When I began working in community arts, at the beginning of the 1980s, I was taught to consider the risks of using chemicals, fireworks and sharp tools, and to do so safely. As my experience grew, I understood the more subtle and less easily-managed human risks to which people might expose themselves by taking part, and became more concerned with questions of ethics. Since then, safeguarding and risk assessment have become standard in participatory art practice. As a result people’s safety no longer depends only on one artist’s knowledge and judgement, but on concepts and processes developed through research, and governed by regulation. When I remember the naïve young person I once was, I am thankful that luck and a cautious temperament kept me out of trouble.