Q: What is the one thing you need to do to ensure your employees work safely?
A: Make it easier for them to work safely than not.
When you sit down to carry out a risk assessment, no doubt you spend time thinking about the possible hazards, likely harm and who might be affected. After that, you may have a fancy matrix, whether that be 3 by 3 or 5 by 5 by which you calculate the likely risk level and then you set out the actions through which you intend to control the risk.
But how many of you ask how easy will it be to do the job correctly and safely? Or what equipment or resources do I need to make sure are ready and available to prevent my employees from having to improvise a solution or cut a corner?
The truth is that too often we list as many textbook generic controls we can think of, like throwing a bucket of water over a match to extinguish it.
Sometimes implementing all of the control measures make the job impossible, leaving workers having to decide for themselves which to follow and which can be overlooked. This in turn gives an illusion of control that like a mirage, just isn’t there.
Similarly, too many times I’ve seen assessments that refer to appropriate PPE, adequate ventilation, suitable access equipment, etc with little or no semblance of “control”. What do these terms “appropriate, adequate or suitable” mean in these circumstances?
I heard this put most eloquently at a recent seminar: if the right equipment isn’t to hand and workers have to seek it out, they will come up with their own solutions.
This is why it is so important to consult with your workforce when planning work; whilst you are responsible for planning work safely, it is the employees who have to implement those plans.
So, my advice is to ask yourself, when you complete that risk assessment, have you made working safely the easiest option? Because if you haven’t, the best risk assessment in the world won’t make a blind bit of difference to the outcome. Will your risk assessments stand up in the event of an accident or incident? If you think the answer might be “no”, it’s time to do something about them. Give us a call on 03456 122144 today and make yours a safer workplace.