Risk Assessments

Under current health and safety legislation (Section 19 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act (No. 10 of 2005)) all employers and persons in control of work places are required to identify the hazards in the workplace under their control and to assess and control the risks presented by these hazards in so far as is reasonably practicable. 

Risk assessments must be completed for all potentially hazardous procedures; for the use of potentially hazardous equipment; for the use of chemicals and for the use of potentially infectious materials.

All assessments should also be subjected to regular review and updating. In the event of a prosecution by the statutory authorities the failure to complete risk assessments could be used as evidence of noncompliance with safety legislation.

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The UCD SIRC Office has completed a number of risk assessment templates for different categories, which may be used and amended by staff and postgraduates, if they are applicable to the work. In the event that these risk assessments do not adequately manage the hazards associated with their work, staff and postgraduates should complete their own risk assessment. 

View Completed Risk Assesments by Category Here

For further advice, please contact the UCD SIRC Office (sirc@ucd.ie).

‘Hazard’ is defined as the potential to cause harm, while ‘risk’ is defined as the potential of the hazard to cause harm under the actual circumstances of use. The assessment of risk from the hazards identified is based on the linkage of the probability of occurrence with the severity of injury or material loss (the hazard effect) resultant from that occurrence.

Assessing the Risks

Probability is determined based on an assessment on how likely it is that an adverse event related to the hazard concerned will occur. Probabilities are graded as:

  • Unlikely: the adverse event being considered will occur only rarely.
  • Likely: the adverse event being considered will occur on a frequent basis
  • Very Likely: the adverse event being considered is almost certain to occur

Severity is based on the degree of personal injury or damage to property likely to occur in the event that the adverse event occurs. Severity of outcome is graded as:

  • Slightly Harmful: e.g. superficial injuries; minor cuts and bruises; nuisance and irritation; temporary discomfort; minor infection;  minor material damage.
  • Harmful: e.g. lacerations; burns; concussion; sprains; minor fractures; dermatitis (temporary); asthma (temporary); long term discomfort; infection requiring medical treatment; significant material damage.
  • Very Harmful: e.g. fatality; amputation; major fracture; severe poisoning; cancer; life shortening condition / disease; deafness; head injuries; eye injuries; substantial material damage.

The risk assessment matrix below is used to calculate the risk posed by any hazard by linking the probability of an adverse occurrence with the severity of injury or material loss (the hazard effect) resultant from that occurrence.

Assessment of Likelihood and Severity

 Severity of Outcome    Likelihood of Exposure       
Low Slightly Harmful   Unlikely
Medium      Harmful Likely
High Very Harmful Very Likely

Risk Assessment Matrix

Risk Assessment Matrix

Risk Rating

  1. Trivial Risk: No further action required.
  2. Acceptable Risk: No additional risk control / reduction measures required
  3. Moderate Risk: Further risk control / reduction measures should be considered and implemented were possible. Hazards graded as Moderate Risk must be closely managed.
  4. Substantial Risk: Further risk control / reduction measures must be identified. If the risk cannot be reduced further then the hazard must be strictly managed and the frequency and duration of the hazard must be reduced to as low a level as practicable along with the number of persons exposed to the hazard.
  5. Intolerable Risk: All work involving this hazard is prohibited.

Risk Control/ Reduction Methods

The aim of any risk control/reduction measures identified and implemented are to reduce the residual risk from the hazard to as low a level as is reasonably practicable.

Relevant Manuals on Risk Assessments

Persons required to complete risk assessments for chemical, biological or fieldwork hazards are strongly encouraged to consult the University College Dublin UCD Laboratory Biosafety ManualUCD Chemical Safety Manual and ‌UCD Fieldwork Safety Guidelines for detailed safety information. A useful guide to Risk Assessments and Safety Statements is available from the Health and Safety Authority website here.

All staff and postgraduate students must be familiar with the contents of the risk assessments that are relevant to their work. Training and further information on workplace safety and risk assessment is available from the University SIRC Office (sirc@ucd.ie).