Assessing the risks

What types of risks need to be considered?

In some organisations the health and safety risks will be tangible and immediate safety issues, eg machine guarding, whereas in others the risks may be health-related and it could be a long time before the illness becomes apparent. Degrading plant integrity could also lead to later emerging risks in some businesses. 

Health and safety risks also range from things that happen very infrequently but with catastrophic effects (high-hazard, low-frequency events, such as an oil refinery explosion) to things that happen much more frequently but with lesser consequences (low-hazard, high-frequency events). Clearly, the high-hazard, low-frequency example could destroy the business and would be high-priority in a risk profile. 

Who should do the assessment?

A risk assessment should be completed by someone with a knowledge of the activity, process or material that is being assessed. Workers and their safety representatives are a valuable source of information. 

If an adviser or consultant assists with the risk assessment, managers and workers should still be involved.

Who could be affected?

Consider all your activities, taking account of possible harm to:

Remember to think of how a risk could affect different groups, such as young or inexperienced workers, pregnant workers, workers with a disability, migrant workers or ageing workers. Also consider your supply chain - if that is not properly managed, the actions of others in those networks can impact on your health and safety risks.

Find out more

Examples of ways to control risks in the workplace can be found in The health and safety toolbox.

Updated: 2021-05-11