What Is A Risk Assessment?


The management of Health and Safety at Work Regulation 1999 requires all employees and self-employed persons to assess the risk to employees and anyone else who may be affected by their activity.

The Health & Safety Executive website provides advice, guidance and worked examples of how to undertake risk assessments.

Risk Assessment - An Overview for Employers

As an employer, you must assess and manage health and safety risks - whether you are a big business, a small business or just a one-person operation. Accidents and ill health can ruin lives and damage your business. You are not expected to eliminate all risk, but you are required to protect people as far as 'reasonably practicable'.

A risk assessment is an important tool in protecting your workers and your business. It helps you focus on those risks that have the potential to cause harm. Most of these can be readily controlled by straightforward measures.

Once you have completed the assessment it is important to put your results into practice.

If you need to make a number of improvements, you should produce an action plan to deal with the most important first. You should review your assessment on an ongoing basis to make sure that it remains up to date and effective.

This guide details the risk assessment you're required to carry out under health and safety law.

Your Legal Obligations

If you run a business, however big or small, you must carry out a careful examination of what in your work could cause harm to people.

You must decide what in your work could cause harm to:-

  • you
  • your employees, should you have any
  • members of the public

This is so that you can weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent harm.

There are five steps to any risk assessment:-

Don't overcomplicate the process - risk assessments should be 'suitable and sufficient'. If your risks are well known and the necessary control measures are easy to apply, your risk assessment should also be simple.

If your business is small and you are confident that you understand what's involved, you can do the assessment yourself - you don't have to be a health and safety expert.

If you work in a larger business you could ask a health and safety expert to help you.

If you are not confident, get help from someone who is competent. In all cases, you should make sure that you involve your staff or their representatives in the process - they may have useful information about how the work is done, which will make your assessment of the risk more thorough and effective.