General Principles of a Risk Assessment Process

A risk assessment process helps us to identify who or what can be harmed and in what way it can cause harm. As soon as we have identified the hazards we can then prioritize them and the associated risks in order to decide how we are going to respond to them so that they can be removed, minimized or controlled.

It involves more than just setting up a risk assessment team and following processes. There are specific steps to follow.

That is why the workplace risk assessment process should:

  • All risks that arise from process and work related activities should be considered.
  • It must be appropriate to the nature of the process or work activities and the level of the detail within the risk assessment should match the level of risk.
  • It should be a systematic process that assesses:
    • Minor risks with growth potential;
    • Significant risks;
    • All measures and controls;
    • The lack of measures and controls and the reasons for their lack or nonexistence;
    • All aspects and processes of the work activity;
  • Consider both routine and non-routine activities and processes.
  • Changes to the work environment should be considered.
  • Different risk groups and individuals must be considered.
  • Normal, abnormal and emergency procedures and processes must be considered.

The risk assessment process must be a structured, practical system that encourages participation to ensure that it works sufficiently.

Make sure to read our next blog on Requirements for a Risk Assessment. Please contact us at for all of your risk assessment and Health and Safety requirements. We are there to help.

What is a risk assessment?

Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) is now generally accepted as the basis of any meaningful risk management plan of your entire business. A risk assessment forms the first two parts of your safety management system.

Before we start we need to look at a few definitions:

  • Hazard
    • The OHS Act defines a hazard as a source of or exposure to danger. It can further be said that a hazard is a condition, activity, object (material) or substance that has the ability to cause harm in certain circumstances.
  • Risk (As defined by NOSA)
    • Risk is the chance or likelihood of a hazard causing harm to a person, to property or the environment. The extend of the risk depends not only on the severity of potential harm to a person or the environment but also on other factors such as the number of people exposed, etc. Simply put: if one thinks of the hazard as that which has the potential to source harm, then the risk is the actual harm that may occur as a result.

Three of the types of risk assessments are baseline, issue-based and continuous risk assessments.

  • Baseline risk assessments:
    • The baseline risk assessment is done to determine the risk for the first time, i.e. to establish a broad-based risk profile. Depending on the results of the baseline risk assessment specific aspects or issues will be highlighted. The baseline risk assessment must be reviewed on regular intervals to re-establish the baseline profile as to minimize the risks in the organisation.
  • Issue-based risk assessments
    • This is when baseline risk assessments are assessed in far more detail using the appropriate issue-based risk assessment techniques such as HAZOP, FMEA, Fault Tree Analysis, etc.
    • An issue-based risk assessment will be performed due to highlighted aspects or issues, new processes, new machines or the ongoing risk assessments in an organisation.
  • Continuous risk assessments
    • These risk assessments are part of all forms formal and informal inspections and observations that take place daily or on regular intervals.

Make sure to read our next blog on the importance of risk assessments. Please contact us at for all of your risk assessment and Health and Safety requirements.