What Is a Dynamic Risk Assessment? [FREE TEMPLATE]

A dynamic risk assessment is crucial for a range of organisations. Unlike a standard risk assessment, a dynamic risk assessment allows you to evaluate and manage risks in changing situations rather than simply assessing the risk before a task is carried out.

Dynamic risk assessments are commonly used in industries like healthcare, construction and the military where situations can be unpredictable and escalate quickly.

In this guide, we’ll explain in detail what a dynamic risk assessment is, who might need one and give you access to our actionable 5-step framework and free dynamic risk assessment template for your organisation.

 Contents:

  1. What is a dynamic risk assessment?
  2. What is the purpose of a dynamic risk assessment?
  3. What’s the difference between a dynamic risk assessment and a regular risk assessment?
  4. When is a dynamic risk assessment used?
  5. Benefits of a dynamic risk assessment
  6. Who is responsible for carrying out a dynamic risk assessment?
  7. How to carry out a dynamic risk assessment in your organisation

What is a dynamic risk assessment?

A dynamic risk assessment is an ongoing process of evaluating and managing risks in real-time or in rapidly changing situations. Unlike a traditional risk assessment that is conducted prior to a task or activity, a dynamic risk assessment involves continuously monitoring and reassessing risks as circumstances evolve, rather than conducting a single risk assessment prior to an activity.

Dynamic risk assessments are commonly used in industries such as construction, emergency services and military operations, where conditions can change rapidly and unpredictably. The goal is to identify potential hazards, assess their likelihood and potential consequences, and adjust plans or procedures accordingly to minimise risks.

This type of risk assessment emphasises situational awareness, quick decision-making and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances to maintain safety and mitigate potential dangers. It promotes a proactive approach to risk management by empowering individuals to identify and respond to risks in real-time, enhancing overall safety measures.

Put simply, a dynamic risk assessment is needed in situations where:

  • Risks are uncertain and keep changing
  • Risks exist but are difficult to measure precisely
  • The risks are known and preventive action is needed


What is the purpose of a dynamic risk assessment?

The purpose of a dynamic risk assessment is to enhance safety and mitigate risks in real-time or rapidly changing situations. Its primary objectives are to:

Identify and anticipate risks:
A dynamic risk assessment aims to identify potential hazards and anticipate risks as they arise or evolve during an activity or in response to changing conditions.

Promote situational awareness:
It emphasises the importance of being aware of an individual’s surroundings and the evolving circumstances to identify potential risks promptly.

Enable quick decision-making:
By continuously assessing risks, individuals can make quick and informed decisions to adjust plans or procedures, ensuring the safety of themselves and others involved.

Adapt to changing conditions:
Dynamic risk assessment enables the flexibility to adapt to changing conditions promptly. It allows for the modification of strategies, protocols, or safety measures based on the evolving situation.

Minimise and manage risks:
The primary purpose of a dynamic risk assessment is to minimise risks and manage them effectively in real-time. By identifying and addressing risks promptly, you can reduce the likelihood and impact of accidents, injuries, or adverse events.

What is the difference between a dynamic risk assessment and a traditional risk assessment?

The dynamic risk assessment provides a more agile and responsive approach to risk management, enabling you to address risks promptly as they emerge or evolve while a risk assessment is a pre-activity evaluation of potential risks and preventive measures.

The main difference between a risk assessment and a dynamic risk assessment lies in their timing and approach. Let’s go through some of the differences between dynamic risk assessments and regular risk assessments in more detail:

Traditional risk assessments

Carried out at set times: These risk assessments are usually carried out on a schedule, for example annually or quarterly. They are a proactive evaluation of potential hazards, their likelihood and potential consequences, along with the implementation of preventive measures to mitigate risks.

Follow a structured process: A formal risk assessment is a more static and planned approach to risk management. It involves systematically identifying hazards, evaluating risks, and implementing control measures before the activity begins. The Health and Safety Executive suggests that it’s a 5-step process, which involves identifying hazards, deciding who may be harmed, evaluating risks and taking action to prevent them, recording your findings and reviewing your risk assessment. There’s little room for deviation from this structure.

Dynamic risk assessments

Carried out on the spot: While you can carry out dynamic risk assessments in advance, they are well-suited to being carried out in ad hoc situations. A dynamic risk assessment involves continuously monitoring and reassessing risks as circumstances evolve, allowing for real-time adjustments to maintain safety. 

Adaptable to evolving situations: A dynamic risk assessment emphasises situational awareness, adaptability and quick decision-making. It focuses on monitoring and reassessing risks in real-time, adapting plans or procedures as conditions change, and taking immediate actions to minimise risks.

When is a dynamic risk assessment used?

A dynamic risk assessment is a valuable tool for anyone managing staff, ensuring their safety, and supporting public-facing personnel. It’s particularly important for those working in high-risk or rapidly changing environments and should be carried out whenever someone feels that there may be a risk involved. An example of this is hospital staff, including doctors and nurses as well as other healthcare workers, who face unpredictable situations while working alone and varying levels of risk. Another example is staff in GP surgeries, where risks can arise during patient interactions or emergencies.

By implementing dynamic risk assessments, organisations can move from reactive to proactive planning, mitigating potential risks more effectively. Little Green Button panic alarms serve as a vital component of this process, enabling staff to quickly notify others and mitigate risks in real-time.

Other organisations that might need a dynamic risk assessment include:

Schools, universities and educational institutions:
Educational settings deal with diverse risks, including student safety, emergency preparedness, and evolving security concerns.
Dynamic risk assessments are also valuable in primary schools and higher education environments, especially for laboratory settings, field research and student welfare.

Enterprise businesses and organisations with visitor traffic:
This includes corporate offices, retail stores, shopping centres, museums, cultural institutions, tourist attractions, government buildings and any other organisations that have visitors coming in and out of their premises or a public facing reception.
 The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services use Little Green Button as part of their safety plan, and this case study explains how they deploy it.

Hotels and the hospitality & entertainment industry:
Venues face risks related to guest safety, security, emergency evacuation, and managing large-scale events or conferences.

Legal organisations:
Law firms and legal entities may require dynamic risk assessments for activities such as courtroom procedures, client interactions, and managing sensitive information.

Construction, Manufacturing and industrial facilities:
Industrial settings involve various risks, such as machinery operations, hazardous substances, and evolving production processes. Dynamic risk assessments are essential in construction to manage risks associated with site conditions, equipment usage, and changing environmental factors.

Emergency services:
Fire departments, paramedics and other emergency services require dynamic risk assessments to respond effectively to rapidly changing and high-risk situations.

Transportation industry:
Aviation, maritime, and road transport organisations need dynamic risk assessments to manage risks related to changing weather conditions, traffic situations, and operational factors.

Lone workers:
From staff community nurses and mental health specialists
through to sales reps and field agents, working in lone or remote environments requires risk assessment. 

Benefits of a dynamic risk assessment

Enhanced workplace safety

By continuously monitoring and reassessing risks in real-time, a dynamic risk assessment promotes enhanced workplace safety. It allows for quick identification of emerging hazards and enables immediate actions to mitigate risks, reducing the likelihood of accidents or incidents.

Real-time adaptability

Dynamic risk assessments enable individuals to adapt to changing conditions promptly. By continuously assessing risks, plans and procedures can be adjusted on the spot to maintain safety, ensuring that activities remain aligned with the evolving circumstances.

Improved situational awareness

The ongoing nature of dynamic risk assessments fosters a heightened sense of situational awareness. Individuals are encouraged to be more attentive to their surroundings, anticipate potential risks, and make informed decisions based on the current context.

Proactive risk management

Rather than relying solely on pre-planned measures, dynamic risk assessments empower individuals to take a proactive approach to risk management. By actively identifying and addressing risks in real-time, potential hazards can be addressed before they escalate into critical situations.

Continuous improvement

Dynamic risk assessments facilitate a culture of continuous improvement in risk management. As risks are identified and managed in real-time, feedback and lessons learned can be incorporated into future activities, resulting in refined procedures and increased overall safety.

Reduces fear

When the right training is provided for dynamic risk assessments, they can help your team members feel less scared about rapidly changing environments or unknown hazards. They prepare individuals for the unexpected, helping them to deal with situations calmly and without fear.

Who is responsible for carrying out a dynamic risk assessment?

Unlike formal risk assessments where employers are legally responsible for carrying them out, dynamic risk assessments are the responsibility of every staff member. Dynamic risk assessments have to be carried out in real-time, so they require team members to have an awareness of how to recognise risks and what they can do to mitigate them.

However, you can’t expect your staff members to understand how to carry out a dynamic risk assessment properly without training. It’s crucial that you run training sessions on dynamic risk assessments to ensure that your team is prepared should they find themselves in a situation where they need to assess changing risks.

How to carry out a dynamic risk assessment in your organisation

dynamic risk assessment 5-step framework


Carrying out a dynamic risk assessment in your organisation involves a systematic approach that considers the unique characteristics and activities of your workplace.

Our 5-step framework for conducting dynamic risk assessments is a valuable tool for organisations. This structured approach guides you through each stage, from describing the activity or task being assessed to monitoring, control measures, communication, and documentation.

By following this framework, organisations can proactively identify hazards, evaluate risks, implement control measures, and effectively communicate and review the assessment process. Our framework supports you in your journey towards comprehensive risk management, enabling you to prioritise safety and respond effectively to changing risks.

Use our template as a training tool to help your team members feel confident in conducting dynamic risk assessments on the spot when an evolving situation arises.

Download our 5-step dynamic risk assessment framework and template

 

As well as our 5-step framework, here are some steps to help you implement a dynamic risk assessment:

1. Identify the scope

Determine the specific activities, tasks or operations that require dynamic risk assessment. Consider areas or situations where conditions can change rapidly or unpredictably, posing potential risks to employees, stakeholders, or the organisation itself.

 

2. Establish a risk assessment team

Form a team responsible for conducting dynamic risk assessments. Include individuals with relevant expertise and knowledge of the activities being assessed. Ensure that team members are trained in risk assessment methodologies and procedures.

 

3. Identify potential hazards

Identify and document potential hazards associated with the activities or tasks. Consider factors such as equipment, materials, work environment, human factors, and external influences. Gather input from employees who have firsthand knowledge and experience in the relevant areas.

 

4. Assess the risks

Evaluate the likelihood and potential consequences of the identified hazards. Use suitable risk assessment methods such as qualitative (like risk matrices) or quantitative (like numerical scoring) approaches. Consider the severity of the hazards, the frequency of exposure and the vulnerability of individuals involved. Our guide in the template provides a matrix on how to assess these risk.

 

5. Monitor and reassess

Implement a system for ongoing monitoring and reassessment of risks during activities. Encourage employees to report any changes or emerging risks promptly. Regularly review and update risk assessments to reflect evolving circumstances.

 

6. Develop control measures

Identify and implement appropriate control measures to mitigate or eliminate risks. Consider engineering controls, administrative controls, and personal protective equipment. Ensure that control measures are practical, effective, and aligned with current best practices.

 

7. Communicate and train

Clearly communicate the results of dynamic risk assessments to employees and relevant stakeholders. Provide training and guidance on recognising and responding to changing risks. Foster a culture of awareness and active participation in risk management.

 

8. Document and review

Document the dynamic risk assessments, including hazards, risks, control measures and any changes or updates made. Regularly review the effectiveness of control measures and adjust as needed based on feedback, incident investigations, or new information.

 

Remember that dynamic risk assessment is an ongoing process that requires regular attention and participation from all levels of the organisation. By implementing this systematic approach, you can continuously improve safety measures, respond effectively to changing conditions, and minimise risks in your workplace.