5 Steps to Risk Assessment

5 Steps to Risk Assessment

Risk assessments are an absolute requirement under health and safety legislation and failure to conduct them is an offence.

Risk assessments are designed to ensure employers have adequately considered the things that can go wrong in the workplace and should take into account:

  • People
  • Premises
  • Plant
  • Procedures
  • It’s important to
  • understand the difference
  • between risk and a hazard:


Risk is the chance, high or low, of somebody being harmed by the hazard, and how serious the harm could be.

A hazard is anything that may cause harm, e.g. chemicals, electricity, working from ladders, noise etc.

The HSE suggests that risk assessments should follow five simple steps:

Step 1: Identify the hazards

Step 2: Decide who might be harmed and how

Step 3: Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions

Step 4: Record your findings and implement them

Step 5: Review your assessment and update if necessary

Prevention is the preferable course of action and the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulations suggest the following:

  • Avoid the risk completely – change the design or the process
  • Substitute – use less hazardous materials, e.g. different chemicals
  • Minimise – limit exposure to individuals, perhaps by job rotation
  • General control measures – guarding, barriers or warning systems
  • PPE – the last resort because it protects only the individual
    Conducting Risk Assessments


When conducting risk assessments, the assessor should take into account the information that is available for the type(s) of risks involved, including:

Regulations, e.g. Work at Height Regulations 2005

Any associated Approved Code of Practice (ACoP), which provides practical interpretation of the legislation for employers

Good practice guidance notes from the HSE, special interest groups and trade associations

Company’s own health and safety policy and arrangements document (sometimes more exacting than the law itself)

The people doing the job who know how things are actually done, rather than just how they should be done

External consultants, e.g. asbestos specialists

Record and Review

Employers with five or more employees have a legal duty to record risk assessments in writing. These should be communicated via memos, training, team briefs etc.

They should then set a date for review to check whether the risk assessment is still adequate, following:

  • Changes in working practices
  • New plant
  • Changes in legislation, and/or
  • As a result of an accident

    Finally, it is important to get out into the workplace and ensure that risk control measures are in place and working effectively.

If you would like assistance in compiling site specific Risk Assessment/Method Statement (RAMS) then contact us today