A generic risk assessment in the workplace assesses the common hazards associated with the job itself, and the different options for doing it safely depending on the circumstances. Options are then selected and it then becomes a task risk assessment to ensure that the option is reducing risk of injury to an acceptable degree. At least, it ought to. Increasingly, there’s a jump from the generic to the much misunderstood and misused dynamic risk assessment. What this means is that the person performing the job, instead of assessing the potential risks and how to avoid these, they take a more reactive approach which is assess the risk at the time of an incident and take action based on knowledge and experience performing that particular job.
Repairs and maintenance provides a good example
A service engineer is issued with a generic risk assessment for regularly servicing boiler rooms at half a dozen sites. At a first visit, anything particular to the site should be noted and the generic risk assessment updated to a task risk assessment (TRA) before work commences. This TRA will detail control measures for safe working and should be left on site for future reference. At future visits it would be reviewed, updated if necessary and signed, or further TRAs created for new tasks in the boiler room. In this way the generic risk assessment is adapted and updated for each location, ensuring the risks are known and planned for to the best of the assessor’s ability.
What tends to happen is that the generic risk assessment gets issued and the service engineer, instead of documenting a task risk assessment thinks through, on the spot, a ‘dynamic risk assessment’ each time which later, in court, could be interpreted as ‘being left to their own devices’.
Dynamic risk assessments are reactive and involve monitoring and responding to changing/unpredictable conditions such as those at sea or in heavy winds, or dealing with unpredictable livestock startled by loud noise. A dynamic risk assessment, for example is what a surgeon does when blood suddenly and unexpectedly fills the cavity and the procedure has to change. It is a back-up to task risk assessment not an alternative.
- If you’ve seen it, done it, been there before, update the generic to a task risk assessment
- Dynamic risk assessment is an additional process to the task risk assessment - not a replacement.
- Dynamic risk assessment empowers individuals, aids compliance and improves safety when used alongside an adequate task risk assessment
Protecting the safety of your employees is not only a legal obligation but should be also be seen as a moral one. At Alcumus PSM our health and safety consultants can assist business owners and managers in assessing all health and safety risks across their business, advising on the next steps and ensuring generic and task risk assessments are carried out on a regular and continuous basis. For more information please get in touch.
Alexis Barrett CMIOSH OSHCR
Senior Health & Safety Consultant