HOW TO… Carry out a Risk Assessment

Carrying out a Risk Assessment is a practical way to reduce the chances of harm during events or activities that take place at your Green Community Hub. It will help ensure that everyone, including the people who are delivering your activities, as well as those who are taking part, is kept safe.

Doing a Risk Assessment isn’t as scary or as complicated as it might sound –actually, it can feel a lot like putting common sense down on paper. Writing one can be a genuinely helpful exercise for thinking about all the potential risks, including some that you might not have considered otherwise. It’s also a great way to get members of your group on the same page when it comes to how best to manage different risks.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisation (NCVO) has lots of information about volunteering and health and safety on its website, including details on legal obligations and health and safety policy, and you can find out more here…

In the meantime, we’ve prepared a short guide for you below…

There are 4 simple steps to walk through as part of a risk assessment:

  1. Identifying the risk
  2. Evaluating the risk
  3. Mitigating the risk
  4. Monitoring and reviewing the risk

1. Identifying the Risk

Spend some time thinking about the hazards for your event/activity. It can be helpful to walk around your site or play the event out in your head while you do this. When thinking about the risks, think who might be harmed and how.

Consider ‘what’:

  • The equipment/resources you’re using: Could anything go wrong here?
  • The weather: What might happen in storms, rain, or sunshine?
  • Food/refreshments: Consider things such as allergies
  • The location: Are you near busy roads? Are there any trip hazards?

And think about ‘who’:

  • Who are the participants/people attending your activity?
  • Will any members of the public be passing through
  • What staff/volunteers will be there, including yourself?
  • Give extra consideration to children or vulnerable adults who might be present.

2. Evaluating the Risk

This part of the assessment is about considering how likely is it that something could cause harm. And, how serious would the outcome be if something happened?

Use 2 numbered scales to help you assess how likely, and how dangerous the hazard is. For example, for likelihood, 1= very unlikely that harm will happen, and 5 = almost certain harm will take place. And, for the severity of consequence, 1= minor injury, and 5 = fatality.

3. Mitigating the Risk

Now that you have identified and evaluated the risk, you can consider a range of measures to put in place that would help reduce the likelihood of harm, and which will reduce the severity of such an outcome.

For example… If you are preparing for an outdoor event on a hot summer’s day, you may have evaluated the risk of participants experiencing heat stroke and sunburn to be likely. So, to mitigate that risk, you could decide to provide a gazebo offering shelter from the heat, provide water so that everyone stays hydrated, and ask participants in advance to bring suncream and a hat.

Another example could be… To reduce the chance of harm from using hand tools when running a gardening event, you might mitigate that risk by carrying out a tool safety talk beforehand. You could also want to check if volunteers have existing health issues (such as back pain) so you can allocate tasks accordingly.

4. Monitoring and reviewing the Risk

Remember to keep your Risk Assessments up to date so that they respond to any changes made to your activity, or any new precautions that should be considered.

Monitoring your Risk Assessments regularly also gives you the opportunity to review your evaluation of risk on a regular basis. For example, have any accidents or near-misses taken place? If so, you should review your evaluation of that risk and look for more mitigating actions to take.

Remember risk assessment should be realistic for the activity you’re running, it’s about getting a balance between achieving what you want to do with your activity while reducing the risk of harm within within what is reasonable and possible.

Risk Assessment Template

If you work for a charity or another kind of organisation, it is very likely they will be able to offer you full training on Risk Assessments and they will provide you with a Risk Assessment form. However, we have included a template for you here if you need it…

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