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Written by
on 19 September 2018


Do you get frustrated with people NOT looking at workplace risk assessments with a degree of common sense with regards to controlling the residual risk needed in the workplace?

Many people think that risk assessment is about creating vast amounts of paperwork, it is not, but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace.

The basis behind a workplace risk assessment is to start with a hazard analysis, whereby you look at what can cause harm or damage, and if the risk is any more than as low as reasonably practicable you need to introduce control measures to reduce the risk to a low and acceptable level.

On a construction site, it is not feasible to be able to achieve a zero risk, but if you can achieve a risk factor that means there is only a very low risk of anything going wrong you have done as much as you can.

During workplace risk assessment, whether using the simple High, Medium or Low process or the traffic light system Red, Amber or Green the same principals apply.

(Don’t get me started on the numbers matrix)

With a high-risk activity unless adequate control measures are in place, someone will almost definitely get hurt, or damage will be caused sooner or later.

A scenario

Should you go through a Red light in your car sooner or later; you will crash or knock someone over.

With a residual risk of Medium, there is still a very good chance that someone will be hurt or damage will be caused if additional control measures are not put in place.

To drive through an Amber light there is still a good chance that a car could be coming the other way or the Pedestrians have not finished crossing the road…

So, by putting control measures in place so that we achieve a risk as low (not medium) as reasonably practicable, we can go to work, still with a low risk so all works will still need to be done safely, but with a very low risk of anyone getting hurt or damage being caused.

To drive through when the Green light is showing there should not be any cars coming in the other direction or anyone crossing the road, but there is still a low risk, so you still need to keep your eyes open and your wits about you.

Just keep things simple

So, to keep workplace risk assessments as simple as possible and identify steps to reduce risks and the chances of an accident occurring in your workplace – ask your workers what the most dangerous task they complete is or where they think they are most likely to have an incident.

Always engage your workforce in producing workplace risk assessments, because after all, they are the ones doing the work yet their input is often overlooked.

Now it’s your turn

Have your say in the comments section below.

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A chartered safety and risk management practitioner with 20+ years of experience. David provides a healthy dose of how-to articles, advice and guidance to make compliance easier for construction professionals, Architects and the built environment. Get social with David on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin.

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