Sample Morris Dance Risk Assessment

(Courtesy of the Joint Morris Organisations)

 Risk Assessment
The following arose from a recent request from Dick Keen of Thames Valley MM Bagman, "We have been invited to perform at Kew Gardens later this year, but we have been asked to prepare a risk assessment for the performance. Has anyone else had to do this? If they have, could I have sight of the document to save me re-inventing the wheel."
To which Roger Hancock of Trigg Morris Men responded, "I attach a risk assessment I have used satisfactorily for Trigg MM when it has been sought. Add your own hazards! "
Please send any further comments, additions, etc to me,

Contact Web Editor.
Comments from: Tony Tomlin, Hartley MM, and from Clive Dennis, Rose and Castle Morris ("a professional health and safety inspector with the HSE for 30 years") Clive recommends the following HSE link:;
are below the table.

Explanation of the table columns:
Column 1; Look and identify all hazards you might possibly encounter.
Column 2; State who is at risk
Column 3; What is the possible consequence where 1 is the most minor injury requiring first aid, and 5 would be death
Column 4; The likelihood of something going wrong where 1 is unlikely and 5 is very likely
Column 5; Column 3 multiplied by Column 4
Column 6; Your assessment of the risk with proposed action based on the control measure notes indicated.

Hazard Identified
Persons at Risk
Possible Severity
Risk Score; Sev. x Prob.
Control Measure

Significant traffic flows or other similar activity
Performers & Audience
Seek alternative site

Occasional vehicle movements on privately owned/ occupied land
Post "spare" men to watch & warn vehicle drivers

Uneven surface of performance area.
Select area with acceptably even surface.

Restricted site that might obstruct pedestrian routes
Free passage of passers by
Conduct performance in an area that will not impede progress of passers by.

Physical Injury by performer
Audience & Passers by
Performers are made aware of risk, but nothing has occurred in the side's 30+ year experience. The audience is usually kept naturally about 2 to 3 metres from the dancers. Mobile Phones & First Aid kit carried should anything occur.

Physical Injury by performer
Performers are aware of risk and accept this by participating, but again nothing serious has occurred in the side's 30+ year experience. Mobile Phones & First Aid kit carried should anything occur.

Control Measure Requirements:
1-4 No action neccessary
5-8 Low priority action
9-10 Medium Priority
10+ Action Essential
Tony Tomlin, Bagman, Hartley Morris Men, writes:I think the proforma risk assessment is a good idea, but the use of a scoring system is not.
It is too technical, use plain language.

The scoring system is useful in a risk analysis where you are evaluating one course of action
against another. For example the top line of the published assessment concludes find a new site,
ie it is not relevant - you have to assess the site you are going to use not one you aren't.
There should be NO residual risks!

You should always plug your risk assessment into the organisers frame work, ie first aid will
be provided by **, road closures organised by***

I would say
Firstly think through the specific event, What are you going to do? How are you going to do it?

# Column 1; Look and identify all hazards YOU WILL encounter. (NOT MIGHT OR POSSIBLY ie no
terrorists threats, that is the organiser's problem)
# Column 2; State who is at risk.
# Column 3; What is the RISK
# Column 4; The likelihood of something going wrong HIGH, MEDIUM, LOW

Don't go into the usual risks of Morris Dancing but the comment about experienced dancers is worthwhile.

The other thing to bare in mind is that the organisers usually only want a box ticked, so don't scare
the **** out of them.

I enclose the one I sent to Dick Keen, you might need to edit out my specific hazards so that people
think through their own event.

Tony's Risk Assessment involved the Tour de France visit to the UK last summer. Read it here.
Clive Dennis of Rose and Castle Morris added the following commentHello Tony

I was most interested to see your entries on the web pages of the Morris Ring, concerning risk assessment.

I have earned my living as a professional health and safety inspector with the HSE for 30 years, as
well as having being at various times Bagman Foreman and Squire of Rose and Castle Morris.
Risk assessment in its current form has been around for about 15 years, and to our endless frustration
causes a great deal of bad publicity for my profession. Too often it is used as an excuse to cancel an
event (the bird men of Bognor Regis pier being just the most recent example)

Strictly speaking, the legal requirement to carry out a "suitable and sufficient" risk assessment
applies only where there is a work activity. In most cases there will be no directly linked work activity
when you're out Morris dancing.

Of course there can be a collision where you are performing at events organised by for example local
authorities. Local authorities are notoriously risk averse and have frequently had their fingers burnt
by all manner of speculative claims. No doubt these facts are connected. Of course, they are also
dealing with the lunacies of the great British public, and more particular the great British driving
public. Since they are setting the matters up, and these things will be linked to their undertaking,
they are bound to carry out a risk assessment. In many cases, a half decent health and safety manager
will be able to do the necessary risk assessment for the event including the Morris dancers without
further reference. For example, if a safe place has been found where the dancing can take place
surrounded by the watchers without obvious risk, what else needs to be said?

Having said all that, there will be times when they will insist on having your risk assessment, and
in these cases the approach adopted by Tony Tomlin is as good as any. I agree with him that numerical
values are not always helpful. In most cases there is no substitute for informed judgement.

Remember also that risk assessment is not about eliminating risk. Life doesn't work that way.
It is about managing risk and ensuring that the risk of anybody coming to serious harm is negligible.
It is particularly important of course that bystanders are not harmed, but the actual dancers will
take their chances of bruised knuckles, twisted ankles and suchlike just like any person involved
in a physical activity.

The HSE is on record as saying that what we are about is managing risk sensibly - not stopping people's
fun. You can find more information on this on their web site at

Hope that helps. Happy to discuss further if needed


Clive Dennis

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