Risk assessments help you identify what may cause harm, who is it risk, how likely something will happen and how serious the consequences might be. Once you have this information you can make decisions on how to get rid of the risk or adequately manage it.
It's a legal requirement to carry out health and safety risk assessments where significant risk has been identified. You must also communicate the findings, implement the risk controls and review it regularly.
Please follow the step-by-step guide below to carry out risk assessments using the University’s standard risk assessment template and methodology.
If you're a student planning a project that has potential risks to the researchers or participants in the project, you'll be asked to carry out a risk assessment. If you don’t know where to start your academic supervisor will help you. Read the guidance below about risk assessment and you'll find tools to help you.
If you would like training on risk assessment, please book onto one of our courses:
Before you start you, and everyone in your team, need to be ‘risk assessment ready’. Use it as an opportunity to carefully examine anything in your workplace that could cause injury or ill health and what could be done to protect people. Risk assessments done like this are relevant and are successfully used to keep people safe and healthy.
Adequate resources make carrying out risk assessments manageable and achievable. If you are carrying out a major review of your risk assessments, it is recommended you plan the work and produce an action plan to track progress and help identify resourcing. If the assessment project is part of a major project, we recommend you include it in the overall project planning process.
There is a risk assessment checklist to help you review your current risk assessments and pinpoint where you're meeting the standard and areas where you could improve your assessments.
Allowing enough time ensures the assessment process will be carried out carefully and in full. This includes time to research legal and industry standards and best practice. Time should also be available for others to engage and support the assessor and in implementing the risk controls. Managers who recognise that it's part of the day to day work, and not an add on, will create an environment in which quality assessments can be produced.
We run bespoke risk assessment courses for those who carry out risk assessments. If there are sufficient delegates, the course can be delivered in your workplace and focused on the work you do.
There are three courses available:
Risk assessment is a simple and straightforward process. Use the guidance, templates and resources here to make it easy.
We strongly recommend you to use the University standard risk assessment template. It
aligns with our risk assessment training and safety management training, as well
as helping to standardise the risk assessment process throughout the University. If you
have good reason to believe that it won't meet your needs and want to use an
alternative assessment process, please contact your
There are risk assessment forms and templates for specific health and safety topics. Information and forms are located in the relevant subject areas under 'Health, safety and wellbeing' in the Staff/Student Directory. You can download and change them to suit your situation or local set up.
All risk assessments need to be signed off and communicated to the people at risk.
Before you carry out the risk assessment you need to first identify the work tasks you manage and who can be harmed. This is easy if you are the responsible manager. However, if you're an assessor doing it on behalf of a manager you will need to work together in identifying the work tasks and the associated hazards.
Consider the following questions. They are a systematic way of gathering information you need and can help identify the hazards.
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
A risk assessment should identify hazards, hazardous events and consequences:
For example, a wet floor (the hazard) in the washing up area could cause kitchen staff to slip (hazardous event) leading to concussion, serious sprains or minor fractures (consequences).
Understanding the differences between these and how they connect to each other will help you work through the process logically and efficiently. It will also help the end users understand what could hurt them and how. It will help you to correctly assign the risk controls by breaking down the risk into its component parts of likelihood of the hazardous event and the severity of the consequence.
You will need up to date information to do this stage well and the sources can be many and varied. Things change over time and get updated. To ensure you’re up to date, use common knowledge, industry or sector knowledge and expert knowledge to help identify reasonably foreseeable hazards. You should know where to find this and know when to seek expert knowledge.
Here are some links to get you started:
The next step is to estimate and evaluate the risk from a hazard. Risk is the product of two factors:
Once you've assigned the risk, you need to take appropriate action to adequately manage it. You can use our simple risk matrix to help you do this:
Risk control measures are put in place to control the risk from a hazard by eliminating it or reducing either the likelihood or consequence or both. They should be a combination of protective and preventative controls and you should apply the hierarchy of controls, starting at the top to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the most effective controls are used to reduce the risk.
Now that you have assessed all the risks, you’ll need to record the significant findings using our risk assessment template. It's available in two formats to provide flexibility. It can be updated easily and previous versions can be archived.
The administrative details at the top of the risk assessment template must be completed in full with names, signatures and dates. Using assessment references is good practice to help you cross reference between documents and keep track of your assessments.
Tips on recording the assessment:
The last step is to review your findings and is an important part of the process even if the risk ratings are low. You need to do this in order to ensure the assessment stays relevant and valid. There is no standard review period, only that it should be carried out regularly. This is because things change over time. For example new procedures, legislation, equipment and the people at risk change. Reviews are also triggered when new information comes to light, such as information about a substance or outcomes of an
Health surveillance might be necessary to monitor how effective your risk controls are for
You should archive your old risk assessments and the Health and Safety Advisory Service Retention Schedule will tell you how for how long.