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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  Resources  /  Safety  /  Risk Assessment  /  Introduction to Risk Assessment

Introduction to Risk Assessment

Risk Assessment

A risk assessment is simply a careful examination of anything that may cause harm to you or others during the course of your work. Once this is done, you will then be able to decide upon the most appropriate action to take to minimize the likelihood of anyone being hurt. The aim is to prevent accident and illness. It is carried out by identifying risk and using appropriate control measures to minimize or eliminate the risk. Risk Assessment of all activities is required by Law.

It is also important to consider "environmental risks" - Will the proposed work have any impact on the environment?


A hazard is anything that may cause harm. Although they may not cause harm in one form, there is always a "what if....?". Glass bottles can be considered a hazard. Normally they are fairly harmless - what if they are dropped? Electricity is a hazard; whilst properly contained it is safe, what if...? To make life a little easier, we have divided the hazards into groups which are then sub-divided. Not all the areas will be relevant to your work, but do not dismiss them without looking - you may find a risk that you hadn't thought of.


The risk is essentially the likelihood of something happening. What if the glass bottle is dropped? - there is a risk that someone could be cut. How do we minimize the risk? - Using a suitable control measure.

Control Measures

Often the best control measures will start with the words DO NOT . Do not use a glass bottle. This will eliminate the risk altogether. However, there are times when "do not" is not applicable. (All field work risks can be eliminated by the phrase - do not do field work!! - not very practical advice.) You then aim to reduce the risk. Ensure the bottle is packed in a box with enough packing material around it to prevent it from breaking; wear protective gloves when handling; ...... The risk of cutting yourself on the bottle is reduced.

Example of a Risk Assessment

The Risk Assessment form consists of a header page - where details of the project or task are given, a back page - where personnel involved with the work will sign to say they have read and understood the assessment and between these is the risk assessment itself. To fill in these middle pages, list the hazard categories that your work involves. Under each of the hazard headings, list the risks and then list the associated control measures.


It is the responsibility of the supervisors to make sure that those carrying out the work are instructed and trained to do so using the control measures identified in the risk assessment. They should directly supervise those with the least experience until they are deemed to be competent to carry out the work unsupervised. Those carrying out the work must co-operate with their supervisor by following the instructions they have been given.