The National Association of Men's Morris & Sword Dance Clubs

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 ??? .

Comments at the end of this page 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 Helath & Safety Executive's Sensible Risk Management.

Example Risk Assessment for Morris Performances

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 Probability Risk Score; Sev. x Prob. Control Measure
Significant traffic flows or other similar activity Performers & Audience 5 3 15 Seek alternative site
Occasional vehicle movements on privately owned/ occupied land ditto 3 2 6 Post "spare" men to watch & warn vehicle drivers
Uneven surface of performance area. Performers 3 2 6 Select area with acceptably even surface.
Restricted site that might obstruct pedestrian routes Free passage of passers by 1 1 1 Conduct performance in an area that will not impede progress of passers by.
Physical Injury by performer Audience & Passers by 3 1 3 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 2 2 4 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? THEN

  • 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 - available as a Word document: Example Risk Assessment - Morris Dancing, Tour de France.

Clive Dennis of Rose and Castle Morris added the following comment

Hello 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

Regards Clive Dennis