Getting your Risk Assessment Done

Why do a risk assessment?

The purpose of risk assessment is to identify the significant risks in the workplace and to ensure that control measures are in place to protect people i.e. that the work can be carried out safely.  It is a legal requirement.

What has to be risk assessed in our workplace?

The Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and associated regulations require a suitable and sufficient assessment of risks in general and certain specific risks such as chemical agents, computer work (display screen equipment), manual handling and pregnant employees etc. must specifically be assessed.  Within the University the Activity/Project Risk Assessment form has specifically been developed to assess the risks of an activity or project and collate the relevant safety documents in one resource.

The objective of the risk assessment is to protect the health and safety of workers and others who might be affected by the particular risk(s) i.e. there is a legal requirement to assess the risks in NUI Galway as our workplace.  The law does not expect all risks to be eliminated but staff and students are to be protected as far as is reasonably practicable by the University and its managers ensuring that suitable control measures are in place in accordance with the “General Principles of Prevention” (Appendix 6 NUI Galway Safety Statement Policy). University policy also requires that all Units have a Unit Safety Statement Policy and risk assessments in place to manage the risks associated with their activities and the necessary controls are critical for this process.

Do staff have to be consulted on all relevant risk assessments and what else is important?

Risks assessments must be completed in consultation with relevant staff, documented and appropriately updated.

What are the steps to carrying out a risk assessment?

Step 1 - Background Information
For further information see:
PEMAC Care sets out the risk assessment process for rooms using the online safety management system PEMAC Care which Units should use for completing, tracking and renewing their risk assessments. 
NUI Galway Safety Statement Policy Part 3 sets out the risk assessment methodology for the space or specific activity. In the case of a project/more complex activity, the Manager/PI assesses the risks individually e.g. chemicals, equipment, space etc. These are then collectively considered using the Activity/Project Risk Assessment form.

Step 2 - The Safety Statement Form
Use A Sample Safety Statement for a typical office or use PEMAC Care to:-‌

  • Review the area or activity under consideration
  • Identify all the equipment, agents, operations involved in that area or activity including those carried out by other such as cleaners, etc.
  • Identify who may be at risk.

Step 3 - Assess the Risks
Follow PART 3: Safety Statement Provisions PEMAC Care Version to systematically assess the risks in your Unit.‌
Assess the likelihood of harm and its severity. These generate the risk figure and the priority of the particular risk being assessed.

Step 4 - Incorporate Other Risk Assessments
Your risk assessment needs to include details of other legally required risk assessments e.g.  all computer workstations need to be assessed and referenced in the office risk assessments.

Step 5 – Identify and Implement Controls.
Identify the most appropriate control measures to eliminate the risks or reduce as far as possible following the General Principles of Prevention (Appendix 6 NUI Galway Safety Statement Policy) i.e. preferably engineering controls over admin controls and personal protective equipment (PPE) is regarded as a last resort. Document and put these control measures in place and ensure they are effective.

Step 6 - Review of Risk Assessments
Risk assessments must be reviewed periodically to ensure that they remain valid or to check if further controls are needed e.g. if there has been technical improvements in the interim.   Risk assessments must be reviewed at least annually or more frequently in the case of higher risks, or an accident.

Further guidance is available as follows:
Health and Safety Authority
- See PEMAC Care for online room risk assessments.
NUI Galway Safety Statement Policy - See Part 5 for particular topics
Risk Assessment Training  (December 2016).
Activity/Project Risk Assessment form
- Specific RA Methods