25th March, 2019

The 5 Steps To Risk Assessment (And How To Complete Them)

We might not realise it but we risk assess things all day. When we are driving, working, playing, and even just crossing the road - is it safe? When completing a formal risk assessment to work, there are 5 steps to follow... but what are the 5 steps to risk assessment?

The 5 Steps To Risk Assessment (And How To Complete Them) header image

In this blog post, we will look at the 5 steps to risk assessment, and how to complete them. But first, let's look at why we need the 5 steps.

You might not realise it but you risk assess things all day. When we are driving, working, playing, and even just crossing the road. We ask ourselves, is this safe? It's a skill we discover as children and develop through experience. We learn when things are hot, not to touch them again.

Yes, some people might be more accident prone than others. But, no matter how clumsy you think you are, we all have the ability to assess risks. To look at a situation and determine if it is safe to continue.

Risk assessment at work might seem more formal. It's a legal requirement after all. But it serves the same purpose and asks the same question. Is this safe?

That's all a risk assessment is, at its core. An assessment of risk. The hazards might be more complex, depending on the type of work you do. The risks might be more serious than touching something hot. But the overall aim is the same. We need to make sure the activity is safe, or it is made safe.

The 5 steps to risk assessment:

  1. Identify the hazards
  2. Decide who might be harmed and how
  3. Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions
  4. Record your significant findings
  5. Review your assessment and update if necessary

These are the 5 steps you can work through when creating a risk assessment. Going through this step-by-step process will help you to make sure you have covered all the necessary bases. Ok, to we now know the 5 steps, but how do we complete them?

You can use the free blank risk assessment template, to follow along and create your own risk assessment.

1. Identify the hazards

The first step is to identify the hazards. A hazard is something with the potential to cause harm. There may be one hazard or multiple hazards involved with a task or activity.

You don't have to identify every possible hazard, but you should aim to identify any significant hazards. These are things which could result in harm to people. Hazards can be identified by reviewing the activity, and the working environment.


2. Decide who might be harmed and how

Next, decide who might be harmed and how.

For each hazard, you need to be clear about who might be harmed. This might be workers carrying out the activity, visitors, or even members of the public if you are working on or adjacent to public areas.

Don't just think about those carrying out the task. Of course, they might be the most obvious people that could be harmed. But what about others? If the task creates dust or fumes, that could spread to other workers nearby. If you are working in public areas or in occupied buildings, you need to think about people beyond your own team.

3. Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions

In step 3, evaluate the risks and decide on precautions. You should look at the likelihood and possible severity of harm occurring. The higher the risk, the more of a priority controlling that risk should be.

Use the free risk assessment calculator to help assess and prioritise your risk levels.

You must make sure you know about the main risks and the things you need to do to manage them responsibly. Decide what risk level is acceptable before you start the work. If control measures are not in place that need to be, then work shouldn't start or continue until those risks have been controlled.

Put in place actions and controls to reduce the risk as much as is reasonably practicable, to reduce the risk to an acceptable level.

Here are the 5 best risk assessment control measures with examples, to help you out with step 3.

4. Record your significant findings

Once you have completed the first 3 steps, it's time to record your significant findings. This is a legal requirement if you have 5 or more employees.

(6) Where the employer employs five or more employees, he shall record—

  1. the significant findings of the assessment; and
  2. any group of his employees identified by it as being especially at risk.

It's useful to record your findings no matter what size of business you are. Clients and others may ask to see it. Your team might need to see it. And it shows that you are complying with the requirement to carry out a risk assessment.

A written risk assessment is a record of your findings, and can be used to communicate the hazards and controls to your workforce, and as a record that the assessment has been carried out.

5. Review your assessment and update if necessary

Finally, make sure you review your assessment and update if necessary. Things can change over time, review and revision may be necessary when conditions change or based on feedback from the team completing the activity.

How often you need to review your risk assessment will depend on a number of factors. If the way you work changes. If you introduce new technology or equipment. If health and safety regulations change. If you identify problems.

Find out more in how often do you need to review a risk assessment?

Review your risk assessments periodically and make sure your risk assessment stays up to date.

Need help with your risk assessments? We have a large library of risk assessment templates you can edit and use for your business activities.

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This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.

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