What is a Risk Assessment?
A risk assessment is a systematic process of evaluating the potential risks that may be involved in your activity or undertaking. This is not about creating volumes of paperwork for your committee, but is simply thinking about what might harm your members and identifying if your group have taken the necessary steps to keep people safe.
Why do I need to complete a Risk Assessment?
Risk assessments are a legal document required under Health and Safety law. General risk assessments form part of the affiliation process at The SU and your group is required to complete, understand and adhere to your risk assessment to ensure your student group is covered on our insurance policy. This process shows that your group have put controls in place to ensure the safety of your members and participants and anyone else in the vicinity of your event and that you have taken reasonable steps to make your activity safe for all involved.
What is the difference between a general risk assessment and a one-off risk assessment?
A general risk assessment is a document which assesses the risks of your regular activity as a group. You only need to complete this once to cover all of your regular sessions, as long as the activity is the same in each session. You will need to state that your activity is for the whole term or whole year in your document (e.g. Tuesday evening training session, 7-8pm). Your general risk assessment is part of the affiliation process.
An one-off risk assessment is a document which covers a one-off event or activity that your group would like to do, and is specific to the space that you want to do this in. Completing a one-off risk assessment means that you don't need to cover every eventuality in your general risk assessment, and you can assess the specific risks to your event when you are planning it.
How do I complete my risk assessment?
The first thing you will need to do is download the template document.
Then you can follow the steps below to help you complete this.
Using the blank template you need to complete the fields in the boxes with the general details of your activity including: Group name, date of the activity, time of the activity, expected attendee numbers, and the date of the risk assessment.
If this is your general risk assessment, you won't need to write the date of every session, but you will need to make it clear on the document which session this is for with the day and time. You'll also need to let us know how long the activity will run for, e.g. Thursday night training, 8pm-9pm, Term 1 only.
Step 2: Identify the hazards
A hazard is something can cause harm. Think carefully about your activity to identify the potential hazards involved.
The hazard examples document shows various examples of hazards, grouped by type of events. Think about your specific activity and use these example to help think about potential risks. As well as using the example hazards and control measures that are listed please also add any additional hazards and control measures your committee can think of that are relevant to your specific event or activity.
Step 3: Who might be harmed?
Consider where and when your event is taking place and who might be affected by each hazard you have listed. In some cases, an activity may only impact members/participants, whilst other hazards it might affect a wider audience and members of the public.
Step 4: Evaluating the risks
You should use the tables and matrix at the bottom of the risk assessment template to identify whether each risk is a low, medium or high risk using the likelihood and severity of any given risk.
- Likelihood (L) – how likely it is that each hazard might cause harm?
- Severity (S) – how severe are the implications if it does occur?
Risk is part of everyday life and while you won't be able to eliminate all hazards, your aim is to reduce these where possible. Look at your significant and high risk hazards using their scores on the matrix and see where it is possible to reduce these. Record the steps you will take to reduce the risk to the lowest level possible. The following questions might help you to do this:
- If there’s a less risky option you might consider?
- Can the exposure to the hazard be controlled?
- Are members appropriately briefed or experienced/trained?
- Are the necessary emergency procedures in place e.g. first aid/fire etc?
Step 5: Review and share your risk assessment
Sharing a copy of your general risk assessment and discussing it at meetings/inductions is a good way of engaging members of your group to ensure everyone knows their roles and responsibilities. Your general risk assessment is a live document that needs to be regularly revisited throughout the year to check for any updates required, especially if your activity changes.
Step 6: Submit your risk assessment
Your general risk assessment is part of your group's affiliation over the summer, and should be submitted as part of this process. There are more details about how to do this on the affiliation page.
If your risk assessment is for a one-off event you are hosting, it is important that you send this to your coordinator for approval before the event can go ahead. You must complete a risk assessment for each different type of activity or event your group wants to do.
It is compulsory for your committee to submit a risk assessment for any activity you are organising as part of your group. If you fail to submit an appropriate risk assessment to your coordinator so they can approve your event your group and attendees are not covered by The SU’s insurance and this activity is an unofficial activity.