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How to do a risk assessment

Think about what might cause harm to people in your workplace and decide whether you are taking reasonable steps to prevent or control that harm.

This process is called risk assessment and it will tell you whether you have covered all you need to. Try not to overcomplicate the process.

Think about the hazards

Look around your workplace and think about what may cause harm (these are called hazards). What is it about the activities, processes or substances used that could injure or harm you, an employee or a member of the public/visitor?

Look at who might be harmed and how

For each hazard, think how employees or others such as contractors, visitors or members of the public might be harmed – it will help you identify the best way of controlling the risk. Ask your employees what they think the hazards are.

Decide how you will control the risks

Decide how likely it is that harm will occur and what to do about it. You are not expected to remove all risks, but you must make sure you know what the main ones are and what you should do to manage them responsibly.

Look at the controls you already have in place and ask yourself:

  • Can you get rid of the hazard altogether?
  • If you can’t get rid of a hazard, how can you control the risk so that harm is unlikely?

Record your findings

If you have five or more employees you must record your significant findings. Make a simple record of the hazards, how people might be harmed and what you have in place to control the risks. It is a good idea to do this even if you have fewer than five employees.

You can use a risk assessment template to help you record your findings.

Suggested examples show how other small businesses have managed the risks.

Review your risk assessment

Changes in equipment, substances, procedures and staff could lead to new risks. If there have been any important changes, you must review and update your risk assessment

Ask yourself:

  • Has the process changed?
  • Have the substances or equipment used in the process changed?
  • Have your workers identified a problem?
  • Have you learnt anything from accidents or near misses?
Updated 2019-09-24