The importance of getting risk assessments done properly cannot be over emphasised; but by the same token they should not be over complicated. The emphasis for today’s health and safety should be sensible and proportionate, but not everyone seems to think this way.
Today we heard of a risk assessment that stretched over 11 pages and covered a wide range of risks including:
- Use of hazardous substances;
- Manual Handling;
- Pressurised vessels;
- Eye injuries; and many other risks
Sounds like the task at hand was complex given such an extensive risk assessment; however the assessment was for using a grease gun. Although this might sound far-fetched the assessment was undertaken by an engineer in a paper company and this person certainly seemed to miss the point of sensible and proportionate health and safety.
Risk assessments really don`t need to be this complicated as the key should be to look at the task or area and to identify if there is sufficient control of the risks and, if not, then how much more needs to be done.
Additionally, it is important to share the findings with those persons that could come into contact with the risks. This requires staff and others to understand both the risks and the importance of the controls to be applied; clearly this won`t happen if simple assessments are over-complicated.
Of course, in some high risk activities, the level of detail to be looked into may identify more complex risks and will need expert input to determine if the controls are suitable or not. In these cases companies will need to have access to the relevant expert help.