A recent article in Health & Safety at Work Magazine has reported that the TUC has identified a significant decline in risk assessment culture across all sectors and industries. Although 80% of the 1,073 respondents reported that a formal risk assessment had been carried out, only 47% of them felt confident that these had been adequate.
The worst offending industry was education where only 25% of respondents reported an adequate Risk Assessment being carried out.
The survey asked safety reps to name their Top 5 hazards and a massive 69% of respondents included Stress in their top 5. This highlights the importance of mental health awareness training in the workplace and that it is something that still needs to be managed better.
Bullying and Harassment was next on the list with central and local government generating more cases than other sectors.
The general perception for the requirement for risk assessments is that risks are only associated with hazardous activities or environments – warehouse floors, building works, driving activities etc. This is not so. Even activities that involve desk work and administrative tasks should have a proper risk assessment conducted to minimise the likelihood of things such as RSI, adverse reactions to poor posture and eye strain are minimised where possible.
An area which is often overlooked is conducting risk assessments when an employee informs their employer that they are pregnant. All areas of the employees work schedule need to be considered, including tasks as well as ergonomic considerations, and suitable adjustments should be made. The number of friends I speak to who are expecting babies and have not had a proper risk assessment terrifies me. If properly set up it does not need to be a time consuming or cumbersome task but is one that should be conducted promptly and repeated at a number of intervals through the term of the pregnancy as things change so quickly.
Although there is not a legal requirement to conduct a specific separate assessment for new or expectant mothers, the moral, ethical and social corporate responsibility of the organisation should make this a priority.
In a recent interview with the Telegraph, Managing Director Toby Roberts said:
There is no business case to implementing good health and safety practices. It is a matter of ethics.
The easy way to manage your risk assessment responsibilities is to have a proper process and structure in place. Historically risk assessments can lead to a great deal of administration and paperwork which can make them a very cumbersome task. If an organisation embraces suitable risk assessment software then this burden can be minimised and the practice embraced. This is something that we will be exploring over the coming weeks on this blog.
Sources: Health & Safety at Work Magazine – November 2018