A-level Applied Science/Investigating Science at Work/Health and safety
What is a risk assessment?
Risk assessments became a legal obligation under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Act of 1988.
Since then, the idea has become part of all health & safety regulations.
- Who assesses risks?
Employers (including the self-employed). Outside help may be used.
- Who is at risk?
Yourself, your workers, members of the public.
- What risks are assessed?
Anything that could cause harm to people.
- How thorough should the assessment be?
“Adequate”/”Suitable and sufficient”. Precautions taken against hazards need also be assessed.
- When to assess?
Before starting work
Necessary if five or more employees. Need to be kept on file for a period of time.
Regular review is good practice. Review must be carried out if the work has changed significantly.
- STEP 1: Look for the hazards
- STEP 2: Decide who might be harmed and how
- STEP 3: Evaluate the risks and decide whether the existing precautions are adequate or whether more should be done
- STEP 4: Record your findings
- STEP 5: Review your assessment and revise it if necessary
Main sources of regulation
- Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (Management Regulations);
- Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (Manual Handling Regulations);
- Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (PPE);
- Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 (Display Screen Regulations);
- Noise at Work Regulations 1989 (Noise Regulations);
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH);
- Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 1987 (Asbestos Regulations);
- Control of Lead at Work Regulations 1998 (Lead Regulations).
- There are also regulations dealing with highly specialised risks such as major hazards, ionising radiation, genetic manipulation etc.
British Standards and Kitemarks
British Standards is a trading division of the British Standards Institution and is part of BSI Group which also includes a testing organisation. British Standards has a Royal Charter to act as the standards organisation for the UK. It is formally designated as the National Standards Body (NSB) for the UK.
BSI group incorporates three divisions - the Standards division which publishes British Standards, the Product Services division (the "Kitemark") and the Mananagement Systems division, a management systems registrar.
The standards produced are titled British Standard XXXX where XXXX is the number of the standard. British Standards currently has over 17,000 active standards. Products are commonly specified as meeting a particular British Standard, and in general this can be done without any certification or independent testing. The standard simply provides a shorthand way of claiming that certain specifications are met, while encouraging manufacturers to adhere to a common method for such a specification.
The Kite Mark can be used to indicate certification by the BSI, but only where a Kite Mark scheme has been set up around a particular standard. It is mainly applicable to safety and quality management standards. There is a common misunderstanding that Kite Marks are necessary to prove compliance with any BS standard, but in general it is neither desirable nor possible that every standard be 'policed' in this way.
Another key activity carried out by British Standards is the CE Marking of Medical Devices. The CE 0086 marking can be issued to devices that are found to comply with the Medical Device Directive.
Frequently used BS standards
- BS 1363 for mains power plugs and sockets
- BS 546 for mains power plugs and sockets (older standard)
- BS 5750 for quality management, the source for ISO 9000
- BS 5950 for structural steel
- BS 6312 for telephone plugs and sockets
- BS 6879 for British geocodes, a superset of ISO 3166-2:GB
- BS 7799 for information security, the source for ISO 17799
- BS 8110 for structural concrete
- BS 15000 for IT Service Management, (ITIL), now ISO 20000
- Official website
- BSI Online Shop
- info4education – allows users at many British universities to download selected British Standards via an ATHENS login