Dynamic Risk Assessments explained
What are Dynamic Risk Assessments, why are they important, how do you complete one, and how can the SoloProtect solution help to ensure they're effective?
What is a Dynamic Risk Assessment?
A Dynamic Risk Assessment is a process of identifying and evaluating a changing work environment in real-time to reduce risk. The practice ensures workers are proactive in their identification of hazards and allows them to make quick decisions, and change their behaviour or plan, to safeguard their own personal safety (and that of those around them).
When should a Dynamic Risk Assessment be used?
When trained to do so, a worker will carry out regular Dynamic Risk Assessments on the spot as they go about their work. However, they are particularly important when something changes, for example:
- starting a new activity
- arriving at a new location, or
- encountering a new person or group of people.
Who should carry out a Dynamic Risk Assessment?
Many workers across the UK are encouraged to complete regular Dynamic Risk Assessments, however, it’s particularly important for remote workers, or people in high-risk, unpredictable roles such as the police, NHS, or construction.
Moreover, lone workers are especially susceptible to risk as they don’t have a co-worker to help assess a changing environment or provide support if an incident occurs. Therefore, Dynamic Risk Assessments are vital in this instance, as is the need for a dedicated Lone Worker Risk Assessment.
A Dynamic Risk Assessment should never take the place of a standard Risk Assessment. Any organisation with 5 or more employees has a legal responsibility to record and regularly update their Risk Assessments.
Why are dynamic risk assessments important?
Training your employees to carry out Dynamic Risk Assessments helps to ensure they have an awareness of the fluctuating nature of risk, and they can easily spot hazards that may cause them harm. This helps to avoid any incidents occurring which could impact the health and safety of the worker, or those around them, or affect business operations.
Dynamic Risk Assessments also ensure workers feel empowered to make their own decisions to protect themselves and respond appropriately to changing situations, for example, judging whether a task should be approached differently or completely avoided.
How do you complete a Dynamic Risk Assessment?
We all subconsciously carry out our own Dynamic Risk Assessments daily e.g. when crossing the road, boarding a train or inviting someone into our homes. A Dynamic Risk Assessment is a more deliberate approach where the worker runs through the potential risks in their mind, mentally assessing each risk and making a conscious decision about how they will proceed.
There are 5 steps to a good Dynamic Risk Assessment:
1. Risk Identification
Staff should be trained to dynamically spot risks as they occur e.g. a known shoplifter entering a store, an icy pathway, or faulty machinery. It’s important to look out for social and environmental risks.
2. Risk Assessment
How significant is the risk? How much harm could it cause and to who? It’s important to think about damage to people and property.
3. Risk Mitigation
Are there ways in which the risks could be reduced or controlled (e.g. asking someone for help, activating a Ready2Talk call or setting a Monitoring Timer – see below)?
4. Next Steps
Is it possible to continue with the task with risk mitigation measures in place? Or does the task need to be delayed until it's safe to proceed? Who do you need to notify of the issue (e.g. line manager, health and safety team etc)?
5. Risk Monitoring
If it’s decided that the task should go ahead, the risk should be monitored to ensure the worker can adapt quickly to any changes.
Case study: When a Dynamic Risk Assessment should have been used
In a recent example published by HSE, a group of school children were rescued by Keswick Mountain Rescue Team after becoming stranded in wintery conditions. The school was prosecuted for its failure to appropriately manage the risks posed by the trip. The teachers leading the trip did not have the necessary training and many of the children did not have the appropriate clothing or footwear. And, after embarking on their hike, the group was warned by members of the public that they should turn back due to the weather conditions.
Aside from the fact that a standard risk assessment before the trip should have highlighted some of these issues, regular Dynamic Risk Assessments should have stopped the hike from happening or at least cut it short.
How can the SoloProtect safety solution support a Dynamic Risk Assessment?
The Check-In feature of the SoloProtect solution allows the lone worker device user to record short voice messages explaining their location, activity and any apparent risks as they go about their work (but predominantly when changing location or starting a new activity). The Check-In message is then listened to by operators in our Alarm Receiving Centre if an incident occurs. The information provided helps our operators to verify the seriousness of the incident and send appropriate help to the right place as quickly as possible.
Using Check-In as part of an effective Dynamic Risk Assessment procedure ensures it becomes a tangible and verifiable activity with meaning, rather than something more ambiguous. Workers who need to complete a particular activity as part of a Dynamic Risk Assessment are much more likely to complete it regularly and thoroughly which can significantly reduce risk.
Leaving a good Check-In message can also encourage the lone worker device user to consider how the SoloProtect solution can help them to reduce the risks associated with their new activity or location.
For example, an estate agent arriving at a property may decide to use the Ready2Talk feature because there’s an aggressive dog in the front garden, a gas engineer may ensure the Incapacitation feature (Man Down Alarm) is activated because they are about to climb a high ladder, or an environmental officer may activate their Monitoring Timer as they know they’re entering an area with low signal.