What Are Dynamic Risk Assessments? How do they affect lone workers?
Dynamic risk assessment is the practice of mentally observing, assessing and analysing an environment while we work, to identify and remove risk. The process allows individuals to identify a hazard on the spot and make quick decisions in regards to their own safety.
For lone workers, analysing risk is extremely important as they are often subjected to greater levels of hazard and risk faced alone.
Why are dynamic risks assessments important?
While steps can be taken to reduce and eliminate workplace hazards, there are some risks that are unpredictable and difficult to control. For example, an aggressive member of the public entering a retail store, or human error creating a trip hazard on a work site.
For remote and lone workers operating within irregular environments such as client’s homes, a formal risk assessment is unlikely to have been carried out by the business. Yet when entering unknown environments, particularly behind closed doors, the lone worker could be met with a range of hazards from hostile visitors, animals, trip hazards and even harmful substances.
In any of these situations, the ability to carry out a dynamic risk assessment allows the employee to identify a potentially dangerous environment or situation and take the appropriate steps to leave the environment or remove the risk before it causes an accident or incident.
It is important to note that dynamic risk assessments should in no way replace risk assessments carried out by the business. Risk assessments are a legal requirement and should be carried out by the employer before employees enter the workplace. If the workplace cannot be risk assessed, the job role still requires a risk assessment.
Tips for performing a dynamic risk assessment
The ability to carry out dynamic risk assessments instinctively requires a level of professional employee training. However, there are some simple tips that can be followed to get your employees started with dynamic risk assessment.
Assess at the door
Assessment should begin before entering the work environment, whether this be at a client’s home or an industrial site.
If you are being met by a client at the door, assess their emotional state and look out for signs of distress, aggression, and drug or alcohol influence. If any of these signs are observed, make an excuse and leave.
Before entering a site, observe the environment for any hazards such as physical obstructions, slippery surfaces or unstable structures. Report any of these hazards to a site manager and ensure they are contained or removed before working on the site. If working alone, leave the environment and report the hazards to a supervisor or manager.
Upon entering an environment, take note of any exit routes in case you need to leave quickly. Try to create a clear path to the exit and again, if something doesn’t feel right, make an excuse and leave immediately.
Our best tool for identifying risk is our instinct. We pick up on ques both consciously and subconsciously which can cause us to feel uneasy, unsure or afraid. Even if the danger is unclear, employees should be encouraged to trust their instincts and leave the environment even if it prevents them from completing their work.
Many individuals who have been attacked or suffered an accident at work, identified warning signs beforehand and ignored them due to pressures to get the work done or a lack of confidence.
Training your employees in dynamic risk assessment
Dynamic risk assessment is a skill that is most effectively learnt through training and practice. If your employees work in high risk areas, remotely, alone or in changing environments, you should consider providing training that includes dynamic risk assessment.
What if an employee identifies a risk?
If an employee identifies a risk, faces a threatening situation or suffers an injury and they need help, it is important that you know their exact location and provide them with a way to quickly and discreetly signal for help.
StaySafe and RescuePlus can be the first point of contact when lone workers identify risk. StaySafe works on any smart device and can be used to monitor an employees location as well as providing them with a panic button and a range of alerts, including man down, so that they can summon help immediately in an emergency. Find out more about StaySafe and RescuePlus here.