HSE calls for comments on alterations to risk guidance

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has called for opinions on alterations that it is planning to make to its current guidance relating to risk.

The body has launched a consultation into risk assessment as it has concerns that many business owners view the requirement to record the 'significant findings of a risk assessment' as a separate item from other business-related things.

Whatever your feeling are about the potential changes to risk assessment, all companies need to ensure that they have the necessary safety precautions in place, especially if they are involved in dangerous work, such as construction. Ensuring proper levels of employers’ liability insurance are in place is also key, as your firm could face ruin if workers are involved in an accident at work and you are prosecuted for failings.

The HSE confirmed that carrying out a risk assessment was "not about creating huge amounts of paperwork, but rather about identifying sensible measures to control the risks in your workplace."

The HSE release relating to the guidance changes read: "We want to put more emphasis on controlling risk and less on written assessments, without reducing standards. We want to make it very clear to businesses that risk assessment should be part of day-to-day business management."

Some of the planned changes include placing greater emphasis on controlling risk and less focus on written assessments, as well as making it clear that risk assessments should be viewed by all business as part of day-to-day business management, making up part of the existing business documents produced by the business owner. These documents may include manufacturers’ instructions, training materials, method statements and safety data sheets, as well as general workplace ‘housekeeping’ rules.

The proposed draft guidance and a short questionnaire is available online at the HSE site, allowing for any business owners who wish to have their say to do so. The body is asking for thoughts on whether the changes would be helpful to businesses across the country, whether it is clear that a special 'risk assessment' document is not needed and whether the changes would work in practise and whether it would save time