Box 12: Five steps to risk assessment
Step 1 – Look for the hazards
A walk around the premises is useful here, but this step may also be informed by records of injuries or threats of violence, etc.
Step 2 – Decide who might be harmed and how
Staff, patients, children, contractors and other visitors. Be particularly aware of risks to children – eg. corrosive substances or sharps left within their reach, the condition of toys provided in the waiting room.
Step 3 – Evaluate the risks arising from the hazard
Are existing precautions adequate? Are there shortcomings? Is it possible to eliminate the hazard altogether? Is staff training required (eg. lifting techniques)?
Step 4 – Record your findings
Make a record of each hazard identified, who is at risk, what precautions are in place, what needs to be done to improve or eliminate the risk.
Step 5 – Assess the effectiveness of precautions
Undertake periodic reviews and investigate the underlying causes of untoward incidents, near misses and complaints.
- NHS Health Education Authority, Health and Safety in General Practice: A Guide to Risk Assessment for GPs and Practice Managers, 1998)