The problem with using a “one size fits all” risk assessment, rather than one which has been tailored to your particular business, is that it may mean that potential hazards are overlooked. It is worth considering a recent case involving the waste and recycling company Veolia, which was subject to an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following a serious incident at one of its plants.
A 41-year-old worker had been sweeping up when a stack of baled waste collapsed on top of him, causing injuries including a fractured skull and eye socket. Officials from HSE found that the firm had failed to follow the correct procedure when it came to stacking the bales, in spite of specific guidance being made available.
At the root of the problem was the fact that Veolia was relying on a “flawed and inadequate” risk assessment.
The penalties imposed by the court were severe, with the business fined £450,000 and ordered to pay more than £11,000 in costs.
The Veolia case highlights the importance of risk assessments covering all aspects of your operation and adhering to guidance set out by HSE, whether it relates to working at height, heavy machinery or noise levels in the workplace. If these regulations have not been followed then it is likely to leave your business with little protection should an incident occur.
If you have concerns about the risk assessment currently in place and whether it does enough to address potential dangers then it is worth considering carrying out a health and safety audit. This is an opportunity to review your current working practices and clarify whether or not your present system is sufficient.