How to conduct site risk assessments

Every worksite has a wide range of risks, it can be hard to keep track of all the risks on a site. Without knowing that a risk exists it is impossible to control effectively. To ensure that your workers are as safe as possible the worksite must be assessed for risks.

The aim of Risk Management is to prevent incidents from occurring, and as such is one of the most important aspects of an organisation’s WHS system.

Before making a purchase there are a number of steps that need to be completed to ensure the system is fit for purpose.


There are four key steps to effective risk management

  • Hazard Identification – Identifying what could cause harm to workers
  • Risk Assessment – Assessing how likely the hazard will cause harm
  • Control – Applying controls to eliminate or reduce the risk to workers
  • Review – Regular review of all control measures for effectiveness as well as reviewing the site to ensure all hazards are identified

So what is special about Site Risk Assessments

Many organisations keep pre-completed risk assessments for particular task (such as welding). These generic documents only assess the risks that relate specifically to that task. On the other hand a site risk assessment assesses the risks of all tasks performed on the site, as well as assessing how these activities might interact and considering other site-specific factors (such as weather). 

While risk assessments for specific tasks or activities can be useful, without an overall site assessment some hazards may be overlooked. For example, in a situation where two tasks are to be performed on a worksite at the same time, each worker may perform their own risk assessment, considering the risks of their own task, but may fail to take into account the hazards arising from the other activity. Likewise risk assessments may focus on the hazards of a particular task without considering how the task will be performed on site. It’s only by stepping back and considering the whole site that you can get the full picture – the site risk profile. 

The site risk register

The worksite’s complete risk profile can be identified using a site risk assessment, also known as a risk register.

  • A formal site risk assessment has a number of key items, though they may vary between organisations
  • A checklist to suggest potential hazards to the workers completing the assessment
  • A table showing the identified hazards, the likelihood of them causing harm, and the fact suggested controls
  • A table indicating what actions need to be completed to minimise risk, who is responsible for each item and when they are due for completion
  • It is also good practice to continue to add to the risk assessment as new hazards are identified and controlled.

In workplace health and safety, prevention is better than cure.

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