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What is a Risk Assessment? icon

What is a Risk Assessment?

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What is a Risk Assessment?

In the UK, a risk assessment is a legal requirement under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. A risk assessment is a method of controlling risks within your workplace. A risk assessment is the careful examination and evaluation of a task, process or piece of equipment, to determine its potential to cause harm. The risk assessment process can take many forms, but generally follows a format of identifying a hazard, identifying who might be harmed, evaluating the risks and current control measures, deciding on whether these controls are appropriate and adequate, recording your results, and reviewing and updating if necessary.
Risk Assessment Process Diagram

What are the legal requirements for risk assessment?
Risk assessment is legislated for under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 Regulation 3.

This is what it says:

Risk assessment
3.—(1) Every employer shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of—

(a) the risks to the health and safety of his employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work; and
(b) the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking,
for the purpose of identifying the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon him by or under the relevant statutory provisions and by Part II of the Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997.

(2) Every self-employed person shall make a suitable and sufficient assessment of—

(a) the risks to his own health and safety to which he is exposed whilst he is at work; and
(b) the risks to the health and safety of persons not in his employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by him of his undertaking,
for the purpose of identifying the measures he needs to take to comply with the requirements and prohibitions imposed upon him by or under the relevant statutory provisions.

(3) Any assessment such as is referred to in paragraph (1) or (2) shall be reviewed by the employer or self-employed person who made it if—

(a) there is reason to suspect that it is no longer valid; or
(b) there has been a significant change in the matters to which it relates; and where as a result of any such review changes to an assessment are required, the employer or self-employed person concerned shall make them.

(4) An employer shall not employ a young person unless he has, in relation to risks to the health and safety of young persons, made or reviewed an assessment in accordance with paragraphs (1) and (5).

(5) In making or reviewing the assessment, an employer who employs or is to employ a young person shall take particular account of—
(a) the inexperience, lack of awareness of risks and immaturity of young persons;
(b) the fitting-out and layout of the workplace and the workstation;
(c) the nature, degree and duration of exposure to physical, biological and chemical agents;
(d) the form, range, and use of work equipment and the way in which it is handled;
(e) the organisation of processes and activities;
(f) the extent of the health and safety training provided or to be provided to young persons; and
(g) risks from agents, processes and work listed in the Annex to Council Directive 94/33/EC(1) on the protection of young people at work.

(6) Where the employer employs five or more employees, he shall record—

(a) the significant findings of the assessment; and
(b) any group of his employees identified by it as being especially at risk.

Other Terms

• A hazard is anything that may cause harm, such as chemicals, electricity, working from ladders, an open drawer etc.
• The risk is the chance high, medium or low, that somebody could be harmed by these and other hazards, together with an indication of how serious the harm could be.

If you would like further information on Health and Safety and your responsibilities under Health and Safety law, please contact us to discuss with one of our qualified and registered Health and Safety Consultants and we will be happy to help.

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