How to write your own risk assessments

Download this free risk assessment template , a tool designed to guide you through the process of writing a risk assessment. Alternatively, you can read below for more information on how to write a risk assessment. This template is a practical resource that you can use to structure your risk assessment. For a more interactive experience, consider using the template in conjunction with the video tutorial.



This type of examination typically takes place with a qualified clinician, but if you feel more comfortable, a chaperone can be arranged. A chaperone is a person who can accompany you during the risk assessment process to provide support and ensure your comfort and safety.

This tutorial is designed to guide you, regardless of your industry sector or line of work, in writing effective risk assessments. Risk assessments are not industry-specific; they are a universal tool for eliminating or reducing the likelihood of hazards that may pose a risk to employees or others. Remember, all risks are subjective, and your understanding and management of them are crucial.

  • Example 1: Every time we go to bed, we risk falling out of bed, which could cause injury. This is, without doubt, a risk that we all face every night. However, when we look at this subjectively, the likelihood of someone falling out of bed is extremely low, and the probable injuries would be minor.

The first lesson is knowing how to write a good risk assessment report, which starts with common sense. If you'd like to download our free risk assessment template HERE, you may find it easier to follow the rest of this tutorial. Additionally, there is an accompanying video on the left-hand side of this page that shows you how to write your own risk assessments using the template.

The critical elements in the template are the following sections:

  • Potential hazards
  • People at risk and how
  • Actions already in place
  • Further action required
  • Target dates
  • Substance risks

When writing risk assessments, the first consideration is 'Potential hazards'. This involves identifying potential hazards, their likelihood of occurrence, and the severity of potential harm. This is known as hazard identification, and it's a subjective process. While you can't prevent all accidents, you can try to eliminate risks where possible and control risks that cannot be eliminated. This is where control measures come in, empowering you to manage and mitigate risks effectively.

The image below shows the 'Potential hazards' column filled in. For this tutorial, I have chosen two types of falls from height: a hop-up and potentially falling into an excavation. Other types of falls from height may include various access equipment, from step ladders to scaffolding.

Now that I've identified two potential hazards, the next step in writing a suitable risk assessment is identifying the people at risk. This could be direct employees, subcontractors, members of the public, or anyone else who may be at risk. For this example, though, we are only considering the person who may fall.

In addition to identifying the risk, this column includes how the risk could lead to injury and the severity of any possible injuries. The image below shows an example of what to write in this column.

Next, we look at what actions are already in place to reduce the likelihood or severity of an accident or injury. On the surface, if actions are already in place, you do no need to write a risk assessment. However, the risk assessment is not written, so it ticks the boxes of a company's health and safety policy. It's there to give to the people at risk and educate them on how to minimise specific risks whilst carrying out tasks or using certain equipment.

As you can see from the image below, five actions are already in place for each risk. These actions can't take away the risk, but they are there to minimise the likelihood and severity of the risk. When writing your risk assessments, it's important to remember that the best solution is to eliminate risk by changing working practices or equipment. If this can't be done, actions are put in place to minimise the likelihood and severity of the risk.

We move on now to 'further action required'. This field is there to evolve the risk assessment and as a set of instructions to managers, ensuring that they carry out the required actions. The last three columns are also encompassed by this field as they show the initials of the person who is to take action on the additional control measures, the target date by which the actions should have taken place, and whether the actions have been completed at the next review.

Some FAQs we get asked when people are starting to write their risk assessment are:

‘Do I need to write a Risk Assessment?’

If your business has more than four employees, including yourself, the law dictates that you must control the risks in your workplace through risk assessments.

If you are self-employed, you will need to carry out Risk Assessments to evaluate whether your business may harm you and others and whether you are doing enough to prevent possible harm.

If you have under five employees or are a subcontractor, you may still have to provide Risk Assessments at the principal contractor’s behest.

‘When do I need to write a Risk Assessment?’

If you look at our Risk Assessment Template, you will see a review date every six months. One of the main reasons for this review date is that your Risk Assessments should be completed before you carry out any work, and once you start the job, you may find hazards that were not initially apparent.

Often, Health and Safety documents, including Risk, Method, COSHH, Policies, etc.,… have to be submitted during tendering processes so clients can see how you intend to carry out a job and manage the hazards. This means your Health and Safety package has to be in place before and in case you are awarded work.

‘Do I need to write a Risk Assessment every Year?’

No. You will need to create Risk Assessments for any hazards you’ve identified that have the potential to harm your staff or others. Once you’ve created the document, it can be used for life, provided the hazards and control measures remain the same. Each document should be edited and amended as required and reviewed at six-month intervals.

This becomes clearer once you’ve read the text below about an old van with three control measures fitted over twenty years.

‘What is a control measure?’

Control measures are actions or systems that can reduce the likelihood of harm. They have the potential to prevent or reduce hazards.

For example, an old panel van lacks a rear view mirror. One control measure to prevent collisions when reversing is the incorporation of wing mirrors.

A second control measure was invented and fitted ten years after the van was manufactured. This was a hazard warning played when the vehicle engaged the reverse gear. ‘Caution, this vehicle is reversing...   …caution, this vehicle is reversing…’

Five years after that, a third control measure was invented and fitted. These were rear parking sensors.

Five years after that, a fourth control measure was invented and fitted. This was a rear-view camera.

As you can see from the example above, the risks of harm, vehicle damage, collision, etc… remain the same during the life of the van. Yet towards the end of the van's life, it had an audible caution message, intelligent parking sensors and a rearview camera fitted. With the control measures fitted, although the risks were still there, the likelihood of a dangerous occurrence was drastically reduced, making reversing the van a much safer manoeuvre with control measures implemented.

Some control measures don’t try to prevent or reduce the likelihood of harm, yet they are not passive systems. Examples include ejector seats, seatbelts, and airbags, all designed to minimise damage once an incident has occurred. These measures do not control the likelihood of an event happening; they control the outcome of an event once it has occurred.

‘What is risk evaluation?’

Risk evaluation is a process that’s subjective and not set in stone. For example, if an astronaut left his spaceship without a space suit, he would die. However, there’s probably no documentation to tell an astronaut to wear a space suit before leaving the boat. There’s perhaps a Risk Assessment to say to him to examine the suit for wear, pressure tests the suit, make sure all joints are working, etc....….  but nothing to tell him to put the suit on in the first place.

It’s like telling employees to open a door before they walk through it.

To enter a car (If you’re the driver), go by the front right-hand door.

To stop at a red light and go at a green one.

Some things are considered obvious for adults of average intelligence.

So, evaluating a potential hazard for a Risk Assessment becomes subjective to the assessor. For example, if I were using a Risk Assessment Template for an astronaut leaving a space ship, I wouldn’t consider him going through the airlock without a space suit, yet someone else might think this relevant.

Because risk evaluation in health and safety is subjective, there is no point in using a ranking system as the person judging the potential outcomes is usually the author.

Risk evaluation simply involves examining a task, determining whether it has significant risks, and deciding whether control measures can be implemented to reduce the likelihood of the risk occurring.

As an example, let’s consider the evolution of the van’s control measures and summarise with the following when using the Risk Assessment Template:

Identify the hazards (Reversing)

Identify who is at risk, including non-employees (Driver, passenger, people or animals behind the van)

Identify existing control measures (Wing mirrors fitted as standard)

Evaluation of risks (What are the risks, and how can they be controlled)

Put control measures in place (Parking sensors, rearview camera)

Keep records (The date, why and when the rearview camera was installed)

Review and amend (Read, review, sign and date Risk Assessment every six months, or amend as new risks or control measures are relevant)

Share (There’s no point in carrying out a Risk Assessment if it doesn’t go to the people carrying out the task. In this case, give it to the driver)



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