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Risk assessment

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 (revised in 1999), require employers to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the health and safety risks to employees and non-employees arising from their work activities. Risk assessment is a common requirement of all health and safety legislation; the emphasis is to prevent accidents and work-related ill health, rather than just reacting to incidents and making improvements after the event.

So, what are we trying to prevent?

  • Accidents causing injury or death
  • Near misses (because they could well cause injury if they happen again)
  • Work-related ill health
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Damage to equipment and the environment
  • Stress related ill health / mental health problems

Risks to health and safety

As well as the health and safety risks associated with teaching and office environments, we also have to deal with the risks associated with catering, residential accommodation, building and grounds maintenance work, machinery workshops, vehicles, farming, sports, entertainment and international travel. The hazards encountered at the University are extremely diverse and include potential exposure to chemicals, ionising radiation, lasers, biological agents and genetically modified organisms, asphyxiant gases, and many more. Each School/Function is responsible for assessing and managing the risks to their staff, students and visitors.

Who should carry out risk assessments?

Heads of Schools/Functions are responsible for ensuring that risks are adequately controlled. This includes ensuring that suitable and sufficient assessments of the work activities within their areas are undertaken, and that these are reviewed on a regular basis.

In practice, the task of actually carrying out risk assessments should usually be delegated to those people who are most familiar with the activity, project or equipment being assessed, or who create the risk.These individuals, who must attend relevant training, may be local managers, academic supervisors or individuals directly involved in the work. They will understand the nature of the work and are best placed to ensure that on a day-to-day basis, risks are adequately controlled.

More information on completing risk assessments can be found in Guide to Health and Safety Risk Assessment.

A Risk Assessment Log (i.e. a list of completed risk assessments) will help you understand the risk profile of your area and will identify when risk assessments should be reviewed.

Remember that the objective is to manage and reduce risk, not to produce paper! Managers must ensure that risk assessments reflect actual working practices, and identify scope for improvement in working practices based on legislative requirements and accepted standards/good practice. These improvements must be implemented in a timely manner.

Risk assessment forms



SA, June 2022

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