Risk Assessments

A risk assessment is nothing more than a careful examination of what, in your work or activities, could cause harm to people, so that you can weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions or should do more to prevent harm. The aim is to make sure that no one gets hurt or becomes ill. Accidents and ill health can ruin lives, and affect your business too. You are legally required to assess the risks in your business.

The important things you need to decide are whether a hazard is significant, and whether you have it covered by satisfactory precautions so that the risk is small.

What is a Hazard and Risk?

Hazard :

Anything that can cause harm (e.g. chemicals, electrical installations, working from ladders etc).


the chance, high or low, that somebody will be harmed by the hazard.

Once completed the risk assessment should be retained as a record in your health and safety file.

Steps to a Risk Assessment

• identify hazards or consequences
• identify those at risk
• evaluate the risk
• eliminate or minimise the risk by introducing control measures
• monitor control measures
• review control measures.

Once this process has been started the work activities and workplace should be broken into small units and potential hazards identified e.g. workout floor requires one risk assessment and training room requires another.

The person responsible for completing the risk assessment should sign and date them to validate the information.

The Continuous Risk Assessment Process

Anticipating the occurrence of incidents in the workplace and mitigating their impacts can only be managed effectively if a company is aware of the risks involved in all of its operations.

The continuous risk assessment process is a vital tool in managing occupational health and safety as well as ensuring the protection of the environment. Many different risk assessment methodologies exist and although the legislation does no stipulate which methodology to use it is advisable that the risk assessment documentation addresses as a minimum the following criteria:

Activity description

• Identification of individual hazards (not grouped)

• Mathematical calculation of the risks attached to those hazards (5 point scales give more accurate representations than 3 point scales)

• Evaluation of the effectiveness of the control measures in place

• Monitoring and Review Plan which stipulates how the continuous risk assessment process is going to be maintained.

In order to achieve the continual improvement of standards in the workplace, a cycle of Planning > Implementation > Evaluation > Review needs to be in place.

This cycle is best demonstrated by the “Plan-Do-Check-Act” Management System Model. This model shows the different requirements needed at each stage of the cycle to effectively manage and continually improve the safety, health and environmental standards in the workplace.

1. Plan:

At the planning stage, all the components of the SHE Management System must be identified.

The legal and technical requirements which need to be adhered to must be identified. To facilitate this process, consultation with experts may need to be held in both the legal and technical aspects of the work being performed by the company.

Risk assessments of all activities being undertaken in the workplace need to be conducted. All hazards and their related risks must be identified and the projected effectiveness of the existing control measures evaluated.

Based on the legal and technical requirements identified and on the results of the risk assessments, any potential risks in regard to the safety and health of the persons executing the company’s operations must be determined. Once determined, the mitigation of these potential risks must become company objectives and must be prioritised in order of importance or urgency. The implementation of these objectives must be detailed in an action plan with specified time frames.

2. Do:

At the implementation stage, control measures must be put in place:

Personnel must be trained on the procedures to be followed for all operations and made aware of the hazards and risks they will be in contact with as well as the correct application of all control measures.

Documentation procedures must be implemented, which will include the regular completion of checklists, registers, reports, etc.

Reporting structures must be established to ensure effective communication between the different levels of operation. Personnel must know who to report to in any event.

Emergency procedures, with the accompanying facilities and equipment, must be established.

3. Check:

At the evaluation stage, all procedures introduced at the implementation stage must be monitored, assessed or measured to collect information on their effectiveness. The monitoring of the risk assessment will also take place at this stage.

Reports of all incidents (including near misses) must be kept. These reports will be generated by several key members of staff and include:

• Safety Representative monthly inspections
• Safety Committee reports and recommendations
• Incident investigations
• First aid records, etc.

Auditing reports, whether from an Internal or External Auditor, will give the company valuable information on the effectiveness of its procedures as audits are unbiased inspections conducted by persons who are generally not directly engaged in the operations of the workplace they are auditing.

4. Act:

At the review stage, top management will use the information gained from the evaluation stage to conduct a review of the effectiveness of the SHE management system. The incident reports and inspection reports will show where control measures have proved inadequate to control the hazards and risks and where additional control measures need to be introduced.

After reviewing all the available data, top management needs to develop an action plan with specific time frames to address and improve the effectiveness of the control measures and SHE management system as a whole.

Aspects to be Assessed

1. Gym Equipment (Fixed & Free)

• Consider maintenance of equipment
• Equipment servicing arrangements
• Frequency of in‐house/external inspections
• Check competency, skills and suitability of those performing the checks
• Comment on general condition of equipment being provided at the time of assessment
• Consider the age of equipment, are there any signs of wear and tear?

2. Supervision

• Staff / Member Supervision ratio – facility continuously manned for all operational periods
• Staff qualifications and training undertaken
• Staff registered with Register of Exercise Professionals (REPS)
• Access control into facility
• Operating procedures in place
• Staff training undertaken
• Any user special needs requirements identified i.e. disabilities, and to be considered.
• PARQ proceduresin place ‐ initial health screening arrangements, procedure to be followed if contra‐indications noted.

3. User Injury

• Induction scheme in place
• Consider lack of user familiarity with gym equipment
• Qualifications of trainers & supervisors employed in facility
• Does equipment provide back‐up guidance signage to further inform users on how to use following induction

4. Access

• Unauthorised use must be controlled with monitored admission system in place
• Security of facility to be considered
• Manned reception, or permanently supervised gym facility

5. Emergency and Evacuation Procedures

• The facility has more than one entrance / exit
• Signage is clear and easily understood
• Evacuation procedure is posted clearly for staff and members
• Fire equipment is easily accessible and recently serviced