Risk Assessments

Risk Assessments for New England Businesses

MAC Safety conducts risk assessments for New England businesses. Risks are an inevitable part of day-to-day business operations. The purpose of a risk assessment is to detect potential operational hazards and risks to a company’s employees and on-site guests.

We believe the more businesses stay ahead of adverse situations; the less vulnerable they are to them. Our intent is to keep workplaces in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont safe, OSHA compliant, and prevent setbacks or disruptions to business operations.

What Is a Risk Assessment?

Before defining a risk assessment, we must first explain hazards and risks. A hazard is any possible threat of harm. A risk is the likelihood of being harmed by exposure to said hazard.

A risk assessment is a preventative strategy that serves as the first step in addressing probable risk. By systematically indentifying workplace hazards, a corrective action plan can be implemented to avoid or better control any perceived risk.

It’s important for any business or industry to have a risk assessment in place that details job-related hazards. Certain jobs may require a more specific risk assessment unique to that particular job’s responsibilities or worksite conditions.

Does Every Business or Industry Need a Risk Assessment?

Conducting a risk assessment is important for two principal reasons:

1. OSHA compliance is mandatory and risk assessments are needed to ensure compliancy.
2. Management owes it to employees to identify and better manage occupational or workplace dangers.

When is the Best Time for a Risk Assessment?

At a minimum, risk assessments should be conducted annually. It’s recommended that a new risk assessment be performed if there are ever any changes to procedures or the work environment within those 12 months.

The best time to perform a risk assessment is before new procedures are introduced.

Below, we’ve compiled 7 steps for an acceptable risk assessment:

  1. Focus on the actual assessment
  2. Associate work activities with hazards
  3. Assess risk probability
  4. Identify who is most at risk
  5. Evaluate risk control methods
  6. Keep solid records and documentation
  7. Regularly review and update

Is Documentation Required for a Risk Assessment?

Risk assessments work best when presented in conjunction with company-issued documentation. It’s important to keep workers aware of on-the-job hazards and the need to safely and responsibly carry out job duties. This documentation should include:

  • Safety Policies
  • Work Instructions
  • Hazardous Material Assessment
  • Training Records
  • Accident/Injury Records
  • Fire Safety Risk Assessment

It is the responsibility of management and/or an employee representative to promote a safe work environment. Everyone from upper management to workers and third parties should know of possible on-site or job-related hazards. Workplace safety is a team effort that requires all parties to work collaboratively to prevent and/or minimize workplace accidents, injuries, illnesses, and fatalities.

Risk assessments are designed to guide employees; especially those with workplace safety management and hazard control responsibilities.

How Are Risk Levels Assessed?

Risk levels are best categorized in a numbered format. Rate each individual hazard and multiply that number by its likelihood of occurring. Here’s an example of this equation:

Risk level = Hazard Severity x Probability of Occurrence

Step One

The following table rates each hazard with a severity marker:

Risk LevelEffect of Hazard
4Permanent Disability
3Disabling Injury
2Injury Resulting in Missed Work
1Injury Requiring First Aid Attention Only

For instance:

If falling down the stairs (hazard) can contribute to permanent disablement or death, its risk level would be rated a 2 or 1.

Step Two

From there, rate the likelihood of each hazard. The table below demonstrates this:

Risk LevelLikelihood of Occurrence
4Near Certain
3Very Likely

For example:

If falling down the stairs (hazard) were very likely to occur, its risk level would be rated a 3.

Step Three

When you multiple these two scores together, the risk level is determined. This calculation can be entered into the risk assessment form like this:

5 (hazard) multiplied by 3 (occurrence) = 15

Step Four

Management can use the following bullet points to determine what controls to prioritize. Let this act as a guideline for deciding what hazards and risks require a more urgent course of action. The numbers you see below will vary from one workplace to the next.

  • If a hazard has a risk ranking of 22-25, it requires immediate action to reduce risk.
  • If a hazard has a risk ranking of 16-22, management or supervisors must be notified.
  • If a hazard has a risk ranking between 1-15, its recommended that action is taken at the earliest opportunity to reduce risk.

Try to reduce overall risk to the lowest extent reasonably practical. This means any measures that can be reasonably carried out at an acceptable cost with no regard to technical know how.