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Risk assessments

(FS120000) (Published Feb 2019 replacing 2012)


A risk assessment is not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your activities.  Activities encourage the development of young people and they can experience a great sense of achievement in completing them. Some degree of risk is unavoidable but it is - and should be - much less than the participant perceives. We seek to provide: EXCITEMENT but not DANGERADVENTURE but not HAZARD.

Everything we do involves an element of risk, so we need to put a plan in place. Accordingly we need to assess and control the risks associated with activities in order to minimise the chance of injury.

There are just five steps to assessing risk. (Click the link to see the diagram enlarged)

Risk Assessment 5 Steps
The five steps to assessing risk

Step 1

hazard is anything that could cause harm. In the context of activities, a hazard could be weather, equipment, the way you are doing it or something else.  Look at all your activities, including non-routine tasks. Look at what actually happens rather than what should happen. Look for the hazards which are really obvious, not every single little thing.

Step 2

Who is involved in the activity - Young People, adults, visitors?  Participants with additional needs?  What could happen to cause them harm?  A risk is the chance - high or low - that someone will be harmed by the hazard.

Step 3

Controls are ways of removing or reducing risk. Ask:

  • Can I get rid of the hazard altogether? (E.g. not crossing a road but using a bridge or underpass).

  • What is a less risky option?

  • How can we reduce the risk of people being in contact with the hazard? (E.g.Use a zebra crossing rather than any busy point on the road)

  • What sort of instructions do participants need for the activity? A written sheet? Simple rules for a game?

  • Have you asked somebody that has done it before if they have any tips?

  • Do they have to wear any protective / safety clothing e.g. gloves, climbing harness, walking boots

Step 4

Record and communicate it effectively and appropriately.How do you involve other leaders and young people in writing the risk assessment? How will you inform them about the risks identified and the controls in place to keep them safe?

It’s really good practice to write your own risk assessment down. If you’re sharing by discussing with others, make sure you have all the key points ready and don’t miss them out. A checklist of bullet points will help you.

If you haven’t got a risk assessment written down or your plans change at the last minute, make sure you’ve discuss them with someone else so they understand what’s changed to make the activity safe.

Step 5

Review as a minimum every 12 months to see if anything has changed, or sooner if there has been a change of equipment, or if there has been an accident or near miss.

Additional Information

Risk Assessment Form

Download the form

Safety checklist for Leaders

Read the checklist

Visit the Safety section of our website

Discover more