What is a Dynamic Risk Assessment?

dynamic risk assessment

Dynamic risk assessments provide workers with a framework they can use to accurately identify, assess, and control workplace hazards as they arise. Unlike a normal risk assessment, dynamic risk assessments are carried out in real-time during work activities often while a hazardous situation is developing.

Being able to perform a dynamic risk assessment is a valuable health and safety skill that all employees should possess. This article will take a deeper look into exactly what is a dynamic risk assessment, when a dynamic risk assessment should be performed, and just why dynamic risk assessments are such an important component of workplace health and safety.

The Two Types of Risk Assessment

There is a significant difference between a generic risk assessment and a dynamic risk assessment. A generic, or ‘formal’, risk assessment is done in advance of any work proceedings. These assessments must be recorded and regularly updated. They provide a framework for all other risk assessments and serve as a basis on which to establish health and safety guidelines and procedures.

Dynamic risk assessments, on the other hand, are performed ‘on the spot’. For instance, when arriving at a worksite and before undertaking work, a dynamic risk assessment may be required. They may also be required as an action is being taken in real-time.

work at height risk assessment

Information gained from a dynamic risk assessment can be relayed to colleagues, instantly or at a later date. This information can be helpful in updating the existing generic risk assessment.

Dynamic risk assessments give workers the ability and confidence to accurately evaluate any unexpected hazards in the workplace and undertake appropriate action.

The Benefits of a Dynamic Risk Assessment

There are many benefits associated with ensuring that staff know how to properly perform a dynamic risk assessment.

Dynamic risk assessments encourage employees to take a proactive approach to workplace safety. They assist workers in being able to change working procedures on the spot to avoid or control risk as hazards appear.

For workers in unpredictable or constantly changing workplace environments, the ability to complete dynamic risk assessments can help them to feel safer and more comfortable as they go about their daily duties.

Another benefit of dynamic risk assessments is that they remove the fear associated with unknown hazards. Dynamic risk assessments give people the confidence to know that if an unforeseen event does arise, then they will be able to make the right decisions to protect themselves, their colleagues and the public.

Why Do I Need a Dynamic Risk Assessment?

Dynamic risk assessments are a key aspect of maintaining safety in the workplace. When work activities are carried out in an environment where hazards can suddenly arise without warning, dynamic risk assessments can prevent damage to property and equipment, injuries or fatalities from occurring.

Conducting these assessments accurately will give you the capability to instantly react to unexpected risks and the knowledge they need to quickly assess and control hazardous situations.

Moreover, every employer in the UK is under a legal obligation to create a safe working environment for their employees. This means that all employees must have access to accredited health and safety training relevant to their duties and to the workplace itself.

When Do I Need a Dynamic Risk Assessment?

When is a dynamic risk assessment used? The answer to this question depends greatly on the type of work being done, the equipment involved and the nature of the working environment. Lone workers, workers involved in high-risk activities, and people that must deal with constantly changing working environments may need to perform multiple dynamic risk assessments during the course of a working day.

In general, a dynamic risk assessment should be carried out whenever there is the potential for a hazardous situation to occur, such as when a worker enters a new and unknown environment.

It may be the case that potential risks are apparent before an action is taken or that an unforeseen hazardous situation arises suddenly, and a dynamic risk assessment must be performed immediately in order to avoid injuries, damage to property or equipment or even a fatality.

risk assessment in construction

Jobs Where They May Be Necessary

Occupations that require workers to undertake dynamic risk assessments include:

  • Police officers
  • Paramedics
  • Hospital staff
  • Care workers
  • Retail staff
  • Security guards
  • Delivery drivers
  • Tradespeople
  • Construction workers

Example: Social Workers Performing Home Visits

Consider the situation of a social worker who is required to perform home visits. The social worker may be unsure of both the environment they are entering into and the mental state of the persons they must interact with. In this case, the social worker will need to conduct a dynamic risk assessment based on the information they have about the individuals in question and the state of their home.

Questions that the social worker should take into consideration include:

Does the person or persons they are about to encounter have a prior history of mental illness or being violent? Is it possible they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Will there be dangerous objects, such as weapons or drug paraphernalia, in the house? Will I be able to safely leave the situation if need be? Will I be putting anyone else at risk?

By carefully evaluating all these questions, the social worker will be able to make a decision on whether or not they can control or eliminate enough of the risks to make a home visit a safe and viable option.

Example: Construction Workers Working on Older Buildings

Another example is where construction workers may be called upon to work in an older building. In order to perform their duties safely, the construction workers will need to continuously gauge if the structural integrity of the building is being threatened, watch for signs of any hazardous substances, such as asbestos, and assess whether the equipment they are using is creating additional risks.

Workers may have to perform rapid dynamic risk assessments if a situation suddenly develops, for example, a piece of wall or flooring becomes loose or unstable.

How to Carry out a Dynamic Risk Assessment

There are five steps involved in a dynamic risk assessment:

Step One: Identify Any Potential Hazards or Risks – Workers must be able to distinguish between a hazard and a risk. A hazard is a thing that has the potential to cause harm, while a risk is the likelihood of harm occurring.

Step Two: Consider Who May Be Harmed or What May Be Damaged – Is there the potential for damage to equipment or property? Could a person or persons be injured, or a fatality occurs?

Step Three: Assess and Evaluate the Risks – How serious are the risks and hazards? Is there a likelihood that a worst-case scenario may eventuate?

Step Four: Take Action to Eliminate or Mitigate the Risk – What can be done to eliminate the risk entirely? Can action be taken to lessen the risk?

Step Five: Decide Whether to Proceed with the Task – Is it safe to continue with the task at hand, or should the activity be postponed or cancelled?

Summary

Dynamic risk assessments are a fundamental tool used in many professions that give employees the power to evaluate new risks they may face.

Risk assessment training can ensure that staff have the skills they need to identify and control risks as they happen. Human Focus offers a range of online risk assessment training courses that are accredited, cover a range of industry sectors, and can be taken at your convenience to fit in with work schedules.

working at height risk assessment

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Joe Vickers
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