A quick and easy online tool to help retailers assess their in-store hazards is now available to trial on the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website.

According to the HSE, the new tool which takes the user through a series of simple questions about their risks before generating a plan of action will spare retailers from unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy.

The tool, which is recognised by local authority inspectors, will take the "mystery out of risk assessments, giving retailers the means to be confident that they have identified the key risks in their premises and how to minimise them," said HSE chair Judith Hackitt.

"Shop managers are best placed to identify what happens in their premises. One of the real plus points is that the tool helps to clear away those things that retailers don't need to waste time worrying about," she added.

However, it does not replace specific risk assessments for higher risk activities such as the sale or storage of chemicals or fireworks, or outlets where there are machinery operations.

The online risk assessment tool can be found at www.hse.gov.uk/consult/condocs/risk-assessment/shop.htm.