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How to Identify and Manage Hazards: Free Risk Assessment Template Included

Employers are required by law to protect their employees and others from harm. A risk assessment is a vital part of ensuring the health and safety of the workforce and is also bound in law as a necessary step.

February 2024

In this blog, we will look at how to complete a risk assessment and why they’re important, and we also provide a free template for you to utilise in your own workplace.

What is a Risk Assessment?

A risk assessment is a process of pinpointing hazards and assessing any associated risks within your workplace, then establishing control measures to completely remove or mitigate them. This will involve keeping a written record of hazards and risks, the person(s) responsible for its management and the control measures you have put in place.

Employers are ultimately responsible for carrying out risk assessments, which we outline further in our blog about “Who is Responsible for Health and Safety in the Workplace?”.

Why are Risk Assessments Important?

Conducting risk assessments is a vital cog in the wheel of health and safety. Not only is it important for protecting employees and their welfare, but it is a legal obligation for an employer and must be documented in businesses with five or more people. The consequences for missing this step can open an employer up to legal action from the affected individual as well as regulatory bodies such as the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Risk assessments are essential to generating awareness in the workplace about health and safety. They also help management make decisions about risk, including ascertaining who is most at risk. In our NEBOSH Level 6 Diploma course, we have an entire deep dive into risk assessments as well as other essential elements you need to be aware of as a health and safety professional.

How to Complete a Risk Assessment

Risk assessments have a natural step-by-step method which is easy to follow. Although they are simple, they require you to pay attention diligently whilst completing them, ensuring each section has been completed thoroughly. The steps are as follows.

1. Identify potential hazards in the project or workspace.

Observe your workplace and look at what activities, tasks and substances used could be harmful. To properly inform yourself, it’s advisable to look over past accidents and records as a reference point. We would also recommend that you consult employees to understand their perspective and find out who is carrying out certain tasks.

If you would like a good starting point for risks to look out for in nearly all workplaces, we also compiled a list of some of the most common risks found in the 9-to-5.

2. Deduce who might be harmed by them.

You’ll then use the data you have gathered to ascertain who might be harmed and how they could be affected. List them as employees or contractors. Specific names are not necessary.

3. Evaluate the severity of the risk and the likelihood of it happening. 

It’s important to assess the severity of the accident the risk may cause (should it happen). If you understand how severe it can get, that allows you to cover all the possible scenarios up to their most extreme degree.

4. Establish control measures and take note of your findings.

As laid out by the The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 - if a workplace has five or more employees, findings of the risk assessment need to be kept electronically or physically. It’s good practice to a system in place even if your employee numbers are fewer than five Recording your findings and control measures is imperative, and this should include.

  • Hazards discovered.
  • People that could be impacted.
  • The controls put in place to manage risks.
  • Who is responsible for them?

You should also note when the assessment was done. Ensure you make the risk assessment proportionate to the activity that is being carried out. Very extensive risk assessments are necessary for large scale projects with multiple moving parts.

5. Review your assessment thoroughly and re-assess in future. 

If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. Risk assessments are a constant process that requires revaluation to see if any new hazards have arisen or if existing ones have changed. Circumstances change as businesses grow and change; if you are aware of any changes to the business, you should consider conducting an updated risk assessment.

Your Free Downloadable Risk Assessment Template

Now that you know why a risk assessment is so important to your business, download your free template so you can start making your organisation safer today!


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