Inherent Level of Risk

The "inherent level of risk" is the level of risk without control measures in place other than those in Routine Safety Procedures.

Each person should assess the level of inherent risk, prior to carrying out an activity.

Control measures are measures put in place to make an activity safer.

The advantage of considering the inherent risk is that an activity with a "low" level of inherent risk poses little danger and can be carried out using only the Routine Safety Procedures in the laboratory, without the need to consider additional control measures.

As a guide, you might consider inherent risk levels as follows:

Low risk

e.g. observing wheat seeds germinating on wet cotton wool in a plastic dish.

Medium risk

e.g. boiling water in a beaker on a tripod and gauze.

High risk

e.g. adding calcium oxide to water ("slaking lime").

Extreme risk

e.g. adding sodium metal to water.

In the science laboratory, it should always be possible to reduce the risk level of an activity to "low risk" by introducing sufficient and appropriate control measures (including carrying out the experiment as a teacher demonstration). If this cannot be done, e.g. extreme risk activities, the activity should not be carried out.