How to conduct an office-based risk assessment

In these times of health and safety awareness the need for risk assessment plays a large part in any industry, large and small, manual and white-collar.  There are standard rules to follow in order to carry out a successful and accurate workplace risk assessment. Here, we help you with some handy hints to ensure you are on the ball.

WorriedWomanNailBiteSteps to take when planning your risk assessment

  • To start with, set aside a suitable day and enough time to carry out the task; you can make a better job of it by making it a definite part of the working day rather than just fitting it in when you have a spare ten minutes.
  • Start by doing an appraisal of the office space. Make a note of any hazards you can immediately see such as trailing wires, torn carpets, haphazard furniture layout or potential opportunities for spillages of liquids.  These are all areas where slips and trips could result.  If you have filing cabinets or storage cupboards, they should be easily accessible.  Make sure tall cabinets are filled with the heaviest files at the bottom to maintain stability.
  • A common form of accident comes from poorly maintained electrical equipment leading to burns or shocks from faulty or damaged wiring. It is essential that maintenance be kept up to date and accurate records kept.
  • If any hazardous substances like solvents or other chemicals are used these should be stored correctly and only handled by designated staff members who are trained in safe handling according to a COSHH assessment.
  • Look at the number of staff you have and where they are all seated. Make a note of any ergonomic problems i.e., incorrect positioning of chairs and desks which could lead to posture-induced back pain, and incorrect positioning of computer screens and potential eye-strain issues.
  • Do you have any disabled staff; e.g. wheelchair users or those who need walking aids. You need to consider whether all your staff can easily evacuate the premises in an emergency situation.  A fire drill routine is essential and all staff should be clear on where the fire exits are.  Fire exits should never be obstructed.

Part of a risk assessment is finding out whether there have been any previous workplace accidents and if so, what were they and what was the outcome?  This could provide a useful tool when it comes to preventing future repeat occurrences. Talk to your staff, collectively or individually, including any after-hours cleaning and security staff.  They can provide valuable information when it comes to spotting hazards.

If you’re unsure whether your health and safety practices are compliant, or you’re not managing to keep up with what you need to do, why not speak to Synergos. We offer Health and Safety support to small and medium sized businesses, allowing them to feel safe in the knowledge that they are compliant, but without having to spend countless hours researching what they need to do. We’re always willing to answer any questions on our services, so don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing us on, calling us on 01484 817444 or visiting out website

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Steve Kilburn
Steve Kilburn
I initially trained as an industrial chemist working in a variety of manufacturing environments eventually moving into quality management which grew to encompass environmental and occupational health and safety management systems. I hold a Masters Degree in Health and Safety law and Environmental Law and a Post Graduate Certificate in Sustainable Waste Management and I am a Graduate Level Member of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). In my spare time I enjoy reading, my favourite author is Stephen King, and listening to music, generally from the late 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
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