As part of a student group you have probably heard the words "risk assessment" a fair amount of times. But you may not know what a risk assessment is, or what it's for, when you should do one, etc. Then this is the article for you!

What is a risk assessment?

A risk assessment is a process where you identify potential risks that could occur during a given event, and where you think about how to manage these potentials and mitigate the risk of occurrence. 

There are a few sections to risk assessments:

  • The risk
  • Control Measures
  • Who's responsible to help mitigate the risk
  • And when do these control measures need to be put into place

You might also find you can add:

  • What level of risk it is (Extreme/High/Low)
  • Who is at risk
  • What the new risk level is after control measures

How to fill in a risk assessment?

So let's say for example your group is going ice skating. One of the main risks that may come to mind is a person might slip due to the ice, lack of experience, etc. In this case, the risk of occurrence is quite high. So:

  • The risk: You would list risk of slipping as your risk. 
  • Who's at risk: The people at risk would be anybody taking part in the activity.
  • Level of risk: High
  • Control measures: Getting newbies to stay near the border, adding balance aids for people with no experience, having a suitable instructor to help ensure correct technique is in place, etc.
  • Level of risk with the measures: Medium
  • Who's responsible for the measures: The committee member organising the event
  • When do the measures need to be in place by?: Before the event

The above example is what you would have to think for every possible risk to an event.

When should I fill in a risk assessment?

As part of a student group you are required to fill in a General Risk Assessment at the start of the year. You can read about GRA here.

Any activity that your group takes part in that is not in your GRA will need a risk assessment. This is why during your event proposal submission we ask you whether your activity is covered by your GRA or if not, you need to make your risk assessment. This is now available to do on the actual form, but if you are still keen on filling in a separate document, you can also download the template to do so (it's also attached below).

Why should I fill in a risk assessment? 

Filling in a risk assessment is a great way to think about the safety of your members and people taking part in your events. It has been shown that filling in risk assessments helps reduce the likelihood of hazards or accidents. 

As a committee member you carry a responsibility for safety of your group, and it is of vital importance that you have measures in place to help ensure their inclusion and safety. 

If an accident occurs, it is important for the committee's benefit to have had this risk included in the assessment as it shows there was previous thought to how to help avoid the risk and not that it was a case of negligence.

So going back to the ice skating example, if you do not mention a slipping incident, and somebody slips and breaks their arm, if you don't have a risk assessment showing that you had thought of this possibility and put measures in place to help avoid this, the issue could be escalated, in extreme cases legally. So having the backing of a risk assessment is very important!

We understand it's a tedious process and thinking about things like a light fixture coming lose and falling is a low risk and the chances of it happening are extremely low, but it can still happen! So when filling in your risk assessment please be super thorough and think of specific risks that could take place.

We have also attached a risk assessment guidance to this if you would like more specific examples and further information!