What is a Dynamic Risk Assessment?
A dynamic risk assessment is a continual process whereby an individual observes and analyses their environment to identify risk. It’s a tool which can be used in many situations to help make quick decisions about safety.
Most commonly used by the emergency services, dynamic risk assessments provide a way to safely control developing and unforeseen incidents.
Are dynamic risk assessments necessary?
As an employer, you should always take steps to reduce risk and eliminate hazards – this is normally done in the form of a risk assessment. However, some risks are unpredictable and can only be assessed once they start to unfold.
For example, an angry person attacking a member of staff. Your risk assessment might have identified that the public are a hazard and there is a risk of violence towards your staff but each situation will develop differently, often in unseen ways. It’s impossible to accurately predict every single scenario.
This is where a dynamic risk assessment comes in handy.
How can lone workers use dynamic risk assessments?
Some lone workers, especially ones who work out and about in the community are much like the emergency services in that their environment and place of work can change very rapidly.
Lone workers such as those who work in housing, or care, may visit many properties in their work day and it’s unreasonable to think that a risk assessment could have been carried out beforehand on each and every place they will visit.
A risk assessment may have identified that lone workers entering properties may face hazards such as dogs, people or substances, but it can’t accurately predict how a situation will unfold or what the lone worker should do.
If a lone worker is given the skills to be able to carry out a dynamic risk assessment, they would be able to identify hazards on the spot and take action before the situation becomes more serious.
How do you do a dynamic risk assessment?
There are various courses and providers who can train your employees on dynamic risk assessments, going into much more depth and taking a holistic approach to safety. There are a few things that you can coach your employees on though;
- New environment assessment – lone workers should assess a situation before or immediately upon entering a new work environment. For example; this could be at a service users front door whilst stood outside the property. The employee should look for warning signs such as the client’s emotional state or whether they look under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If anything seems unusual, then the employee shouldn’t enter the property.
- Exit strategy – whatever environment a lone worker is in, they should always have an exit strategy. They can quickly make a mental note of where the doors are in a room, where the emergency exits are, or if there is anything obstructing them from being able to make a quick exit should they need to.
- Instinct – people who have been attacked at work often state that they had a ‘gut feeling’ that something wasn’t right. Coach your employees to be confident in their instincts and reassure them that they won’t be in any trouble for leaving a situation or environment that doesn’t ‘feel right’. Human instinct is a powerful tool that we all posses – we just need to be able to learn to listen to it more.
Isn’t this just common sense?
To a certain degree, yes it is. But unless people are coached in using their instinct, being more aware of their surroundings, and educated about the risks they face, then they likely won’t use these skills.
Most of us don’t walk around looking for the danger in everyday situations – we have the skills to be able to do this but we often feel comfortable or complacent so don’t tend to be on alert most of the time.
Coaching employees in dynamic risk assessment could also contribute to the overall safety culture within your business as employees who have been trained are more likely to be vocal about safety, good at identifying new risks and have a positive influence on others.
It’s also important that organisational messaging makes it clear to employees that safety comes first – before deadlines or targets. Dynamic risk assessment training will give lone workers the confidence to be able to walk away from dangerous situations but if there is a pressure within the business for employees to meet deadlines or ‘just get on with it’, it can override a person’s natural instincts.
To be clear, a dynamic risk assessment should NEVER replace your standard lone worker risk assessments. Good formal risk assessments, along with a lone worker policy and devices are the absolute bedrock of lone worker safety.
Educating lone workers in dynamic risk assessment is rather like giving them another tool and equipping them to be able to face all eventualities.
If you would like information on training your lone workers, any aspect of risk assessment or lone worker devices then please contact us.