Last Updated: 15 November, 2014


Risk Assessment
Risk Assessment (Photo credit: Blue Square Thing)

This article will provide fitness professionals with the relevant information, knowledge and procedures to carry out an organisational Risk Assessment.

There are various types of Risk Assessment you may have to deal with, and they include:

  1. Risk Assessment: is activity or process based. E.g. circuit training or running training.
  2. Generic Risk Assessment: is where similar activities/processes are undertaken within the same area/organisation. E.g. office work, classroom teaching or the ranges.
  3. Site Specific Risk Assessment: is where a hazard exits in the site/area. E.g. roads and paths, storage tanks or gas.

When compiling any of the above it is essential that you are able to recognise a ‘Hazard’.  Anything that has the possibility to cause harm to an individual or property can be deemed a hazard, once identified for a given activity a list should be made and the list should cover as broad an area as possible.

It should be noted that this article refers to the risk assessments held by the employing organisation rather than the risk assessments used by fitness professionals within their lesson plans (view: Lesson Risk Assessment)

The Risk Assessment

As previously mentioned a Risk Assessment is based on an activity or process.  A form has been provided at the end of this article which shows the various sections required to be addressed.  Most of which are self explanatory (e.g.: Organisation/Venue, Assessor etc), the section marked ‘Budget Holder’ refers to the budget holder who would be responsible for paying the bill should any damages occur.

The Risk Assessment form covers the following areas:

  • Activity/Process: Indicate in here what the lesson is and any other info e.g.: Endurance Run conducted over various types of terrain.
  • Number of Persons at Risk: Indicates how many people attending the activity and any others that may be affected.  Tick or cross placed on relevant line.
  • Hazards Involved with Activity/Process: Record hazards that could cause injury if no controls existed e.g.: Muscular, Skeletal Injuries as a result of an individual falling/tripping on uneven ground.
  • Existing Safety Measures/Control: Record all measures which include, training, supervision, written work instructions.
  • The Risk Remaining: Record remaining risks. If there are sufficient then write ‘Controls Adequate’.
  • Risk Rating: Risk reflects the likelihood that harm will occur and the severity of injury possible:
    • Likelihood of Injury
    • Severity of Injury
    • Establish Risk Rating = Likelihood x Severity
  • Additional Controls Required: Results of Risk Rating determine whether further ‘Additional Controls’ are required.
  • Additional Controls Agreed: The Line Manager or responsible person should ensure if any Additional Controls required are in place prior to activity taking place and meet the required risk rating.
  • Implementation: Line Managers or responsible persons are to vet all Risk Assessments.  They are to sign that they agree with the assessment, there are no outstanding actions that require specific follow up action to be taken.
  • Assessment Approval: The Line Manager or responsible person must approve an assessment even when it identifies that existing controls are adequate.
  • Assessment Review: A review date is to be recorded on the Risk Assessment, this date is usually one year from the date the assessment was made.  However the Risk Assessment can be reviewed if there is reason to suspect it is no longer valid or when there is a significant change in the task being carried out.
  • Dissemination of Information: The Risk Assessment is to be made available to those who have been identified as being at risk of work activities.

Once the Risk Assessment has been completed, signed and approved it should be entered on the Risk Assessment Register (below).

Generic Risk Assessment (GRA)

These assessments are used when similar activities/processes are undertaken on a regular basis e.g.: office work or classroom teaching.

Applicability: the following criteria would give reason to write a GRA:

  • Is the activity/process common throughout the organisation?
  • Are common control measures employed throughout organisation?
  • Are monitoring procedures in place?

Site Specific Risk Assessment

This type of assessment involves identifying the hazards present in any working environment or arising out of commercial/work activities, and evaluating the extent of the risks involved, taking into account existing precautions and their effectiveness.

Examples of site hazards to be covered in a Site Specific Risk Assessment are:

  • Conditions of roads and paths;
  • Derelict buildings; and/or
  • Underground electrical supplies and pressure systems.


Risk assessments should be reviewed as follows:

  • If any change to the process or persons likely to be affected;
  • At least annually;
  • If there is any reason to suspect they are no longer valid; and/or
  • Where there has been a significant change in the task or procedure.

Recording Information

All records of Risk Assessments are to be kept for any audits and inspections that may be carried out.  When an injury has occurred relating to a Risk Assessment, details of the incident, along with the risk assessment and investigation papers must be kept for five years after the event.  Any out of date assessments (so long as they are updated or no longer required) can be destroyed.

Legal Information

It is a point of Law that Risk Assessments are carried out for any activity/process which involves a risk of injury to any person, be it an employee or a visitor.

Risk Assessments are a ‘recoverable document’ in law cases and the chance of an adverse judgement is greatly increased if the Risk Assessments do not present a complete picture of hazards encountered and the control measures against them.


When writing a Risk Assessment the following factors should be asked and used as a form of checking system:

  • Medical cover: is medical cover required (e.g. first aiders and/or paramedics)?
  • Route and Safety Marshals: are marshals required?
  • Environmental Conditions: what are the predicted weather conditions?
  • Safety Vehicle: is one required? If so, is the route accessible for the vehicle?
  • Acceptable Risk: is the risk acceptable, does it out-way the reason why the activity has to be done.

Risk Assessment Form Template: Risk Assessment Form

Register of Risk Assessments Template: Register of Risk Assessments


2 thoughts on “Outdoor Fitness Risk Assessments

  1. What would the risk assessment be on a boot camp,training between sports hall and outside. Conditions outside is wet.returning back inside. One of the exercises is step ups

    1. Hi Darren,

      Factors to consider include (not meant to be an exhaustive list):

      1. Slip hazard from the surface water on the outdoor exercise area (what type of surface is it? E.g. think concrete versus grass versus using a mat).
      2. Slip hazard from transiting from outdoors to indoors (e.g. going from a grassed area to a wooden floor).
      3. Footwear of clients (some may have older footwear with reduced/no tread, which may, depending on the walking surface, increase the likelihood of a slip hazard).
      4. Equipment used for the step-ups (e.g. an indoor gym bench, which typically has a smooth varnished surface, used outdoors). You may also want to consider the pace/speed at which clients conduct the step-up exercise.
      5. Immediately prior to the session starting, is it raining and how heavy? If heavy then it may be wise to go with your wet weather plan and conduct the whole session indoors.
      6. Experience of your clients. Newer/inexperienced clients may require more trainer input (think form and technique) than your experienced clients. The rain (especially if heavy) may distract them whilst conducting their exercises.

      Potential remedies include (not meant to be an exhaustive list):

      1. Have a mat for wiping feet when transiting from outdoor to indoor.
      2. Clients to walk from area to another.
      3. Provide an alternative exercise to step-ups (e.g. squats, squats with weight, sprinting on the spot, squat thrusts, alternate squat thrusts and so on).
      4. Verbally communicate any identifiable risks to your clients. Some clients find exercising in the rain as a challenge and will accept the risk, others will not accept the risk.

      Remember, an exercise professional is (legally) responsible for identifying any (reasonably forseeable) hazards. Walking around the exercise area(s) immediately prior to the session and notifying your clients (e.g. during the warm-up) of any hazards they may (reasonably) encounter will aid in achieving your responsibilities. During the session, consider if the wet is becoming, or is likely to become, a hazard (i.e. you can see your clients struggling to maintain foot grip in the wet) and then go to the indoor exercise area.

      Hope that helps and if you have any more questions then let me know.

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