The requirements for Risk Assessment apply to all employees of the University of Bath while undertaking their work activities both on and off campus.

It also applies to all persons including students, members of the public, contractors etc. whilst on University of Bath property and who may be affected by the Universities work activities.

As part of managing the health and safety of your activities, you must control the risks associated with them. To do this you need to think about what might cause harm to people and decide whether you are taking reasonable steps to prevent that harm. This is risk assessment and it is a legal requirement.

When do I need a risk assessment?

Sensible risk management is about taking practical steps to protect people from real harm and suffering.

You should carry out a risk assessment before you do work which presents a risk of injury or ill health.

You do not need to include insignificant risks. You do not need to include risks from everyday life unless your work activities increase the risk.

What is a risk assessment?

A risk assessment is a systematic process of evaluating the potential risks that may be involved in a projected activity or undertaking.

Risks should be reduced to the lowest reasonably practicable level by taking preventative measures in the following order of priority, termed the Hierarchy of Control:

1) Elimination - Redesign the job or replace a substance so that the hazard is removed or eliminated.

2) Substitution - Replace the material or process with a less hazardous one.

3) Engineering controls - for example use work equipment or other measures to prevent falls where you cannot avoid working at height, install or use additional machinery to control risks from dust or fume or separate the hazard from operators by methods such as enclosing or guarding dangerous items of machinery/equipment. Give priority to measures which protect collectively over individual measures.

4) Administrative Controls – Identify and implement procedures to work safely. For example: reducing the time workers are exposed to hazards; prohibiting use of mobile phones in hazardous areas; increasing safety signage, and performing risk assessments.

5) Personal protective clothes and equipment - Only after all the previous measures have been tried and found ineffective in controlling risks to a reasonably practicable level, must personal protective equipment (PPE) be used. For example, where you cannot eliminate the use of a hazardous substance or use work equipment such as local exhaust ventilation to minimise the exposure (should one occur). If chosen, PPE should be selected and fitted by the person who uses it. Workers must be trained in the function and limitation of each item of PPE.

What type of risk assessment should I produce?

There are 3 types of risk assessment:

  • Generic – when a group of tasks are similar potentially across a number of similar locations, e.g. when there are a number of offices in a single building; one “office safety” risk assessment would be appropriate.

  • Specific – this is for a specific task where the hazards and risks are clearly defined, e.g. an experiment in a laboratory.

  • Individual – a risk assessment that is for a person rather than a task. This may be due to a disability or physical injury that requires “reasonable adjustments” to their work environment and/or tasks carried out. A Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessment would also fall into this category.

How do I complete a risk assessment?

The following steps will enable you to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment:

1) Identify the Hazards

  • Involve persons carrying out the work activity

  • Visit the work area

  • Consult manufacturers instruction/data sheets

  • Review accident/ill-health records

  • Include non-routine operations, e.g. maintenance, cleaning, waste disposal

2) Determine who might be harmed and how

  • Identify groups of people, e.g. lab users, cleaners, members of the public

  • Consider persons with particular requirements:

    • Young persons
    • People with disabilities
    • New and Temporary workers
    • New and Expectant mothers
    • Contractors
    • Lone workers
    • Home workers
  • Examples of how persons may be harmed include:

    • Injury from slips, trips or falls
    • Electric Shock from live equipment
    • Respiratory illness due to prolonged exposure to hazardous substance
    • Burn due to contact with hot/cold item

3) Evaluate the Risks and Implement Control Measures

  • Determine the level of risk (based on severity and likelihood)

  • Identify control measures to reduce risk as far as reasonably practicable

4) Record ONLY SIGNIFICANT Findings

  • Required by law

  • Needs to be suitable and sufficient (reflective of the scale of the work being carried out, all significant hazards should be identified and proportional control measures applied to reduce the risk to a tolerable level. Clear and straightforward to understand)

  • Readily accessible to all users

5) Implement Control Measures

  • Apply hierarchy of control

  • Involve users to ensure precautions will work in practice

6) Regularly Review the Risk Assessment

  • Have there been any significant changes?

  • Are there further improvements to be made?

  • Has a problem been identified?

  • Has anything been learnt from accidents or near misses?

  • Ensure the risk assessment stays up to date

All persons undertaking the work activities must be trained in the content of the risk assessment and the training recorded.