Health and safety risk assessment instruction
This instruction is designed to assist in the assessment of health and safety risk and suggested controls associated with hazards identified while working throughout the University or when conducting University-related operations off-site.
Instruction steps and actions
1. Purpose of a health and safety risk assessment
The purpose of a risk assessment is to identify hazards associated with a task/equipment and implement controls to reduce the risk of injury/illness.
2. Risk assessment process
Risk assessment is the process of:
All risk assessments should be conducted in consultation with Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs), where available, in line with the Communication and consultation procedure [rescinded], and must also be carried out:
Managers / supervisors must ensure that all reasonably foreseeable or identified hazards in their work area are risk assessed using the RMIT University Health and safety risk assessment instruction and tools.
A risk assessment must involve the people who undertake the activity, and the process must begin with consultation with others who may be involved or able to provide advice and input.
The final approval of the health and safety risk assessment rests with the supervisor.
When conducting a risk assessment there are 10 steps involved:
1. Identify the activity and location
2. Identify who is at risk
3. Identify the hazards
4. Identify the associated risks
5. Rate the risks with existing controls
6. Identify appropriate controls to be added
7. Re-rate the risks
8. Implement the risk controls
9. Authorisation of risk assessment
10. Review and monitor controls
3.1. Identify the activity and location
The activity to be controlled must be described in full. Academic supervisors, laboratory/technical managers and relevant others should be consulted to ensure that all steps in the activity are identified. The location where the activity is taking place must also be identified. The location where the activity is taking place may influence the controls required.
3.2. Identify who is at risk
A staff/student may think that as they are conducting the work that they are the only person at risk. In a laboratory, for example, staff and students in the vicinity of that work are at risk also. On field trips other participants may be at risk, for instance in quarries, in boats, etc. The public may be at risk when monitoring traffic movements or when constructing research sites.
The impact of an activity on others influences the type of risk controls that may need to be in place.
Consider all the people who could be affected by the work e.g. staff, contractors, students, visitors, members of the community.
It may be useful to consult with other persons that could be affected by the work.
3.3. Identify the hazards
A hazard is a source of potential harm or a situation with the potential to cause harm. Hazards can arise from:
Numerous methods and sources of information can be used to identify hazards associated with the activity:
3.4. Identify associated risk
Risk identification is a similar process to hazard identification except that you need to identify the harm that can be caused. For example, a hazard identified might be chemicals, however the risk would be a burn due to the chemical being used.
3.5. Identify the risk rating
Rating the risk helps to prioritise the implementation of control measures e.g. if an assessment identifies a trip hazard as low and a fire hazard as very high, then controlling the fire hazard is the priority. To identify the risk rating: consider what the consequences, exposure and probability would be.
When estimating the consequences of harm from each hazard consider:
When estimating the exposure of harm occurring consider:
When estimating the probability consider:
Once you have determined the consequence, exposure and probability calculate the risk score which will then determine if the risk is low, moderate, substantial, high or very high. The activity must not continue if the risk rating is substantial or above. In this case appropriate additional risk controls must be put in place to reduce the risk.
3.6. Identify appropriate controls to be added
To identify what control measures are needed:
1. Check if there is legislation that has specific requirements for a control measure.
2. Check if a Code of Practice/Compliance Code has any guidance on controlling the hazard.
3. Check if there is a relevant Australian Standard on the topic.
4. Check the manufacturers guidance and/or any industry standards.
5. Check with other Schools/Work Areas and/or businesses if they have a similar hazard and how have they successfully controlled it.
6. Ask the workers if they have any solutions to the hazards they face.
When deciding to implement control measures, you must consult with relevant employees to make sure that the controls are suitable, as employees will know the task/area best and will have to work with the control measure on a day-to-day basis.
The Hierarchy of control instruction must be used to identify the appropriate additional risk controls. The hierarchy is described as:
2. Reduce (Substitute/Engineer)
3. Administrative controls
4. Personal protective clothing and equipment
3.7. Re-rate the risk
In order to assess if the risk controls will be sufficient to reduce the risk, the activity must be re-assessed.
3.8. Implement the risk controls
The risk controls identified in this instruction need to be implemented and used. If training is required, e.g. for a bio-safety cabinet or piece of plant, then this must be done prior to using it.
3.9. Authorisation of health and safety risk assessment
All risk assessments must be authorised by the supervisor of the activity, this must be completed prior to any works commencing. In addition to the supervisor, if works are being conducted in specific work areas, such as laboratories or workshops, the manager of those spaces must also authorise the activity.
3.10. Monitor and review the risk controls
The risk controls must be working to ensure that the risks have been reduced to the lowest risk level that is reasonably practicable. A monitoring plan (e.g. Risk Register) must be in-place to ensure the risk controls are operating as designed. Refer to the Risk register instruction for further information.
A health and safety risk assessment is a “living” document. It needs to be reviewed regularly but particularly when:
Health and Safety Risk Assessments should be reviewed every 12 months.