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RISK ASSESSMENT: SUMMARY OF KEY HSE GUIDANCE

Regulator advice on assessment aids risk management “simplification”

The new HSE Health and Safety System Strategy is predicated on the message that effective management of health and safety is ‘simple’ and ‘straightforward’.

The starting point is the legal requirement on employers to assess the health and safety risks to which employees (and others affected e.g. sub-contractors and the public) are exposed whilst they are at work and to identify the measures needed to comply with the law.

This risk assessment requirement has resulted in a wide range of approaches with varying degrees of complexity despite attempts by HSE to encourage a ‘proportionate’ approach.

For example, there is no one way to record your assessment. You can record the assessment in any convenient way so long as it is retrievable and any paperwork produced should help with communicating and managing the risks in your business.

Many risk assessments on construction projects include numerical elements despite an HSE statement that numbers are not required within risk assessments. HSE advise that “most businesses will not need to use risk matrices”.

Written method statements are the norm in addition to risk assessments although HSE makes it clear that method statements are not a legal requirement.

The level of detail in written documents increases exponentially despite HSE advice that written results of risk assessments should be simple containing the main findings in bullet point format.

HSE guidance supports simplicity

If the new HSE Strategy is to become a reality there needs to be greater promotion and understanding of the current HSE risk assessment guidance which contains clear advice supporting simplicity in undertaking risk assessments and recording the findings.

The HSE website contains two key pieces of guidance on risk assessment:

  • Brief guide to controlling risks in the workplace
  • Frequently Asked Questions …. and answers

We have reproduced the FAQs in a convenient form to assists our readers.

 

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