Understanding risk assessments: What to do and legal requirements

At Ductbusters, it’s not unusual to find ourselves working in conditions that fall under the need for a risk assessment. When working with ductwork, you’re working at height, in confined spaces, and with substances that could cause harm to health, such as grease, dust, flour or even skin. Risk assessments and the procedures involved are very familiar to us, but it’s important that everyone is aware of what a risk assessment is, why you need to do one, and the legality of carrying out a risk assessment.


When to carry out a risk assessment

A risk assessment should be carried out before you undertake any work that presents a risk of illness or injury to the employee or general public. Only employers or the self-employed need to carry out a risk assessment for their staff by law. You should carry out a risk assessment for your general workplace, and before you undertake any kind of work that presents a risk of injury or illness.

It’s a legal requirement that all companies carry out risk assessments every five years to be compliant with current UK law.

When conducting a risk assessment, you need to consider any significant hazards and risks.

  • A hazard is something that can cause harm to a person, such as electrical cables or chemicals.
  • A risk is the likelihood of a hazard causing harm, either to a person or the public.


Risks and hazards will vary greatly between locations, type of work, and your staff, so be mindful of each unique situation when carrying out a risk assessment.

For example, an employer may carry out a general risk assessment for day-to-day office work, but would need to complete a separate risk assessment if the staff were to be attending and working at a different facility off-site for a week, as the new location needs to be assessed for potential risks and hazards to staff.

If you frequently move between sites or the nature of your work varies, you should try and take into account any risks or hazards you reasonably expect to find. If the work changes drastically, you should do another risk assessment.


What should a risk assessment include?

The most important thing for a risk assessment to include is the evaluation of all significant risks and hazards that are posed to staff or the general public as a result of working or contact with work. A risk assessment should consider all potential significant risks and hazards, including how they may affect different groups of people, such as the elderly, children, or those with disabilities.

A risk assessment must show:

  • Proper checks were made.
  • All those who may be affected have been considered.
  • All significant risks and hazards are assessed.
  • The precautions put into place are reasonable.
  • The remaining risk to staff or others is low.

It should also include any controls that are currently in place that help reduce risk, such as rubber floor mats to help reduce slips, trips, and falls. If practical and possible, you can also record controls you will put into place to help reduce the likelihood of a hazard causing harm to someone.


How Ductbusters can help

At Ductbusters, our work specialises in improving health and safety and reducing risks for all. Our work on improving fire safety systems and cleaning ductwork helps contribute to a lower-risk environment. When carrying out your risk assessment, having clean ductwork and fully operational fire dampers might be something to consider, and Ductbusters can help.

Ductbusters Consultancy Services can help assess whether your ductwork needs maintenance (either cleaning or remedial works) and check your fire dampers and fire safety measurements to see if any additional safety procedures are needed, or if any remedial work needs undertaking. This helps save you time and money as we can effectively assess your ductwork and fire safety needs and produce a quote for any work we recommend.

We can assess any installed ductwork and are happy to share our expertise when it comes to ventilation hygiene and cleaning, ductwork inspection and kitchen extract requirements. With over 20 years of experience in the ductwork industry, Ductbusters are well-known experts when it comes to legal requirements and management of many ductwork and extract systems.


Don’t put off risk assessments – call Ductbusters today and see how we can help: http://ductbusters.co.uk/contact-us/


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