reducing the risk of prosecution

A risk assessment can be broken down into five easy steps, as follows:

  • Identify the hazard

  • Decide who might be harmed, and how.

  • Evaluate the risks and decide on the precautions that need to be taken.

  • Record the findings that have been made during the process

  • Review the risk assessment regularly (especially if something changes in the work environment) and update it if the review reveals it to be necessary.

It is not generally necessary to use a health and safety expert to carry out the risk assessment, although some organisations will call on them for advice.

Seems pretty self-explanatory, doesn’t it? Yet failure to follow this simple procedure can cost an employer dearly, as a Welsh insulation company discovered recently.

Wrexham Magistrates Court heard that Natural Insulation Ltd (formerly Black Mountain Insulation Limited) failed to conduct an adequate risk assessment for the processing of hemp. In addition to this, they failed to adequately guard machinery.

When the HSE investigated in response to concerns raised anonymously, they found that the COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) assessment was not suitable and sufficient.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and Regulation 6 of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. They were fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £59,000.

Had they carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, it is highly likely that the hazards which led to their court appearance would have been identified and rectified.

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