What are risk assessments and how are they used?

A central requirement of the Management of Health and Safety Regulations is the carrying out of a 'suitable and sufficient' risk assessment in order to determine what risks exist and what measures are needed to combat health and safety risks. 

The risk assessment must be recorded where there are five or more people employed. The Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) states that, where appropriate, the document should be linked to other health and safety records or documents, such as the record of health and safety arrangements and the written health and safety policy statement. 

The employer must appoint one or more 'competent persons' to assist in implementing measures needed to combat risks. A competent person is someone who has sufficient training and experience or knowledge. Preference should be given to a competent person within the employer's organisation over someone from outside. 

The employer must establish appropriate procedures to be followed in the event of serious and imminent danger. An employer should also nominate a sufficient number of competent persons to implement these procedures when necessary. 

During the coronavirus pandemic, the TUC has been building a database of coronavirus risk assessments in its COVID-secure Check portal, so that you can check what your employer is doing to keep you safe.