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Health and Safety - Risk Assessment


Risk assessment is the systematic process of evaluating work activities and working areas to determine the potential hazards and risks that could arise from these, and their impact on people, property, the environment or the business.

The risk assessment process involves the following steps:

  1. Identify the hazards
  2. Identify the people affected
  3. Assess the risks
  4. Identify the controls required to ensure safety
  5. Measure performance to ensure controls are adequate

Approach to Risk Assessments within the Department of Physics

The department considers that three types of risk assessment are required to cover activities within Physics:

1. Space risk assessment

(Word Document) Space Risk Assessment Template

A space risk assessment should identify hazards associated with simply accessing the space whilst others are conducting their research. The space risk assessment should highlight any training courses which must be completed before a person is granted access to the space - please consult the (Excel Spreadsheet) Training matrix spreadsheet for courses. Larger items of equipment should be covered by their own specific risk assessment.

Other outcomes of a space risk assessment should be a set of lab rules to be followed (including any PPE required to enter the space) and the generation of a lab noticeboard which reflects those rules.

All spaces which appear on the Quemis Hazard Management System should have a corresponding space risk assessment. An electronic copy of the space risk assessment should also be stored on Quemis.

2. Equipment risk assessment

(Word Document) Equipment Risk Assessment Template

An equipment risk assessment must be completed for each major piece of equipment. The completed assessment should highlight any additional training courses required to use the equipment, beyond those already defined for accessing the space. This will almost certainly include requirements for competency signoff to ensure that costly pieces of research equipment are not damaged by incorrect use.

The main outcome of an equipment risk assessment should be a standard operating procedure that must be used for normal operation of the equipment. At a minimum, the equipment risk assessment must include the emergency switch off procedures and include any specific PPE required.

Where appropriate, consider if there is a need for “expert users”, such as those who could maintain or use the equipment beyond the stated standard operating regime. If so it should be clearly stated who these users are and what additional operational rules/training are needed. A physical hard copy of the standard operating procedures and any approved user list should be kept with the equipment so that it is accessible to all users. An electronic copy should be stored on Quemis under the room in which it is located.

3. Project risk assessment

A risk assessment for a project should cover the specific matters related to how a space and equipment are being used. It will include consideration of the hazards associated with harmful substances and their handling, use of specific equipment which is not covered by the standard operating procedure. It will reference the risk assessments for any equipment being used and the spaces in which the work is being undertaken

Please see the University Health and Safety guidance for more information.

3.1 Risk assessment form for staff and PhD students

(Word Document) Risk assessment Form

An up to date copy of each project risk assessment (which may be in paper or electronic format) must be maintained within the research group. The project risk assessment should reference all space and equipment risk assessments which are of relevance to carrying out the project, rather than repeating what has already been documented. If you require additional assistance completing this form, please contact Julie Brannon or Stephanie Brown

3.2 Risk assessment forms for final year undergraduate project students

(Excel Spreadsheet) Project risk assessment form

(Excel Spreadsheet) Worked example of project risk assessment form

(Powerpoint Presentation) Risk assessment training delivered by Health and Safety Officer

Risk assessments for final year projects must be submitted via the appropriate module page on Moodle.

University Travel Risk Assessment information

When undertaking overseas travel as part of your role at Warwick, you should consider the risks involved. These will vary widely depending upon the country which you are planning to visit and the activities you are undertaking.

Example of a pre-travel risk assesment for travel to a conference

Example of a pre-travel risk assessment for travel to an experiment