School of Engineering and Informatics (for staff and students)

Risk Assessments

The University has a duty of care towards both staff and students to provide as safe a working / studying environment as possible.

Risk Assessment as part of risk control

The term "risk control" covers all measures aimed at removing / limiting risks related to an activity or location.

Risk assessment (RA) is a process aimed at identifying hazards present in the work / study environment or arising from envisaged activities. RA is therefore among the earliest steps in the risk control cycle. Once identified, the hazards and the associated risks are measured and recorded, and options for reducing the more significant risks are considered, selected, recorded and implemented.

Is risk assessment a legal requirement?

It is a legal requirement for every employer and self-employed person to make an assessment of the health and safety risks arising out of their work. The purpose of the assessment is to identify what needs to be done to control health and safety risks. (Regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999). 

Organisations employing more than five people are required to record their risk assessments in writing and to have those available for inspection by the Health and Safety Executive: http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/faq.htm#q8

5-step model of the risk control cycle

The University of Sussex uses a Risk Assessment format based on the Health and Safety Executive’s 5-step model
(for more on that, see http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/controlling-risks.htm).

The Health and Safety Executive describes the 5 steps as:

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

The Risk Assessment form captures the first 4 of the steps listed above.

The fifth step ensures that there is a feedback process to fold in any developments (e.g. lessons learnt from a near-miss, or change in equipment provision) into the risk assessment, and that the RA is kept current and relevant.

The School's downloadable Guidance Note on Risk Assessments (RAs) [DOC 126.50KB] takes you through the methods for carrying out RAs, which follow the Health & Safety industry good practice. While in fast-paced situations it is appropriate to assess risks mentally, for all planned and longer-term activities, risk assessments are required to be recorded in written form.

Further guidance and resources for completing the Risk Assessment process are available on the Health and Safety Executive website: http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/controlling-risks.htm


If you need assistance with identifying appropriate, reasonable and practicable risk control measures, please contact one of the School Health & Safety Co-ordinators (Marc Williams and Margarita Steinberg), or the Quality, Safety, Health & Environment (QSHE) Office.

The QSHE team are part of the Sussex Estates and Facilities (SEF) organisation, and provide consultation and advisory services to support the Schools and the University in ensuring best health and safety practices are followed.

The priorities below are suggested by the Health & Safety Office, and reflect a systematic approach by considering the everyday long-term practices first (location and equipment RAs) and then augmenting that by risk control measures for the more transitory (RAs for specific activities being carried out currently).

These assessments use the standard Risk Assessment form - see fifth tab on this page ('Risk Assessment (RA) Forms') for the template. If you need more detailed input on how to fill this out, download the Guidance note, posted beside the RA form template. 

Location Risk Assessment

WORKED EXAMPLE - general lab RA (Interact Lab Nov2015) [DOCX 45.39KB]

The first level is to consider risks relating to location, i.e.risks associated with the location itself (e.g. TFMRC building, or Automotive Lab). This type of Risk Assessment would take into account hazards and control measures relating to:

  • Slips & trips:
    hazards may be associated with flooring quality, condition of stairs, loose cables, storage;
    you may need to include a procedure for managing spills etc.
  • Lone working
  • Noise-levels
  • Chemicals usage
  • Accidents, near misses & First Aid
  • Machinery & equipment - include a list of equipment and associated controls
  • Security arrangements if relevant

Equipment Risk Assessments

WORKED EXAMPLE - equipment in lab RA (example from Interact Lab, Nov2015) [DOCX 43.82KB]

If your location utilises more than a couple of pieces of equipment, you will need to put together a set of Risk Assessment documents relating to equipment. These should both refer to procedures for safe use of equipment associated with the location, and inform them.
You can use one form per piece of equipment, or consider a few pieces of equipment with comparable risks and control measures on one form.

Activities Risk Assessments

WORKED EXAMPLE - activity RA (Tactile Graphics, Peter Cheng, Sept 2015) [PDF 83.58KB]

You will also need to consider Risk Assessments relating to Activities. 
These consider risk management for activities undertaken in the area you are responsible for or by the people you are responsible for. 
Recurring activities can be covered by one RA document. 
It's important to record if the activity on an RA form is a one-off, so that it is clear when it is no longer current.

Examples of activities warranting a Risk Assessment might be:

  • Running an Open Day (recurring)
  • Running a jet engine (recurring)
  • Taking students to an exhibition off-campus (could be one-off or recurring)

As part of formulating and preparing for projects, whether at Undergraduate or Postgraduate level, students are expected to carry out risk assessments for the envisaged activities and fill out relevant risk assessment forms in consultation with their supervisor, who will need to sign off the final version of the form.

Getting familiar with risk control procedures is both essential for conducting activities during your course safely, and good preparation for future undertakings.  Both in research and industry, risk assessments are used extensively as part of the organisation's safety measures and for accountability, since the law requires organisations to keep records of risk control measures.

If you are starting a Student Group Project, or any activity affecting more than yoursef, please use the Group RA form.
Please see the next section "Risk Assessment (RA) Forms" for

  • Group RA form
  • An annotated version of the Group RA Form that gives further guidance on filling this form out
  • Guidance Note which gives a fuller background on carrying out Risk Assessments

Once you have completed a Risk Assessment form, please forward a copy (in electronic format) to Margarita Steinberg for the central records.

The School of Engineering and Informatics uses templates for Risk Assessment forms based on recommendations from the QSHE team.  

Normal office-based activities, as well as teaching involving only computer-based presentation equipment, do not need to be risk assessed.

A series of similar activities (e.g. off-campus visits by staff to secondary schools) can be considered in the same Risk Assessment form if the risks involved are comparable.  

The originals of completed RA forms are to be kept locally, so that those involved/affected are able to refer to the RA form.  The forms are meant to remain in active use while they remain relevant (please archive off old versions which have been superceded, to avoid confusion).

Once you have completed / updated a Risk Assessment form, please forward a copy (in electronic format) to Margarita Steinberg for the central records.

Standard RA form

The form is designed to trigger a thorough consideration of the potential risks and their impact, and best approaches to eliminating / controlling / minimising them.
It is important to record who has responsibility for implementing the risk control measures recommended in the form and within what timescale.

Risk Assessment form - ANNOTATED [DOCX 44.83KB]
Guidance Note on Risk Assessments (RAs) [DOC 126.50KB]

Worked examples

WORKED EXAMPLE - general lab RA (Interact Lab Nov2015) [DOCX 45.39KB]
WORKED EXAMPLE - equipment in lab RA (example from Interact Lab, Nov2015) [DOCX 43.82KB]
WORKED EXAMPLE - activity RA (Tactile Graphics, Peter Cheng, Sept 2015) [PDF 83.58KB]

 

Group RA form

This form is adapted for Student Projects - please see the Annotated form below in case of questions in the first instance. 
It is important to record who has responsibility for implementing the risk control measures recommended in the form and within what timescale.

Reading though the 'Guidance Note on Risk Assessments' document will help you familiarise yourself with the general principles of RAs if you need to.

Risk Assessment form - ANNOTATED [DOCX 44.83KB]
Guidance Note on Risk Assessments (RAs) [DOC 126.50KB]


COSHH Risk Assessment form

If you are going to be working with hazardous substances, please use a specialised Risk Assessment form.

Risk Assessment (COSHH) Form [Compressed (zipped) Folder (38.7 KB) for download]
There are further instructions at the top of the form itself on how to use it.

When filling out a Risk Assessment form, please indicate the primary Hazard type of the intended activity/process. Please select from the following list:

  • General Safety (includes ergonomics and general office use)
  • Travel (includes transport, Fieldwork and Field Trips)
  • Fire Safety
  • Events
  • Chemical & Physical Hazards
  • Ionising & Non Ionising Radiation
  • Biological Safety
  • Controlled Drugs
  • Mechanical & workshops
  • Interviews of subjects

In accordance with Health & Safety good practice, Risk Assessments are required to be counter-signed by a person with the relevant authority and expertise.

For staff

The individual counter-signing your form must:

  1. have sufficient relevant expertise in the substance of your RA to equip them to exercise their professional judgement on the safety of the arrangements your Risk Assessment stipulates
  2. be either your line manager, or a peer acting with your manager’s delegated authority

Please discuss this with your Line Manager if you have any questions/concerns.

For students

All student-generated Risk Assessments need to be authorised by their academic supervisor/course conveynor.

 

Once you have completed / updated a Risk Assessment form, please forward an electronic version (either a scan of the authorised paper copy or an e-copy) to the dedicated email address for the central records: riskassessments-enginf@sussex.ac.uk.

All risk assessments must be reviewed as necessary to check whether the risk control measures stated in the RA form are:

  • implemented correctly
  • effective in controlling the risks
  • still relevant
    (consider whether any changes in the interim period since the RA form was originally filled out
    impact on the effectiveness of the existing risk control measures)

All assessments and safe systems of work need to be reviewed annually, or sooner as circumstances dictate.
A review of a risk assessment will also be required following:

  • The assessment lapsing past its valid-to date (default valid period is 12 months)
  • Any accident or near-miss event connected with the work activity
  • New guidance / legislation being published relating to the activity or process
  • New equipment/processes being introduced which are likely to affect the risks
  • New staff arriving who may have less experience with the task or process

See Guidance Note on Risk Assessments (RAs) [DOC 126.50KB] for more on the types of changes that warrant a review of the RA.

As part of reviewing / updating a Risk Assessment form, please forward an alert of the new expiry/review date for the RA, or a  copy of the new version (either in electronic or paper format) to Margarita Steinberg for the central records.

The School of Engineering and Informatics maintains a central electronic repository of all current Risk Assessments forms. The repository is accessible to members of the School Health and Safety committee, and is part of the School's emergency readiness procedures.

Legal requirement

The repository was set up in response to the the requirement for organisations employing more than five people to record their risk assessments in writing and to have those available for inspection by the Health and Safety Executive: http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/faq.htm#q8

Repository can save you work

The repository also facilitates, among other things, easier access to existing RA forms, which can save you work.
For example:

  • Informatics Department has been approved by the Sussex County Council to welcome work experience students. The Risk Assessment form (in response to Martin White's application) is applicable to any comparable work experience in the Department, or can be used as a blue-print for future applications.

Once you have completed / updated a Risk Assessment form, please forward an electronic version (either a scan of the authorised paper copy or an e-copy) to the dedicated email address for the central records: riskassessments-enginf@sussex.ac.uk.

You can book onto general training sessions for carrying out Risk Assessments via Sussex Direct
(instructions on how to book and further information: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/hso/training).

The School also arranges specific HSE-related training as required, please watch out for announcements, or contact Margarita Steinberg to discuss your HSE training needs.

 

Health & Safety webpages for the School of Engineering and Informatics are maintained by Margarita Steinberg,
If you come across anything needing correcting / have suggestions for improvements, please email me or call x 7600.

 

School of Engineering and Informatics (for staff and students)

School Office:
School of Engineering and Informatics, University of Sussex, Chichester 1 Room 002, Falmer, Brighton, BN1 9QJ
enquiries@enginf.sussex.ac.uk
T 01273 (67) 8195

School Office opening hours: Monday - Friday 09.00 - 17.00
School Office location [PDF 1.74MB]