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What is a Risk Assessment at Work

A risk assessment lists the hazards that might be encountered while completing a task or activity (or being within a certain environment), the risks potentially created by the hazards, and how we can best minimise those risks with control measures. We look at why you need them and how much information they need to contain.

Are risk assessments complicated?

We all carry out risk assessments every day, such as crossing a road: the hazard is the traffic, the risk is that we get hit by a car, and the control measures are to use a crossing point and look both ways. 

Do I need written risk assessments?

Writing a risk assessment down will allow you to focus on the hazards. It then can be passed out to your workforce and stored centrally for them to re-read if needed, rather than you or their manager having to tell them every time. From a liability point of view, written risk assessments show that you have taken every necessary step to reduce any risks; many insurance companies will not pay out on any claims if you can’t produce risk assessments.

How detailed does a risk assessment need to be?

A risk assessment must have all the relevant information but be simple to follow. Overcomplicated risk assessments can be counterproductive; if an employee can’t understand it, then they can’t follow it. 

Do I have to remove all risks from every task to make it safe?

Going back to our analogy about crossing the road, you will never be able to make that completely risk-free, yet we need to cross the road to get on with our daily lives. When a risk assessment is created, it takes this into account; it is designed to achieve a considered balance between a reasonable level of risk and being able to complete the task.

A risk assessment will never be 100% effective, even with the best will in the world; unpredictable events or situations happen. Risk assessments should be reviewed regularly, and reviewed immediately if an incident occurs. For example, you may have a microwave in a kitchen you have assessed for risks such as burns, electric shock and radiation. However, a team member moves the microwave to clean underneath it and drops it on their foot, causing injury. At this point the risk assessment needs to be re-assessed, as it hadn’t considered that the microwave needed to be moved.

In summary, a risk assessment shouldn’t prevent you from completing a task. They need to be simple to follow and reviewed regularly or when needed. If you need any help with the above, contact your advisor or SK Health & Safety on 01427 420 402 or email and #oneoftheteam will be happy to help.


The information and any commentary contained within these updates are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal or any other type of professional advice. Stallard Kane does not accept and, to the extent permitted by law, exclude liability to any person for any loss which may arise from relying upon or otherwise using the information contained in these blogs. If you have a particular query or issue, you are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal advice about your issue and not to rely solely on the information or comments in these updates.
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