What is a risk assessment?

Richard Cerkasins
11 Jan 2022
5 min read

Risk assessment definition

The risk assessment definition is; a systematic process of evaluating risks that might be involved in a specific role or undertaking. It's an industry standard method that involves identifying hazards and who might be at risk. This typically follows a similar format of hazard identification and mitigations which are recorded using a risk assessment form or its online counterpart.

Why is a risk assessment important?

Its standard practise to take out risk analysis in many industries like hospitality and construction. It’s an integral part of maintaining a good standard of compliance which is required by law. Not having them in place can cause legal woes and costly lawsuits if something goes wrong, especially if it could have easily been avoided. This becomes increasingly important if you operate a larger business with multiple sites which can result in your license to operate being taken away on top legal fees. However there's more to risk assessments than checking a legality box.

What is the purpose of a risk assessment?

Apart from keeping you legally protected if something happens to a member of staff or customer it's there to ensure you're aware of the various hazards in the workplace that could cause harm.

By going through the risk assessment process you can maintain a safer work environment and minimise the chances of accidents happening in the workplace.

Everything is running smoothly until it isn't, no one ever expects something to go wrong but once it does all responsibility is on your shoulders which is not an easy position to be in. Especially if it could have been easily avoided.

An effective risk management and mitigation plan will greatly reduce the chances of a serious accident happening.

What does a risk assessment look like?

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Every business does risk management slightly differently as there is not a set risk assessment template that you must follow. However there is a basic list of requirements you have to meet to effectively show: what are the hazards?, who does it affect? How is risk mitigated? How is the plan communicated?

There are plenty of templates available and how you present this information is up to you.
Paper risk assessment forms have been the standard for a long time but an increasing number of businesses are moving to digital solutions which are easier to use and manage, especially across larger businesses with multiple sites.

To help with the risk management process we have put together a really handy tool with all of the tools and guidance you need to stay compliant and effectively manage risk. Try it for free today or learn more about our solution to risk assessments.

How to carry out a risk assessment?

Once you have a template in place the process itself is pretty straight forward however knowing what is a hazard can leave you scratching your head if you haven't taken out a risk assessment before or are unsure on what qualifies as a hazard.

Identifying hazards in the workplace

  • Speaking to your employees - they might be aware of hazards that aren't obvious to you.
  • Monitor your staff and the task they carry out - are there areas of concern?
  • Have you had accidents before? - see your near miss or ill-health records
  • Check your equipment and their instructions - could they cause harm?
  • Do you use any dangerous substances such as heavy duty cleaners?
  • Consider other situations e.g. small steps, slippery floors, clutter in walkways, safety at heights etc.

How to mitigate risk?

  • Can you avoid potential hazards altogether? - avoid high risk areas/tasks or only allow certain personnel to take out duties e.g. using ladders
  • Staff training - does your staff know safety procedures?
  • Regular practise - have set rules in place everyone needs to follow to mitigate risk
  • Alternatives - are there safer options?

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