What Is Risk Assessment Process

In this article we will be considering the risk assessment process; but before then lets answer this pertinent question – What Is Risk Assessment?

What Is Risk Assessment

Risk assessment is a risk management process which involves identifying potential hazards and analyze what could happen if the hazard results to an accident.

Risk assessment is also defined as  the determination of quantitative or qualitative estimate of risk related to a well-defined situation and a recognized threat hazard.

Quantitative risk assessment requires calculations of two components of risk (R): the magnitude of the potential loss (L), and the probability (p) that the loss will occur.


Why Is Risk Assessment Important?

Risk assessments are very important as they form an integral part of a good occupational health and safety management plan. They help to:

  • Create awareness of hazards and risks.
  • Identify who may be at risk (employees, cleaners, visitors, contractors, the public, etc).
  • Try and determine if existing control measures are adequate or if more should be done.
  • Prevent injuries or illnesses when done at the design or planning stage.
  • Prioritize hazards and control measures.

Steps In Risk Assessment

There are five major steps to risk assessment:

Five-step process in risk assessment and management

Establish the context–           Understand the operating context and environment
Identify the risks / hazards–           Identify the internal and external risks / hazards that poses the threat
Analyze the risks–  Systemic analysis of various contributing and leading factors (e.g. extend of the   exposure, multiple exposures)
Evaluate and prioritize the risks–  Characterize and prioritize the list of risks for further action
Tackle the risks– Identify the range of options to tackle the risk & implement the best choice using available resources.


Major Variables Of Risk Management Process

Risk assessment takes into consideration of majorly two (variables), which is the likelihood and severity of occurrence.

Likelihood of Harm

Very Likely – Typically experienced at least once every six months by an individual.

Likely – Typically experienced once every five years by an individual.

Unlikely – Typically experienced once during the working lifetime of an individual.

Very unlikely – Less than 1% chance of being experienced by an individual during their working lifetime.

Severity of Harm

Potential severity of harm – When establishing potential severity of harm, information about the relevant work activity should be considered, together with:

  1. a) Part of the body likely to be affected.
  2. b) Nature of the harm, ranging from slight to extremely harmful:
  3. slightly harmful: like Superficial injuries; minor cuts and bruises; eye irritation from dust; nuisance and irritation; ill-health leading to temporary discomfort.
  4. harmful: Like lacerations; burns; concussion; serious sprains; minor fractures; deafness; dermatitis; asthma; work-related upper limb disorders; ill-health.
  5. extremely harmful: Like amputations; major fractures; poisonings; multiple injuries; fatal injuries; occupational cancer; other severely life shortening diseases; acute fatal diseases)


Analyzing Risk Level

Definition for Risk Level

Tolerability Guidance on necessary action and timescale :

Very low –

These risks are considered acceptable. No further action is necessary other than to ensure that the controls are maintained.

Low –

No additional controls are required unless they can be implemented at very low-cost (in terms of time, money, and effort). Actions to further reduce these risks are assigned low priority. Arrangements should be made to ensure that the controls are maintained.

Medium –

Consideration should be as to whether the risks can be lowered, where applicable, to a tolerable level and preferably to an acceptable level, but the costs of additional risk reduction measures should be taken into account.

The risk reduction measures should be implemented within a defined time period.

Arrangements should be made to ensure that controls are maintained, particularly if the risk levels area associated with harmful consequences.

High –

Substantial efforts should be made to reduce the risk.

Risk reduction measures should be implemented urgently within a defined time period and it might be necessary to consider suspending or restricting the activity, or to apply interim risk control measures, until this has been completed.

Considerable resources might have to be allocated to additional control measures.

Arrangements should be made to ensure that controls are maintained, particularly if the risk levels are associated with extremely harmful consequences and very harmful consequences.

Very high –

These risk are unacceptable.

There should be Substantial improvements in risk control measures so that the risk is reduced to a tolerable or acceptable level.

Management should halt work activity until risk controls are implemented that reduces the risk so that it is no longer very high.

If it is not possible to reduce the risk, the work should remain prohibited.

How Do You Do A Risk Assessment?

Assessments should be done by a competent team of individuals who have a good working knowledge of the workplace.

Staff should be involved always include supervisors and workers who work with the process under review as they are the most familiar with the operation.

In general, to do an assessment, you should:

  • Identify hazards.
  • Evaluate the likelihood of an injury or illness occurring, and its severity.
  • Consider normal operational situations as well as non-standard events such as shutdowns, power outages, emergencies, etc.
  • Review all available health and safety information about the hazard such as MSDSs, manufacturer’s literature, information from reputable organizations, results of testing, etc.
  • Identify actions necessary to eliminate or control the risk.
  • Monitor and evaluate to confirm the risk is controlled.
  • Keep any documentation or records that may be necessary. Documentation may include detailing the process used to assess the risk, outlining any evaluations, or detailing how conclusions were made.

When doing an assessment, you must take into account:

  • The methods and procedures used in the processing, use, handling or storage of the substance, etc.
  • The actual and the potential exposure of workers.
  • The measures and procedures necessary to control such exposure by means of engineering controls, work practices, and hygiene practices and facilities.

When the level of risk associated with the hazard has been determined, the employer and the joint health and safety committee will be able to decide whether a control program is required.

It is important to remember that the assessment must take into account not only the current state of the workplace but any potential situations as well.

See Risk Assessment sample form.

Risk assessment value is arrived at by multiplying the likelihood value with the severity value.


RISK   – Likelihood (4) x Severity (2) = 6

Hence risk is at level six (6) which signifies medium risk from the Risk level table

Risk = Likelihood x Severity
Likelihood                                                    Severity
1 = highly unlikely to ever occur             1 = slight inconvenience
2 = may occur but rarely                         2 = minor injury requiring first aid
3 = may occur rarely                                3 = medical attention required
4 = may occur from time to time           4 = major injury leading to hospitalization
5 = likely to occur often                           5 = fatality or serious injury leading
1 – 5 = low risk


6 -12 = medium risk
15 – 25 = high risk