We’ve got to the fifth and final part of our five step risk assessment process and that is simply to record and review your risk assessment. A question we often get asked is ‘When should risk assessments be reviewed?’
When should Risk Assessments be reviewed?
Once you have completed and recorded your risk assessment, it’s time to decide and determine when your risk assessment will need a review.. There is no set frequency for when risk assessments should be reviewed.
Therefore, you should make a decision that’s appropriate for the risk profile of your business. There are certain times when it’s more obvious that the risk assessment should be looked at and reviewed.
Examples of when risk assessments should be reviewed:
Here are just a few common examples;
- Changed or new process that’s been introduced into your workspace
- New plant, equipment or machinery that’s been purchased for example there may be
- New employees or contractors that have joined your workforce that need to be considered
- You may have had a recent near miss, incident or accident, in which case risk assessment/s may need reviewed and/or updated
Depending on your business risk profile, industry & regulatory standards and internal management systems, it may also make sense to have a regular review of your risk assessments e.g every 12 months. Any frequency should be based on the nature of the operations and should be specific to each activity and/or organisation.
The purpose of this would be to make sure that you have not missed anything new or significant that could present a risk to employees, or others. This type of regular oversight is often complimented by other safeguards such as a management of change (MoC) process.
Now that we have tackled the ‘when should risk assessments be reviewed?’ question, let’s learn more about recording and communicating them.
Do you have to record Risk Assessments?
In reality, the Health and Safety Executive in the UK clearly states that risk assessments should not be unnecessarily complicated and only focus on the significant hazards.
It makes sense, because you have to be able to effectively communicate the outcomes of them.
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!
How to communicate Risk Assessments
Sharing the key risk information effectively with the people that matter is critical.
As you’ve put the work into the risk assessment process, we must remember the importance of communicating your findings to the people that are affected.
You should take some time to consider the best way to do this for your particular business. If your team, for example, are located locally to you then it might make sense to use the risk assessment as a discussion topic during your next meeting. It makes sense to send it out to them first to have a look at before having a group discussion around what’s included in it.
In that way, it gives them an opportunity to digest the information and gives you a better chance at getting honest feedback on anything that they think has been omitted or needs to be improved on.
Striving for Best Practice
To make this process even better, the world is really your oyster. We like to get as creative as possible when it comes to communication, and have used anything from pub quizzes to podcasting.
Here are a few of the critical elements when thinking about risk assessment communication.
Crunch it Down
Crunch down the information into the key elements of risk and control using the least information possible and with the help of photos of the associated process, equipment etc.
It’s widely accepted that providing employees with pages and pages of risk assessment literature is a very effective way to lose their attention completely.
One way to avoid this scenario is to succinctly summarise the risk assessment findings and communicate them via a training session.
Go to Gemba
‘Going to Gemba’ is the act of visiting the shop floor in Lean Manufacturing and Kaizen.
Literally translated as ‘The Real Place’, it pushes the importance of leadership understanding what is happening at every level. Going to Gemba is also a powerful and robust strategy when it comes to communicating risk assessments.
Why not take your summarised findings and present them to those affected at the place of concern? Sounds like a great idea.
Risk Communication to Remote Teams
Alternatively if you have a remote team that you can’t get together in one place at one time, you may want to just send out a digital version that they can read and sign off to say that they’re happy with the content and the outcomes of the risk assessment.
However, we would recommend that you follow up with them either by a phone/video call or if they’re in the office via a one-on-one to ask them how they feel about the outcomes of the risk assessment.
Remember, communication is key.
As a manager, it is really important to be assured that your employee’s have taken the information on board.
Hopefully some of these folks that are affected have been involved in the risk assessment process itself.
That way, it won’t all be a big surprise to them once you’ve shared and communicated your risk assessment findings with all those stakeholders.
If you find that your employees doing the work have not been involved in the risk assessment process, it would be worth considering how you might involve in your risk assessment review process.