Frequently Asked Questions

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A hazard is defined as the potential to cause harm; risk is the likelihood that harm (illness or injury) will actually occur.

It is normally unreasonable to expect one person to identify all the hazards associated with a particular workplace activity. The joint involvement of supervisors and staff is crucial, as often each individual is aware of different aspects of the task and associated hazards. It is important to have an effective system for identifying existing and emerging hazards. Only focus on the hazards which are likely to give rise to significant risks. This may involve:

1. Observations from physical inspections of the workplace, equipment and work practices

2. Analysis of how activities are performed

3. Drawing up or using checklists to act as a prompt

4. Referring to generic risk assessments

5. Discussions with your safety advisor or safety coordinator

6. Studying accident, incident and near miss reports

7. Reference to specific legislation

Both paper and electronic means of recording your assessments are acceptable. What is important is that they are given, and if necessary explained, to those involved in the work or activity. You should also comply with your school arrangements for keeping central records of what risk assessments have been done. Electronic copies have the advantage of the template being available off the web, that information is easily inserted or altered and that they can be made more readily available to those who may wish to inspect or audit your records.

A competent person is someone with the skill, knowledge and practical experience of the work activity being assessed.