Hazard identification and risk assessment

The University of Glasgow undertakes many activities that could create risks to staff, students and others who use our facilities, or cause harm to the environment if not properly managed.  For legal and moral reasons the University must reduce these risks to a level that is as low as reasonably practicable.  Central to any effective health and safety management programme is the process of hazard identification and risk assessment. 

Risk assessment is a legal requirement and all Schools and Services MUST have procedures in place for this.  These procedures must be documented and must make clear the responsibilities of the staff within the unit for conducting risk assessments of staff and student activities that take place whether within the University or elsewhere.  It is the responsibility of each Head of College/School or Service to ensure that suitable risk assessment processes are in place within their unit.

Risk assessment strategy
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published extensive guidance on how to approach risk assessment.  This guidance is available via their website and provides an extremely useful resource for both training and reference purposes.  The HSE risk management page is located here: http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/.  HSE consider risk assessment to be a 5 step process:

  • Identify the hazards
  • Decide who might be harmed and how
  • Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions
  • Record your findings and implement them
  • Review your assessment and update if necessary.

University arrangements
The legal requirement to risk assess ALL work is very demanding and SEPS would recommend that units try to categorise work within their unit and assess activities generically in the first instance.  The arrangements for managing widespead and commonplace risks can often be best set out within local safety documents.  SEPS have produced a number of templates including generic assessments covering office work and low-risk travel, which will should help reduce the need to individually assess these common risks. 

Particular attention must be given to more hazadous work and activity-specific risk assessments will generally need to be prepared by those in charge of such activities.  This will normally include any laboratory, workshop, practical activity and higher risk travel.  Risks to staff, students, visitors, to the public and the environment should be considered, where appropriate and work or study away from the University, periodic maintenance jobs or one-off tasks, including manual handling tasks, should not be overlooked. 

Remember that risk assessment is not simply a workplace or work equipment inspection, but must consider the task or activity in its entirety.  SEPS provide a range of topic-specific templates, including a blank University Risk Assessment template, to help with this process.

SEPS templates are  available on our Forms webpage or within our topic-specfic webpages.  These may be modified to reflect local adminstrative arrangements, provided that the core risk assessment element remains intact.