When should I review a risk assessment?

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When should I review a risk assessment?

Risk assessments should not be documents that are written once and placed on a shelf or hard drive to gather dust or take up SharePoint space seen by no one. 

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) actively encourages regular reviews of your risk assessments to ensure the information remains valid (what they would term ‘suitable and sufficient’). 

When asked under what circumstances we are expected to review our risk assessments, the HSE responds with, ‘where significant change has been identified’. 

A non-committal answer is frustrating, but through training and education, industries and OHS professionals have been guiding organisations to interpret what this actually means. 

Below, we share a range of common examples of when you would need to review your risk assessment for it to remain effective and relevant.

The classic debate - is there a set timeframe?

No - it’s up to you how long to set routine reviews of your risk assessments. As good practice, enterprise organisations tend to set at least an annual review of risk assessments, regardless of what has happened or changed / not changed.

The other common review process seen across industry is triggered by the level of risk that a risk assessment contains. Using a simple red, amber, green (RAG) system, an organisation may choose to review assessments on a 12 month basis for low risks, 6 months for medium risk and 3 months for high risk. However, no one should really be working high risk anyway so operate a level of caution and extra control if you want to explore this method.

Regardless of how often you decide to review risk assessments, you will want to ensure that the process is consistent across the whole organisation. So add the requirement into your risk assessment procedure or policy so that everyone reviews at the same intervals to better control the process.

New legislation

When applicable law changes, you must ensure your RAMS reflect these changes to remain compliant. 

Keeping ahead of legal changes can be tricky so it’s best to speak to your competent health & safety contact first to understand whether any changes do directly affect the way in which you currently work.

For enterprise sized organisations, the best way to manage legal changes is through a risk register. By reviewing this register, you are able to understand what relevant legislation/applicable clause changes may affect your RAMS. This helps produce a gap analysis between what is required and what needs amending and can be actioned prior to communicating the changes across the workforce.

For smaller businesses, it can be easier to get updates from industry news such as the HSE’s bulletin to understand quickly what changes are foreseeable for the work that you do. 

Regardless of the size of your business, it encourages a proactive safety culture if you look to routinely review risk assessments when legislation may have upcoming changes. It’s a good habit to get into to help plan the time to review risk assessments and even if no changes are needed, you still gain the confidence that your risk assessments are still fit for the job.

Other review opportunities 

There are many other scenarios that the HSE would accept as significant change. These can include (But not limited to):

  • A new starter joining the company; 
  • Young persons employed such as operating apprenticeship schemes (ages 16-18);
  • Persons with a disability or long term health condition (please remember not all disabilities are visible); 
  • A new / expectant mother within the team (this includes women who have given birth in the last 6 months and/or breastfeeding); 
  • Job role changes (think of internal promotions such as an engineer becoming a supervisor);
  • New tools, equipment or process introduced  
  • New environment
  • New client or location/site 

Regardless of what significant change(s) you see across the organsation, they key is to ensure when people identify them, this triggers a formal review with a process to support it. Many organisations are unfamiliar with how to conduct a risk assessment review.

It’s not just about changing the date to reflect another year. It’s about seriously taking stock of the content to make sure all the hazards have been identified for the task, that all groups of people have been considered and that the controls stated make sense and can be followed to keep people safe.  


When it comes to risk assessment reviews, multiple types of significant change need to be considered. A review process must be actively managed to evidence that your risk assessments remain suitable and sufficient. And this list above isn’t exhaustive; you may find other opportunities and reasons to review your risk assessments and should be reflected in your overall risk process.

Having a system that can track risk assessment reviews is becoming an increasingly important tool when managing risk assessment processes. That’s where HandsHQ comes in; a centralised risk assessment tool that can help write and review risk assessments, making all documents clearly visible whilst easily monitoring compliance.  

Struggling to review risk assessments and method statements (RAMS) or missing deadlines for risk assessment reviews? Speak to our executive team to understand how HandsHQ can help proactively manage your RAMS. You have an added bonus of using our RAMS dashboard feature that allows you to see a top level of risk assessment reviews to understand any trends or problems within your risk assessment data.