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If you type “COVID-19 dynamic risks” into the Google search bar, many articles and research from industries everywhere will pop up. The pandemic caused many uncertainties, making it one prominent example of dynamic risks.

Assessing risks is necessary when facing potentially hazardous situations. Though, there’s a difference between regular risk assessment and dynamic risk assessment. What is that, and how is it relevant to entrepreneurs?

This article will answer those questions and provide more information on the personnel’s responsibilities and the dynamic risk assessment process.

What Is Dynamic Risk Assessment (DRA)?

Dynamic risk assessment (DRA) is an extension of risk assessment (RA), which refers to a detailed workplace examination to discover endangering factors. DRA doesn’t replace RA that’s already in place and includes control measures. It’s used in conjunction with one another. 

Dynamic risk assessment (DRA) is a regular procedure for detecting fairly-anticipated risks and dangers in a workplace. It was first developed for fire services that dealt with emergency rescue and hazardous element mitigation. Today’s companies also adopt this practice when entering any new scenario with the potential to pose hazards to their employees—hence the word “dynamic risk”.

The ever-changing work environment pushes employers always to be ready to deal with unknowns. For instance, when employees encounter unidentified risks with additional tasks. DRA is helpful in this situation. 

When Do You Perform Dynamic Risk Assessment?

The sample situation above (when employees enter a task with unidentified risks) makes DRA vital to conduct. Specifically when they’re in the field and do work activities on their own (e.g., home visits, manual handling).

Potential risks such as property damage, injuries, or environmental hazards can impact the worker’s health and safety on the spot. This is called an operational incident, in which the employee utilises quick thinking and specialised training to draw the DRA.

When assessing dynamic risks, it’s also helpful to refer to known hazards and check whether they’re still under control. It’s part of being agile at work, and you can learn more from our article here: “Implementing Agile Leadership for Success in Business.” 

Is Dynamic Risk Assessment Relevant for Entrepreneurs?

DRA seems to only apply to occupations whose nature of work requires being outside and dealing with situations physically. With this logic, does DRA apply to today’s entrepreneurs? 

FirstSiteGuide’s statistics of startups distribution by industry show that current entrepreneurs tend to build portfolios on the internet and digital technology. The Fintech industry employs 7.1% of all startups worldwide.

This Adobe article further elaborates that digital entrepreneurship is also on the rise, with an 82% increase in 2020 from 2019. More business owners have opened up to remote work. It allows employees to work from the comfort of their homes. 

Dynamic risks might seem harmless to those behind the computer or not on-site. However, dynamic risks also constantly change and develop like startups. Startup industries can still bring new risks beyond physical despite the statistics (e.g., cyber threats, system failures, etc.). 

Remember that the goal of DRA is to analyse potentially dangerous situations swiftly. If required, you take action to keep yourselves and others safe. 

Establishing proper RA is indeed a legal requirement for businesses. If you’ve done it, it’s already an excellent step in ensuring your employees’ safety. Going the extra mile with DRA, however, displays your willingness to explore workplace situations and assess unknown dangers. It puts you on alert and makes you critical in analysing new circumstances—physically or digitally.

Responsibilities in Dynamic Risk Assessment

After a detailed answer to the question “what is dynamic risk assessment,” it all boils down to who is responsible for what. This ensures that everyone follows the company’s standardised procedures and understands why those decisions are made.

Employees

Employees are in direct contact with potentially hazardous situations. They examine, take decisions, and deal with the consequences. They must record everything in a written DRA as clearly as possible to:

  • Warn other colleagues who may enter similar scenarios.
  • Justify why they make those decisions.
  • Let the company determine whether more training for better control measures is necessary.

Companies refer back to the DRA and update content every time employees re-encounter a hazardous situation.

Managers

Employees must report to their managers after assessing dynamic risks as soon as possible. Managers are responsible for:

  • Verifying the thoroughness of the hazards identification and appraisal process.
  • Updating the DRA following any substantial change while keeping the staff in the loop.
  • Keeping the risks in check while building recommendations of control measures.
  • Providing extra training and resources to improve employees’ skills when addressing similar issues.
  • Scheduling periodical review with staff and upper-level management (e.g., founders, Chief Operating Officer (COO), etc.).

If you’ve ever heard of Incident Controller (IC), it’s more or less the same with managers who assess DRA. They’re also in charge of operational incidents, including creating strategic options and approving resource orders and releases.

How to Carry out a Dynamic Risk Assessment?

DRA is a fantastic option if it’s later necessary to provide a statement and explain why we did what we did. Carrying out a DRA comes in five steps below to achieve those goals successfully:

Step #1: Identify the Hazard

The expression “there’s no smoke without fire” used to be literal because of the origin of DRA. Today, it still holds true—probably less literal.

Begin by identifying the “fire,” which refers to the hazard. Cambridge Dictionaries Online defines “hazard” as “something dangerous and likely to cause damage.” Official documents like the CSA Z1002 Standard, for instance, specify hazard as “a potential source of harm to a worker.” 

Some work environments and activities can lead to mishaps and damage. Observe the “smoke” and be alert to find the hazard when performing tasks. For instance, the pungent smell of chemicals can indicate chemical spills nearby. Another example is the increasing number of phishing emails hinting at data breaches.

Step #2: Identify the Risk That Goes Along With the Hazard

Cambridge Dictionaries Online defines “risk” as “the possibility of something bad happening.” At workplaces, risks either take time to develop or worsen in a matter of seconds. If you can remove the hazard, the risks will also be gone. Otherwise, manage them as best as possible using every bit of information from the previous step. 

It’s a new situation, and you’ve never been exposed to its risks. The unpredictable nature of dynamic risks makes them challenging to detect. Some questions to ask yourself when assessing the risks: 

  • How dangerous are they?
  • Do they warrant more thought or action right away? 
  • Is there any need to contact authorities?

Step #3: Take Current Control Measures Into Consideration

Evaluate the risks in light of current control measures, if any. This is why having done RA can be helpful when implementing DRA. Employees familiar with assessing risks are better trained in using professional judgement to choose the best course of action. They know what aspects to consider: available resources, tools, etc. Navigating new scenarios, as unfamiliar and unpredictable as they are, is easier when equipped with such basics.

Step #4: Take Decisions

Making a decision is different from taking a decision. The former is more about the process and takes time, while the latter is more about the action and transpires immediately. In most cases, DRA fits the second definition better. (Read more about the distinction in this Quick and Dirty Tips article, written by the infamous Grammar Girl herself.)

Take decisions only after you’ve done the previous three steps. Those steps don’t mean over-thinking everything. They’re more about observing the details that might hinder your performance of new tasks. Considering those details makes reacting to the threats safer and more ideal.

Step #5: Record

Either eliminating the hazard or minimising the connected risks, record everything in as precise detail as possible. This step always happens after the event has passed. Employees are prone to miss or forget any details of what has happened. 

Writing them down is hence more helpful for everyone, even though it’s not quite thorough yet in the beginning. DRA always presents room for improvement. If it’s your company’s first DRA, it undoubtedly opens the door for new situations in the business world. As an entrepreneur, see this as an opportunity to learn and grow!

Conclusion

The answer to the question “what is dynamic risk assessment” is simple: it’s a business procedure to identify dynamic risks. 

Beyond that, DRA is an extension of risk assessment because they examine different types of risks. Dynamic risks are common in unfamiliar circumstances, such as when performing new tasks. 

While it’s more common to encounter them as physical damage, they also come in the cyberworld. Your startup’s industry may not generate dynamic risks as frequently as companies in fields like forestry or social work services. However, implementing DRA on top of RA increases your adaptability in unpredictable situations that present threats.

The procedure begins by identifying the hazard and its associated risks. There are current control measures and proper liaison with supervisors. Employees then make informed decisions and report to the manager.

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Daniel Dippold

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