top of page

Updating a Health and Safety
Risk Assessment

If you've already conducted a health and safety risk assessment for your business, you probably know that it isn't everlasting. Given that this assessment should accurately reflect the health and safety aspects of your workplace, it's necessary to update it regularly. The questions that then arise are:

_ When should one update their health and safety risk assessment?
_ How to perform the update of the health and safety risk assessment?
_ After updating the health and safety risk assessment, what should be done with the various versions?

This article aims to answer all these questions.

Example of updating a Health and Safety Risk Assessment

All the risk assessments in our catalog contain a risk prevention scheduler. It allows you to schedule the implementation, or the strengthening of your risk prevention actions during your updates.

When should you update your Health and Safety Risk Assessment?

  • Update of the health and safety risk assessment following a change in working conditions.

"When making any decisions that change the conditions related to health, safety, or work, it's necessary to update the health and safety risk assessment. This is because any adjustment could introduce new risks or hazards, or make existing prevention measures outdated or ineffective. Among the various changes that can alter employees' working conditions, the most notable include:

Changes in manufacturing processes: Any manufacturing process brings with it certain hazards and risks. It's easy to see how any process modification can lead to changes in associated hazards and risks. For example, replacing a part of your manufacturing process that was previously manual with a mechanized one changes working conditions. Often, this leads to a reduction in the hazards of manual handling and repetitive movements, as well as their associated risks, such as musculoskeletal disorders. All these changes should be captured in your health and safety risk assessment update.

Alterations in your tools and work machinery: When you change your set of tools and machinery, the various hazards and risks associated with their use might differ. For instance, replacing a thermal machine with an electric one in landscaping usually results in a significant reduction in noise hazard. Risks related to it, such as mental fatigue and long-term partial or total deafness, are drastically reduced! Additionally, there's a decrease in hazards from handling hydrocarbon-based products like oils, gasoline, etc. These positive changes need to be incorporated into your health and safety risk assessment update.

Changes in raw materials used: Recent history has shown that among the various raw materials used across professions, some pose significant risks, especially in the long run. In the construction sector, for example, lead-based paints and asbestos-containing fibrocement panels were used for decades before being identified as hazardous. Although this example might seem outdated, many current work-related health issues stem from raw materials still in use because they are hard to replace. For example, many solvent-based paints are carcinogenic, mutagenic, and toxic for reproduction. Substituting them with water-based paints reduces long-term chemical risks, warranting an update in the health and safety risk assessment.

Changing your work organization: This is an aspect companies often overlook, but it's vital in a health and safety risk assessment. The way work is organized significantly impacts a company's occupational risks, especially psychosocial risks. For instance, night work is now considered likely to impact not only mental health but also cognitive performance, weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and coronary diseases! But even changes less drastic than switching from day to night work can introduce health risks. The widespread adoption of remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic led to increased worker isolation and heightened psychosocial risks: insomnia, anxiety, etc. Thus, it's crucial to consider the new risks that might arise from changes in work organization and update the health and safety risk assessment accordingly.

  • Update of the health and safety risk assessment following a workplace accident.

When a workplace accident occurs, it often indicates that certain risks were either not identified, underestimated, or that the risk prevention measures were either inadequate or not implemented. Such incidents should invariably prompt companies to reassess their health and safety risk assessments, ensuring that the risk prevention measures in place are relevant and, more importantly, enforced. By adopting such a critical approach of continuous improvement as workplace accidents arise, companies will embark on a virtuous cycle that will ultimately ensure safe and healthful working conditions for workers. This also allows the employer to comply with regulatory requirements, fully meeting The Management of Health and Safety at Work 1999 Regulations 5: 'Every employer shall make and give effect to such arrangements as are appropriate... for the effective planning, organisation, control, monitoring and review of the preventive and protective measures.

How to update the health and safety risk assessment?

  • Firstly: ensure that your work units are still valid.

If your work units were relevant during your last risk assessment, they may not be anymore. Given that hazards and risks are categorized by work unit within the risk assessment, it's crucial to check this point first.

In most cases, when a company expands its expertise by venturing into a new activity, or when it incorporates new professions within its staff, it will be necessary to modify the previously defined work units.

In simpler cases, adding new work units to cover risks associated with new activities or new professions will be sufficient, and there will be no need to revisit the work units that were previously defined. However, in some instances, it may be more advantageous, or even necessary, to completely redefine the work units. This is especially true when one realizes that a majority of hazards, risks, and prevention measures of a new work unit overlap with a work unit created earlier. This often indicates a work unit segmentation that is no longer relevant. To avoid ending up with an extremely heavy document due to countless repetitions, becoming cumbersome to consult, and extremely time-consuming to update in the future, it is better to redefine a new segmentation of work units.

  • Secondly: Ensure that your list of hazards is still comprehensive.

After checking your work units, you will need to verify the various hazards that you had listed in your health and safety risk assessment. If your company has not expanded its expertise by entering a new industry, if it has not incorporated new job roles into its workforce, and if it has not changed its work organization, it is possible that your current hazard list is still comprehensive.

On the other hand, if any of these conditions has changed, it's certain that you will have new hazards to add to the health and safety risk assessment in your document.

This is also the time to review workplace accidents that occurred in your company during the current year. Ensure that every workplace accident your company has experienced corresponds to a listed hazard.

  • Thirdly: Update your list of risks.

After ensuring that your list of potential hazards is comprehensive, you must check the corresponding health and safety risks. The list of risks that most employers are aware of often represents just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to conduct a serious risk assessment, you will need to do research. This is even more critical today, as new risks continue to be discovered thanks to new scientific studies (e.g., a chemical that was not previously considered hazardous is found to be a carcinogen for humans).

We, therefore, recommend conducting bibliographic research to understand the health and safety risks associated with each of the hazards you have listed. For this purpose, the website of the Health and Safety Executive is an essential information portal in the field of safety.

Lastly, if you have had workplace accidents in your company during the year, especially accidents that resulted in work stoppages, make sure that the cause of these stoppages is indeed included in your list of health and safety risks.

  • Fourthly: Review your Health and Safety risk prevention measures.

By this point, you should have completed the update of the hazard identification and risk assessment portion. Now, it's time to tackle the prevention of health and safety risks.

The first thing to do is to check the various risk prevention measures you previously listed in your health and safety risk assessment and see if they are still relevant and comprehensive. If not, you will need to modify your risk prevention measures to remove, change, or add new ones.

There are 9 general prevention principles in The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 which can be summarized as follows: Avoid risks at the source whenever possible, then prioritize collective protection, then individual protection, and then train and inform employees.

Again, if you had any workplace accidents in the past year, special attention should be given to the preventive measures that could have avoided these accidents. If your health and safety risk assessment includes a prevention risk scheduler, try to set the implementation of these measures as a priority to prevent the same accident from happening again.

After updating the health and safety risk assessment, what should be done with the various versions?

  • Archiving all versions of your health and safety risk assessment

It is essential to maintain a history of the different versions of your health and safety risk assessment for several reasons:

First, for legal requirements: In many jurisdictions, there is a legal obligation to retain records of all previous versions of the health and safety risk assessment. This traceability allows various state control bodies to verify that the employer has duly fulfilled its health and safety obligations towards the employees of its company.

Second, to be able to trace the individual exposure of employees: preserving successive health and safety risk assessments can allow employees who suffer from occupational diseases to assert their right to compensation, by establishing cause-and-effect links between their current illness and the risks they faced in the past.


Even if some companies may believe they have no interest in deliberately facilitating the establishment of a cause-and-effect link between their employees' occupational diseases and safety within their structure, we will remind them "Every employer shall ensure that his employees are provided with such health surveillance as is appropriate having regard to the risks to their health and safety" in accordance with the The Management of Health and Safety at Work - Regulation 6. Deliberately removing evidence of employee exposure to risks that may have caused their illness is likely to prove extremely counterproductive if this were established, especially in the event of a judgment.

  • Considerations for properly storing various versions of the health and safety risk assessment:

If you were to choose only one method of storage for the various versions of your health and safety risk assessment, we would recommend it be digital. While you can certainly archive in paper format, we believe it would be best complemented by digital storage.

Indeed, digital storage allows for easy and often free storage in multiple locations (e.g., local storage on a company computer or server, cloud storage through online services, etc.). This convenience is offered by any typical email service like Gmail or Outlook, which also provide free online storage solutions of several GBs, more than enough to store all of your most sensitive company documents.

Storing both locally and in the cloud ensures that you can handle a variety of situations and always have a way to retrieve your documents, whether there's an issue with your IT infrastructure or with your hosting provider's servers. Moreover, digital documents can be encrypted if you have high IT security requirements, which is not possible with physical paper documents.

Secure SSL Payment by
Credit Card

Support Service
Email Response: 24h

Extensive Catalog
Immediate Availability
Quick Download

Consulting Engineer, attentive to your needs via email and chat.

bottom of page