What are the hazards?
In addition, who else might be at risk, and how?
Level of risk: high, medium or low?
Code of Practice
The aim of this CoP is to provide staff, students and, if appropriate, visitors (from outside this University or from other Faculties within this University), with guidance to enable them to work safely. Please refer to the Faculty Policy for a detailed exploration of the origins of Risk Assessment and the regulations governing any assessment.
An assessment of potential ‘risk’ involved in carrying out any sort of practical work is serving to highlight any aspect of the work which might pose some sort of physical hazard, and therefore potentially result in harm to the person doing the work or, indirectly, to others.
For such assessments, as required by the current MHSWR (Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations) etc., a standardised FSE Risk Assessment form is available, which is intended to simplify the risk assessment process.
The aim of an assessment is ensure that no one gets hurt or is made ill. Being proactive, to identify a possible hazard before it becomes harmful, is better than being reactive after the harm has been caused. Accidents and subsequent ill health can ruin lives. They can also have serious legal consequences for both the Faculty and the University. Risk assessments must therefore be madebefore commencement of any activity.
For student practical/project work the responsibility for ensuring that an assessment is made lies with the practical class or workshop initiator/project supervisor.
After the assessment form is completed it must be signed by the assessor and, particularly in the case of student project activities, by the project supervisor. The document must be kept at the place of work for inspection if requested (together with any other form of risk documentation, such as CoSHH forms, ‘Out-of-hours working’ forms etc., and reviewed at least annually if the activity is repeated.
In addition, risk assessments for class practicals and workshops should be uploaded onto the SEENRooming and Resource system.
People often confuse the terms hazard and risk and their meanings are frequently transposed.
Hazard means anything that can potentially result in injury, (e.g. chemicals, working from ladders, cables or wiring from electrical sockets, carelessly placed equipment etc.)
Risk is the probability, great or small, that injury will result from the hazard.
An assessment of risk is nothing more than a careful examination of what, in your laboratory or work area, could potentially cause harm to yourself, staff, students or others, so that you can determine if you have taken sufficient precaution, or should do more, to prevent harm.
The risk assessment process is simplicity itself: ask a question:
- by carrying out your protocol, is there any risk of danger? List the potential hazards;
- apart from you, who else is at risk – other students, staff, cleaning staff? List those at risk;
- in case of a problem, how will you deal with it? List any control measures you might put in place;
- how can the original work protocol itself be amended reduce any potential risk? Specify what action could be taken.
Use the following examples as a guide only – you must identify your own potential hazards.
Think in terms of “What might happen (to me or anyone else) if I carry out this activity?”
- Slipping/tripping hazards (e.g. poorly maintained floors or stairs, trailing wires);
- Fire (e.g. from flammable materials and solvents);
- Manual handling (how heavy is it? Does it need to be moved at all?);
- Moving parts of machinery (e.g. blades and other sharp edges);
- Poor lighting (can you see what you are doing clearly?);
- Working at heights higher than bench height (are you using recommended equipment to gain the extra height?);
- Electricity (are the cables from electrically-driven equipment away from problem areas?);
- Noise (do you need ear defenders?);
- Dust or fumes (e.g. from grinding: do you need a face mask or filter?);
- Extremes of temperature (thermal gloves for working in a freezer for example; will the activity generate heat?);
Think about people who may not always be in the workplace when you are: cleaning staff, visitors, contractors, maintenance personnel, other students, etc. Pay particular attention to those with disabilities, inexperienced students, people who work alone.
If you determine that something needs to be done, ask yourself:
Can the original protocol be changed in order to remove the hazard altogether?
If not, how can any risks be controlled so that potential harm is unlikely?
Even after all precautions have been taken, usually some risk may remain. Decide, for each significant hazard, whether the level of any remaining risk is high, medium or low, and declare this level on the risk form.
Any Risk Assessment more than twelve months old must be reviewed before it is used again as a relevant assessment, and the date of review amended at the bottom in the space provided. This must be signed as reviewed by all persons affected by the assessment.
Working off site (Field Trips or elsewhere away from the University), or simply ‘outside’ of a laboratory environment, has a separate CoP.
Please note: CoSHH, while being a form of Risk Assessment in itself, is treated separately within these Codes of Practice, with its own dedicated form.