Risk Management & Assessments

The Management of Health and Safety risks should form a major part of any organisation's risk management programme. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 places a duty on every employer to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of:

  • the risks to the health and safety of their employees to which they are exposed while at work 
  • the risks to the health and safety of those not in their employment who may be affected by their undertaking 
  • identifying the measures they need to take to reduce the risks 

Risk Assessment is simply a systematic look at all activities in an organisation to identify anything that poses a risk of harm and then to decide what needs to be done to minimise the risk of that harm. 


In order to carry out a risk assessment, it is necessary to have an understanding of the following terms:

  • Hazard - A hazard is something that has the potential to cause harm. 
  • Risk - Risk is the likelihood that a hazard will actually cause harm taking into account how serious the outcome is likely to be. 

The Risk Assessment Process 

Risk Assessment is a careful examination of what in the workplace could cause harm and whether there are enough precautions in place to reduce/remove that risk, or whether more can be done for better work practices, and in general consists of five basic steps:

  • Look for the hazards - anything that has the potential to cause harm 
  • Decide who might be harmed and how. Consideration will need to be given to anyone especially at risk and specific assessments will be required for expectant and nursing mothers and young people 
  • Evaluate the risks and decide whether existing precautions are adequate or whether more should be done 
  • Record your findings 
  • Review your assessment and revise it (if necessary) 

There is no standard way of recording the assessment, however, it is useful to have a standard form used throughout an organisation. The following information will need to be recorded:

  • A list of all the hazards 
  • What harm the hazards may cause 
  • Identify who is at risk 
  • A record of any existing control measure 
  • Evaluate the risk by allocating a risk rating in order to prioritise any actions required 
  • Identify any further controls or precautions that need to put in place to eliminate or minimise the risk 

Evaluation of the Risk 

There are different ways to evaluate the risk, and it is useful to use a Risk Assessment matrix to calculate a Risk Rating. The following is an example of a Risk assessment matrix that can be used. This allocates a frequency number and severity number using the following criteria:

Frequency (F) 

  • Improbable occurrence - 1 
  • Possible occurrence - 2 
  • Occasional occurrence - 3 
  • Frequent occurrence - 4 
  • Regular occurrence - 5 
  • Common occurrence - 6 

Severity (S) 

  • Trivial injury - 1 
  • Minor injury - 2 
  • Major injury to one person - 3 
  • Major injuries to several people - 4 
  • Death of one person - 5 
  • Multiple deaths - 6 

The risk rating is obtained by multiplying the probable frequency number (F) by the probable severity number (S) 

Risk rating chart of frequency and serverity

Risk Rating 

Risk Rating - Low, Med, High ratings

When identifying any further precautions that need to be applied the following general hierarchy of precautions will need to be considered:

  • Elimination of hazard altogether 
  • Reduction in exposure 
  • Isolating the hazard from people 
  • Controlling exposure to the hazard 
  • Using Personal Protective Equipment 
  • Adequate training, information and safety procedures 

Having identified the precautions that need to be put in place, it is vital to monitor the progress of the identified actions. 

Specific Risk Assessments 

In addition to the general risk assessments required by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, the organisation will also need to ensure that specific risk assessments are also carried out in relation to Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH), Manual Handling and Display Screen Equipment. 

For further information on Risk Assessments please visit the Health & Safety Executive website at the link below. 

HSE Website - https://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/management/risk.htm