Why Risk Assessment?


Every 3.5 minutes, somebody in the EU dies from work-related causes!

167,000 deaths are caused each year as a result of either work-related accidents (7,500) or occupational diseases e.g. asbestosis (159,500).


Every 4.5 seconds, a worker in the EU is involved in an accident that forces him/her to stay at home for at least 3 working days ie more than 7 million accidents a year. (Source: European Agency for Safety and Health at Work.)


These all come at huge costs:

  • Human costs
  • Business costs
  • Costs for society


A prevention approach based on risk assessment aims to put measures in place to prevent such accidents and diseases.

What is a risk assessment?

Risk assessment is the process of evaluating health and safety risks arising form hazards in the workplace.

A hazard is anything that may cause harm e.g. chemicals, electricity, machinery and equipment, an open drawer, aspects of work organisation, etc.

The risk is the chance or probability, high or low, that somebody could be harmed by these or other hazards.

A risk assessment is, therefore, a careful and systematic examination of all aspects of the work undertaken to consider what could cause injury or harm, whether the hazards could be eliminated and, if not, what preventive or protective measures are, or should be, in place to control the risks.


Employers' duties

Employers in each workplace have a moral duty and a legal responsibility to ensure the safety and health of workers. A risk assessment enables effective measures to be put in place to protect the safety and health of workers.

These include:

  • Preventing occupational risks
  • Providing information and training to workers
  • Putting in place the organisation and means to implement the necessary measures.


A risk assessment will help employers and other people responsible to:


1. Identify the hazards in the workplace and those at risk
2. Evaluate the risks associated with those hazards
3. Determine what measures should be taken to protect the safety and health of employees and others
4. Put in place the preventive and protective measures
5. Monitor and review whether the measures in place are working

The Health and Safety Executive website

The Health and Safety Executive website www.hse.gov.uk/risk also has lots of information on practical steps to protect people from risks. Example risk assessments for various workplaces are also available to download at www.hse.gov.uk/risk/casestudies