What is a Risk Assessment



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Health and Safety Risk Assessments - What is a Risk Assessment?

what is a risk assessment 

A systematic and careful examination of the workplace, work activity, working environment and those people who maybe at risk.  


Risk assessments identify what might go wrong and how, with an evaluation of any identified hazards undertaken, this to determine the control measures needed to prevent or minimise the risk.  Workers and others have a right to be protected from harm caused by a  failure of the business or controlling entity to take reasonable measures to eliminate or reduce risks to acceptable levels.


Risk assessments are generally undertaken in three clearly-defined stages: (see sample procedure)


1.identification of all the hazards

2.evaluation of the risks; and

3.implementation of measures to eliminate or control the risks.


although it should be mentioned that the Health and Safety Executive guidance further breaks these 3 steps into 5 steps.


Step 1 - Identify the activity and hazards

Step 2 - Decide who might be harmed and how

Step 3 - Evaluate the risks and determine the controls required

Step 4 - Record the findings and implement

Step 5 - Review and revise


Risk assessments are generally a ‘very straightforward process based on judgement requiring no specialist skills (see competent person) or complicated techniques.  This type of assessment is usually referred to as a qualitative risk assessment.  


Qualitative risk assessment involves making a formal judgement on the consequence and probability using: Risk = Severity x Likelihood


For complex hazards, for example those linked to nuclear, chemical, gas and oil industries, it is more likely that quantitative risk assessment techniques would be more appropriate, especially where low probability events can have serious  ramifications.


INDG 163 - Risk assessment - A brief guide to controlling risks in the workplace

Also see guidance document INDG 163 - Risk assessment - A brief guide to controlling risks in the workplace (PDF download)

INDG 478 - Risk assessment

Health and Safety

Executive INDG 478 - Risk assessment of pushing and

pulling (RAPP) tool

HSG 137 - Health Risk Management

HSG 137 - Health Risk Management (PDF download)


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