We recently completed a health & safety audit for a business and as a part of this we looked through the risk assessment they had in place. At first glance they had an extensive number of risk assessments in place; however on closer inspection it became obvious the assessment would be found lacking if scrutinised by a HSE inspector.
The assessments provided a basic review of the operations/work areas they had been created to assess but they lacked enough detail to be considered as suitable and sufficient (the term used by the HSE).
We found that the assessments tended to focus too much on how staff and others were supposed to behave rather than consider the what-ifs. What if it wasn’t done following the SOPs, what if they didn’t properly understand the risks, what if language or cultural barriers present problems, what if the controls were removed e.g. guarding. Also importantly what does the law require you to do!
These are the type of questions that many risk assessors appear not to ask in our professional experience and therefore the risk assessments fail to deliver what they need to. A well thought out risk assessment should help a business to look at the way things are done and look at how the business can improve. Often this can make the task easier, safer and even identify cost savings in many instances.
So why not take another look at the risk assessments in your business; they may not be providing you with a safe and healthy environment and therefore could be putting you and your business at risk.