When an employee is working on the jobsite, especially it they are alone, they sometimes will come across situations or environments that are unsafe. That employee should be empowered to make decisions while working in these situations that will protect them, other employees, and the company. Dynamic risk assessments are one of the many practices they can use to accomplish this goal.
What is a dynamic risk assessment?
A dynamic risk assessment is a field practice for observing hazards, assessing risk, and analyzing the environment being worked in. Dynamic risk assessments are used to identify hazards in the field and make quick but informed decisions to remove them in order to keep employees safe. A dynamic risk assessment builds on the work of existing risk assessments, however they are conducted in the field, most likely without a risk assessment template. The dynamic risk assessment skill is the process of identifying hazards, and working to avoid them in the best way possible.
Why are dynamic risk assessments important?
When being put into a situation that has unforeseen, unpredictable, or difficult to control hazards, employees need to be able to take steps to reduce the risk posed to them. For example, a lone worker may encounter an aggressive customer, a harmful substance, or a trip hazard that was unexpected. This is typically a situation that a lone worker may encounter while working at a clients facility or working offsite. In this situation it is unlikely that a formal risk assessment has taken place.
In these unlikely situations, the lone worker should be capable of carrying out a dynamic risk assessment in order to assess the environment and take the steps needed to leave the environment or remove the risk before it causes harm to them or someone else.
One of the main benefits of dynamic risk assessment is that it highlights situations that are too dangerous to proceed with and allows staff to make informed judgement calls. Dynamic risk assessments do not necessarily need to be recorded, however, any findings or insights discovered by the dynamic risk assessment should be communicated to superiors and staff. The lessons learned from a dynamic risk assessment can be used for updating standard risk assessments and for developing better safety policies.
Can a dynamic risk assessment replace a standard risk assessment?
No. Dynamic risk assessments have a different role than formal risk assessments and are not meant to replace them, especially if they are a legal requirement for your company. If your company is required to perform risk assessments, they still need to be completed and documented. If you are looking for a way to save time on the risk assessment process consider using risk assessment software.
How to perform a dynamic risk assessment
Dynamic risk assessments are generally carried out without the use of risk assessment templates or forms. They are a great skill for most staff to be trained in so they are able to respond in real time to developing situations or unforeseen hazards.
To carry out a dynamic risk assessment, an individual should:
- Identify the risk.
- Assess the risk- does it require further consideration or immediate action?
- Consider the tools they have to mitigate the risk.
- Consider whether it is safe to proceed with the necessary safety steps, or if the task needs to be delayed.
If the assessment has found risk and the employee has the means to reduce it to a safe level they should do so. They should also communicate the risk and any steps that were taken to mitigate it to a superior.
Dynamic risk assessment tips
Carrying out dynamic risk assessments in the field, especially as lone workers, requires some level of professional training. There are, however, a few tips that can help lone workers be more successful with dynamic risk assessments.
- Assess at the door- dynamic risk assessments should begin before ever entering the work environments. Pay attention to things like the emotional state of the client, physical obstructions, slippery surfaces, and unstable environments (or people). In most cases lone workers should make an excuse to leave if needed and report these hazards to a supervisor or manager.
- Exit strategy- when lone workers or offsite workers enter a new environment they should be taking note of any exit routes they can use if they need to get out quickly. Lone workers are especially at risk in these situations so an exit strategy should be top priority for them as they have no backup. An exit strategy should be an important part of any safety plan.
- Instinct- One of our best tools for assessing risk is our instinct. We pick up on ques whether we are aware of them or not than may make us feel uneasy or afraid. Employees should be encouraged to trust their instincts in these situations. Many individuals who have been attacked or suffered an accident at work identified warning signs beforehand but ignored them do to work pressure.
Training for dynamic risk assessment
Dynamic risk assessment is best learned through training and practice. If you have lone working employees, employees in high risk areas, or employees in changing environments you should provide training that includes dynamic risk assessment. One tool to consider is a VR training that puts employees in a virtual controlled environment to test this skill.
What if a risk is identified?
If an employee identifies a standard risk they should react according to company policy. Always be aware of your lone working employees location, and provide them a quick and discreet way to signal for help if they are faced with a new risk, threatening situation, or suffer an injury and need help.
A great way to track dynamic risk assessments and any actions that should be completed because of them try the BasicSafe Action software. Learn more about our Risk Assessment tool or all of our EHS software options by clicking the button below.