‘Is it mandatory?’ and four more frequently asked questions about the risk analysis

Every employer is responsible for the health and safety of their employees, as stipulated by the Welfare Act. Or to put it differently: there are all kinds of hazards in every workplace that can be a risk to the well-being of employees. As an employer, you must eliminate or limit those hazards. The mandatory risk analysis is the starting point in this process. When, how, and how often should such a document be prepared? Find out in this FAQ.

Question 1: what is the purpose of a risk analysis?

A risk analysis is an inventory of all possible work-related risks within your organisation, and the corresponding prevention measures to eliminate, reduce, or limit the damage.

After all, exposure to hazards at work can affect the well-being of employees. This could be exposure to chemical substances in a paint shop or to viruses and bacteria in a lab. But hours of sedentary work in front of a computer screen or a high workload poses just as many risks.

The risk analysis forms the basis of the Global Prevention Plan (GPP), an overview of all prevention activities over a five-year period. The Annual Action Plan (AAP), the plan for the specific implementation of your prevention measures, applies to the coming working year and is based on the GPP.

Question 2: there are no hazardous products or processes in my company, is a risk analysis still mandatory?

Yes, because every work environment has risks, however limited. That is why the Welfare Act stipulates that every organisation must have a policy on risk management - a dynamic risk management system or DRM in prevention jargon.

Essentially this means that you, the employer, take measures related to the seven aspects of well-being to eliminate professional risks or to avoid or reduce harm when exposed. The starting point for this DRM is the risk analysis required by law. If the labour inspectorate pays a visit and you are unable to present a risk analysis, you could be sanctioned.

Seven different aspects of well-being

As well as the traditional topics of safety and health, well-being as part of the Welfare Act comprises the psychosocial aspects of the work, ergonomics, occupational hygiene, workplace beautification and the internal environment - insofar as the latter affects the other six aspects of well-being.

Question 3: how do I go about drawing up a risk analysis for my company?

The main purpose of the risk analysis is to identify all occupational hazards, so that you can then link preventive measures to them. Mapping the risks happens at three levels: the entire organisation, roles or functions, and individual employees.

The great diversity of occupational hazards is the very stumbling block when preparing a risk analysis. And even though the risks present obviously depend on the type of organisation, each aspect of well-being (see box question 2) should be addressed in the risk analysis. There are lots of different methods to tackle the analysis in a systematic manner. Do you prefer an online tool? If yes, the Oira tools, developed by EU-OSHA, are a good solution.

Working with the SOBANE method

This structured approach is the brainchild of the Federal Public Service on Employment, Labour, and Social Dialogue (FOD WASO). There are guides for each sector that are free to download.

The acronym SOBANE refers to Screening, OBservation, ANalysis and Expertise – the four steps of a risk analysis:

1.     Screening: together with your employees - and the internal prevention advisor, if there is one - you identify the main risks and outline measures to control these risks.

2.     Observation: together with the employees involved in the specific task, department, or role - and possibly the internal prevention advisor - you take a more in-depth look at the specific risk domains (e.g. noise, chemical agents, fire hazards). There are free guides to help you with a systemic approach to this in-depth look too.

3.     Analysis: you look for solutions and prevention measures for the risks identified. Your external prevention service can offer the necessary support here. For example, you can arrange a visit from someone at Mensura for a well-being audit.

4.     Expertise: eliminating or mitigating very complex risks is specialist work, especially if measurements are required to identify the hazards (such as noise, radiation). Sometimes you will need to engage an external prevention advisor in this phase.

Question 4: am I obliged to prepare additional analyses for specific aspects of risk?

If your employees or certain teams are exposed to specific hazards (e.g. working at height, chemical agents, extreme temperatures), you will have to draw up a more in-depth analysis of the hazards and measures for this particular aspect of risk. The SOBANE guides for 15 different aspects of risk can serve as guidelines.

The Welfare Act stipulates that each organisation must prepare a separate risk analysis for the prevention of psychosocial risks. The FOD WASO (Federal Public Service for Employment, Labour and Social Dialogue) has made a separate guideline available for this purpose. You can find more practical tips here.

Sonar maps your organisation’s well-being

How are your employees feeling, physically and mentally, when doing their jobs? Sonar can be used to carry out a simple and accessible psychosocial risk analysis.

Read more about Sonar >


Question 5: how often should I update my risk analysis?

A risk analysis is a snapshot of all possible hazards within the organisation. As such, every time there is a change in the setting or context in which people work, the risk analysis also needs adjusting. When you start a new business activity, for example, or when you make changes to the infrastructure or the way team are organised.

It is important that you take a moment to scan the integral risk analysis when this happens. After all, the various aspects of well-being are not disconnected. For instance, the procurement of a new machine can impact the employees involved in many aspects: ergonomics, team working, and workload, noise and vibrations, etc.

Drawing up a risk analysis requires effort and is not always self-explanatory without the right prior knowledge. Leave your details below and our experts will be happy to help if you have questions or would welcome a sounding board or extra support.