A new online risk assessment which can rapidly reduces the time it takes to weigh up the hazards in offices is now estimated to take only 20 minutes.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has produced a web tool to help employers to consider potential hazards in their office and think about how they can manage them to keep staff safe.

The new tool will aim to cut down on the amount of paperwork and bureaucracy for office-based businesses, which tend to be low risk.

Safety officials will regularly carry out inspections based on the results of the online assessment, looking for evidence that businesses have taken appropriate steps to effectivley manage workplace risk.

Judith Hackitt, the HSE chair, said:

“Many people assume that risk assessments need to be long, formal documents covering every hazard, no matter how minor or unlikely to occur. That’s not the case and the new 20-minute risk assessments make it clear that this can be done for any office quickly and easily.

“We’ve previously provided example risk assessments to help people identify the sort of risks they should be considering, but this goes one step further in helping employers actually do the assessment for offices.

“Employers know their businesses better than anyone – and with a little helping hand they can easily consider what is necessary to protect workers. Complying with the law in a low risk business can be done with common sense by anyone.”

The online tool works by prompting employers to answer a series of questions about their workplace and then generates a unique risk assessment with actions required.

HSE already provides example risk assessments for 34 workplaces, including charity shops, estate agents and hairdressers. They help businesses get to grips with the sort of risks they will need to manage.

The new 20-minute risk assessments differ because the online tool prompts employers to answer a series of straightforward questions that generates their risk assessment and action plan. Simplified risk assessments for other low risk workplaces are currently being developed.