Andy Bishop, Health & Safety Consultant
Following on from last week’s blog, where I relayed the traumatic loss (blatant theft) of my mobile phone, I decided to write about my after-action review (I’ve been reading a lot about cycles and continuous improvement models recently) and what I could have done differently and will definitely do differently in the future.
The first thing I should have done before I went to the car wash was a risk assessment. A simple process that we all do with everything in life often subconsciously. As an example, if you are reading this at your desk and near a window, have a quick look outside. What is the weather like? Now, take a look at what you are wearing. Does it match the weather conditions and the days tasks? If so, well done, you have completed a successful risk assessment. It really is that simple.
Risk assessments and the requirement for them often strikes fear into the hearts of the most hardened characters. As demonstrated above, everything we do is based on our assessment of risk. So why the fear?
The HSE define risk as the chance – High or Low – that someone could be harmed by a hazard. The definition of a hazard according them, is anything that could cause harm. Electricity, an open drawer, working from a ladder and so on. In short anything with the potential to hurt someone. Or in a financial sense, for a loss to occur…
…like my mobile phone getting stolen from the car wash.
Retrospectively, here is what I should have done in three easy steps.
Step 1. Identify the hazards.
Step 2. Decide who might be harmed and how.
Step 3. Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions.
Hazard – Someone Stealing my phone
Who is at risk – I am, I won’t have my phone and will have to replace it – double loss.
Definitely High Risk – Don’t wash the car. I won’t be using that car wash any more, and I won’t be leaving my phone or anything valuable in the car ever again.
Risk assessment completed, control measures applied.
In the world of work, all employers have a legal duty to control the risks that their workers are exposed to and to reduce the risk to an acceptable level, and this is where the fear strikes. With risk assessment comes paperwork, with paperwork comes ownership and responsibility and with that comes liability and the potential for litigation.
Risk Assessments are not about creating reams of paperwork and covering everything that could possibly go wrong at whatever level, its about creating sensible solutions to the most significant risks – the ones that are most likely and which will cause the most harm.
Still overwhelmed by it all? Why not give us a call and come and attend one of our Risk Assessment training courses, we will teach you how to complete a risk assessment and how to apply it to your work.