Risk assessment in 5 steps

5 steps to occupational risk assessment

Occupational risk assessment can be straightforward - five steps are enough to do it properly!

Occupational risk can be assessed in the following five steps:

  • Step 1: Identify the threat.
  • Step 2: Determine who could be injured or fall sick.
  • Step 3: Estimate the occupational risk arising from the threats and evaluate whether the measures used are appropriate or should further action be taken to reduce this risk further.
  • Step 4: Document the results.
  • Step 5: Periodically assess the occupational risk and verify it, if necessary.

Step 1

Identify the threat

If you assess the occupational risk yourself, look closely at your work place and determine what could cause an accident or what could negatively affect the health of the people staying or working there.
Concentrate firstly on the threats that could cause serious injuries or threaten several people.
Ask the workers or their representatives for their opinion.
They could have noticed things that appear obvious at first glance.
Manufacturers' instructions, as well as registers of accidents and occupational diseases or events that almost ended in accidents could be useful in identifying threats (Dudka).

Step 2

Determine who could be injured or fall sick

Remember that the occupational risk assessment refers to all workers.
During the assessment, pay particular attention to those workers for whom the consequences of the threats that are present could be particularly serious, e.g. pregnant women, young workers and the disabled.
Don't forget about those, whose work posts do not have a fixed location (e.g. cleaners, maintenance workers).
Also, consider the people who visit the company, and subcontractors, as well as third parties, if they could be under threat.

Step 3

Estimate the occupational risk arising from the threats and evaluate whether the measures used are appropriate or should further action be taken to reduce this risk further.
Consider the probability of the appearance of the negative consequences of each of the threats that are present and how serious these consequences could be.
Assess whether the occupational risk related to each of the identified threats is large, medium or small.
Take into account the protective measures used with respect to the threats, but remember that they do not completely eliminate the occupational risk.

When is occupational risk large and unacceptable?

Primarily when action has not been taken as required by law to assure safety of workers, for instance the legal requirements on access to dangerous parts of machinery have not been satisfied.
If it is necessary to take additional action to reduce occupational risk, the following questions should be asked:

Can the threat be completely eliminated?


(in reality, the complete elimination of threats is generally not possible, but it should be reduced using the best possible technologies).

If not, how can occupational risk be reduced, so that an accident or disease has a low probability of occurring?

Consider the following when planning actions to reduce risk:

  • Is it possible to use other technologies and work methods, with which the related occupational risk is lower?
  • Is it possible to use technical measures (e.g. covers for moving parts of machines, ventilation etc.)?
  • Is it possible to organise work in such a way as to reduce worker exposure?
  • Is it necessary to use personal protective equipment?

An improvement in the state of occupational safety and health does not need to be related to large financial outlays.
An inexpensive preventive measure that reduces risk, for instance, could be marking transportation routes or the introduction of the prohibition to enter danger zones without personal protective equipment.
Sometimes risk can be reduced by changing work organisation.
Personal protective equipment is used only when occupational risk cannot be reduced in any other way.

Step 4

Document the results

The results of the occupational risk assessment must be documented. This means that it is necessary to:

  • Register the identified threats
  • Record the most important conclusions

The assessment of occupational risk must be conducted properly, not necessarily perfectly!
It is important to demonstrate that the assessment of occupational risk was conducted properly, namely that:

  • All people who could be exposed were considered
  • All significant threats were considered
  • The remedial action taken is appropriate, and the risk following their implementation can be assessed as acceptable (medium or small).

Entries have been made with evidence that the legal requirements have been satisfied.
We propose the use of a form, which can be used to document the results of the risk assessment; but you can always use your own form, which is better adapted to your needs.
In order to simplify the documentation, it is possible to refer to other documents, such as e.g. regulations, machine and device operating instructions or internal OSH procedures, which describe the preventive measures used.
All workers should be informed about the occupational risk arising from the threats related to the work they undertake and the principles of protecting against threats.
If you share a work place with other employers or self-employed people, inform them about the occupational risk related to your activities and about the preventive measures you are using.
Also, consider the risk that the actions of these people create for you and your workers.  

Step 5

Assess the occupational risk occasionally and verify it, if necessary

Sooner or later, you will buy new machines, substances or technologies, which could become the source of new threats.
If significant changes are introduced, assess the occupational risk related to the new threats.
It is occasionally necessary to review the assessment of the occupational risk.
It is not necessary to repeat the assessment because of minor changes.
If, however, new threats appear after introducing changes it is in your interest to assess the related occupational risk and to do everything to keep it at a low level.

See also:


Module of the STER System supporting selection of personal protective equipment