Hostile Environments - Risk Assessment

Date: 01.04.2016     Last updated: 27.09.2017 at 16.15
Update (August 2017) - this news article refers to an older version of the Hostile Environment Risk Assessment Form. The current form is automatically generated through the HE Country Pages (see "How to register for the BBC HE Country Pages" in Useful Documents to access it).

This Guide describes the use of the BBC High Risk Assessment Form, the latest version of which was introduced in April 2016.

The High Risk team have simplified and shortened the form in order to enhance its planning, editorial and safety benefits. This has minimised the requirement to repeat information, placed information into a more logical and easy to read order, whilst still maintaining an appropriate level of detail that is needed by both the High Risk team and responsible managers.

It provides the necessary information to allow appropriate sign off for deployments on high risk activities and into hostile environments.

The form continues to be completed as a Word document.

What does this mean for me?

  • From 15th May 2016, this new form will be the required document for all high risk activities and deployments into hostile environments.
  • You are encouraged to use this new form immediately. If you have the old form saved as a template locally, please replace it with this new form.
  • If specific departments wish to have a more detailed period of instruction on its use, then that can be organised though the HRT.

What has not changed?

  • Much of the information required for the previous RA form (version 7.5) is still required, but the new form is intended to provide a more logical flow and a clearer delineation between editorial purpose, activity risk assessment, contingencies and security plans.
  • Completion and obtaining authorisation remains the responsibility of the individuals undertaking the activity.
  • High Risk Advisors will assist and advise throughout the process.
  • Authorisation is required by a manager at an appropriate level (see general guidance in section 9).
  • Dynamic risk assessment remains the responsibility of the team on the ground – hence the continued importance of training (HEFAT), experience and safety equipment.

What has changed?

  • We have removed any distinction between 'mitigations' and 'actions on'.
  • In assessing risk we will follow the standard production risk assessment approach of identifying a hazards/risks, identify controls and mitigations and then making a judgement on remaining, or residual, risk.
  • To assist in assessing residual risk, an impact vs. likelihood matrix has been included (Section 9).
  • The risk assessment (Sections 2 & 3) will be ‘dual key’, meaning the High Risk team will be responsible for producing some of the information, namely a generic country risk assessment, and the deploying team will be responsible for identifying and assessing the additional threats / hazards associated with the proposed activities.

Where can I get the Risk Assessment?

  • The new risk assessment form is available in the Useful Documents section in the r/h margin of this Guide; it can also be accessed through the High Risk Guide in myRisks.
  • Please note that you need access to the BBC network to download the document due to the sensitive contact information it contains.
  • Users without access to the BBC network can obtain a copy from the High Risk Team (

Where and when is it used?

  • The BBC has arrangements described in the High Risk Policy for high risk activities. This includes deployments to hostile environments which may be environmental (high altitude or desert) or man-made (conflicts, violent disorder); undertaking activities such as covert filming of dangerous groups; or covering events such as terrorist incidents, natural disasters or pandemic diseases.
  • The Definitions and Requirements page on myRisks also clarifies the terms High Risk, Hostile Environments and Travel Advisory, if you are unsure.
  • You should refer to the table of Hostile Environments, including High Risk and Travel Advisory Countries when planning travel overseas.
  • The assessment must be completed for travel to countries that are designated Hostile Environments and when undertaking designated high risk activities.
  • When completed it must be signed by the appropriate person and discussed with those affected, prior to travel.

What is the process for completing it?

There are two guidance pages on myRisks that should be read before completing and submitting the assessment. They are both available under the related documents on the right hand panel of this page. They are called:

  • Potential Risks in Hostile Environments
  • Completing the High Risk Assessment Form

What should also be considered?

  • Other documentation may also be required, such as the Kidnap Personal Plan Form
  • All staff deployed by the BBC on locations that are classed as Hostile Environment must have completed HEFAT training.
  • For any management deploying staff must complete the mandatory News Assignment Location Safety (NALS) course.
  • You may need to acquire appropriate PPE and other specialist equipment, such as Satellite phones before deployment.
  • Contact the BBC Safety Equipment Stores and / or the HRT for more information.
  • Consider if you might require support for dealing with personal Health issues, Emergency Evacuation (MEDEVAC) and Trama and PTSD.

Supporting information.

The pages and content referred to above is all available in the High Risks Guide pages on myRisks and on the right hand panel of this page.

There is also a list of related high risk topics, such as CBRN and Industrial Spills; Covert Filming; Crisis Management and Security Support; Demonstrations, Protests and Crowds; Disaster Coverage; Door-stepping etc. You can find them by using the A-Z of topics or by using the 'Search this website' box. 

Further information  

There are also links on the right hand panel for further sources of: safety advice & information from the Safety Advice Line; information about Occupational Health matters and for contacting the High Risk team.

 Safety Guides - Quick Links

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