What is a Risk Assessment?

What is a Risk Assessment?

March 28, 2021

There’s a lot of talk about risk assessments at the moment. Even though we stick to talking about HR on this blog, I thought you may find it useful to learn a bit more about risk assessments.

Here’s a blog from Frank McCormack one of our HR Advisors.

At it’s simplest, a risk assessment is looking at something that may be a hazard little or large in the workplace and working out what to do to remove it, reduce it or manage it.

None of us want to come to harm at work or let others suffer harm and the law reflects this. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, state an employer must do the following:

  • identify what could cause injury or illness in your business (hazards)
  • decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously (risk); and
  • actions to remove it or if that cannot be done, to minimize or control it.

You can do it yourself or with another person as sometimes two heads are better than one. Think about asking staff if they have noticed anything.

What you will be doing is:

  • Identifying hazards
  • Assessing the level of risk
  • Measures to control the risks
  • Keeping records
  • Review the measures

Identify hazards

Think about how people work and the environment you are in. Look about the workplace and are there any hazards?

For each hazard, think about how employees, children, parents or visitors might be affected.

Assess the risks

Having spotted the hazards, you need to decide:

  • Who might be harmed and how
  • What’s in place to control the risks
  • Is there any further action you need to take to control the risks
  • Who needs to carry out the action
  • Is it time sensitive

Control the risks

Look at what you are already doing, and the measures you have in place. Ask yourself 2 questions:

  1. Is there anything I can do to eliminate the risk?
  2. If it’s not possible to get rid of it (and sometimes it is not), is there anything else I can do to minimize or manage it better?

Keep a record

Always keep a written record. You must if you have 5 or more staff.

Review the measures

You must review the controls you have put in place to make sure they are working. You should also review what is in place if circumstances change.

Remember you are not expected to eliminate all risks but you need to do everything ‘reasonably practicable’ to protect people from harm.

There is a balance to be struck between level of risk, the measures to control the risk and your resources in terms of time, trouble and money.


Do make sure you have a Pregnancy Risk Assessment especially in these times of the COVID-19 pandemic. You will find ours for sale here.




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