Safety Statement and Risk Assessment
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Risk Assessment?
Section 19 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 requires that employers and those who control workplaces to any extent must identify the hazards in the workplaces under their control and assess the risks to safety and health at work presented by these hazards.
Employers must examine and write down these workplace risks and what to do about them. Ultimately, assessing risk means that anything in the workplace that could cause harm to your employees, other employees and other people (including customers, visitors and members of the public) must be carefully examined. This allows you to estimate the magnitude of risk and decide whether the risk is acceptable or whether more precautions need to be taken to prevent harm.
Employers are required to implement any improvements considered necessary by the risk assessment. The aim is to ensure that no one gets hurt or becomes ill.
However, it is important to remember that, in identifying hazards and assessing risks, employers should only consider those which are generated by work activities. There is no need to consider every minor hazard or risk that we accept as part of our lives.
The results of any Risk Assessments should be written into the Safety Statement.
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What is a Safety Statement?
Section 20 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 requires that an organisation produce a written programme to safeguard:
- the safety and health of employees while they work
- the safety and health of other people who might be at the workplace, including customers, visitors and members of the public
The Safety Statement represents a commitment to their safety and health. It should state how the employer will ensure their safety and health and state the resources necessary to maintain and review safety and health laws and standards. The Safety Statement should influence all work activities, including
- the selection of competent people, equipment and materials
- the way work is done
- how goods and services are designed and provided
It is essential to write down the Safety Statement and put in place the arrangements needed to implement and monitor it. The Safety Statement must be made available to staff, and anyone else, showing that hazards have been identified and the risks assessed and eliminated or controlled.
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What is the difference between a hazard and a risk?
A hazard, in general, refers to anything with the potential to cause harm in terms of human injury or ill-health, damage to property, damage to the environment or a combination of these, e.g. chemical substances, machinery or methods of work, whereas risk means the likelihood, great or small, that an undesired event will occur due to the realisation of a hazard. Risk is dependent on the likelihood that a hazard may occur, together with the severity of the harm suffered/consequences. Risk is also dependent on the number of people who might be exposed to the hazard.
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Why is it important to carry out a Risk Assessment and prepare a Safety Statement?
The main aim is to make sure that no one gets hurt or becomes ill. Accidents and ill health can ruin lives, and can also affect business if output is lost, machinery is damaged, insurance costs increase, or if you have to go to court. Therefore, carrying out Risk Assessments, preparing and implementing a Safety Statement and keeping both up to date will not in themselves prevent accidents and ill health but they will play a crucial part in reducing their likelihood.
Employers, managers and supervisors should all ensure that workplace practices reflect the Risk Assessments and Safety Statement. Behaviour, the way in which everyone works, must reflect the safe working practices laid down in these documents. Supervisory checks and audits should be carried out to determine how well the aims set down are being achieved. Corrective action should be taken when required. Additionally, if a workplace is provided for use by others, the Safety Statement must also set out the safe work practices that are relevant to them.
Hence, it is important to carry out a Risk Assessment and prepare a Safety Statement for:
1. Financial reasons:
There is considerable evidence, borne out by companies’ practical experiences, that effective safety and health management in the workplace contributes to business success. Accidents and ill-health inflict significant costs, often hidden and underestimated.
2. Legal reasons:
Carrying out a Risk Assessment, preparing a Safety Statement and implementing what you have written down are not only central to any safety and health management system, they are required by law. Health and Safety Authority inspectors visiting workplaces will want to know how employers are managing safety and health. If they investigate an accident, they will scrutinise the Risk Assessment and Safety Statement, and the procedures and work practices in use. It should be ensured that these stand up to examination. If the inspector finds that one of these is inadequate, he or she can ask the employer to revise it. Employers can be prosecuted if they do not have a Safety Statement.
3. Moral and ethical reasons:
The process of carrying out a Risk Assessment, preparing a Safety Statement and implementing what you have written down will help employers prevent injuries and ill-health at work. Employers are ethically bound to do all they can to ensure that their employees do not suffer illness, a serious accident or death.
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What does the law require regarding Risk Assessments and Safety Statements?
Every employer is required to manage safety and health at work so as to prevent accidents and ill-health. The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 requires employers to:
- identify the hazards
- carry out a Risk Assessment
- prepare a written Safety Statement
This process has a practical purpose. It will help employers and other duty holders to manage employees’ safety and health, and get the balance right between the size of any safety and health problems and what has to be done about them. This is because the system must be risk-based. The required safety measures must be proportionate to the real risks involved and must be adequate to eliminate, control or minimise the risk of injury. The system must involve consultation between the employer and his/her employees, who are required by law to cooperate with the employer in the safety-management process.
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What should be covered in a Safety Statement?
The areas that should be covered by the Safety Statement are specific and are set out in Section 20 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. The Statement should be based on the identification of the hazards and the Risk Assessments carried out under Section 19. It must:
- specify how the safety and health of all employees will be secured and managed
- specify the hazards identified and risks assessed
- give details of how the employer is going to manage his or her safety and health responsibilities, including a commitment to comply with legal obligations, the protective and preventive measures taken, the resources provided for safety and health at the workplace and the arrangements used to fulfil these responsibilities
- include the plans and procedures to be used in the event of an emergency or serious danger
- specify the duties of employees, including the co-operation required from them on safety and health matters
- include the names and job titles of people appointed to be responsible for safety and health or for performing the tasks set out in the statement
- contain the arrangements made for appointing safety representatives, and for consulting with and the participation by employees on safety and health matters, including the names of the safety representatives and the members of the safety committee, if appointed
- be written in a form, manner and language that will be understood by all
- include a review mechanism
- have regard to the relevant safety and health legislation
The Safety Statement can refer to specific procedures contained in other documents. These documents might include:
- Health and Safety Authority Publications on Safety Statements and Risk Assessments for specific work sectors. See the Publications section of this website.
- the BeSMART on line Risk Assessment and Safety Statement Tool for the specific categories for which this tool covers
- Authority produced Codes of Practice, Guidance and Information Sheets where available. See the Publications section of this website.
- manufacturer's instructions for work equipment and machines
- Company operating instructions and procedures
These may contain lists of the hazards and precautions relevant to your organisation. The BeSMART tool may be used for preparing your Safety Statement, if your business is covered by its templates. It is up to the employer whether to combine all the documents or keep them separately. However, the employer must still ensure that employees are made aware of the risks in their work and the precautions which are necessary.
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Who needs to read the Risk Assessments and Safety Statement?
The employer must ensure that the contents of the Safety Statement, which includes the Risk Assessments, is brought to the attention of all employees and others at the workplace who may be exposed to any risks covered by the Safety Statement. In particular, all new employees must be made aware of the Safety Statement when they start work. The Statement must be in a form and language that they all understand.
Other people may be exposed to a specific risk dealt with in the Safety Statement and the Statement should be brought to their attention. These people could include:
- outside contractors who do cleaning, maintenance or building work
- temporary workers
- delivery people who stack their goods in the premises and come in contact with activities there
- self-employed people who provide a service for the employer
Where specific tasks are carried out, which pose a serious risk to safety and health, the relevant contents of the Safety Statement must be brought to the attention of those affected, setting out the hazards identified, the Risk Assessments and the safety and health measures that must be taken.
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How often do staff need to read the Risk Assessment and Safety Statement?
The relevant contents of the Safety Statement should be brought to the attention of the employees and others affected at least annually, and whenever it is revised. The employer has an ongoing responsibility to ensure that all relevant persons are aware of the Safety Statement and understand its terms. A campaign to discharge this responsibility could include a combination of written and verbal communication, including:
- distributing the Safety Statement, specific Risk Assessments or relevant sections of it to all employees when first prepared and whenever significant changes are made
- making the Safety Statement and specific Risk Assessments available electronically on company intranet sites which can be easily interrogated
- verbal communication of the terms of the Safety Statement or particular Risk Assessments
- inclusion of the relevant parts of the Safety Statement and specific Risk Assessments in employees’ handbooks or manuals
- through ongoing training
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I only have one employee; do I need a Safety Statement?
If an employer who employs 3 or fewer employees is engaged in an activity for which there is a Code of Practice for that type of activity, they can fulfil their duty in relation to safety statements by complying with such code of practice. This only applies where specific code(s) of practice are issued by the Health and Safety Authority.
Codes of Practice have been prepared for several sectors including Construction, Agriculture and Quarries.
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Do I need to give a copy of the Safety Statement to every employee?
The 2005 Act specifies the information that must be given to employees. The Safety Statement must be accessible to all employees and the sections of the Safety Statement relevant to the employees must be brought to their attention, with particular regard to the specific hazards, risks and prevention measures concerning their particular job. The Safety Statement must be brought to the attention of all employees at least annually.
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What is a competent person?
According to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005, a person is deemed to be a competent person where, having regard to the task he or she is required to perform and taking account of the size or hazards (or both of them) of the undertaking or establishment in which he or she undertakes work, the person possesses sufficient training, experience and knowledge appropriate to the nature of the work to be undertaken.
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Am I qualified enough to prepare a Safety Statement correctly?
The employer has ultimate responsibility for safety and health. In most firms in the office, retail, commercial, service and light industrial sector, the hazards and hazardous work activities are few and simple. Checking them is common sense, but necessary. In small firms, employers understand their work and can identify hazards and assess risks themselves. The BeSMART on line Risk Assessment and Safety Statement Tool can be easily filled out by an employer if it covers your work sector, but it is important that the templates are filled out correctly.
There are many information sources such as Authority produced Codes of Practices, and guidelines available to support employers when compiling Safety Statements See the Publications section of this website. Consultation should always take place with the employees, including safety representatives, as they are the ones doing the work and dealing with the hazards on a daily basis.
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In relation to Safety Statement preparation will I be compliant with my duties under Section 20 of the Safety Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 Act if I use a generic Safety Statement?
No. Under Section 20 of the Act every employer is required to prepare a Safety Statement for his/her own place of work based on the identification of the hazards and the Risk Assessment carried out under Section 19 of the 2005 Act. This Safety Statement specifies the manner in which the safety, health and welfare at work of his or her employees shall be secured and managed. This Safety Statement is specific and unique to each place of work. An employer using a generic Safety Statement would not be compliant with Sections 19 and 20 of the 2005 Act. The templates used for the BeSMART on line Risk Assessment and Safety Statement Tool prepared by the Authority are also acceptable, if your work sector is covered and the templates are filled out correctly. Employers can also use the other templates detailed in the sector specific Publications produced by the Authority.
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Who approves a Safety Statement?
The Safety Statement is required by law under Section 20 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. It is the employer's responsibility to ensure it is fit for the organisation under his/her control. An Authority inspector may review a Safety Statement during an inspection of a workplace. If he/she finds that it is inadequate, he/she can direct an employer to revise it within 30 days.
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How do I prepare a Safety Statement?
A comprehensive Safety Statement, if properly implemented, is a practical tool for reducing accidents and ill health at work. For small to medium-sized businesses, the preparation of a Safety Statement should be simple and straightforward. The BeSMART Tool may be used for this process if the work activity is covered by the business types developed for the tool. In developing a safety and health management programme for an organisation, there are 6 important steps to be followed in preparing a Safety Statement.
1. Draw up a health and safety policy:
The Safety Statement should begin with a declaration, signed at senior, responsible management level on the employer’s behalf. The declaration should give a commitment to ensuring that a workplace is as safe and healthy as reasonably practicable and that all relevant statutory requirements will be complied with. This declaration should spell out the policy in relation to overall safety and health performance, provide a framework for managing safety and health, and list relevant objectives.
Because the Safety Statement must be relevant at all times to the safety and health of employees and others in the workplace, the policy declaration should indicate that the Safety Statement will be revised as changes occur and evaluated at set intervals. It should also indicate how the relevant contents of the Statement are to be brought to the attention of employees and any other people in the workplace who might be affected by the Statement.
2.Identify the hazards
The first step in safeguarding safety and health is to identify hazards from materials, equipment, chemicals and work activities. The employer is required to systematically examine the workplace and work activities to identify workplace-generated hazards.
If an employer controls more than one work location, different types of work activity or changing work locations (as in road repairs or building work), it may be necessary to prepare a Safety Statement that has separate sections dealing with the different locations or activities. Employers will be familiar with the hazards associated with the type of work they are involved in. But to identify the main hazards and put risks in their true perspective, employers can also check:
- records of accidents, ill health and insurance claims
- any relevant legislation or standards covering the hazard (e.g. the Construction Regulations for construction-site hazards, the Chemical Agents Regulations and Code of Practice for Chemical Hazards and their control)
- manufacturers’ instructions or datasheets
Some hazards are obvious, such as unguarded moving parts of machinery, dangerous fumes, electricity, working at heights, or moving heavy loads. Less obvious, but at the root of many accidents, are hazards presented by untidy workplaces and poor maintenance. In the case of some hazards, such as excessive noise, it may take months or even years before damage materialises.
In most small firms in the office, retail, commercial, service and light industrial sector, the hazards and hazardous work activities are few and simple. Checking them is common sense, but necessary. The BeSMART Tool can be used for many sectors when preparing a Safety Statement for a small firm. For larger firms, a responsible experienced employee or a competent safety and health adviser should be used. This person must be familiar with the hazards which are relevent to the workplace under review.
A checklist of hazards can be found in the Guidelines on Risk Assessments and Safety Statements. This checklist provides a systematic, though not exhaustive, approach to identifying hazards in the workplace. This checklist covers physical hazards, health hazards, chemical hazards, biological agents hazards and human-factor hazards.
3. Carry out a Risk Assessment
Section 19 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 places a duty on all employers to carry out a Risk Assessment. A template which can be used for carrying out a Risk Assessment is available in the Guidelines on Risk Assessments and Safety Statements. Employers do not have to use this format in order to comply with section 19. They can also use the templates generated in the BeSMART Tool, or those detailed in the sector specific Publications produced by the Authority.
4. Decide what precautions are needed
Employers may already have in place some safety measures. The Risk Assessment will tell whether these are adequate.
Employers must ensure they have done all that the law requires. All safety and health laws provide guidance on how to assess the risks and establish appropriate safeguards. For example, there are legal requirements on preventing access to dangerous parts of machinery. Then, it must also be ensured that generally accepted industry standards are in place. However, do not necessarily stop at that, because the law also says that you must do what is reasonably practicable to keep the workplace safe. The real aim is to make all risks small by adding to existing precautions if necessary.
Employers need to consider if the hazard can be eliminated altogether or if the job can be changed in any way so as to make it safer and, if not, what safety precautions are necessary to control this risk?
5. Record the findings
The Safety Statement is the place to record the significant findings of the Risk Assessments. This means writing down the more significant hazards and recording the most important conclusions. The BeSMART templates can also be used here. Employers should inform employees about their findings. The employer should also state in the Safety Statement where other relevant documentation is retained.
6. Review the programme and update as necessary
The Safety Statement needs to be relevant at all times. Implementing the Safety Statement should be an integral part of everyday operations. A copy of the Statement or relevant extracts of it must be kept available for inspection at or near every workplace to which it relates. Hence, it may be necessary to revise it whenever there are changes, or when Risk Assessments are carried out and improvements made that have an impact on safety and health. Such changes may include changes in work processes, organisational structure, equipment or substances used, technical knowledge, and legislation or standards. Changes in the workforce may also have an impact, e.g. altering the number of workers on a particular process, replacing more experienced workers with trainees or as a result of experience gained through training. However, it is not necessary to amend the Safety Statement for every trivial change, or for each new job, but if a new job introduces significant new hazards, you need to assess the Risks Assessments and implement the necessary prevention measures.
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What considerations should be taken into account when planning and setting objectives for safety and health in the Safety Statement?
Planning is the key to ensuring that the safety and health efforts really work. It involves setting objectives, assessing the risks, implementing standards of performance and developing a safety culture. The employer should record the safety and health plans in the Safety Statement. Such planning should provide for:
- identifying hazards and assessing risks, and deciding how they can be eliminated or controlled
- complying with the safety and health laws that apply to the business
- agreeing safety and health targets with directors, managers and supervisors
- board decisions which reflect the safety and health policies as set out in the Safety Statement
- a purchasing and supply policy which takes safety and health into account
- the design of tasks, processes, equipment, products and services, and safe systems of work
- procedures to deal with emergencies and serious and imminent danger
- co-operation with neighbours and/or subcontractors
- setting standards against which performance can be measured
- ensuring co-operation between managers so that safety and health obligations are complied with
For information relating to safety representatives and consultation, see FAQs on Safety Representatives and Safety Consultation
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Who is responsible for preparing the Risk Assessment and Safety Statement?
Those required to prepare a Risk Assessment and Safety Statement are:
- all employers
- those who control workplaces to any extent
- those who provide workplaces for use by others
- those who are self-employed
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Who should carry out the Risk Assessment?
It is the employer’s duty, under section 19 of the 2005 Act, to carry out the Risk Assessment so you should try to do it yourself, while involving managers and employees as much as possible. Where the in-house expertise is not available, employ the services of an external competent person to help. Check that they are familiar with your work activities, have worked with this sector before and have the ability to assess specific work activities. Involve as many employees as possible in order to encourage them to share ownership of the finished Assessments. The BeSMART Tool can be used for many sectors when carrying out Risk Assessments for small firms. Many of the Authority prepared Codes of Practice, Guidance and Information Sheets contain Risk Assessment templates for specific sectors and can also be used for this purpose. See also the Publications section of this website for further details.
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How can an employer control risk?
Employers are required to do all that is reasonably practicable to minimise the risk of injury or damage to the safety and health of their employees. Employers will have done all that is reasonably practicable if they have:
- exercised care in putting in place necessary preventive measures
- identified the hazards and risks relating to the place of work
- put in place appropriate measures such that it would be grossly disproportionate to do more
Some common methods of controlling risk are:
- replacing a hazardous system, e.g. using mechanical aids to reduce or eliminate the need for manual handling
- replacing a substance with a less hazardous substance, e.g. replacing a flammable substance with a non-flammable substance
- designing the workplace to reduce risk, e.g. providing guardrails around roof-mounted equipment or designated walkways and crossing points through areas with moving vehicles
- ensuring a clean and tidy workplace to prevent trips and slips
- extracting or containing the hazard at source, e.g. providing a fume cupboard with extraction
- adapting the work to the individual, e.g. providing adjustable height tables or chairs to reduce muscle injuries
- ventilating an area of the workplace where extraction at source is not possible
- isolating the process or the worker, e.g. switching off and isolating machines before carrying out repairs or alterations
- safeguarding machinery, e.g. providing interlocked guards that switch off the machine if someone tries to gain entry to dangerous parts of it
- providing adequate training and supervision
- establishing emergency planning procedures, including first aid
- providing protective equipment, clothing or signs (they should be used only as a last resort after all other ways of eliminating the hazard have been fully explored)
- setting up adequate health surveillance programmes including pre-placement or regular health checks where appropriate
- analysing and investigating accidents (including ill-health) and dangerous occurrences
- using permit-to-work systems or safe working procedures
- putting in place adequate welfare facilities
- establishing other policies as appropriate, e.g. to eradicate bullying, etc.
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What should be contained in the Safety Statement regarding representation, consultation and participation of employees?
The Safety Statement must specify the arrangements to be used for consultation with and participation by employees on safety and health matters. These would include the procedures to facilitate effective co-operation and communication on safety and health matters between the employer and employees. Consultation and participation arrangements and the extent of their usage will depend on the size and complexity of the organisation. This may range from informal one to one discussions to a more formal safety committee. Consultation areas include:
- any issues which can substantially affect safety and health
- the employment of competent persons and safety and health experts to study company safety and health activities
- appointment of persons to deal with emergencies and any prevention measures
- carrying out Risk Assessments and the outcome of such Assessments
- provision of safety and health information to employees
- the planning and organisation of safety and health training
- procedures to be used to facilitate effective co-operation and communication on safety and health matters between employer and employees
- preparation, and revision of, the Safety Statement, with particular reference to the written procedures covering the role of the safety representative, the operation of safety committees, or informal safety discussions by work crews, which might take place as necessary
- the introduction of new technology, equipment or chemicals and their affect on working conditions and environment.
For more information relating to safety representation and safety consultation, see the FAQs on Safety Representation and Safety Consultation.
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What are the two key components of measuring safety and health performance?
The two key components of measuring safety and health performance are:
- Active monitoring (before things go wrong). The employer needs to carry out routine inspections and checks to see that standards are being maintained. Are the objectives and standards that were set being achieved? Are they effective?
- Reactive monitoring (after things go wrong): investigating injuries, cases of illness, bullying complaints, property damage and near misses - specifying in each case why performance was sub-standard.
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How should the Safety Statement be reviewed?
In reviewing the Safety Statement, employers should consider at least the following:
- Were the aims in the Safety Statement relevant and appropriate?
- Did it identify the significant hazards, assess their risks and set out the necessary preventive and protective safety measures?
- Were the safety and health measures, which were identified, implemented in practice? Was the planned progress achieved?
- Were new work practices or processes introduced since the last review and if so were they risk-assessed?
- Did you put in place the measures necessary to comply with the relevant statutory provisions (e.g. on safety and health management, safety consultation and training, etc.)?
- Did you comply fully with safety and health performance standards (including legislation and approved Codes of Practice)?
- Are there areas where standards are absent or inadequate?
- Have you analysed your data to find out the immediate and underlying causes of any injuries, illness or incidents? Have you identified any trends and common features?
- What new safety and health measures were applied following any reportable accidents or other incidents, or following any enforcement measures relating to your workplace?
- Were adequate financial, physical, human and organisational resources committed to safety and health?
- What improvements in safety and health performance need to be made?
As part of the review, employers will find it helpful to refer to any records which have been kept, such as accident/incident reports, health-surveillance results, training records, inspection and audit reports, maintenance logs, or atmospheric monitoring figures. Employers must also consult safety representatives and others who may be affected by the review.
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How often should the Safety Statement be reviewed?
Implementing the Safety Statement should be an integral part of everyday operations and so it must be relevant at all times. Therefore, it should be revised periodically, at least annually, and whenever significant changes take place, or when Risk Assessments are carried out and improvements are made that have an impact on safety and health. Such changes may include changes in the way work is being carried out, the introduction of new work activities, changes in the organisational structure due to redundancies amd to available man power etc.
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What should the employer do after the Safety Statement has been reviewed?
Employers should bring any changes made to the attention of the safety representatives, employees and any other persons who may be affected by the new measures set out in the Safety Statement. They must be informed about the new findings and of any changes in the required safety and health precautions. Make sure all modifications or improvements required by the new Risk Assessments and Safety Statement review are implemented as soon as possible.
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Is anyone exempt from carrying out a Risk Assessment and/or preparing a Safety Statement?
A Risk Assessment must always be prepared for that place of work. However, if 3 or fewer people are employed and a Code of Practice relating to Safety Statements, prepared by the Authority, exists for a sector or work activity, then compliance with that code is sufficient. See section 20(8) of the 2005 Act. Codes of Practice have been prepared for several sectors including Construction, Agriculture and Fishing. Please see the Publications secion of this website for details.
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My insurance company is requesting a Safety Statement; can the Authority send me one?
A Safety Statement is your specific programme, in writing, for safeguarding the health and safety of your employees. The Authority does not supply Safety Statements. The guidelines and tools prepared by the Authority on preparing Safety Statements and carrying out Risk Assessments can be used for this purpose.These guidelines are designed to help employers or the self-employed to manage safety and health in the workplace. Please see the Codes of Practice part of the Publications section of this website for details.
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Are there any factors to be considered in specific Risk Assessments?
Different workplace settings will identify differing hazards, dependent on the work activities being carried out. Therefore, assorted control measures shall be considered for the various risks in such workplaces, e.g.:
Risk of a slip, trip or fall, e.g. all workplaces:
Slips, trips and falls are the second most common type of accident in most places of work. The risk depends on:
- the premises being kept clean, tidy and uncluttered
- the flooring and stairs being kept in good repair and on the type of flooring used
- the control of other trip hazards
- the quality of lighting
- spillages of liquid being cleaned promptly
The extent of injury may vary from relatively minor to severe, depending on a variety of factors including the nature of the fall, whether at the level or from a height.
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Risk of being struck by a fork-lift truck, e.g. warehouses, factories:
Vehicles in the workplace are a risk to other employees on foot. The risk is a combination of the chance that someone will be struck, together with the likely severity of the injury. This will depend on:
- whether pedestrians use walkways which keep them away from moving fork-trucks
- the number of pedestrians and fork-lift trucks using the same areas
- the training and instruction provided to both drivers and pedestrians
- the degree of supervision and enforcement of safe procedures (e.g. for separating pedestrians and forklifts)
- the mechanical condition of the fork-lift truck (e.g. brakes and flashing beacons)
- the wearing of high-visibility PPE
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Risk of exposure to isocyanate paint, e.g. garages:
Paints containing isocyanates are a hazard to health. The Safety Data Sheet (SDS) and the label on the paint container give this information. Breathing in isocyanate fumes can cause asthma. The risk is a combination of the chance that someone’s lungs will be damaged together with the extent of the likely damage. This will depend on:
- the amount of isocyanate in the air
- how often the job is done (all day every day or once or twice a year)
- the work method – how the paint is used (e.g. if it is sprayed the risk will be greater than if brushed on)
- the number of people that could be affected (i.e. does just one person work with the paint or do many? Could their work affect others?)
- what could go wrong (the errors that could lead to spillage and atmospheric emissions).
- the adequacy of precautions taken, such as exhaust ventilation and personal protective equipment (Do they comply with the legal requirements? How do they compare with good practice and national or ‘trade’ guidance?)
The extent of the likely damage is severe. An employee could develop asthma, which might make him or her unemployable in that industry. The Authority has produced extensive Guidance on preventing exposure to all sorts of chemicals (including an Information Sheet on Isocyanate use). Please see also the Chemicals and Hazardous Substances part of the Publications section of this website for details.
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A permit-to-work system is a written system of the procedures which must be taken to safeguard workers doing work such as repair, maintenance or cleaning work in potentially dangerous areas or with dangerous operations. It involves mechanical, electrical or process isolation procedures or monitoring the atmosphere for the presence of dangerous fumes. It sets out in a systematic way the work is to be done, the hazards involved and the precautions to be taken.
Situations where this is necessary include when machinery could be restarted with the worker still inside it, or working in confined spaces where there is a danger of chemical or physical contamination.
The employer should write down in the Safety Statement what work activities require a permit-to-work system. Please see the Working in Confined Spaces part of our website. Employers may also need to consider other sector specific Guidance from the Authority as detailed in our Publications area
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What should the organisation chart of a business show with regard to managing safety and health?
The Safety Statement should contain an organisation chart showing the safety and health management structure and the names and responsibilities of key personnel. As a minimum, it must include the name of the person at senior management or director level with delegated responsibility for safety and health in the company. It must also be ensured that the board of Directors or other management body in charge know they have safety and health responsibilities as well.
Responsibilities should be clearly identified:
- identify people responsible for particular safety and health jobs, especially where special expertise is called for, e.g. for carrying out Risk Assessments, monitoring compliance with safety and health standards, driving forklift trucks, etc.
- ensure that managers, supervisors and team leaders understand their responsibilities and have the time and resources to carry them out.
- lines of communication should also be laid down between the different levels of responsibility.
- ensure that everyone knows what they must do and how they will be held accountable - set objectives.
- lead by example. Demonstrate a commitment and provide clear direction. Let everyone know that safety and health is important.
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I am considering seeking the advice and services of a safety consultant. Can you offer me any advice?
Section 18 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 states that, where a competent employee (in matters relating to health and safety), is available to an employer, that person should be utilised to address issues relating to safety, health and welfare. If the employer does not have access to a competent person “in-house”, s/he should obtain the services of someone from outside the organisation to assess and advise on the safety, health and welfare requirements.
Prior to engaging the services of a consultant, the employer should make reasonable enquiries that the person or company being employed has an adequate level of competence to address the work activities under consideration. This might involve checking the consultant’s qualifications and experience, to be assured that s/he has the requisite competence to address the issues of health and safety within the workplace. Generally a person specialising in safety consultancy will have, in addition to relevant experience, a certificate, diploma, degree or other qualification in the field of occupational health and safety. They might also be a member of a professional body specialising in occupational health and safety, such as the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH), the Chartered Society for Worker Health Protection (BOHS) and/or other professional institutes.
Depending on the work activities and the workplace under consideration, the consultant might need to have additional qualifications and experience in the type of activity being assessed. S/he might also need to have access to specialist information and expertise to be in a position to be adequately informed before assessing the nature and extent of the hazards within a workplace and the appropriate control measures and systems to put in place to adequately address those hazards on an ongoing and systematic basis.
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