Health & Safety and Risk Assessment

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, additional Risk Assessments have been included here to assist our Instructors and Members.

Advice to Dojo’s

This document provides advice to Clubs concerning the KUGB Risk Assessments. It explains why Risk Assessments have to be carried out, the purpose they serve and aims to simplify the process for Instructors.

Why do we have to carry out risk assessments?

The answer is simple, it’s the law (Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, Regulation 3).

Briefly put, organizations and individuals who carry out an undertaking have duties under health and safety legislation to assess risks arising from that undertaking.

In addition to these duties under health and safety legislation, as with other organizations that carry out activities of a sporting nature, the KUGB and club instructors owe a duty of care to people who are involved and may be affected, by karate training (this includes members of the public as well as karateka).

Instructors should not worry about meeting these duties. The law does not expect you to eliminate all risks, in fact, eliminating risks is often difficult to achieve. Usually, all you can do is take measures to reduce the risks and most of these measures are relatively simple.

What is a risk assessment?

Most of us don’t realise it but risk assessments are probably made by everyone, every day. You weigh up risks and make decisions on what to do, and what not to do, whenever you cross a road, overtake while driving your car etc. In this sense, it’s a dynamic process, something that we all carry out, unconsciously, on a regular basis and doesn’t require any paperwork.

Where training in the dojo is concerned, while individual karateka will still carry out unconscious risk assessments, e.g. what they can/can’t do when nursing injuries etc, instructors need to adopt a more considered approach because they are looking at a bigger picture. Simply put, instructors are supervising the activities of the karateka in the dojo. They also need to consider the possible presence of others e.g., members of the public who may be visiting or spectating.

In order to assess the risks to a large group of people, a thoughtful, more structured approach is required so the risk assessment should be made in writing. However, just because you now have to deal with paperwork, this does not mean that it has to be complex or time-consuming. Instructors need to bear in mind that a risk assessment is a means to an end. In essence, it’s a tool, a process to help you examine activities connected with training in the dojo that may cause harm to people. It also helps you to consider the suitability of the precautions you have already taken to prevent harm occurring and whether you should do anything more.

How do we do it? What does it look like?

The KUGB has produced four basic risk assessments to help instructors. They are generic, in other words, they identify hazards, risks and controls that are common in most dojos, while one risk assessment deals specifically with competition.

After careful consideration, some instructors may decide that these generic assessments address the hazards and risks in their own dojos and are suitable for use without any need for alteration. However, if certain dojos have hazards and risks that are not covered by the generic assessments, then further work is required. It will probably mean that instructors have to alter the assessments to reflect these unforeseen hazards and risks and introduce measures to control them.

All instructors must be aware that these generic assessments are nothing more than an aid to help them assess hazards and risks in their own dojos. Instructors must decide for themselves if these generic assessments are all that is required.

When considering hazards and risks that are not covered by the generic assessments, instructors need to adopt a sensible approach. They need to be aware that they do not have to risk assess everything. Furthermore, they can only really carry out assessments of matters over which they exercise a degree of control. For example, there is little point in assessing the risk to students crossing the road to get to the dojo because instructors are not likely to exercise control outside the dojo, nor do they have responsibility for managing traffic.

The Approved Code Of Practice (ACOP) for the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, provides guidance on how to satisfy the legal requirement to risk assess. It says that the “significant findings of risk assessments should be recorded and that insignificant risks can be ignored”. So when instructors mentally assess the risks and conclude that they are trivial and there are no significant findings, they don’t have to put anything in writing.

So what is and is not significant? In order to help instructors decide, the KUGB recommends that an activity-based system is used for risk assessment. Using this approach, the hazards associated with an activity can be grouped together.

The generic assessments have simplified the activities into two broad categories:

1. Physical injuries and ill health during training from contact

2. Physical injuries and ill health during training from non-contact

Two other categories have been included :

3. Physical injuries from environmental hazards

4. Physical injuries and ill health received during competition

When this system is used to carry out a risk assessment the activity is the first matter to be considered. You start by asking what is it that you actually do? This provides focus and helps to identify the hazards that are actually related to the dojo. Once this has been done, it also makes it easier to identify the risks associated with the hazards. In deciding what is and is not significant you need to consider the degree of harm that can be caused and the likelihood of it occurring. Examples of insignificant risks might be the following;

A missile thrown by hooligans and smashing through a window of the dojo while training is underway would be a hazard that could cause a great deal of harm, but the chances of it occurring are low. On the other hand, it is very likely that students will frequently experience blisters and bruising while training, but the degree of harm caused is low.

Remember, if the risk is insignificant it does not need to be recorded.


Risk assessment is not a form that has to be filled in. It is a process to stimulate a way of thinking. Any forms that result from this process are merely a record of what you have decided.

The KUGB hope that the generic risk assessments and this advisory note will help its instructors to adopt a sensible approach to the assessment of risk in the dojo.

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