Conducting a health and safety risk assessment is a vital task to stay compliant.

Risk assessments help you to understand potential causes of harm and how these can be reduced. The risk to you can be more than a costly fine – the resulting negative publicity can damage your reputation beyond repair. 

This is where having Ellis Whittam’s Health & Safety support making sure you are compliant is vital. 

health and safety risk assessment

Suitable and Sufficient

The Management Regulations explain that risk assessments must be ‘suitable and sufficient’. However, rather unhelpfully, the regulations don’t go on to define what this means.

Put simply though, a risk assessment is a careful examination of what, in your work, could cause harm to people. The aim is to decide what steps are needed to reduce injury and ill-health and comply with health and safety law.

A general risk assessment should:

  • Identify the significant risks arising from your activities;
  • Reveal your existing controls;
  • Identify whether those controls are enough to comply with health and safety law; and
  • If existing controls don’t reduce the risk of harm to an acceptable level, determine what other steps must be taken.

Six-Step Approach

A risk assessment can be divided into a basic six-step approach:

  1. Identify hazards;
  2. Decide who might be harmed;
  3. Evaluate the risk level;
  4. Decide whether existing risk controls are sufficient;
  5. Keep a record of the findings; and
  6. Monitor and review.

In identifying hazards, you may have noticed some risks have already been addressed. As an employer, it is your legal duty to reduce the remaining ‘residual risk’ to as low a level as ‘reasonably practicable’.    

Risk assessments typically judge whether the risk level of someone being injured is high, medium or low – thereby setting the time frame for reducing risk:

  • High-risk activities should normally be tackled immediately;
  • Medium risks in days/weeks; and
  • Low risks in months.

In some cases, no action will be needed. However, you must make sure you’re complying with the law by reducing the risk to as low a level as reasonably practicable.

Did you know that Ellis Whittam's Health & Safety risk assessment advice is assured by a Primary Authority?

Living Documents

Risk assessments are living documents and need regular review. They must be reviewed if there:

  • is a reason to believe it is no longer valid; and/or
  • has been a significant change.

Accidents, ill-health and dangerous occurrences or ‘near misses’ should always prompt review.

Who should do the Risk Assessment?

Risk assessments can be carried out externally by Health & Safety Consultants or you can assess the risks yourself.  

However, the Management Regulations say employers must have health and safety assistance from a ‘Competent Person’. In other words, whoever does the assessment must be able to make sure that you’re complying with health and safety law.

Small firms should only do risk assessments themselves if they confidently understand what’s involved.

The Management Regulations say the ‘Competent Person’ must have ‘sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities’ in order to:

  • be able to identify risks; and
  • evaluate how effectively those risks are being controlled.


Specialist Risk Assessment Help

In identifying and evaluating risks, much depends on the activity and organisation – and there can be no ‘one size fits all’ assessment.

The duty to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is therefore a ‘heavy’ one.

If you don’t feel you have the required ‘training and experience or knowledge’, Ellis Whittam can assess your risks for you.

Our qualified Health & Safety specialists will:

  • Act as your ‘Competent Person’;
  • Adeptly carry out risk assessments;
  • Expertly create a Health & Safety Policy; and
  • Wholly support you on site in health and safety matters

Health & Safety Risk Assessment Software

As part of our core health and safety service, our Health & Safety Software will revolutionise your approach to auditing.

Use the power of this intuitive tool to integrate with your organisation and pull your data into one risk status indicator. 

Compliance at the click of a button.

Why Ellis Whittam?

Health and safety law is vast, complex and constantly changing.

While there’s no shortage of Health & Safety Consultants to help you develop your Health & Safety systems – ask yourself, what do they know about the law?

Talk to the Professionals

Ellis Whittam’s network of Heath & Safety Consultants have recognised Health & Safety qualifications and vast experience. Crucially, all of our experts have real on-the-ground experience of health and safety compliance.

If you’re looking to enlist the support of a health and safety risk assessment company, Ellis Whittam are best placed to keep your organisation on the right side of the law.

Contact us for more information.