5 Steps to Risk Assessing

5 Steps to Risk Assessing

There can be no doubt that the risk assessment is the bedrock of good health and safety compliance. It provides the foundation to build out your procedures, culture, and policy and is invaluable at ensuring the safety of your staff and legal compliance.

As such, it is vital that your risk assessments are robust and up to date. With this in mind, let’s a take a detailed look at the five steps to achieving the perfect risk assessment.

Step 1 – Identify the Hazards

The first step in risk assessing is to meticulously identify potential hazards in the workplace. This involves a thorough examination of all aspects of the work environment, considering various factors such as equipment, substances, training and competency of the staff, work activities, and the layout of the premises to pinpoint anything that could cause harm. Put simply, what aspect of the task can potentially cause harm and what is the severity of that harm.

For example, being run over by a forklift truck causes a lot more harm than paper cuts and so both require different control measures.

Each task should be assessed individually factoring in additional regulation requirements such as manual handling, control of substances hazardous to health, working at height etc where applicable.

It’s crucial to involve employees in this process, as they offer valuable insights into the day-to-day risks encountered. Identifying hazards is not a one-time activity; it requires constant vigilance and updating as conditions and processes evolve.

Step 2 – Determine who could be harmed and how

Once hazards are identified, the next step is to assess the risks associated with them. This involves determining the likelihood of these hazards causing harm and the severity of the potential consequences. In this stage, consideration is given to who might be harmed and how, including employees, visitors, or the general public.   You may have the same hazard but depending on the environment the likelihood may increase/reduce e.g in a nursery where children are playing in comparison to a workplace full of adults.  The assessment should be proportionate to the risk, ensuring that more time and effort are dedicated to evaluating higher risks. Documenting this process is vital for accountability and future reference.

Once you have identified the risks, the next steps are to implement control measures to reduce those risks. Ideally, you want to look to eliminating the risk completely although that is not always possible.

Step 3 – Evaluate the Risks and Implement Control Measures

Evaluating the risks involves determining whether existing precautions are sufficient or if more should be done to mitigate the risks. According the Health and Safety at Work Act the principle of ‘so far as is reasonably practicable’ applies here, where the level of risk is balanced against the measures needed to control it. This step includes prioritising risks and implementing control measures to eliminate hazards or reduce risk levels.  You should look to eliminate as much as you can, where you can’t eliminate add in other control measures such as engineering controls, training, signage, and personal protective equipment (PPE) if no other measure can be undertaken to protect a member of staff.

Top Tip: Gathering views and opinions with employees who do the work is essential to ensure the effectiveness and practicality of these measures.
Step 4 – Record Your Significant Findings

Documenting significant findings is a legal requirement under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.  This record should include details of the hazards identified, the risks assessed, and the measures put in place to manage these risks. The documentation serves as evidence that a proper risk assessment was conducted, and it is law for organisations with five or more employees. It also acts as a reference point for future assessments and for informing employees about the risks and precautions.

The chances are your organisation will be audited from a health and safety point of view, and the auditors will want to see your risk assessments and evidence that you have implemented control measures to reduce risks.

Step 5 – Regularly Review Your Risk Assessment

The final step is the regular review and updating of the risk assessment. Risks in the workplace are dynamic, so ongoing evaluation is essential to ensure continued safety. This includes reviewing the assessment whenever there are significant changes in the workplace, such as new equipment, processes, or personnel. It also involves considering any new hazards or incidents that have occurred, ensuring that the risk assessment remains relevant and effective in managing risks.

You should regularly review your risk assessments, but at least annually or sooner if deemed necessary in cases such as an accident/near miss occurring, new and expectant mothers, work activity changes etc.


Final Thoughts on Risk Assessments

Risk assessing is the first step to achieving a safety culture in the workplace. It is important to appoint someone who is competent and that two-way communication is present between the assessor, senior managers, supervisors and employees who carry out the task.

Once the risk assessment is in place it is important that the control measures are enforced to ensure employee safety, with some kind of disciplinary procedure should control measures be broken.


One of the most frequent reasons we see why employers have been prosecuted by the HSE is because their risk assessments were not sufficient which lead to an accident/incident taking place.

Don’t let that be you!

Get up to Speed With Your Risk Assessments

Given the importance of risk management it is a good idea to bring in professionals who are qualified, experienced, and knowledgeable. At Westminster Compliance we have developed several courses to help you get to grips with risk management which you can find here; Risk Assessment and Risk Management Courses.

You can also work with us directly and we can help you develop comprehensive risk assessments to keep your staff safe, and you compliant with health and safety law. Get in Touch today to find out how Westminster Compliance can help you.

We look forward to working with you.



About Us

Westminster Compliance was established to provide a more personal, proactive health and safety consultancy that would keep businesses working and compliant with ever-changing legislation.

Our presentations and training are interesting and fun because we want our clients to buy into health and safety, and definitely not to see it as a boring, unnecessary nuisance. We know that our best service is provided to small and medium sized organisations and have developed a system that works in most industries.
We stick with straightforward language, keeping away from jargon, and do not make ridiculous promises. Most importantly, we realise that we are working with human beings.

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