Risk Assessment FAQs

Our Risk Assessment FAQs detail frequently asked questions and tailored answers related to the legal requirement to carry out risk assessments.

What is a RAMS risk assessment and method statement?

A Risk Assessment and Method Statement (RAMS) are two documents that form part of a safe system of work.

RAMS are typically used for activities that carry a high degree of risk (e.g. working on a roof, or hot work). A RAMS may require tasks to be undertaken in a specific order and need a high level of understanding and monitoring to reduce the risk.

The risk assessment details the hazards and measures required, whereas the method statement outlines the process, the equipment and supervision.

These documents need to be understood by those completing the activities and often form part of a safety briefing before works are undertaken.

When should a risk assessment be reviewed?

The frequency of risk assessment reviews depends on the nature of the hazards, the activity, the industry, and regulatory requirements.

Risk assessments should be reviewed whenever there are significant changes in a workplace that could mean the current risk assessment is no longer valid. This could be a change in process, new or modified work equipment or new competence requirements. Risk assessments should be reviewed after an internal incident, or as part of an industry safety notice.

The HSE recommends reviewing risk assessments annually as a general guide.

Who can legally carry out a risk assessment?

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 states that a risk assessment must be carried out by a ‘competent person’.

Under the Regulations a person is ‘competent’ when they have ‘sufficient training and experience or knowledge and other qualities to enable him to properly assist in undertaking the measures…’

Simple, low risk activities should not need the expertise of an in-house competent person or consultant. Higher risk activities may require the risk assessment to be undertaken by a team bringing in operational experience alongside pragmatic risk assessing skills.

How long does a risk assessment take?

The length of time a risk assessment takes depends on the complexity. For example, a display screen equipment (DSE) risk assessment might be completed in half an hour, whereas a fire risk assessment may be completed over several days.

Can you carry out your own risk assessment?

Employers can carry out risk assessments themselves if they are competent to do so. Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 competency is defined as having sufficient training and experience or knowledge to undertake the task.

SMEs usually appoint a health and safety consultant to support their risk assessments to ensure they meet their legal responsibilities to protect employees and others affected by their activities.

Can anyone carry out a manual handling risk assessment?

By law, someone who carries out a manual handling risk assessment must be competent to do so. This means they must have the knowledge and experience to be able to identify and address risks effectively.

Someone who has practical experience of managing manual handling and has been trained on both manual handling and risk assessment  has the knowledge to carry out the  assessment.

If the manual handling activity is a high risk, then consulting an experienced safety professional is  advisable.

What risk assessments do I need for an office?

These are some hazards that might be included in a general office risk assessment, or specific risk assessments might be created depending on the work environment.

Is a risk assessment a legal requirement?

Yes, all employers must undertake a risk assessment of the risks to the health and safety of employees whilst at work, as well as the risk to those who are not employees but may be affected.

Employers must review the assessment when there is reason to suspect it is no longer valid, or there has been a significant change.

When an employer employs five or more employees the significant findings of the risk assessment must be recorded.