Kit or activity Risk Assessment process

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When we consider getting new kit or starting to support new activities in Makespace we need to check BEFORE we buy things or make commitments that it is going to be sufficiently safe for our space and community.

That means that the potential 'owner' of the kit, who is the responsible person, needs to do a risk assessment first. Sometimes we'll need to review or redo these for items where circumstances have changed too.

Kit without approved risk assessments and appropriate safety kit or processes in place may be removed and locked away without warning

Note that even with a risk assessment etc some activities or items of kit may not be permitted in Makespace at the sole discretion of the Directors.

Do we need a risk assessment?

We need to use common sense for this :) Having performed a risk assessment just now in my head for the fridge, I determine that all the risks and probabilities are so low we do not need to write anything down as there are no risks worth mentioning or taking action to prevent or minimise the impact of. Ditto for the Dymo labeller.

For soldering irons, if we have two very similar type irons from different brands, which are used in similar makespace environments, I do not think there is a need for separate risk assessments. But if we get one of notably different style, or we start to use it differently (silly example: if we start to do soldering on the kitchen worktop) then we might wish to check whether the risks are the same or different, and potentially make a separate written assessment.

remember it's not just about members

The risks for adults within Makespace are the same or greater for children and young adults. Current risk assessments will need to be assessed and rewritten were required to include the increased risks for children and young adults. Some tools and processes may be unsafe for children and young adults to use or carry out.

Most risks are reduced to acceptable levels by having an adult present and the risk assessment would not require changing for children, because the adult knows the child’s, their own limits.

How to do a risk assessment for a piece of kit or activity

You need to create TWO documents.

One is a friendly risk explanation which will live on the wiki page for the kit and also printed out by the kit in many cases. This is the document which a user of the kit needs to have read and understood before they do anything with the kit. This will say things like "This tool is loud. You must wear ear defenders when using it and before you start warn others in this room that you are going to be loud." You must ensure that any instructions in this friendly explanation can be carried out (for example, if ear defenders are needed, a suitable number must be purchased and available in the space).

The other is a formal risk assessment record which will be stored on file. This will provide much more detail about all the risks and to whom they might apply, what measures you and makespace are taking to mitigate risks, and exactly who is taking those measures and by when they will be complete. This might say things like "there is a medium probability risk of minor injury to persons due to tripping over the cable of this tool. This risk could affect the tool user, other makespace members, and members of the public (including children) visiting the main space of Makespace, who may not see the cable and could trip over it causing fall injuries. We will buy a supply of duct tape and all tool users will be instructed to ensure the cable is securely taped down at all times the kit is in use. The duct tape and instructions should be in place by March 31st 2013 and Bob Smith is responsible for making this happen."

BOTH risk assessments need to be approved by the Directors before the kit can be used. The formal risk assessment, if there are outstanding actions on it, will need to be reviewed regularly & updated until all the outstanding actions are complete.

There is a HOWTO and a template for how to do the process of a risk assessment below; the document resulting from this (which might be a spreadsheet or a doc) is most like the formal risk assessment record. You will need to write the friendly risk explanation yourself and this will sit alongside other instructions or training for the tool/activity.

We aren't wedded to any particular standard form for Makespace but we (the directors) need to see evidence that risks have been carefully considered and sensible plans made and the work done to complete the plans.

What to do with the documents when you've finished the assessment

Mail the google group for feedback/review. When you are happy with the documents, email management@ with copies (or with links to online versions). Expect feedback or approval. If the versions you supply aren't sufficient you may need to rework them or start again.

Until management@ have signed off, the activity/kit shouldn't be used.

what to do if you think a risk assessment is wrong or incomplete

Email management at and report it and also email the kit owner to let them know.

HOWTO do a risk assessment

Risk assessments are important so that everyone can understand what might go wrong when they carry out an activity in Makespace. It can seem strange to do this for activities some of us would do at home without worrying at all, but Makespace isn’t your home – there are other people around and so the risks are different.

Section 1 (Activity)

Should only be a brief introduction of the context, probably a one liner no more than a paragraph. It should not be a full or in depth detailed description or instruction for carrying out the work. Any detailed instruction if required should be written up separately (probably on the wiki).

Section 2 (Hazard Identification)

In this section you should carefully think through all the possible factors that could present a danger. Again, this should not contain any description of the possible outcomes but thinking through all the work to be undertaken, should enable you to create a simple list of the hazards encountered. Bear in mind that the people doing the activity or those nearby may not know what the risks are in the way an expert in the activity would. You should write assuming that the person reading the risk assessment may be a novice.

Section 3 (Persons at risk)

As above you should carefully consider the activity to identify who might be exposed to the potential hazards. No description is necessary just a list. This may be limited to the persons undertaking the work but for example when working at height, it will include persons who may walk under you and therefore exposed to the hazard of falling objects. Bear in mind the location of the activity will shape the people who may be at risk and also the time. For instance, are you in the classroom, the workshop, the kitchen or the main space? Is the activity happening during a public event, a major event with lots of people throughout the space, a training course, are there lots of children around?

Section 4 (Initial assessment of risk)

This section requires your experience or knowledge of the subject to categorise the hazards identified.

Use your judgement to estimate the severity of the outcome for each hazard and place this on a scale of 1~5 associated to the descriptions below.

Hazard severity Points Rating Definition
Nil 1 Very minor injury, bruise, graze, no risk of disease.
Slight 2 Minor injury, which would allow the individual to continue work after first aid treatment on site or at a local surgery. The duration of the stoppage or treatment is such that the normal flow of work is not seriously interrupted.
Moderate 3 Temporary disability causing injury or disease capable of keeping an individual off work for three days or more and reportable under RIDDOR
High 4 Causing death, serious injury or permanent disability to an individual.
Very high 5 Causing multiple deaths and widespread destruction eg. fire, building collapse.

This initial assessment is considering “what could possibly go wrong?” if that activity was undertaken with no control measures in place.

In the next column, again using your judgement, estimate the probability of this outcome actually taking place (if you did nothing about it) for each hazard on a scale of 1~5 associated to these descriptions below.

Hazard likelihood Points Rating Definition
Remote possibility 1 There is really no risk present. Only under freak conditions could there be any possibility of an accident or illness. All reasonable precautions have been taken - This should be the normal state of the workplace.
Unlikely 2 This incident or illness might occur but the probability is low and the risk minimal.
Possible 3 The accident may occur if additional factors precipitate it, but it is unlikely to happen without them.
Highly likely 4 Will happen more often than not. Additional factors could precipitate an incident but it is still likely to happen without this additional factor.
Inevitable 5 If the work continues as it is, there is almost 100% certainty that an accident will happen, for example:
  • A broken stair or broken rung on a ladder
  • Bare, exposed electrical conductors
  • Unstable stacks of heavy boxes

Bear in mind that the probability is over the entire exposure, not just the chance of an occurrence in this instance. For example, the outcome could be “remote” whilst undertaking a single activity, but if the same person were asked to repeat this activity every day for the next five years it may become “highly likely”.

In the next column, the quantified risk is determined automatically and requires no judgement. It is simply a multiple of the severity and the probability to ascertain a risk. It can be seen that this will fall on a scale of 1~25, this risk can then be categorised as follows:

Risk Rating Score Definition Action
1 to 4 Low No action required
5 to 9 Moderate Reduce risks if reasonably practicable
10 to 15 High Risk Priority action to be undertaken
16 to 25 Unacceptable Action must be taken IMMEDIATELY

If the risk is categorised as (Low) then it may be decided that no further action is necessary or that some action is required. If it is categorised as (Moderate) or (High) then it is almost certain that some actions will be required to either reduce the likelihood or reduce the severity of the outcome, or preferably both.

Section 5 (Control measures)

This section is determined by the outcome of section 4. Again this should be a simple list of the actions (control measures) that should be implemented to safely carry out the activity, not a description of how to implement them or carry out the work. The control measures will be an essential part of the Safe System Of Work (SSOW) document if required and may include reference to appropriate legislation/regulation such as COSHH, reference to makespace policy or just very simple rules (such as wear suitable gloves)

Section 6 (Final assessment of risk)

This is a quick repeat of section 4, but now considering and taking into account ALL of the control measures listed and assuming that any associated SSOW is adhered to. The purpose is to assess if the risk has now reduced “To As Low As Reasonably Practical” (ALARP) and is it now at an acceptable level.

Both of these statements must be true in order to proceed i.e. the nature of the activity could result in a situation where “As Low As Reasonably Practical” in the circumstances, still leaves an unacceptably high risk! If this situation occurs then the whole project should be reconsidered to assess if there is another process to achieve the desired result without undertaking this activity.

Once complete, it is vital that all those members and or visitors that maybe affected by the identified hazards are made aware of either the content of the risk assessment or the control measures or guidance contained within it, and these are adhered to. These measures should be subject to periodic review in the case of ongoing activities, this ensures that “what we say we do”, is reflected in what really happens.

In summary

  • Have I identified the hazards?
  • What’s the worst that could happen?
  • What’s the likelihood of that actually happening?
  • Do the actions taken ensure that it’s either unlikely to happen, or unlikely result in injury/fatality?
  • All things considered, is the level of risk now both as low as reasonably practical, and acceptable?

If the answers to section 2 and 3 are for example, “trivial outcome” and “remote chance” then it is unlikely to need further consideration.

If the answers to sections 2 and 3 are for example, “fatal” and “possible” then clearly action is essential and the activity is not to be undertaken until appropriate conditions are in place.

If the list of control measures becomes extensive, then it is easier to generate a SSOW as a supporting document. The procedure for carrying out the activity safely is then a standalone document and your control measures should start with “all procedures contained within SSOW document ref <####> are to be adhered to” When generating the SSOW and control measures, there is also no need to duplicate other existing documentation. It is acceptable to simply reference or add appropriate documentation as an appendix. For example “while using hazardous chemical <XYZ> all precautions listed within the MSDS doc number <####> are to be complied with”.

template risk assessment form


Insert brief abstract of the activity to be assessed here

Hazard identification

Consider the hazards involved in conducting this activity and list each hazard

  • Hazard 1
  • Hazard 2
  • Hazard 3

Persons at risk

Consider who might be put at risk by the hazards listed above

  • Persons
  • Persons
  • Persons

Initial assessment of risk

Hazard identified Severity Probability Risk Factor
Hazard 1 1~5 1~5 Severity x probability
Hazard 2 1~5 1~5 Severity x probability
Hazard 3 1~5 1~5 Severity x probability

Categorising the risk level as 1-4(Low), 5-9(Moderate), 10-15(High) or 16-25 (Unacceptable) shows that the potential level of risk in this activity is ########. Further measures are needed/not needed to reduce the risk to an acceptable level.

Control measures

  • Necessary control measures arising from the hazard identified of ####### are:
  • Necessary control measures arising from the hazard identified of ####### are:
  • Necessary control measures arising from the hazard identified of ####### are:

Final assessment of risk

The assessed risk taking into account the implementation of the control measures listed, and adherence to the SSOW (Safe System of Work) if applicable is as follows:

Hazard identified Severity Probability Risk Factor
Hazard 1 1~5 1~5 Severity x probability
Hazard 2 1~5 1~5 Severity x probability
Hazard 3 1~5 1~5 Severity x probability

When completing Risk Assessment please consider the if First Aid assistance might be appropriate if the calculated Risk level (Severity x Probability) is greater than 5

The risk now falls into the category ####### and is considered to be acceptable.

Authorised by




Example risk assessment table format


  • Activity / equipment / space / etc
  • What are the hazards?
    • e.g. Hot tips on soldering iron
  • Who might be harmed and how?
    • e.g. Makespace member or member of the public using soldering iron could suffer minor burns if tool used incorrectly.
  • What are we doing already?
    • e.g. "Sign saying "danger hot" next to soldering iron station
  • What further action is required?
  • By who?
  • By when?
  • Has this been completed?