Planning Work at Height – Part Two

By Jason Godfrey, General Manager

Last week I looked at how auditing and risk assessments can help you to plan work at height, but no matter how careful we plan something, things do change.  This week I’m going to explain how carrying out a Dynamic Risk Assessment before starting work will help you to determine if your original risk assessment is still applicable, or whether additional measures need to be put in place.

What is a Dynamic Risk Assessment?

A risk assessment is about identifying risks so that you can put suitable control measures in place and is undertaken when planning work. A dynamic risk assessment is a continuous process of identifying hazards in a changing environment and should be used in addition to the main risk assessment, not as a replacement to it.  This is the final stage in the risk assessment process and enables work to be carried out safely.

Dynamic risk assessments are carried out by the person actually undertaking the work so you will need to ensure that the person is competent when it comes to assessing the risks and has received proper training on what to do.   

assessing work at height risks

Carrying out a Dynamic Risk Assessment

All workers must be constantly aware of their own safety as well as that of their colleagues and anyone who may be affected by their work.  If necessary, they must be able to take immediate action in the interests of safety.   The following 5 simple steps can help them to make informed decisions before starting work :

Step 1:  Evaluate the situation/task and who may be at risk

Step 2:  Select a system of work

Step 3:  Assess that the chosen system of work is safe.  Look at the risk versus benefit and if appropriate, proceed with the work.

Step 4:  If the system of work is not safe, introduce additional controls or select another system of work if possible

Step 5:  Re-assess systems of work, introduce further controls if required/possible

What to Cover in a Dynamic Risk Assessment?

A dynamic risk assessment need not be complicated.  At Safesite we have a simple tick sheet that our surveyors and engineers fill out before they carry out work at height.  Areas to cover in a dynamic risk assessment could include:

  • The working environment: If the weather is wet or windy the risk of a fall is increased so the worker will need to decide whether the work should continue
  • Asbestos & Hazardous Substances: If the worker encounters what he suspects is asbestos or a hazardous substance, then he should stop work immediately and seek competent assistance.
  • Type of Access: Is the selected means of access still possible and is it appropriate?
  • Violence & Stress:  This is particularly important for lone workers. If there is a risk of violence or the work will place undue pressure on the person, then the work should not continue.
  • Fire, Means of Escape:  If working on a roof, can the person escape to an area of safety in the event of a fire
  • Animals/Vermin/Birds: For example, nesting birds can pose a threat to those working on a roof.  In these instances the work should be rescheduled for when the nests are empty


Seagulls nesting on a roof

Although dynamic risk assessments are carried out on-the-spot, they should still be recorded.  If an accident does occur then there is a record of the assessment and how decisions were reached. 

Careful Planning

Over the past couple of weeks I've outlined what you need to consider when planning work at height. By following some simple steps in auditing and assessing tasks you should hopefully be in a better position to plan the work carefully.  But of course, if you are unsure of what to do, always seek professional advice.

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