danger sign risk

Here are the fundamentals of writing a risk assessment from start to finish

A brief guide to what needs to go into a UK Health & Safety Executive (HSE) compliant risk assessment.

The fundamentals

This section is nice and easy and comprises: your Company name, the names of individuals who have health and safety responsibilities in your Company, and the core policies themselves. General health & safety policy is a commitment to perform the following:

  • Prevent accidents and work-related ill health
  • Provide clear instructions and training
  • Engage with employees on day-to-day conditions
  • Implement emergency procedures
  • Maintain safe and healthy working conditions

Alongside each of these headings you’ll need to identify who’s responsible, as well as the actions and arrangements you have in place. If you operate at multiple locations, all of the above will apply to each location and every business activity.

Key principles

At Risk Memo, we highly recommend a ‘key principles’ section. It is unlikely, and perhaps unreasonable to expect, that your employees will memorise every risk and control measure. What we can do, however, is instil a set of principles, core foundational knowledge that will equip them to deal with almost any eventuality.

For example, let’s say you have employees who work at height, and find themselves in a situation that your procedures don’t address. Those who have a sound understanding of the fundamentals of working at height will be better equipped to handle it, even if though it’s a new situation.

If you develop and instil your key principles, your team will make better decisions.

Generic risk assessment

This section only applies if you have the same operations at multiple locations. It’s exactly the same as the next section, but contains only the risks that apply to all.

Site-specific risk assessment

A standard HSE template has the following headings, which are self-explanatory:

  • What are the hazards?
  • Who might be harmed and how?
  • What are you already doing?
  • Do I need to do anything else to control this risk?
  • Action by whom?
  • Action by when?
  • Done

Warning: If you’re adding details to the latter 4 headings, make sure you follow up! Be realistic with your action date – there’s nothing worse than identifying a missing control measure and failing to action it within the time frame you’ve specified. Just ask yourself “what would a lawyer say”…

Further to this, it begs the question, “Should I continue to operate before this control measure is implemented?” Of course, only you can make that judgement.

Signatures, posters, first aid kits and your accident book

The HSE template has a signature field only for the employer, but you’ll probably want to go further and ensure that everyone reads, and signs that they’ve read, your latest assessment. This is especially the case if the control measure requires an action from your employees e.g. “employees are restricted from entering this area without a hard hat”. In order to follow that rule, they need to know about it.

The final box to tick for HSE compliance is to write down the location of the health and safety law poster, first aid kit and your accident book. This is for the benefit of your employees (another reason for them to read and sign).

A compliant risk assessment

There you have it! This is the minimum requirement, but it’s possible to do much more. Our Risk Memo app is HSE compliant, packed full of features and takes care of the common traps you can fall into, such as ensuring your team implements the action required and collecting read receipts and signatures.

If you have any questions on our app or the HSE template, feel free to comment below.


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