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How to carry out a workplace risk assessment

A risk assessment is an important step in protecting your workers and your business, as well as complying with the law. It helps you focus on the risks that really matter in your workplace – the ones with the potential to cause real harm.

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For most employers, that means simple, cheap and effective measures to ensure your most valuable asset – your workforce – is protected.

Why carry out a risk assessment?

Risk assessments are required for all aspects of your operations. You must identify hazards and assess the level of risk they present to employees and others. The law does not expect you to eliminate all risk, but you are required to protect people as far as 'reasonably practicable'.

Effective risk assessment

Procedures must be implemented to ensure that:

  • A competent person is identified to carry out a risk assessment
  • Hazards must be identified - hazards, in this case, are anything that has the potential to cause harm.
  • The people at risk are identified - this does not just mean employees and visitors, the general public, customers, contractors and numerous other groups could all be deemed to be at risk.
  • The risks arising from hazards are identified - this means assessing the likelihood that harm may result from an identified hazard 
  • The risks are evaluated - this is a process whereby you assess the probability of the risk against the severity of the potential outcomes 
  • You have identified control measures to reduce the likelihood of a problem occurring. Control measures should be identified and recorded for each hazard and risk. It may be possible to take additional precautions and practical steps to remove or minimise the risk.
  • Assessment findings must be recorded.
  • The assessment findings should be reviewed on a regular basis – especially if there are changes made to the workplace or to operational procedures or, of course, if an accident occurs.

Risk assessment template

Download a free risk assessment template taken from our Health & Safety Guide.

For more specific risk assessments, or advice on health and safety, call 0845 130 1722 to find out how the Forum can help your business. We can provide guides and templates backed up by legal insurance and a 24/7 legal helpline to ensure your business is covered.