A dynamic risk assessment is a safety practice that allows workers to quickly identify and analyze risks and hazards ‘on the spot’, remove them, and proceed with work safely.
Published 24 Nov 2022
A dynamic risk assessment is a continuous safety practice that allows workers to quickly identify and analyze risks and hazards ‘on the spot’, remove them, and proceed with work safely. These assessments are performed by regularly observing and analyzing high-risk or changing work environments and making quick, yet considered decisions.
Though it is an employer’s responsibility to keep their lone workers safe, employees should also feel empowered to make informed decisions to protect themselves, other employees, and their organizations. Dynamic risk assessments are one of the key practices that employees can use to accomplish this – especially in lone-working, high-risk, or frequently changing environments.
A dynamic risk assessment is sometimes also referred to as a dynamic operational risk assessment.
Employees who work alone, in high-risk environments, or in regularly changing environments should complete dynamic risk assessments frequently, whenever they need to quickly observe and analyze the safety risks and hazards specific to their evolving circumstances.
Emergency service providers, security guards, factory workers, and in-home healthcare providers are examples of employees who should assess risks frequently.
Regular observations and assessments of your environment are necessary to predict unforeseen events. A dynamic risk assessment also helps when risks and hazards arise from the following circumstances:
The Dynamic Risk Assessment Flowchart below outlines the simple steps employees should take to assess risks and hazards and make decisions to mitigate them.
The basic steps include:
A risk assessment is conducted when there’s a new process or new equipment in the workplace in order to determine risks and proactively come up with safety measures before the implementation of the new process or use of the new equipment. A dynamic risk assessment on the other hand is more spontaneous, especially in high-risk environments where it is conducted on the spot when there’s a sudden change in the situation and risks need to be immediately identified and controlled.
The reasons for carrying out risk assessments are simple.
The main objective is to help keep employees, other people, and property out of harm’s way. After all, according to OSHA, “one of the ‘root causes’ of workplace injuries, illnesses, and incidents is the failure to identify or recognize hazards that are present, or that could have been anticipated” (1).
Carrying out risk assessments can also reduce an organization’s financial exposure to workers’ compensation claims and property damage.
Dynamic risks are those that are difficult to predict and can result from organizational and environmental changes, e.g., slip hazards caused by bad weather or physical danger from visiting someone’s home. While conducting a dynamic risk assessment is not a legal requirement, HSE recommends it as it promotes safety. Manual handling and lone workers pose a higher dynamic risk due to the nature of their work. Performing dynamic risk assessments can help businesses identify, connect, and visualize critical risk clusters present in the workplace. This can help reduce the risk of workplace accidents and injuries caused by difficult-to-predict hazards.
Workers that conduct dynamic risk assessments can experience other benefits such as:
Of course, organizations should encourage their employees to regularly complete dynamic risk assessments as they work, according to a predetermined set of steps, such as in the Dynamic Risk Assessment Flowchart above. They can also deploy a safety solution, like SHEQSY by SafetyCulture, to allow employees to do so.
In addition, organizations should carry out formal risk assessments. These assessments are performed in advance, recorded, and revisited on a regular basis, and are often informed by current circumstances, information from relevant employees familiar with the day-to-day risks of carrying out specific activities in these environments, and historical data.
Eliminate manual tasks and streamline your operations.
It is the employer’s responsibility to keep their employees safe, and therefore, their duty to carry out formal risk assessments; however, the employer can also appoint an employee with the relevant knowledge, experience, and skills to complete the formal assessment.
Relevant managers and employees should be involved in the process so that they can share their experiences. One of the simplest ways to accomplish this is by giving employees the proper tools to complete and share the results of their dynamic risk assessments. This ensures that formal risk assessments are as thorough as possible.
Consider a nurse who carries out visits inside patients’ homes.
Each patient and each home the nurse visits will be different, and there will always be risks that a formal risk assessment cannot predict. Therefore, conducting a dynamic risk assessment is necessary to identify any hazards that may arise and to develop controls to reduce or eliminate the risks.
Imagine this: One afternoon, the nurse visits a patient. Upon entering the home, the nurse starts feeling uncertain about her safety. She looks around to identify and assess the risks, and she notices warning signs – empty glass bottles, pill bottles, and strong smells. She also hears voices coming from another room and understands that she and the patient are not alone. She becomes aware that the client, or the people in the other room, may be under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Next, she considers what she knows about the patient, the situation, and the environment, and asks herself questions such as:
Asking questions like these helps the nurse assess the situation and decide whether or not she should proceed with her work, how she can proceed safely, and how she could call for help and/or leave in the event of an emergency.
This case study details how Epworth HealthCare safeguards lone healthcare workers with SHEQSY and improves management processes.
Equipping employees with the tools they need to carry out dynamic risk assessments is key to ensuring the safety of themselves and those around them.
With SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor), businesses, risk managers, and teams can perform dynamic risk assessments as ideally as needed. Using hand-held devices such as mobile phones or tablets, users can quickly identify, assess, and mitigate risks that could potentially pose a threat to safety or disrupt normal daily operations. Aside from ready-to-use risk assessment templates, SafetyCulture also enables you to do the following:
In addition, SHEQSY’s lone worker safety app protects employees in real-time with duress alarms, periodic check-ins, and overtime alerts, while keeping managers informed. Meanwhile, SHEQSY App features such as safety screening forms, location notes, checklists, and hazard reports make dynamic safety assessments easy.
SHEQSY helps employees and managers work together to assess risks, mitigate hazards, and respond timely and effectively when emergencies occur.
Safety Screening Forms
Requiring employees to complete safety screening forms is an effective way to make sure they are evaluating their environments, tasks, and risks throughout the workday.
Via SHEQSY’s central management Dashboard, managers can create customized safety screening forms and prompt their employees to complete them at specific times throughout the workday. Employees complete the forms via the SHEQSY smartphone app (for iOS and Android), and their answers are uploaded to the Dashboard in real-time.
In addition to answering specific safety questions, it is important that employees can communicate other important information about their location and any observations they make.
Upon checking in for a work activity within the SHEQSY App, employees can submit location notes to keep their managers informed of pertinent safety and location information.
Checklists can be useful throughout the dynamic risk assessment process, especially during step four: assessing the system of work for safety.
Checklists that have been written carefully, based on organizations’ safety policies and formal hazard and risk assessments, help employees ensure their work is safe to continue while decreasing their organizations’ exposure.
Via the SHEQSY App, employees can receive prompts to complete checklists before they finish an activity. Completed checklists sync with the SHEQSY Dashboard.
Though some workplaces are inherently more dangerous than others, every workplace has hazards - and as the workday progresses, different hazards may appear. When employees continuously look for hazards and then report them to their employers, they make their workplaces safer for themselves and those around them - immediately and in the future.
Via the SHEQSY App, employees can report hazards, near-misses, and incidents to their managers with notes, images, and videos. These reports keep managers informed in real-time while providing them with a database of invaluable information with which to create safer work environments.
Safeguarding Employees with SHEQSY
SHEQSY is the leading lone worker app that protects employees in real-time while enhancing productivity, reducing liability, and streamlining lone worker management.
For nonprofits, government organizations, international corporations, and small businesses, SHEQSY provides the most reliable, innovative, user-friendly, and affordable lone worker safety app.
With SHEQSY, you can:
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You can activate SHEQSY instantly across your employees’ iOS & Android smartphones without any upfront costs. SHEQSY also integrates with discreet Bluetooth wearables and handheld satellite devices to provide flexibility for employees working outside of mobile coverage.
Start your free trial today or book a 30-minute web demo with one of our representatives to learn more!
Maddy is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. She has worked as a digital marketer and copywriter in the risk management industry for more than a decade. When she’s not writing for SafetyCulture, Maddy runs a popular travel and food blog and enjoys snowboarding, practicing yoga, hiking, and spending time exploring outdoors.
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