If you are business owner or operator, you may be asking the question ‘Is a risk assessment a legal requirement?’. In this post, we will attempt to answer that question quickly for you.
A documented Risk Assessment is often seen as a thankless activity that has to be done, with little tangible benefit.
But do we have to do it?
Let’s look at the context of the question in some more detail and find out where the responsibility lies.
Is a Risk Assessment a legal requirement?
There are plenty of good non-legal reasons as to why we should carry out risk assessment for our businesses, including moral and of course, financial.
However, in many countries, including the UK, Ireland, United States and Australia, workplace risk assessment is part of the national health and safety regulations and therefore is a legal requirement.
If you don’t carry out a risk assessment for your work activities, you leave your employees and your business at risk of significant loss. This can manifest in a myriad of ways, including very substantial direct costs, fines, loss of insurance cover and even severe criminal charges and custodial sentences.
Let’s take a look at the legal requirement for risk assessment in the context of the United Kingdom…
The Risk Assessment legal requirement in the UK
In the UK, your obligation as an employer is that you must risk assess the work activities for which your employees are involved.
If you have 5 or more employees, you have to keep a record of any risk assessment that you have done.
But don’t panic, it’s not as bad as it sounds! We have developed a free Risk Assessment training course that you can enrol in to help make sure your risk assessment is carried out in the right way.
In reality, the Health and Safety Executive in the UK clearly states that risk assessments should not be unnecessarily complicated and focus on the significant hazards. It makes sense, because you have to be able to effectively communicate the outcomes of them.
With that said, the law does stipulate that any risk assessment must be ‘suitable and sufficient.’ In other words, it’s critical to make sure whomever is conducting the risk assessment know what they are doing.
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