Risk Assessment and Method Statements are two different documents that ultimately serve the same purpose of ensuring safety in a workplace. (Image Source)
It is widely known, especially within the safety industry, that an employee can pursue injury claims for accidents that occur in the workplace or during their employment, if their employer has been negligent or breached their statutory duties.

A Hull based company, Redhall Engineering Services, found themselves facing such a scenario in 2018, after it was found that failure to complete correct RAMS had caused and led to the injury of two workers. The company pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act and received a £14,000 fine.

Now, if you are new to risk management or health and safety policy, you may not be familiar with the lesser known safe-system-of-work documents that are referred to as RAMS. And if you are familiar with RAMS, you may be wondering how documents that are not legally required, can fetch such a hefty fine.

Alternatively, you could be puzzled about how different they are from risk assessments documents or how they are used to improve workplace safety?

In this article, we seek to answer these questions as well as provide guided steps on how to prepare and complete a RAMS document.

What Are RAMS?

RAMS stands for Risk Assessment and Method Statements, and they are important health and safety documents that companies file at the end of completing a risk assessment. These documents contain detailed information about a hazard whose risk has been assessed and offer specific step-by-step guides to working around that hazard that all employees, contractors, and others can easily follow.

RAMS documents serve the same overall purpose; to ensure workplace safety. But for all their similarities, Risk Assessments and Method Statements are still two different documents with a few unique qualities and motivations of their own, as we shall further explore later.

This, however, also means that the two documents are prepared differently, with risk assessments being the first to be completed. And here is how.

The 5 Steps Of The Risk Assessment Processing (Simplified)

Before you start the risk management process, you should know that certain specifics may vary across industries; however, the overall process is still the same.

It is also important to determine the scope of the assessment, necessary resources, stakeholders involved, and laws and regulations that you will need to follow before proceeding with the following steps.

Step #1 - Identify the Hazards

The first step to starting a risk assessment for any activity, is to ascertain what hazards your employees face or exist within the premises and operations of your business.

Thoroughly examine your workplace and look out for what operating procedures or activities could potentially cause harm. As you do this, be mindful to include all aspects of the workplace operations, even remote workers and non-routine activities like repair and maintenance.

Here is a list of some of the most common safety hazards, which you can consider while on this step.

  • Natural disasters (flooding, earthquakes, fire, etc.)
  • Biological hazards (pandemic diseases, foodborne illnesses, etc.)
  • Workplace accidents (slips and trips, transportation accidents, structural & mechanical breakdowns)
  • Intentional acts (labor strikes, demonstrations, bomb threats, robbery, arson, etc.)
  • Technological hazards (lost Internet connection, power outage, etc.)
  • Chemical hazards (asbestos, cleaning fluids, etc.)
  • Mental hazards (excess workload, bullying, etc.)
  • Interruptions in the supply chain
These are few and there can be many more depending upon the type of workplace activity you are going to analyze.

We recommend using a checklist to record your observations, and involving as many experienced staff or recruiting trained HSE professionals that are familiar with the kind of activities being assessed.

Step #2 - Determine Who Is At Risk and How They Might Be Harmed

Whomever is most at risk of harm from every identified potential hazard in the first step, should be made a note of.

Step #3 - Evaluate The Risks and Decide On Precautions

At this stage, you will need to calculate the likelihood of the identified potential hazards occurring. You will also have to quantitatively evaluate the severity of the consequences where any associated hazard occurs.

This evaluation helps determine which major hazards to prioritize first, and which others could have their levels of risk simply reduced.

Step #4 - Record Significant Findings

Once you have completed the first three steps, record your significant findings. This part is legally required for businesses with five or more employees.

The record—or the risk assessment plan—should show that the following took place:

  • Conducted a proper check of your workspace
  • Determined who would be affected
  • Controlled and dealt with obvious hazards
  • Initiated precautions to keep risks low
  • Kept your staff involved in the process

Step #5 - Review Assessment and Update Where Necessary

Finally, review your assessment and update if necessary.

Over time, continual review and revision may be necessary to stay on top of any new or emerging hazards when conditions change or based on feedback from the team completing the activity.

Now that we know that a risk assessment is an assessment of risk, and how to prepare one, what about method statements?

Three Action Steps for Preparing an Effective Method Statement

It is logical that method statements, which are referred to as a Safe System of Work, follow risk assessments. They build on the information outlined in risk assessments and go ahead to detail how specific activities can be conducted safely — describing control measures and safety precautions and how these can be implemented/what control equipment should be used.

Therefore, after compiling a comprehensive Risk Assessment document, half the work is done. From here, to design your own method statement, you shall follow these next actions:

Action #1 - List Hazards and Outline Safety Responses

As you begin your method statement, describe any procedures related to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), environmental considerations and quality controls. Also, list the precise course of action project team members need to take to mitigate the associated risks and ensure they conduct tasks safely.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Be sure to list any extra details to this list, as well, if staff-teams need to take additional actions, like proper waste disposal, hazard removal or site clean-up.

Action #2 - Write Step-By-Step Instructions

This is the most important section of your method statement. It requires you to list the exact step-by-step instructions that will be required for everyone to safely complete tasks.

Any extra information that will help your team understand the instructions better, should be provided here. For instance, instructional diagrams can be added here to ensure comprehension.

Action #3 - Revise Statements For New Locations, Equipment and Guidelines

Just as we saw in the final steps for Risk Assessment documents, you ought to review and adjust your method statements. This way you can account for every aspect of your business that can affect your established guidelines, like a new location in an additional territory.

We recommend that you regularly update your method statements to reflect changes in reporting procedures, clean-up procedures and project phases as well.

The Benefits of Using RAMS Documents

While using Risk Assessment Method Statements ensures improved workplace safety, as well as protects your business from the costly consequences of poor risk management, there are other additional benefits like.
  • Supports Safe Decision Making - When workers run into project roadblocks and must make quick decisions about how to complete certain tasks, RAMS can be used to guide the safest choice of action. Method Statements can quickly offer the answers workers need and support safe decision making, without having to wait for formal approval.
  • Prevents Misunderstandings - When it comes to workplace safety, verbal or informal instructions can become misunderstood and can be altered as the message is passed on. Such practices increase the likelihood of misinterpretation of how a task should be completed, which can lead to serious accidents and injuries. Method statements formalize the necessary processes with a clear safe step-by-step system of work which eliminates confusion.
  • Improves Productivity and Efficiency - With a step-by-step guide in place to explain how to safely complete a task that involves risk, any cause for hesitation or experimental approaches to work activities is eliminated. Instead, with RAMS processes are improved so that any qualified or trained worker can complete a task efficiently which enhances productivity.
  • Reduce Absence Due to Sickness - Method Statements can help ensure the health and safety of workers. For instance, in high-risk industries RAMS will detail how to implement safety measures and to eliminate risks associated with prolonged hours of exposure to harmful biohazards. This reduces employees' absence due to sickness and the associated costs — like sick pay, cover and imaginably even compensation.
  • Reduce the Risk of Fines and Other Legal Penalties - The overall improvement in safety compliance and risk management legislation supported by RAMS, reduces the risk of your business being fined or facing other legal penalties.
  • Protects Your Business' Reputation - By effectively protecting both employees and clients from harm while business operations are being conducted, RAMS can indirectly help to improve or remedy your company's reputation.


As seen in the earlier mentioned Redhall Engineering Services case, one of the main consequences of incomplete RAMS is that it can lead to injuries in the workplace, and it can be costly dealing with the fallout from failing to have the necessary controls in place.

Without RAMS, a business could face not only monetary loss (through fines, civil actions, etc.), but also loss in production time, damage to equipment, time to train replacement employees and negative publicity amongst others. In short, RAMS are put in place to protect your business from the consequences of such poor risk management, while improving business operations.

They are especially important health and safety documents and should thus be treated as such. From preparation of the document to the implementation of its instructions, it should be remembered that RAMS are most effective at minimizing risk when they are used instead of stowed away in long forgotten filing cabinets.

Do you need help with your risk assessments and method statements for your business?

Coyle-Group can help your organization with the arrangement and completion of all necessary requirements for an effective RAMS document, as well as provide any additional top-class compliance consultancy services.

Contact us today for a free consultation!