Health and Safety Risk Assessment Methodology


Employees must be safeguarded from Occupational Health and Safety risks that they may be exposed to in the workplace. This can be achieved through risk management processes that involve risk analysis, risk assessment, and effective risk control practices.

To carry out an effective risk management process, it is crucial to understand the legal context, concepts, risk analysis, and health and safety risk assessment methodology, and control processes, along with the roles played by all involved.

Prevention of Occupational Risks

Employers are legally obligated to take all the necessary measures to ensure that employees’ health and safety is safeguarded, which includes the prevention of occupational risks.

To prevent occupational accidents as well as occupational diseases, employers must therefore perform health and safety risk assessments at work, decide on protective measures, and if necessary, protective equipment to use.

Employers are advised that a risk assessment must be done at least once yearly, or every time that there are changes introduced into the workplace for instance, new equipment or a procedure, and numerous others.

Important Concepts

Important concepts in risk management are those that relate to hazard and risk. A hazard is anything that has the potential to cause harm and it could therefore be anything present in the workplace. Risk is the combination of the likelihood of an occurrence as well as the severity that can be caused by an event or exposure to a hazard.

Risk acceptability is another important concept in risk management which is risk which has been reduced to a level where it can be tolerated by the organisation having regard to its legal obligations as well as its own Occupational Health and Safety Policy.


Risk Management

Risk Assessment is a process that is iterative and cyclic in addition to being systematic and inclusive of the examination of all characteristics relating to the work system where employees operate, namely the workplace, the equipment, machines, materials, work methods and practices, and several other components.

The aim of risk management is to identify what could go wrong, and to decide on adequate safety control measures to prevent accidents and occupational diseases, and to implement them.


  • Identify exposed workers
  • Characterise tasks, equipment, materials, and procedures.
  • Identify and characterise safety measures in use.
  • Identify work accidents and occupational diseases which relate to the workplace.
  • Identify legislation, standards, and/or company regulations which relate to the workplace.

There are several ways through which these activities can be examined, including:

  • Direct observation of the activity and/or process.
  • Interviews conducted with workers and managers.
  • Examining work accidents and occupational diseases’ records.
  • Examining equipment and/or machines and technical data.
  • Examining material safety data sheets.
  • Considering legislation, standard, and company regulations.

Risk Analysis

This involves:

  • Hazard identification in the workplace and environment.
  • Hazards identified in previous risk management.
  • Identification of potential consequences of hazards that have been realised.

There are several ways through which this can be done, including:

  • Direct observations and walkthroughs.
  • Interviews with employees and managers.
  • Checklists
  • Deviation analysis, and several others.


Risk Assessment

This is the process that involves the process through which risks that arise from hazards are evaluated, considering the adequacy of existing controls and determining whether the risks are acceptable.

There are several methods to perform risk assessments ranging from export to participatory methodologies, from simple to complex methods, and more.

Risk Evaluation

Risk Evaluation involves determining quantitative or qualitative values of the risk. Quantitative risk evaluation involves calculating the two components of the risk namely the probability and severity, while qualitative risk evaluation is more common and usually adopts a methodology which is based on a matrix.

Risk Ranking

Depending on the risk values that are allocated during the risk evaluation, risks must be sorted and ranked according to their severity.

Risk Acceptability

Decision whether a risk is acceptable result from the comparison of obtained risks with reference values which are indicated in legislation. Compliance with legislation is the bare minimum, however, employers must consider doing more than this.

Risk Control

During this stage, actions to identify and implement safety measures to control risks are performed, considering the safeguarding of employees health and safety, while simultaneously monitoring their overtime.

Safety measures that are implemented must be ones that best protect everyone exposed to the risk. However, additional, and different safety measures may be required for vulnerable groups such as employees with disabilities, pregnant employees, and others.

Designing Safety Control Measures

The first step in risk control involves the design of safety control measures so that risks can be eliminated. Risks that cannot be avoided or eliminated must be reduced to a level which is acceptable.

Implementation of Safety Control Measures

Safety Control measures must be based on updated technical and/or organisational knowledge as well as best practice. Safety control measures are divided into three categories of hierarchy control.

Preventative Measures

The aim of prevention is to reduce the likelihood of an accident or occupational disease from occurring. There are several examples that can be used:

  • Engineering or technical measures.
  • Reduction in levels of hazardous materials.
  • Replacement or substitution.
  • Using organisational or administrative measures
  • Information and training
  • Establishing improved working procedures and using supervision.
  • Management and proactive monitoring
  • Routine maintenance as well as procedures on housekeeping.

Protection Measures

The implementation of protection measures must consider collective measures before individual measures. Several examples of these include:

  • Collective – enclosure or isolation, physical barriers, using organisational or administrative measures.
  • Individual – such as the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Mitigation Measures

When neither prevention nor protective measures work, it is likely that an incident or accident will occur. When this happens, there needs to be adequate preparation for mitigation measures to be implemented.

They work to reduce the severity of any damage to facilities as well as harm of employees and members of the public. Several examples of these measures include:

  • Emergency plan
  • Evacuation planning
  • Warning systems
  • Test of emergency procedures, and more.

Training and Information

Managers must know the risk that their employees are exposed to as much as employees have knowledge of the risks to which they are exposed. Employers are legally obliged to provide employees with training and to inform them of anything that may affect their health, safety, or wellbeing in addition to informing them what is being done to eliminate, reduce, or control risks.

Review and Update

It is crucial for the risk management process to be reviewed and frequently updated, for instance every year, to ensure that the safety measures that were implemented are both adequate and affective and that additional measures are considered where they are necessary.


It is crucial that the risk assessment be written or kept in an electronic format as it serves as proof of the employers compliance and that employers have done what is necessary to ensure the health, safety, and wellbeing of employees, visitors, and members of the public.

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SafetyWallet, in partnership with MAKROSAFE and OHS Online, ensures that subscribers can obtain the highest level of compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, all other Regulations, and more.

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Through the assistance and support in the health and safety program of the subscriber, SafetyWallet helps subscribers with the health and safety risk assessments that must be conducted to ensure that subscribers are compliant in providing a healthy and safe working environment.

Keeping your workplace legally Health and Safety Compliant may seem like a daunting task. At MAKROSAFE, we have an experienced team of OHS experts available to assist in keeping your company Health and Safety Compliant according to South African Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993 and Regulations.
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Posted date: 11th May 2021
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