Risk Assessment Guidance

Specific COVID-19 risk assessments have been developed for managers to assess the risks in their services/ teams and to support individual staff.

This brief guide is intended to help you to complete a council risk assessment form.

What is risk assessment?

Risk assessment is an examination of what in the workplace may cause harm to people and helps us identify what measures need to be taken to help us prevent that harm.

Managers/Head teachers are responsible for ensuring that risk assessments are carried out. It is preferable to have small risk assessment teams, ideally led by a manager/senior member of staff, but also including someone who knows in detail what the work activity is. All risk assessors must be competent to undertake the task (i.e. possess relevant knowledge, aptitude, experience or training).

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and the five steps to risk assessment:

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises employers to follow a five step process when carrying out a workplace risk assessment, these are:

  1. Identify the hazards
  2. Decide who might be harmed and how
  3. Evaluate the risk and decide on what precautions you need to take
  4. Record your significant findings and implement them
  5. Review your risk assessment and update if necessary 

What are the significant hazards? 

A hazard is something that has the potential to cause harm

A risk is the likelihood of harm occurring and an indication of how severe the harm might be.

Hazards can be grouped into five categories. Knowing what these categories are and the sorts of things that fall into each may help you to identify hazards within your work activities.  The categories are:  

  • Physical - includes electricity, noise, moving vehicles, vibration and confined spaces
  • Chemical - includes solvents, dusts, fumes, smoke 
  • Biological - includes viruses, toxins, blood, insect and animal bites, animal droppings, spores and fungi        
  • Ergonomic -  includes repetitive movements, manual handling, workstation/job design           
  • Psychological - includes stress, bullying, aggression and violence

Who might be harmed and how?

As well as staff who carry out the activity being assessed, others may be at risk from the hazard, e.g. service users, pupils, visitors, members of the public, volunteers and contractors. Some hazards could present particular risks to certain people. These groups include:   

  • Children 
  • Young workers 
  • New and expectant mothers 
  • People with a disability or health condition 
  • New employees 
  • Home workers 
  • Lone workers

What can be done to control the risk?

Often, a variety of control measures can be put in place to control the risk. The diagram below shows a hierarchy of types of control measures, with the most effective at the top and the least effective at the bottom.

Record findings

Use the BHCC risk assessment template to record the findings of your risk assessment.


Once the assessment is completed, it should be communicated to all affected staff, and their understanding of any control measures should be checked


Risk assessments should be reviewed annually, when there are any significant changes that affect the method of work or if a serious accident occurs. They are live documents, so any changes must be discussed with and communicated to all staff.

What are the legal requirements?

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 place a duty on employers to carry out risk assessments for any significant hazards.  

Certain hazards require specific risk assessments - they have their own set of Regulations.  Suitable BHCC risk assessment templates are available for these; examples include:

  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002
  • Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992