What is a Risk Assessment?

“On its own, paperwork never saved anyone. It is a means to an end, not an end in itself – action is what protects people. So risk assessments should be fit for purpose and acted upon.

“OK, if you’re running an oil refinery you’re going to need a fair amount of paperwork. But for most, bullet points work very well indeed.”  – The Health & Safety Executive 2007

Contrary to popular belief, writing a risk assessment is not ‘extra paperwork’ imposed by the government – nor is it something that takes a lot of time or energy.

The law says that, as part of managing your business, you must control the risks in your workplace (including when that workplace is a venue or event site) and take steps to prevent harm coming to anyone affected by your work activities.

To help to control the risks, you should think about what your work activities are, what might go wrong and who that will affect.  You should also think about what you can do to reduce the risks involved in your activities and make them as safe as you can.

This process is know as a  risk assessment and although businesses of less than five employees do not need to write down their risk assessments, it is likely that your client, event safety advisor or venue will require a written assessment before you can commence the delivery phase of a project.

Event Safety Plan can help you to draw together all of your risk assessments and other event safety documentation and make it quicker, easier and give a greater level of consistency across all of your documentation.

Important: Having a folder full of risk assessments is not a ‘get out of jail free’ card. If there is an incident that requires investigation your risk assessments will be reviewed and if they are found to have insufficient detail or have been poorly implemented (eg. control measures not implemented onsite through poor supervision) then you could still be liable for prosecution or a civil lawsuit.

How do I undertake a risk assessment?

A risk assessment helps to identify what harm could result from an activity or situation and how the chances of an accident happening could be reduced.

The Health & Safety Executive describe this as Plan > Do > Check > Act – you can find out more with this  free PDF download.
It involves thinking about:

  1. What you want to do
  2. What could go wrong
  3. What you can do to stop it going wrong.

The earlier you start thinking about what could go wrong when planning an activity, the easier it will be to plan and implement ways of reducing those risks.

The process of putting safety precautions in place is called “implementing control measures”.

You don’t have to write a risk assessment for everything that you do, only when you think there is going to be a significant risk of someone injuring themselves or endangering others.

The risk assessment must include risks to anyone who may be affected by your activities. This might be people who work for you, members of the public or even yourself. Risk assessments can be vital piece of evidence that you have thought about the risks involved in a project, taken steps to reduce though risks and documented the process to fulfil your legal obligations.

Event Safety Plan has a unique risk assessment tool that guides you through a 4 step process for creating risk assessments. There is step by step help available along with further resources in our knowledge base.

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