Your Complete Guide to Dynamic Risk Assessment

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Dynamic risk assessments are commonly leveraged in the construction and manufacturing spheres. Or environments where hazardous substances are present.

However, they can also be implemented in every business or industry, from office work to healthcare.

In this blog, we define these reviews and evaluate what differentiates them from standard checks. We also cover their benefits while outlining why passing a NEBOSH National General Certificate with TSW Training is essential for having the requisite understanding to complete them.

Yellow CAT heavy machinery operating on a construction site with urban art.

What is Dynamic Risk Assessment?

A dynamic risk assessment is a collective term for the ongoing checks completed by educated workers when completing a set of tasks.

These checks are more commonly found in high-risk environments where work and task management conditions can change frequently.

Dynamic checks differ from standard risk assessments or fire risk assessments as they are more reactive. For example, they’re generally conducted due to a sudden change in work or environment.

Whereas standard assessments are proactive. These are ordinarily carried out whenever new premises have been opened, staff intakes have occurred or before using new equipment or machinery.

What is a Dynamic Risk Assessment In Manual Handling?

A recent review by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into manual handling in the carpeting industry defined that suitable dynamic risk assessments in this field should cover five core areas:

  1. Vehicle access & delivery points
  2. Retail storage areas
  3. Floors and surfaces
  4. Warehouse storage areas
  5. Assistance

It also defined that, when completing live checks, workers should be on the lookout for ways to reduce the risks associated with carpet deliveries and safe goods storage.

Regulation 4 of the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 outlines that workers should avoid the need for manual handling where it may cause a risk to their health (so far as is reasonably practicable).

In addition, the legislation also mandates that employers have a duty to carry out sufficient assessments of the operations before work commences.

Dynamic Risk Assessment Examples

So, when does a dynamic risk assessment need to be carried out?

One live example would be when roofers are working at height, and the weather becomes more adverse, e.g. it begins to rain heavily or winds increase to around 20-25 mph.

Another example would be when tradespeople visit multiple properties in a day. Each visit could present different hazards, including trips, slips and falls, potentially hazardous substances and even violent clients.

In fact, according to research by Direct Line Group, 83% of tradespeople have either been seriously injured in the workplace or know someone who has been.

With that in mind, contractors such as plumbers, painters, electricians and others must complete dynamic risk assessments on each property to assess potential hazards and mitigate risks before starting work.

One further helpful example, away from tradespeople, would be a police officer or emergency worker being called out to an incident.

When arriving at the call, emergency personnel need to ascertain whether there are any further immediate risks. Do they need backup or specialist assistance? And are other people still at risk?

Vintage valve on blue industrial pipes in a factory setting.

When is a Dynamic Risk Assessment Used?

Dynamic risk assessments are most commonly used in many trades.

Industries that involve lone working, working with hazardous substances (as outlined by COSHH guidelines), operations in changeable atmospheres or high-risk operations, such as working at height, are most common.

Some examples of these roles could be:

  • Tradespeople
  • Health care workers
  • Emergency services
  • Retail staff
  • Security services
  • Prison officers
  • Lab workers
  • Estate agents
  • Hospitality staff

So, when does a dynamic risk assessment need to be undertaken?

Surgical team in green scrubs preparing for an operation with sterile instruments.

What Factors May Lead to the Requirement for a Dynamic Risk Assessment?

Because dynamic risk assessments are designed to respond to changeable environments and tasks, a wealth of factors make them necessary.

When completing work on an exposed site, changing atmospheric conditions can call for a rapid safety review.

The HSE outlines the hazards attached to adverse weather conditions on sites, including ice, frost, snow and storms. However, there is a threat level to working in hot weather, too, which is largely underappreciated in the UK.

However, heatwaves could be just as serious, causing an increase in work-related injuries such as sunstroke and skin cancer.

Additionally, the discovery of hazardous materials like asbestos calls for additional reviews in construction or demolition.

Aside from the construction and manufacturing industries, other incidents that could require dynamic risk assessments are liquid spillages in retail environments or potentially violent individuals at emergency incidents.

For example, statistics from the GMB Union highlight that ambulance workers have been subject to over 9,500 violent attacks over the last five years.

Paramedics readying an ambulance stretcher.

What Are The Benefits of a Dynamic Risk Assessment?

There are several benefits associated with conducting dynamic risk assessments, including:

  • Improved safety: Giving workers a better understanding of hazard awareness and risk mitigation processes can reduce incident numbers.

  • Enhance company culture: The safety culture in your business improves when employees take responsibility for the health and safety standards in their area. This, in turn, improves morale and productivity.

  • Fear reduction: Reactive risk assessments give employees greater confidence to complete daily tasks without the risk of injury.

  • Improve situational awareness: The knowledge will help employees confidently assess their working environment and improve reactive processes when atmospheres change.

Busy construction site with cranes, workers, and a red truck unloading materials.

Who Carries Out Dynamic Risk Assessment?

Determining who performs dynamic risk assessments can depend on the type of task and who is completing it.

For example, lone workers or emergency services on a call are responsible for conducting these risk assessments themselves.

However, in more static environments such as shop floors or manufacturing plants, employers or line managers are responsible for carrying them out.

However, what is evident in both examples is that whoever carries out dynamic risk assessments needs to be sufficiently trained. That’s where we come in.

The TSW Training NEBOSH National General Certificate courses cover everything you need to establish yourself or your team members as competent people to conduct a risk assessment. 

We can even kick-start your learning by focusing more closely on the risk assessment element of the NEBOSH training.

Medical professional with gloved hands on equipment.

What Are The Three Stages of a Dynamic Risk Assessment?

When conducting dynamic risk assessments, we recommend keeping your approach as simple as possible. To that end, robust live checks of most environments can be split into three core stages:

  1. Identify the risk: Situational awareness is key here. Workers need to identify when an object or environment has changed. This identification process can apply to anything from changes in the weather to potentially violent people entering the environment to insufficient staffing numbers on a task.

  2. Assess the risk: Next, workers will need to define how substantial the risk is. Does it require immediate action? And who could be at risk of harm?

  3. Review whether it’s safe to continue: Once the risk has been identified and analysed, workers should establish whether the task can continue. Can the space be made safe? If so, how long will that take, and does the task need to be delayed while risk mitigation works are carried out?

Lone workers entering unknown premises may also want to add another step for exit strategies in their analyses.

Upon entering a property, workers should note all exit routes and obstructions that could hinder evacuation.

Construction workers in hard hats and safety gear operating heavy machinery for demolition.

What is the Mnemonic Used to Help Remember The Steps to Carry Out a Dynamic Risk Assessment?

In the world of manual handling, the LITE mnemonic can help you remember the steps to staying safe when manoeuvring heavy items.

The LITE mnemonic stands for:

  • Load – size, shape, surface type and weight of the item being moved.
  • Individual – who is completing the task, and do they need assistance?
  • Task – is this a pushing, pulling or lifting activity?
  • Environment – where is the object being moved to and from? Is the space clear from clutter and obstructions?

Worker in a high-visibility vest using a manual pallet jack to move a cardboard box.

Challenges of Dynamic Risk Assessments

The success or failure of a dynamic risk assessment depends on communication – especially regarding group tasks.

Agreeing on a safe plan for completing high-risk work requires everyone to understand the arrangements and agree on the best way to progress.

When communications are missed or misunderstood, high-risk works can fall out of process, potentially resulting in incidents occurring.

In addition, the semi-spontaneous nature of dynamic risk assessments and the agile thinking required to complete them means results can often go unrecorded. However, it’s important to remember that recording the findings of assessments is crucial for training purposes. 

A couple of useful ways to battle missing this step is by remembering to take notes throughout the task. Alternatively, you could utilise security cameras to record your findings retrospectively.

Conclusion

Understanding dynamic risk assessments, when they are required and how to complete them are crucial skills for many professionals.

The knowledge and qualities included in these reviews can help keep you and your team safe in all working environments.

Gain that crucial understanding today by completing a NEBOSH National General Certificate and learn how to keep your team safe, even in high-risk environments.

Picture of Matthew Channell
Matthew Channell
Matthew is TSW Training’s Commercial Director. He writes about performance focussed learning, leadership, and management approaches that have real-world, sustainable impact.
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