Advice & Guidance

Risk Assessment

Before undertaking an inspection or carrying out routine maintenance tasks, you should consider carrying out a risk assessment. Helpful advice on the process of carrying out risk assessments can be found on the website of the Health and Safety Executive. You can also download a copy of Five Steps to Risk Assessment or have a look at the Frequently Asked Questions.

Assessing the riskEssentially, risk assessment is nothing more than a careful examination of the situations that could potentially cause harm to people. It enables you to weigh up whether or not you have taken enough precautions to prevent harm or to reduce the risk of an accident happening. There are five basic steps to risk assessment:

  • Identify the hazards.
  • Decide who might be harmed and how.
  • Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions.
  • Record your findings and implement them.
  • Review your assessment and update it if necessary.

When carrying out your risk assessment, remember that a hazard is anything that may cause harm, such as chemicals, electricity or working from ladders. The risk is the chance or likelihood (high or low) that somebody could be harmed by the hazard, together with an indication of how serious the harm could be. Typical hazards that you might encounter whilst carrying out maintenance would include difficulty of access, slippery surfaces, fragile materials or toxic substances.

Danger noticeRisk assessment should be a practical exercise, aimed at helping you to work safely. The best advice is to keep it simple but make sure that you put your findings into practice. As part of your risk assessment you might need to think about how to get access to places where you need to carry out inspection or maintenance tasks safely.

This may include discussions with your architect or surveyor about providing additional handrails or works to address uneven steps, especially in towers. You might also need to think about emergency lighting or providing torches in case of a power failure.


© SPAB 2008