Advice for Project Students

Project Student Guide to Risk Assessment

Who needs to perform a risk assessment?

  • If your project involves fieldwork of any kind, you will need to perform a risk assessment. This includes survey work performed by HuGe students.
  • If your project involves laboratory work, you will need to perform a risk assessment, followed by a CoSHH (control of substances hazardous to health) assessment. This is a specialised and more detailed assessment of risks posed by chemical hazards. The basic risk assessment is performed first to highlight the type of laboratory work to be undertaken and does not need to include detailed chemical hazards. If you have ticked "yes" to the CoSHH hazards in section 5 of either risk assessment form, then you will definitely need to perform a CoSHH assessment as well.
  • Risk assessment flowchart (PDF , 446kb)

What help is available to perform a risk assessment?

  • In the first instance, you should discuss the risks likely to be encountered with your supervisor. 
  • The assessment forms an integral part of your project planning and must be recorded in writing and have the approval of your supervisor.
  • If you and your supervisor require further assistance, Dave Hay can offer further help.
  • CoSHH assessments are completed by referring to the MSDS.  The MSDS is a material safety data sheet and accompanies all chemicals sold in the UK. The MSDS contains information on health risks, disposal, chemical structure, and general handling precautions. A guide to safety data sheets is provided by Sigma-Aldrich. There is a search bar on that web page where you can type in the name of the substance you are using and then download/view the material safety data sheet.

What happens when I have completed my risk assessment?

  • Both you and your supervisor will need to sign the completed risk assessment forms and submit a copy to Dave Hay (departmental technical manager). 
  • This will be held on file to satisfy the legal requirements placed upon the department to record the risks to staff, students and members of the public caused by the actions of departmental members.

Who is there to help on a day to day basis?

Depending upon the type of laboratory or fieldwork you are doing, the laboratory technical staff can assist you with the following:

  • obtaining field equipment
  • use of specialised analytical equipment such as ion chromatography or atomic absorption spectophotometry etc.

The teaching laboratory technician is Debs Sharpe.  She is responsible for the teaching laboratories and the issue of field equipment

Rebecca Sutton is the senior research technician and is available to advise on the use of complex analytical instrumentation and sample preparation

Access to Private Property for Fieldwork Purposes

From time to time, some projects will require students to access private property.  In this instance, it is essential that you do the following:

  • Make 2 copies of a brief description of activities to be undertaken on the property
  • Have both signed by the landowner and you
  • Keep one copy for yourself
  • Give one copy to the landowner
  • These are required for insurance purposes and to provide proof of authorisation to be on private land should it be required by either the landowner, landowner's agents, the University or its insurers.
  • Whilst working on private property, remember you are a representative of the University and Department of Environment and Geography. Please act responsibly. Failure to do so will be considered a disciplinary matter.
  • You must take care of your own health and safety and that of people who may be affected by what you do (or do not do).
  • You must also co-operate with others on health and safety, and not interfere with, or misuse, anything provided for your health, safety or welfare.

Which forms do I require?

The risk assessment and CoSHH forms are below. In addition, anyone undertaking laboratory work must sign the lab user agreement and give a copy to Rebecca or Dave.

You will be given copies of all completed forms for your records.

Example completed risk and CoSHH forms

by WSDOT, Flickr