A site risk assessment is a legally required step that employers and the owners of public establishments must take to conduct an assessment of the premises with the aim of identifying health and safety risks. Such an assessment will help identify potential risks and develop effective measure to control or prevent the risks. It will also protect the business or establishment from any lawsuits arising from injuries sustained in such establishments.
The legal aspect of site risk assessment stems from the legal concept of liability that requires the owners of businesses and other public establishments to take reasonable care to ensure the safety of those who use such establishments. The determining factor in this is reasonable care. For example, the management of a department store must conduct a site risk assessment to determine what potential risks exist within the store's premises. While they are not expected to anticipate or foresee every possible risk, they will be liable for any injury caused by a risk that could have been prevented through the exercise of reasonable care.
Employers in the workplace can initiate a site risk assessment by identifying the hazards in the workplace. This can be done by conducting a thorough assessment of the workplace and its equipment. In the industrial and manufacturing industries, workers can check the level of noise produced by heavy industrial equipment. Employers in places like hospitals and laboratories can check for exposure to harmful pathogens and sharps like needles and scalpels.
The next step in a site risk assessment will be to determine those most likely to be harmed by the identified risks. For instance, people with disabilities might be at more risk than other members of the public. In the workplace, certain categories of workers may be more at risk than others. For example, lab technicians who actually work with pathogens in a laboratory may be more at risk of infection than the administrative staff at the front desk.
After identifying the risks, the next step will be to decide how to control or prevent the risk from leading to hazards. This is where the employer or management of the premises is expected to take “reasonable care” to prevent or minimize such an occurrence. It is not possible to prevent every risk on a site, but the employer or business owner must take all the precautions expected of a reasonable person.
After implementing the safety measures, the employer or management must implement measures where site risk assessments will be carried out periodically to ensure that the measures are effective. These periodic site risk assessments also serve to update the employers of any new risks in the workplace. Such factors that might contribute to new risks would be the introduction of new equipment into the workplace or other changes in the everyday work conditions and environment.