Risk Assessments

Basic Legal Obligation

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (Management Regulations) require employers to identify all hazards at their workplace, to quantify the risk to employees and others and to systematically elimate or control hazards.

Risk Assessments

A risk assessment is a legally required system for managing workplace health and Safety. The law also requires prompt consultation with union health and safety representatives.

In a risk assessment, a hazard is defined as the potential to cause hard, and risk as the likelihood of that harm occurring. A risk assessment involves deciding whether harm is so likely to occur that preventative action must be taken. One problem with a risk assessment is that judging risk has an element of subjectivity. To minimise the subjectivity of the risk assessment an assessment method (British Standards BS 8800) is widely used. The assessment method used at Roehampton is a variation on BS 8800. The risk assessment asks ‘what harm can be caused by exposure to an occupational hazard and what is the likelihood of that harm occurring?’


Once a harm is recognised, the maximum severity possible of that harm is assessed.

  1. Negligible (ie slight harm such as headache, minor muscle sprain)
  2. Minor
  3. Moderate ( ie. Harm resulting in permanent minor disability eg sight deafness, minor back problems)
  4. Moderate
  5. Catastrophic (ie Extreme harm such as premature death or permanent major disability, which can be caused by acute or chronic exposure to a workplace stressor including work overload and bullying behaviour).

Covid 19 risk assessments should all be scored as level 5 severity.


Then the liklihood of the harm occuring is assessed

  1. Very Unlikely
  2. Unlikely
  3. Possible
  4. Likely
  5. Very likely

Factors impacting upon this category are availability of PPE equipment, inappropriate social distancing measures, ventilation in offices and teaching space, surfaces that have not been cleaned appropriately, etc.

Five Steps to a Risk Assessment

  1. Identify the hazard
  2. Decide who can be harmed and how
  3. Evaluate the risks arising from the hazard
  4. Record the findings ( on a risk assessment template)
  5. Review the risk assessment as necessary

If you have never seen a risk assessment before it may be helpful to watch this short very basic guide on Risk Assessment matrixes before looking at your local risk assessment https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-E-jfcoR2W0