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Hazards in the Workplace – The 5 steps to risk assessment

There are 5 steps to carry out a risk assessment. Your business needs to carry out risk assessments to keep your employees safe and comply with the law.

An essential part of risk assessments is to help prevent accidents and ensure the safety of anyone affected by workplace activities.

Employers are required to protect people as far as reasonably practicable. The law does not expect you to eliminate all risks but requires you to reduce the risk to as low as reasonably possible.

Workplace Hazard Information training – What is risk assessment?

A risk assessment is a systematic process of identifying Workplace Hazard Information and any associated risks, then implementing reasonable control measures to eliminate or reduce them to as low as reasonably practicable. A risk assessment should be a simple document that all the people involved can easily understand.

 The 5 steps to risk assessment

A hazard is anything that may cause harm.

The risk is the chance, high or low, that somebody could be harmed by these hazards and how severe the harm could be.

Step 1 Identify the hazards.
Step 2 Decide who might be harmed and how
Step 3 Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions
Step 4 Record your findings and implement them
Step 5 Review your assessment and update if necessary.

Step 1 Identify the hazards.

Look around your workplace to see if there is anything that could cause harm.

Talk to your employees to see if they know of any hazards.

The HSE website ( publishes practical guidance on where hazards may occur and ways to control them.

Your trade association may have some helpful guidance.

Manufacturers’ instructions or data sheets will point out the hazards associated with their products.

Look at your accident and ill-health records – these often help to identify the less obvious hazards.

Think about long-term hazards to health, like noise and exposure to harmful substances.

Step 2 Decide who might be harmed and how – Workplace Hazard Information training

For each hazard, think about who might be harmed and identify the best way of managing the risk.

Rather than identifying individuals, identify groups of people. In each case, determine how they might be harmed, i.e. what type of injury or ill health might occur.

Some workers have particular requirements, e.g. new and young workers, new or expectant mothers and people with disabilities may be at particular risk. You also need to think about people visiting your site, contractors, maintenance workers and cleaners. Can members of the public be harmed by your activities? In a shared workplace, how will your work affects others present and will their work affect your staff?

 Step 3 Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions.

Once you know what the hazards are, you have to decide what you to do about them. To comply with the law, you have to protect people from harm as far as reasonably practicable. To see if you are reducing the risk to the lowest level, you can compare what you are doing with what is considered to be good practice. The HSE’s website ( publishes a lot of approved codes of practice (ACOP). First, look at what you’re already doing and think about what controls you have to reduce the risk. Compare this with the published good practice and see if there is more you can do to lower the risk.

When conducting a risk assessment, you need to consider the following:

  • Can I eliminate the hazard altogether?
  • If not, how can I control the risks so that harm is unlikely?
  • Try to apply the following principles when controlling risks.
  • Use a less risky option (e.g., Automation instead of manual).
  • Keep people away from the hazard (e.g., Fitting machine guards).
  • Rearrange the work to reduce exposure to the risk (e.g., Separate pedestrians from traffic by putting up a barrier).
  • Issue personal protective equipment (e.g., clothing, footwear, goggles etc.).
  • Provide welfare facilities (e.g., Washing facilities to remove any contamination).

By involving staff in the changes, you are proposing to make in the work practice can help to prevent introducing new hazards.

Step 4 Record your findings and implement them.

Put into practice what you have learned from the risk assessment. It will make a safer workplace for your employees and anyone visiting your premises.

Record the results of your risk assessment, share them with your employees, and encourage them to carry out the changes you are making. If you have fewer than five employees, you do not have

to write anything down, though it is good practice to, so they can be reviewed later if anything changes.

Keep it simple when writing down your results. A risk assessment must be suitable and sufficient. It may not be perfect, but you must be able to show that:

  • You have made a proper check.
  • You have questioned who might be affected.
  • That all the significant hazards have been assessed for the number of people involved.
  • All precautions are reasonable, and the remaining risk is low.
  • That all staff or their representatives have been involved in the process.

If you have many improvements to make, do not try to do them all at once. Write out your list in order of risk, the highest at the top. Start at the top of your list and work downwards one by one.

 Step 5 Review your assessment and update if necessary.

As things evolve and change in the workplace, you will need to keep reviewing the risk assessment. There may be new hazards that have been brought in to the workplace. You may have added some new machinery that has created a new hazard. Have your staff spotted a potential problem? Are there lessons to be learned from accidents or near misses? Keeping your risk assessment up to date will in itself be reducing the risk. Set a date for reviewing the risk assessment once a year and put the date in your diary. You may need to check it earlier if there are significant changes within your business.

How can I contact UK Online Training?

Founded in 2019, UK Online Training operates from its base in Bury, Lancashire.

UK Online Training
Bury Business Centre
Kay Street

Tel: 0330 088 5675

During the working week (Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm), we aim to respond to all enquiries within 24 hours. If you contact us at the weekend, we aim to reply by Tuesday of the following week – Workplace Hazard Information please get in touch.. HSE Information

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