Inspiring STEM Educators

Chemistry Risk Assessment

Chemistry Risk Assessment2018-08-24T10:13:44+00:00

Assessing Risk

SSERC recommends that risks be assessed using the 5-Step approach suggested by the HSE (even though they no longer talk about ‘five steps).

The 5 steps are:

1. Identify the hazards

2. Decide who might be harmed and how

3. Evaluate the risks and decide on precaution

4. Record your findings and implement them

5. Review your assessment and update if necessary

If you are looking for detailed guidance on the risk assessment process, we can help. The old yellow book, Preparing COSHH risk assessments for project work in schools, has now been revised (not before time) the new version can be found here  Risk Assessments in Project Work.

It runs (at some length) through the approach to be taken when risk assessing from scratch a completely new activity, such as might be found in an Advanced Higher Project.

Risk Assessment Templates

A blank Risk assessment template  is available here for you to print off and make your own risk assessments (MS Word).

There is no requirement in any legislation for you to use a particular format to record the findings of you risk assessment. We suggest the one above because if is clear and straightforward to write and to use.

You are, however, legally bound to follow your employer’s guidance in this matter. If they have a particular format they want you to use then you do need to do so – even if you don’t like it. If you think it is particularly problematice, you can get in touch with us and we might be able to have a conversation with your employer and possibly come to some sort of a compromise. We cannot overrule them though.

COSHH Assessments

This is a phrase we tend to avoid.  A ‘COSHH assessment’ implies you are only looking at Hazardous Substances and not flammables or electrical hazards or anything else. Here at SSERC, we take a more holistic approach: there is no requirement whatever to have a separate risk assessment for hazardous chemicals (and presumably a DSEAR Assessment for flammables and many more). Indeed, in the HSE’s Guidance on COSHH (Regulation 6) it says “A COSHH assessment may be made as part of the general risk assessment duties placed on employers by regulation 3 of the MHSW Regulations 1999. In addition, where applicable, employers may combine the COSHH risk assessment with that required by regulation 5 of the DSEAR Regulations.”

So there is no problem at all in having a single risk assessment covering all the hazards associated with an activity.

SSERC Risk Assessments

All the experiments detailed on the Chemistry section of the website have their own risk assessments. If you know what risk assessment you are looking for, just go to the activity and find it. Alternatively, you can download a zip file of All Chemistry Risk Assessments here (22.5 mb).

A good many years ago, a few Local Authorities (Fife, Falkirk and Dumfires & Galloway) shared some risk assessments with us for wider circulation. They are getting on a bit now (and not in the 5-step format) so we have decided to remove them from the website. If, however, you would like a copy to use as a starting point to build your own risk assessments from, get in touch and we will send you one.