Risk Assessment

Risk assessment is a cornerstone of good health and safety management. All employers regardless of the size of business are required by law to carry out a risk assessment at their place of work and to keep a written record of that risk assessment. 

People are often put off by the idea of Risk Assessment because they think it is over complicated, difficult to complete and unnecessary. This does not need to be the case. 

Risk Assessment is simply looking closely at what in your place of work or about your work activities could cause harm to your employees and visitors to your workplace (e.g. customers, suppliers, sales representatives etc) and determining the control measures you can implement to minimise the risk.

This two-minute video explains the risk asssessment process in simple language.   

How to do a Risk Assessment: Three Basic Steps

Step 1 - Identify Hazards 

Start by looking at and identifying “hazards” that are at your workplace. A hazard is simply anything that can cause harm to you or your employees. “Where can people come to harm?” Don’t overcomplicate the process. Take a good look at your workplace and the work that you are doing there. What you are looking for are the situations where people can be harmed (e.g. hazards such as vehicles, machinery, manual handling etc.). This can include people other than your employees. Look at how you get around your workplace, is there safe access? Look at how you carry out the work, how can you be harmed? There is no need to consider every minor hazard or risk which we accept as part of our everyday lives. For example, you do not need to identify the lifting of a 1kg package as a workplace hazard; but lifting a 25kg box of 1kg packages would be a hazard.

Step 2 - Determine the Level of Risk

Next look at the level of risk. Some hazards will be high risk, e.g. working at height. Other hazards will be a lower risk, because the harm may be less severe. “What is the chance people will be harmed and how serious could the injury be?” Decide who could be harmed and how and give consideration to vulnerable groups (e.g. young persons, the elderly, pregnant employees, shift workers etc).

Step 3 - Put in Controls and Inform

Decide what you are going to do to make the task or activity safer for you; your employees and other people around you. Implement the controls and then tell your employees! Your control measures are the most significant part of the risk assessment, as they set out the steps that must be followed to protect people. Some control measures may already be in place. You will need to decide if additional measures are needed. Risk assessment will help you prioritise the high risk hazards first. 


BeSMART.ie is a free online tool that will guide you through the entire risk assessment process using simple language and easy-to-follow instructions. On completion you will have a workplace-specific safety statement that can be printed, downloaded and implemented.

Using BeSMART.ie is the easiest, most effective way to prepare your risk assessments and safety statement. It is available to a wide range of business types. If your business is covered by BeSMART.ie, we recommend you use it.