How to conduct a restaurant risk assessment

Restaurants need to carry out regular risk assessments to identify and prevent hazards. Keep reading to discover how to conduct a restaurant risk assessment.
Michael Radley
Feb 2024
4 min read

From food poisoning to slippery surfaces, the number of potential health and safety hazards in restaurants are endless.

How can you assess these risks? Below we cover everything you need to know about restaurant risk assessments.

Going back to basics: What is a restaurant risk assessment?

A risk assessment is a process that involves identifying, analysing and controlling hazards and risks. The aim is to identify which measures are/need to be in place to control risk and ensure customers and teams are safe and your business is compliant.

A risk assessment for restaurants specifically involves identifying potential hazards and vulnerabilities in catering and dining establishments, assessing various aspects such as food safety, hygiene protocols, and fire safety.

What risk assessments do restaurants need?

There are many potential hazards in restaurants, so teams need to carry out a number of risk assessments, including:

  • Health and safety - performing regular health and safety assessments prevents accidents at work and will help protect your business if inspected by local authority or the HSE.
  • Food hygiene - carrying out food hygiene assessments can help you identify safety risks, so you can take action to prevent any serious health issues.
  • Fire risk assessment - a fully operational fire alarm is a regulatory requirement and regularly checked by local fire and rescue authorities, so it is crucial to check alarms regularly.
  • Employee hygiene - if food handlers don’t wash their hands or wear appropriate clothing, they can contaminate food, presenting a risk to customers. Regular assessments ensure employees comply and maintain good personal hygiene.

For more examples of restaurant risk assessments, check out this HSE article. Trail, a complete hospitality checklist app, facilitates many of these assessments and other restaurant health and safety best practices. Explore our task templates or sign up for a free trial to give it a go.

What’s the difference between a hazard and a risk?

In food and restaurant safety, a hazard refers to anything that causes harm, such as bacteria or foreign objects in food. Whereas, a risk is the likelihood that the hazard will actually cause harm, illness or injury. 

Essentially, a hazard is a possible source of harm, while risk measures the likelihood of that harm occurring. It’s important to remember this when conducting a restaurant risk assessment so they can be accurately identified and prioritised.

When do you need to perform a restaurant risk assessment?

Beyond complying with legislation, the purpose of a restaurant risk assessment is to eliminate operational risks and improve overall safety.

It is the owners/managers responsibility to perform risk assessments when:

  • New processes or equipment are introduced
  • Changes are made to existing processes
  • Or new hazards arise.

How to conduct a restaurant risk assessment

Let’s take a look through the essential steps of conducting a thorough and effective risk assessment.

1. Identify hazards

Survey your restaurant and identify any potential hazards. We recommend using a checklist to make sure everything is covered during the assessment.

2. Evaluate the risk

To measure a risk, consider the likelihood of it occurring as well as the severity of potential injuries. Score the risks on a scale of 1-5 (1 being low risk of injury and highly unlikely, and 5 being potentially fatal injury and very likely).

3. Decide on your control measures

After deciding on the level of risk, it’s time to come up with effective controls to protect your team, customers and the environment.

4. Keep a record of the results

Do not skip this step! You need to keep a formal record of your risk assessments. This helps you keep track of potential hazards and it helps you stay compliant, protecting you from any potential lawsuits.

5. Review your assessment

The hard work doesn’t stop after completing the risk assessment, you need to implement the controls and if the conditions change, you might need to carry out a new risk assessment.

How Trail can help your restaurant risk assessments

At Trail, we have lots of intuitive tools and checklists to help you efficiently manage and streamline the process of your restaurant risk assessments. We can help you:

Make safety a habit – Checklists and forms are designed for speed and simplicity, woven into your team's working day. Trail prompts the right person to do the right task at the right time, so you know critical tasks are done.

Avoid incidents – Trail’s smart tasks automatically alert you if something isn’t right. Attach photos and comments to tasks to prove the right corrective action was taken to protect your customers, teams and business.

Drive accountability– Trail is a complete historical record of all activity, time and date stamped with photos and comments attached where needed. So you can drive accountability and confidently prove your compliance.

Performance visibility – Get insights on your productivity, compliance and more. Dashboards and daily reports highlight issues, so they can be resolved quickly without the need for time-consuming and expensive audits.

Discover how Trail can help you stay compliant

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