Risk Assessments

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(c)Ssmith 2006 - Overview of the Risk assessment process

(c)Diagram Ssmith 2006

What is risk assessment?

  • It is a management tool to prioritise what has to be done(responsibly).
  • It fits in to the HSG65 in the “Planning and Implementing” stage. See also: HSG65 Succesful Health and Safety Management
  • Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at work Regulations 1999 (as amended in 2003)
  Reg. 3: Every Employer is required to make a “suitable and sufficient” assessment of the
  employees, and risks to other people who may be affected by the organisation, such as
  visitors, contractors and members of the public
  • It's aims are to ensure that employees, workers and the public are properly protected;

What does suitable and sufficient mean?

  • It identifies the significant risks and ignores the trivial ones.
  • Identifies and prioritises the measures required to comply with any relevant statutory provisions
  • Remains appropriate to the nature of the work and valid over a reasonable period of time.

Who should assess the risks?

  • Should have knowledge of the job - eg.,a trained science technician would have a good knowledge of the work around school and college laboratories
  • Has a knowledge of the risk assessment process. - Gone through risk assesment training
  • Has the right attitude - strongly believes in a good health and safety culture
  • Has a good communication skill - able to understand & convey to management in written (or verbal) format the risks identified and their associate control measures

Who should carry out a risk assessment in your workplace

The issue of who should carry out a risk assessment has always been a difficult subject. Technicians by the fact that they are routinely involved in Health and Safety around the Laboratories generally are taken for granted and will or assumed by their Head of Deparment to be willing to carry out this task.

The best current advice is that you should only take on the responsibility for carrying out a risk assessment in the area which you normally work. This would be your preparation room. You and you alone know all about the hazards in your area and are able to implement the most appropriate control measures. If you are unsure then once again CLEAPSS is on hand to help out. All members of CLEAPSS can access website http://science.cleapss.org.uk/ for best current advice. Alternatively you can always give them a call and speak to one of their members who will only be too glad to help you. Never carry out a risk assessment on behalf of a teacher. The plain and simple truth is that you cannot possibly forsee or know all of the hazards applicable in the classroom environment. Only a qualified teacher can (and should) do this. This does not exclude the possibility of assisting teaching staff members in carrying out the risk assessment. They would probably be very glad and appreciative of yor knowledge and experience in such matters.

If you are a CLEAPSS (or SSERC member in Scotland) then if you get requests to suddenly create loads of written risk assessments, please contact CLEAPSS/SSERC or ask the person making the request to contact them directly . The reasons for the request can be many.

Guidance on risk assessment is written in CLEAPSS Guide L196 (with a note from the HSE at the beginning) and a more up to date summary in Guidance leaflet PS90. Also, for technicians, look at Guidance leaflet PS25 and incorporate this in the science departmental safety policy Guide L223. YOU can alter these documents to meet the requirements of your conditions by down loading a customisable documents.

However, if you are not a CLEAPSS member or for any other reason decide to do your own riskl assessments then this is what you need to do.

How to assess the risks in your workplace
Follow these five steps:

  • Step One
    Identify the hazards. These maybe chemical, biological, manual handling, electrical etc.,
  • Step Two
    Decide who might be harmed and how (this includes students, contractors, employees, members of the public)
  • Step Three
    Evaluate the risks and decide on precaution(s) - You need to look at what existing control measures are in place and see what further control measures (if any) are required to reduce the risk.
  • Step Four
    Record your findings and implement them - By whom and when this is to happen.
  • Step Five
    Review your assessment and update if necessary - A review will be necessary if for example their is a change to the current legislation or a change in the processes, introduction of new technology or were special people are employed.

If you choose to take responsibilty then don’t overcomplicate the process. In your workplace, the risks are well known and the necessary control measures are easy to apply. You probably already know whether, for example, who has to move or carry heavy loads and so could harm their backs, or where people are most likely to slip or trip. If so, check that you have taken reasonable precautions to avoid injury.

When thinking about your risk assessment, remember:

  • a hazard is anything that may cause harm, such as chemicals, electricity, working from ladders, an open drawer etc;
  • the risk is the chance, high or low, that somebody could be harmed by these and other hazards, together with an indication of how serious the harm could. In general the risk is the likelihood x severity of the hazard occurring


(Parts of this article has been taken from © Crown copyright This publication may be freely reproduced, except for advertising, endorsement or commercial purposes. First published 06/06. Published by the Health and Safety Executive INDG163(rev2) 06/06 Health and Safety Executive)

Most education employers have adopted a range of nationally available publications as the basis for Model Risk Assessments. Those commonly used include:

DfEE, Safety in Science Education, London: HMSO, 1996 (ISBN 0 11 270915 X);
Topics in Safety 3rd edition, Hatfield: Association for Science Education, 2001 (ISBN 0 86357 316 9);
Safeguards in the School Laboratory, 10th edition, Hatfield: Association for Science Education, 1996 (ISBN 0 86357 250 2);
Hazcards, Recipe Cards, Laboratory File (2000 or later), CDROM (2002 or later) - CLEAPSS School Science

Note that CLEAPSS (Consortium of Local Education Authorities for the Provision of Science Services) publications are only available to members or associates.

Where an employer has adopted these or other publications as the basis of their model risk assessments, an individual school or college then has to review them, to see if there is a need to modify or adapt them in some way to suit the particular conditions of the establishment. Such adaptations might include a reduced scale of working, deciding that the fume cupboard provision was inadequate or the skills or behaviour of the students were insufficient to attempt particular activities safely.

The significant findings of such risk assessment should then be recorded, for example on schemes of work, published teachers' guides, worksheets, etc.

There is no specific legal requirement that detailed risk assessment forms should be completed, although a few employers require this.

See also;

--Goonrob 15:14, 25 July 2006 (BST)
--Ssmith 17:24, 25 July 2006 (BST)