How to write risk-benefit assessments

Getting started with benefit analysis & risk assessments

A general guide on how to write your benefit analysis and risk assessments and for outdoor learning activities.

Creating a risk assessment for your activity is an important part of outdoor learning. The process involves carefully analyzing the activity that you are planning and identifying any significant hazards that may be present. Once a hazard has been identified you need to identify who is at risk from the hazard and what measures should be put in place to reduce exposure to it. Follow the guide below to learn how to write risk assessments.

Risk assessments are about identifying hazards and putting appropriate measures in place to reduce the risk.
Risk assessments are about identifying hazards and putting appropriate measures in place to reduce the risk.


It is highly recommended that you pre-visit the activity site to effectively identify potential hazards - especially if this is the first time that you have used the site.

If you are unable to do a pre-visit then it is essential that you think carefully about any potential hazards that might be present. Our "Hazard Bank" in the risk assessment creator tool can help you come up with suggestions for this.

Hazard Identification

Your risk assessment should clearly show that you have thought through the various hazards that you may encounter during the activity. You must identify who is in danger from this hazard, how likely it is to occur, and how dangerous the outcome could be if it did occur.

In the Risk Assessment Creator tool we have a "hazard bank" of sample hazards for a wide range of activities that you can use as a base.

Example hazard:

HazardDescriptionWho in dangerLikelihoodDanger level
Sun ExposureProlonged expose to sun could cause burns and sun stroke.All22

Likelihood: 0 = highly unlikely, 1 = very unlikely, 2= fairly likely, 3 = unavoidable
Danger: 0 = not at all dangerous, 1 = a little dangerous, 2= fairly dangerous, 3 = very dangerous

If your hazard scores 0 in either the likelihood or danger rating then it does not need to be included in your risk assessment as it is either not likely to occur or is not at all dangerous and therefore not considered a risk.

If a hazard scores 3 in both likelihood and danger rating (i.e unaviodable & very dangerous) then you should change your activity to avoid the hazard.

The Risk Assessment Creator adds together the likelihood and danger level values to give a risk rating out of 6. The example above would score a risk rating of 4/6.

Risk Reduction Measure

Once you have identified a hazard you then need to decide what measure(s) can be put in place to reduce exposure to the risk. You will also need to assign a member of the staff team to be responsible for implementing the measure. A suitable measure for the above example risk might be:

HazardMeasureWho is responsible
Sun ExposureInform students of importance of wearing sun-hats and sunscreen. Promote re-application during the day. Ensure each student carries drinking water and promote regular water breaks. Avoid prolonged intense sun exposure. SH

​The person who is assigned a measure is responsible for implementing it​ however​ the group leader should also ensure that each measure is being adequately ​followed.​

Benefit Analysis

It is important when preparing for an outdoor lesson to not just focus only on the risks and hazards that are involved but also to identify the benefits that are gained by running the activity. This is a really important aspect of preparing for any outdoor learning experience and can often be overlooked. By doing a benefit analysis as part of your risk assessment procedure it will be easier for you to recognise how the potential risk is being balanced by beneficial gains. This process may also help you to identify activities that contain unnecessary risk with no significant benefits and help you to re-think the activity if necessary.

Our Risk-Benefit Assessment Creator Tool encourages you to think about identifying benefits at an overall activity level as well as at an individual risk level.

Other Information

Your risk assessment should also include information about the group that is participating in the activity, details of each staff member who is attending, as well as an explanation of the first-aid provision that will be in place for the duration of the activity. When using the Risk Assessment Creator details of staff members and emergency contacts are saved and can be used again in future risk assessments without having to re-enter all of the information.

Dynamic Risk Assessment

With any activity there are likely to be hazards that you were not able to predict or that you didn't think of when creating your risk assessment. In this situation, when a new hazard becomes apparent, you should do an on-the-spot dynamic risk assessment in your head or verbally with a colleague. For example you might be walking in a woodland area and an unexpected motor vehicle comes along the track. This wasn't on your risk assessment but you must still take measures to avoid the risk - e.g. "ask the students to move to the edge of the track and to stop walking until the vehicle has gone past.". It would be worth noting these down so that you can add them to similar risk assessments in the future.


Once the activity is completed, as part of your evaluation of the entire experience, you should go back to your risk assessment and evaluate each hazard and risk reduction measure as well as making notes of any additional risks that could be added when you plan a similar activity in the future.

Reuse a Risk Assessment

Once you have created a risk assessment for a particular activity you can reuse it when you repeat the activity, or a similar one, in the future - this saves time instead of creating it from scratch. Each time that you use the risk assessment it is essential that you read through it and ammend or add any hazards that may have changed. With the risk assessment creator tool it is easy to reuse your risk assessments - just press the "copy" button to make a new risk assessment based on an existing one.

Risk Assessment & Benefit Analysis Creator

Although creating risk assessments might seem like quite a daunting task you can create them quickly and easily using the Risk Assessment Creator. This step-by-step guide will help you put together a professional risk assessment.

Create a Risk Assessment