Risk assessment

When to complete a risk assessment

Risk assessments must be:

  • completed before work starts
  • read and understood by all new users before they start work

When to review a risk assessment

Risk assessments must be:

  • reviewed regularly at an interval that reflects the level of risk
  • reviewed immediately if the task or procedure changes

What is a risk assessment?

Through a risk assessment, you examine if and how your work could cause harm to people or the environment. You also put precautionary measures in place to ensure the level of risk is as low as possible.

If you are assessing the risks of using hazardous chemical or biological substances, you will complete a risk assessment.

Reasons to carry out a risk assessment

A risk assessment:

  • reduces the chances of your work harming you or those around you
  • highlights hazards to those less familiar with materials, equipment or techniques
  • provides an opportunity to record your experimental procedures
  • provides an opportunity to organise your waste disposal routes
  • is required before you can carry out any work at the University

Where our activities use or create substances (eg, chemical, biological) or involve processes which might cause harm to health, the law requires the University to control the risks. Part of the way in which the University manages this risk is by creating a combined risk assessment.

The law requires that:

  • a risk assessment is carried out
  • the relevant people are informed of the outcome of an assessment
  • everyone involved is trained and equipped to carry out their duties safely

Who should write a risk assessment

If you are working on a research project, you may be asked to carry out a risk assessment for your work. You will be supported by other experts during this process.

If you are continuing an existing experiment then you must read the risk assessment(s) and sign the relevant signature sheet.

All risk assessments are recorded and a mechanism will be in place for recording who has read the risk assessment and is carrying out the activity.

You will need to complete additional documentation for biological work and radioactive work, including using lasers.

Standard Operating Procedure

A standard operating procedure, or SOP, is a safe system of work to ensure that potentially dangerous work is done to the same standards using the same controls each time.

A SOP can be used to compliment the content of a risk assessment as it helps to illustrate that all relevant risks have been considered and provides clear instructions to reduce the likelihood of dangerous deviations or misunderstandings.

Types of risk assessments

The risk assessment procedure applies to all kinds of work activities, including:

  • using computer equipment
  • manually handling heavy items
  • experiments using hazardous substances

Some personal circumstances may require your to complete a personal risk assessment, such as as pregnancy or medical devices like pacemakers.

Contact your supervisor if you have any concerns.

If you need help

If you are unsure of how to complete your risk assessment, talk to your supervisor who will give you support and advice.

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