Dynamic risk assessment is an active observation, assessment and analyzing of an active work environment while work is ongoing, to identify and manage risk. A dynamic risk assessment builds on the work of existing risk assessments, though are conducted in the field, most likely by the worker carrying out a job. This risk assessment follows the formal risk assessment steps principles.
Formal risk assessments are prepared in advance, recorded and monitored on a regular basis. Conversely, dynamic risk assessments are ‘dynamic’ or ever-changing, and carried out on the spot by an individual when they enter a new environment or their current environment changes.
However, carrying out a dynamic risk assessment does not mean you do not need to carry out a formal risk assessment. Dynamic risk assessments should complement and fill in any gaps that you could not predict when completing your standard risk assessment. You should carry out a dynamic risk assessment before entering any new situation and continue to constantly assess the risks and hazards in case there is a change in circumstances.
Why are dynamic risk assessments important?
A dynamic risk assessment accounts for risk in a live environment that has factors which may not have been possible to account for in a standard risk assessment. Regular risk assessments will always be a valuable and legally required part of employment law – a dynamic risk assessment allows staff to go further and be prepared to assess developing situations as they arise.
The purpose of dynamic risk assessments is to enable workers to quickly assess a situation and take steps to keep themselves and others safe if necessary.
When do I need a dynamic risk assessment?
Dynamic risk assessments should be carried out on the spot by workers as a situation, job or location changes to be able to spot out risk that was not covered in the formal risk assessment.
Dynamic risk assessments should be carried out by staff entering people’s homes or new locations; for example, housing association workers conducting home visits. A dynamic risk assessment may include a consideration of the property, whether it is safe to enter, whether the people they are with are potentially aggressive, and whether there are sufficient safeguards in place to protect themselves in the event of an incident.
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Benefits of a Dynamic Risk Assessment
Understanding how to carry out a dynamic risk assessment has many benefits. It’s specifically important that you know how to carry one out if you work in constantly varying environments. If you can carry out a dynamic risk assessment, you will:
- Be able to take a proactive approach to safety. You will have the knowledge needed to instantly assess risks and hazards of any new, variable situation.
- Feel confident in your ability to assess your environment. As you will have the appropriate training needed to instantly observe, analyse and react to risks and hazards in new situations, you will feel confident making decisions that ensure the safety of you and your team.
- Feel more confident doing your job. By having the skills needed to do your job safely, you will feel more confident entering new, unknown situations.
- By understanding how to carry out a dynamic risk assessment, you will have the tools needed to confidently assess any situation you encounter and ensure you work safely.
How do you do a dynamic risk assessment
The ability to carry out dynamic risk assessments instinctively, requires a level of professional employee training. However, there are some simple tips that can be followed to get your employees started with dynamic risk assessment.
There are a few things that you can coach your employees on though:
New environment assessment: Lone workers should assess a situation before or immediately upon entering a new work environment. For example; this could be at a service users front door whilst stood outside the property. The employee should look for warning signs such as the client’s emotional state or whether they look under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If anything seems unusual, then the employee should not enter the property.
Exit strategy: Whatever environment a lone worker is in, they should always have an exit strategy. They can quickly make a mental note of where the doors are in a room, where the emergency exits are, or if there is anything obstructing them from being able to make a quick exit should they need to.
Instinct: People who have been attacked at work often state that they had a ‘gut feeling’ that something wasn’t right. Coach your employees to be confident in their instincts and reassure them that they won’t be in any trouble for leaving a situation or environment that doesn’t ‘feel right’. Human instinct is a powerful tool that we all posses – we just need to be able to learn to listen to it more.
How can lone workers use dynamic risk assessments
Some lone workers, especially ones who work out and about in the community are much like the emergency services in that their environment and place of work can change very rapidly.
Lone workers such as those who work in housing, or care, may visit many properties in their work day and it’s unreasonable to think that a risk assessment could have been carried out beforehand on each and every place they will visit. A risk assessment may have identified that lone workers entering properties may face hazards such as dogs, people or substances, but it can’t accurately predict how a situation will unfold or what the lone worker should do.
If a lone worker is given the skills to be able to carry out a dynamic risk assessment, they would be able to identify hazards on the spot and take action before the situation becomes more serious.
Principles of dynamic risk assessment
Five steps to risk assessment can be followed to ensure that your risk assessment is carried out correctly, these five steps are:
- Identify the hazards
- Decide who might be harmed and how
- Evaluate the risks and decide on control measures
- Record your findings and implement them
- Review your assessment and update if necessary
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Step 1: Identify the hazards
In order to identify hazards you need to understand the difference between a ‘hazard’ and ‘risk’. A hazard is ‘something with the potential to cause harm’ and a risk is ‘the likelihood of that potential harm being realised’.
Hazards can be identified by using a number of different techniques such as walking round the workplace, or asking your employees.
Step 2: Decide who might be harmed and how
Once you have identified a number of hazards you need to understand who might be harmed and how, such as ‘people working in the warehouse’, or members of the public.
Step 3: Evaluate the risks and decide on control measures
After ‘identifying the hazards’ and ‘deciding who might be harmed and how’ you are then required to protect the people from harm. The hazards can either be removed completely or the risks controlled so that the injury is unlikely.
Step 4: Record your findings
Your findings should be written down it’s a legal requirement where there are 5 or more employees; and by recording the findings it shows that you have identified the hazards, decided who could be harmed and how, and also shows how you plan to eliminate the risks and hazards.
Step 5: Review your assessment and update as and when necessary
You should never forget that few workplaces stay the same and as a result this risk assessment should be reviewed and updated when required.