Risk Assessment

All employers have a responsibility of the health and wellbeing of their employees, workers, and anyone who visits their premises. The best tool for employers to monitor potential issues is to use a risk assessment, this will help them to identify what areas need to be improved and ensure that control measures are in place....

Read Time: 11 Minutes

Joanne Nicholls
By: Joanne Nicholls
June 3, 2024
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All employers have a responsibility of the health and wellbeing of their employees, workers, and anyone who visits their premises. The best tool for employers to monitor potential issues is to use a risk assessment, this will help them to identify what areas need to be improved and ensure that control measures are in place.

If you need immediate support with putting together a risk assessment, get in touch with one of employer advice’s experts on 01455 712 863.

an employer looking at the risk assessments for the health and safety hazards.

What are risk assessments?

Risk assessments are a pivotal part of the risk management process. Every workplace must follow risk assessment laws and regulations.

As an employer you must identify and assess any health and safety risks that are present in your workplace, and implement methods of mitigating them.

These risks and hazards could potentially cause harm or death to your employees, and anyone that visits your premises, if a control measure isn’t put into place to either mitigate or prevent the risks outright.

By law, if you have under five employees, employers aren’t required to write a physical risk assessment or health and safety policy.

Although it is considered to be best practice to keep a written record for employer and employees alike to refer back to.

Why do workplaces need a risk assessment

As an employer, you have a legal duty of care towards your employees health, safety and well-being.

Certain roles will require your employees to have specialist training, for example, if they are handling dangerous substances or handling and operating machinery.

As such these tasks will present multiple health and safety issues that as an employer you must address.

The main purpose of a risk assessment is to identify hazards within your workplace. This is widely considered to be the first part in your health and safety management plan.

Your risk assessment will help by:

  1. Identifying individuals at risk.
  2. Deciding if the current precautions are adequate.
  3. Mitigating illness or injury. (You should review your risk assessment after an incident.)
  4. Prioritizing high risk hazards and maintaining compliance.
  5. Meet legal requirements and maintain compliance.
  6. Continual improvement and improving safety.

Are risk assessments a legal requirement

In the UK, health and safety legislation does require employers to have risk assessments by law. Although, if you have less than five employees you aren’t required to have this written down.

However, if you have less than five employees, you still need to provide a risk assessment and provide evidence of any investigation.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 outlines what is expected of employers and states what their legal duties are.

This document also requires employers to put in control measures to mitigate and manage health and safety risks.

What are employers required to include:

  • Provide a written health and safety policy.
  • Investigate the risks to employees and anyone who visits the premises.
  • Create a suitable and sufficient assessment that aligns with the UK legislation.
  • Put in place preventative and protective measures highlighted in the risk assessment.
  • Access to competent health and safety advice.
  • Organize training for staff on how to deal with workplace risks.
  • Provide information to employees about the associated risks in the workplace.
  • Ensure that there is adequate and appropriate supervision.

It’s important to note that there are other legislations relating to risk assessments, these are just some of the most relevant ones.

the health and safety executive conduct risk assessments to identify hazards.

Benefits of risk assessments

Despite risk assessments being a legal requirement, they do provide employers with numerous benefits. These will both help train employees and help them to understand where the potential risks are.

Awareness of the risk in your workplace

Risk assessments are there to raise awareness and identify areas of the workplace that pose a risk to employees and anyone who visits the premises.

Identify the likelihood and scale of potential risks and hazards

Your risk assessment isn’t just there to identify potential hazards in the workplace, they are also a method of measuring how severe the risks are and measuring how likely you are to have a critical incident.

In identifying the severity of a risk, you will be able to ensure that the appropriate measures are put in place to mitigate it.


A risk assessment helps to better identify potential risk, and inform employees of the hazards and what control measures have been put in place.

As these hazards are recorded, it can help you to train your employees on what the right procedure they need to follow for particular roles or situations.

Decide on what control measures need to be in place

As you’re going through your risk assessment, you will be able to identify which areas of the workplace need to be adapted to help mitigate or prevent risks. This should also highlight what control measures need to be put into place.


You need to ensure that the proper documentation is put into place. This will allow you to create a record of what hazards you’ve found within your workplace.

Keeping this record will make it easier to track hazards and what measures mitigated them. You should ensure that you regularly go back to ensure that the control measures are still effective, and adjust where needed.

Not limited to this, keeping a record will allow you to ensure that you are remaining compliant with health and safety policies and laws.

Assists with budget allocation

Once you’ve done your risk assessment, you are able to understand where your business needs to allocate budget to ensure your control measures are effective.

Reduces the amount of incidents in the workplace

Your risk assessments are an effective tool for reducing the risks in your workplace. You are able to more efficiently mitigate and remove the risks altogether, so you can create a safer workplace.

If your business is able to show that you have a low incident rate, you are able to prove your dedication to keeping your workforce safe.

a competent person going through the risk assessment process and deciding on reasonable control measures

How often should you carry out and review company risk assessments?

It’s up to you how often you review your risk assessment, however the responsibility to carry out these assessments remains with you or an appointed delegate. They must be carried out before any work that could lead to physical or mental risk is completed.

You should note, that while the health and safety legislation doesn’t place the task on anyone who isn’t an employer, employee or self-employed, there are regulations that must be followed by law.

Once you’ve completed your initial risk assessment, you are required to monitor all the control measures. You’re also required to review your risk assessment and take into consideration any changes to the task and the workplace.

The HSE states that you should review your risk assessment regularly, especially when:

  1. They are no longer valid.
  2. After a near miss or injury.
  3. If there has been a change to process or equipment.

How to carry out a risk assessment?

We’ve put together the five steps you need to taken when putting together a risk assessment.

Identify hazards

When you start your risk assessment you should look around your workplace and point out any hazards that could cause your employees harm.

You should also look at the process of carrying out jobs. For example, if your employees are handling hazardous substances, you should ensure that they are wearing the appropriate PPE and tools.

You should consider the following:

  • Any unsafe or safe working practices.
  • Look at how plant machinery is used.
  • Are your employees exposed to chemical or hazardous substances?
  • The current workplace.

Decide who the hazards affect and how

After the hazards are identified within your risk assessment, you should then consider who these hazards affect and who is exposed to them.

Think about:

  • Who is at risk? How are they at risk?
  • Does the workplace have a control measure in place?
  • Put further action in place to control risks.
  • Consider who is responsible for carrying the tasks out.
  • When should the control measures be implemented?
  • Who doesn’t use the equipment, but is still exposed to the hazards. Think about cleaners, maintenance workers, contractors, and visitors.

Consider the control measures

As stated in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers are required to take reasonable steps to ensure that they are keeping their employees safe, consider these two questions:

  1. Can I eliminate the hazards altogether?
  2. How can I control the hazards to minimize the risks?

It’s important to note that you aren’t expected to eliminate all the risks, but you must do everything you can to mitigate them.

Record the findings

If your business has over five employees, you are required to physically write down and record your findings. Your risk assessment is proof that a risk assessment has been carried out and that measures were put in place to mitigate the risks.

Your physical records should include:

  • The hazards you’ve identified.
  • Outline who is at risk of harm and how.
  • What steps you have taken to control the measure.

Share the risk assessment with your employees

As an employer you should share the findings of the risk assessment with your employees. This should include any control measures that you’ve put in place. You should confirm that all your employees have read and understood the risk assessments.

This stage should also be recorded.

Review the assessment and keep it up to date

You should ensure that you are regularly reviewing your risk assessment. This will help you identify if your control measures are ineffective, or if a process has changed and the control measures need updating.

implementing a risk management system and risk assessment tools will help to control hazards and risks within the workplace.

Who will typically complete the risk assessment?

Risk assessments should be carried out by the competent person from your business. This will help ensure that you are compliant with health and safety laws.

As the employer, you are responsible for your employees health and safety and wellbeing in your absence. The competent person should manage health and safety, including risk assessments.

Choosing the competent person

You should consider all your employees when choosing the competent person.

The competent person is someone who has sufficient training, knowledge, and experience in managing health and safety in your workplace. The competent level required is dependent on how complex the workplace risks are.

Although the competent person doesn’t need any health and safety qualifications, it should be taken into consideration in the selection process.

an employer filling out the quantitative risk assessment forms and identifying hazards in the workplace.

Get expert help

Employer Advice has a team of dedicated HR and Health & Safety experts who only work with employers. With over 80 years of experience in helping employers take the stress of handling their Health and Safety obligations.

Get in touch with one of the team on 01455 712 863.

More About
Joanne Nicholls
Joanne is one of Employer Advice's business consultants. With over 5 years of experience, Joanne has been supporting businesses with their employment law and HR problems.

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