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Our focus on Dynamic Risk Assessment

Dynamic risk assessment is a phrase that is often discussed, but rarely understood. Organisations who realise the significance of undertaking this type of risk assessment on a consistent basis are often better at managing overall risk. Ultimately, robust and routine dynamic risk assessments are a key part of a structured, cyclical management system and if they are routinely undertaken within the organisation it can significantly improve the quality of risk assessments that are used by organisations every day. Dynamic risk assessment can help any organisation achieve high-level strategic improvement though proactive identification of information on unforeseen hazards which can be fed into existing systems to improve overall risk management.

Dynamic risk assessment is the practice of observing and identifying potentially unidentified risks often in a new or everchanging workplace environments on the spot, hence they are sometimes referred to as “on the spot assessments”.

Teaching your staff the skills involved in dynamic assessment empowers them to undertake wide ranging assessments of risk and to make prompt decisions about managing risks which may fail to be spotted using the traditional risk assessment approach. These decisions may result in the successful elimination of hazards, or the implementation of control measures to actively manage the newly identified risks then and there.

A dynamic risk assessment is intrinsically different from a general or generic risk assessment. A dynamic risk assessment is not a replacement for the organisations existing risk assessment system. Dynamic risk assessments should supplement the structured systems already in existence by providing additional insight into new or unforeseen hazards and subsequent risks every time your staff visit a new workplace environment, or an emergency event unfolds. For example; fire-fighters will routinely use dynamic risk assessment systems to assess ever-changing risk during emergencies.

There are some key things to remember when conducting dynamic risk assessments. Firstly, it is important to teach all staff who may be exposed to unforeseen risk to assess in a dynamic way. They must be made aware from before they reach any new environment or situation that not all significant risk may have been foreseen and therefore, they must be constantly looking for new hazards that maybe significant in the circumstance. They must have an ‘exit strategy’ before they enter any area or environment that may have the potential to be hazardous and must be made aware to use human instinct; as if it does not feel right to them, it is usually is not right.

Providing tools, such as category identification lists, hazard spotting sheets and proformas, along with hazard awareness training can increase staff competence in identifying the nature and the types of hazards that they may face and the extent that these hazards may be significant in terms of risk.

The most significant benefit of conducting dynamic risk assessments is spotting uncontrolled or poorly controlled hazards, therefore increasing organisational awareness of previously unidentified risk. This means people are much less likely to be harmed during non-routine activities and the organisation has an opportunity to learn valuable lessons from what is identified during assessments. Organisations can feed this information into their existing health and safety management systems to ensure that they are both continuously improving the system and the practical management of risk.

For more information on managing risk in the workplace follow the link below to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) website:
http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/

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