Introduction to this document

Environmental risk assessment

Our environmental risk assessment is in line with the latest guidance from the Environment Agency. It can be used to identify potential hazards and how they should be managed.

New approach

The Environment Agency (EA) has produced explicit guidance that sets out how to complete environmental risk assessments. In many instances it will be a requirement of your environmental permit to complete this process. So to ensure your assessments meet the revised approach we have updated our Environmental Risk Assessment document.

What to do

When completing a risk assessment, you look at what is potentially unsafe and what steps you need to take to reduce the risks to an acceptable level. Regardless of whether you’re considering safety or environmental risks, the principles and processes are very similar.

The process

To start, you need to identify what could cause environmental damage. So, for instance, anything that could discharge material which causes pollution - chemical and fuel tanks are the most obvious examples. Other issues to consider are sources of odour, noise, vibration, emissions (controlled or otherwise), waste - and anything else that could cause damage.

Measure the risk

With emissions to air you need to take a more scientific approach. You need to test that what’s being emitted is within acceptable limits or complies with an environmental standard. Noise is another aspect that will need to be measured.

Measuring emissions from stacks, or detailed noise surveys and monitoring, will probably require support from a specialist. The EA will only accept your risk assessment if the information is detailed enough to meet its criteria.

The impact

Once you have identified the hazards, you must state who or what could be affected. For example, watercourses, people, animals, property, etc. The EA uses the term “Receptor” for these. Next, you must identify the “Pathway”. These are how the hazard can get to a receptor. Examples include wind blown, through drains, etc. Our document uses the same terminology as the EA. There are new columns for you to record both.

How to control the risk

You must then identify what steps to take to reduce the risks to an acceptable level. Your options include various monitoring techniques, alarm systems, etc.

The next part is to consider the probability of exposure and the potential consequences. Once you’ve been through the process, identify the “Overall risk”, i.e. high, medium or low. Ideally, you should be able to state that the residual risks are low.