Ensure safety and continuous operation even under rapidly changing circumstances through dynamic risk assessment. Learn how to involve the process in your work.
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A dynamic risk assessment is a continuous process of identifying and eliminating hazards and risks while considering the rapidly changing circumstances and environment of an incident. It primarily involves decision-making based on the present benefits and risks.
Firefighting is one of the best examples where dynamic risk assessment is extensively used. It constantly involves making decisions to reduce the fire incident while considering the fast-changing circumstances brought about by the fire damages.
Depending on the nature of incidents, it is sometimes impractical to fill out a dynamic risk assessment form before taking any action and deploying personnel. So, it is usually done after the fact. That is why videos or images are some of the tools that can be used to document emergencies.
During an emergency incident, the focus may change through the risk management process. And there are usually three main stages: initial, development, and closing. Aside from each stage have its focus, it also involves using different procedures to mitigate any hazard and risk effectively.
The initial stage is where the incident has just started and is the time where the person-in-charge needs to decide what system of actions to take and what control methods to use. The information below is referenced from the Australian Government's Dynamic Risk Assessment Form.
Upon arrival at the incident location, the person in charge of dynamic risk assessment will need to gather information before making a judgment on the most appropriate necessary actions. Below are samples of information that needs to be considered.
After careful evaluation, the declaration of "Tactical Mode" is simply an announcement that it is appropriate to work under the present conditions.
There are usually two tactical modes available: "offensive" and "defensive." The "offensive mode" is the usual mode of operation and usually means to proceed. And "defensive mode" means that more information is required, and more control measures are needed before taking action.
During this dynamic risk assessment process, the person in charge will now assess what available standard procedures apply to the incident and choose the best for the current situation.
To make this more effective, the personnel involved must be knowledgeable on what was agreed upon during the pre-planning and must be trained on standard procedures. This way, all the tasks will be carried out safely and correctly.
After selecting the appropriate standard procedures to implement during the incident, the person in charge must then assess if the benefits of the chosen procedures outweigh the risks present.
If it does, the team can proceed after ensuring that the team understands all the objects, allocated responsibilities, and all safety measures are communicated to the team. If not, it is recommended to take a step back, review the standard procedures, and communicate better with the team.
Some residual risks might need to be eliminated to ensure safety. Putting in additional control measures can help do so. Examples of different control measures are using other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), additional means of communications, usage of specialized tools, and adding in more safety officers.
Due to the rapidly changing situations when doing a dynamic risk assessment, new risks might appear, and unexpected residual risks might pop up. So it is recommended to re-assess the chosen systems of work and controls. Revise as needed to ensure the safety of employees, the public, and the environment.
In some instances, an incident may develop into a more complex incident where the initial controls are no longer effective or appropriate. This is called the development stage and needs to be addressed by adapting to the changed circumstance.
Some of the steps that the person in charge can do are to use new tactics and standard procedures, observing for unknown associated risks, adding in more specialized personnel and safety officers, and calling on other sectors or departments that can help.
The closing stage is when the hazards and risks are effectively dealt with, and the situation's urgency has diminished. During this stage, it is essential to maintain control still and ensure the safety of everyone until the incident has completely been resolved. The information below is referenced from Australia and United Kingdom's Dynamic Risk Assessment Form.
Even though the situation's urgency has already significantly decreased, it is critical to still maintain the system of works in place and continuously conduct risk assessments. Remember that safety is still the priority.
While waiting for the incident to be resolved entirely, the person in charge should also take this time to gather information for post-incident reviews.
During the closing stage, it is essential to address the welfare of workers or others that might have been affected. This way, casualties will not worsen, and any risk of contamination or infection will be prevented. Also, ensuring that all personnel has enough food and rest is critical when ensuring welfare.
Learnings and improvements are an essential part of dynamic risk assessments. That is why incident debriefing is an essential step in the closing stage.
During the debriefing, it is important to uncover any significant information that can lead to improvements such as failed procedures and systems, successful but unconventional systems, lack of training, and lack of tools and equipment.
Dynamic risk assessments are an important safety tool for organizations, so they should be not only regular, but also well documented. Paper documents can be a hindrance to the dynamic process. Information about risks has to be forwarded laboriously and may reach the safety officer too late or not at all.
But this does not have to be the case. There is a solution to the same problem: Lumiform, a digital app and desktop software for risk assessments. With the mobile app, employees and safety teams can instantly capture, assess and report hazards. Reports can be generated on the spot via smartphone or tablet, and immediately shared with responsible teams and authorized individuals.
Together with your team, take advantage of Lumiform in dynamic risk assessments: