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5 Steps of a Risk Assessment

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  • 15-09-2020
5 Steps of a Risk Assessment

There are 5 steps to a risk assessment approach, and it is highly recommended that they are adopted, the steps are consistent with other risk assessments you might be required to carry out like a fire risk assessment.

What are the 5 Steps of a Risk Assessment?

The importance of risk assessments will become clear as we go through each risk. Risk assessments are a requirement under health and safety legislation, and failure to conduct them is an offense.

It's essential to understand the difference between risk and a hazard:A Risk is a chance, whether high or low, of somebody being harmed by the hazard, and how serious the harm could be.

A hazard is anything that may cause harm, for example  working from heights or on ladders, noise, chemicals and electricity. See below the 5 steps of a risk assessment:

  • Identify the hazards
  • Identify people who might be harmed and how they might be harmed
  • Evaluate the risks and decide on appropriate, proportionate controls
  • Record your findings and implement
  • Review the assessment and update where necessary

A risk assessment is an examination of a task, job or process that you carry out at work. It makes you think about what can cause harm (identify a hazard) and decide on reasonable steps to prevent that harm. It can help you determine if you've covered everything you need to.

Different places of work will have various risks. For example, if you work on a construction site, there will be risks that might not be the same for office workers. However, a risk is a risk no matter where you work, so assessments should always be in-depth, thorough and compliant in protecting your workers and the general public.

If you need to carry out a risk assessment on your construction site, you can ask your RIBA chartered architect to carry this out for you.Here will go through each risk in the 5 step assessment.

Identify the hazards

A hazard is anything that has the potential to cause harm. You have a duty to of care to assess the health and safety risks that you, your workers face and any visitors to your business might face. You must check for any potential chemical, biological, physical and mental hazards.

So, have a look around your place of work and see what processes, substances or activities could injure you, your employees or any visitors or pose harm to health. Hazards can be divided into different categories, and a few examples are listed below:

Physical:

This includes vibration, noise, heat, radiation, as well as temporary or permanent structures.

Chemical and Biological:

This section includes substances that people are exposed to while they are at work.

Psychological:

Included in this section is aggression and stress etc.

Ergonomic:

These are hazards that can arise from the interaction of work activities and people, for example poorly designed workspaces or from repetitive tasks etc.

Electrical:

This includes fire, overheating, shock and arcing hazards.

Mechanical:

These include moving parts, entanglement, crushing and abrasion.

Decide who Might be Harmed and How:

Have a think about how your activities could harm employees, contractors, visitors and the public.

For every hazard, you must think about who might be harmed, as this will help you to decide the best way of controlling the risk. This process doesn't mean identifying people individually, but groups, like passers-by or people working on-site, for example.

You should also take into account if you share a workplace; in this instance, you must discuss workplace risks with whom you're sharing with and ensure controls and procedures are in place.

It is also a good idea to talk to your workers; they may have noticed risks or groups you might have missed.

Remember to check some workers may have particular requirements:

  • Lone Workers
  • Homeworkers
  • People with Disabilities
  • Temporary Workers
  • Contractors
  • New or Expectant
  • Migrant Workers
  • New and Young Workers

How people can be harmed and injured varies depending on the activity they are undertaking. It is helpful to group people into categories such as employees, visitors, and members of the public.

For every group of people, you must consider how they might be harmed, for example, visitors tripping over a cable that has been poorly located.

Evaluate the Risk & Decide on Precautions:

Consider the probability of each hazard that can cause harm. You should determine if you can reduce the level of risk. Always remember, some risks will remain, even after precautions have been taken.

For every remaining hazard, you must decide if the risk is high, medium or low. We all appreciate that risks are a part of life, and we cannot be expected to eliminate all hazards and risks or even anticipate unforeseeable risks.

A risk assessment should be realistic and thorough. It would be best if you did everything that is practicable and reasonable to protect people from and harm.

How to decide what level of action to take?

High risk: 15-25   

High-risk activities should cease immediately.  It would be best if you introduced further effective control measures to mitigate risks.

Medium risk: 8-12  

Medium risks should only be tolerated in the short term and only whilst further control measures to mitigate the risks are planned and introduced.

Low risk: 1-6

Low risks are mostly acceptable; this is where it is reasonable to do so; however, efforts should be made to reduce the risks even further.

Record and Implement Your Significant Findings:

If you employ less than five staff you are not required to record your risk assessment in writing; however, if you employ more than five members of staff you are required to have your risk assessment in writing.

Your record must always include your significant findings: hazards, how might people be harmed by the hazards and what is in place to control the risks. The risk assessment you produce should show that:

  • A proper check was carried out.
  • You asked and checked who might be affected.
  • You dealt with the obvious significant hazards.
  • You involved your staff and their representatives in the risk assessment process.

When conducting your risk assessments, if you identify several hazards, put them into the order of importance and address the most severe risk first. Remember, the more significant the hazard, the more dependable and vigorous your controls of the risk need to be.

Review the Assessment and Update when Required: There are very few places of work that stay the same. Overtime new equipment, substances and procedures will be introduced.

These new introductions could bring new and different hazards with them. So, it is good practice to review your risk assessment.

When reviewing your risk assessments, you should consider:

  • Are there any improvements that still need to be implemented?
  • Have there been any significant changes in the workplace?
  • Have your employees noticed a risk or hazard that needs to be assessed?

If there has been an accident, incident or near miss, a review should be carried out as part of your investigation, to reduce the likelihood of the accident reoccurring.

If an employee is returning to work after suffering a work-related injury or illness, that could be affected by work activity. You should review any risk assessments relating to their work activities to identify whether any additional controls or amendments are required to ensure their illness or injury is not made worse.Always make sure that your risk assessments stay up to date and document them correctly.


In this document we highlight the 5 steps of a risk assessment? We created this page to help site owners understand the concerns that need to be addressed.

If you are thinking of conducting a construction risk assessment in Twickenham or the surrounding areas of London contact our specialist today.