12 common risk assessment mistakes | Top tips for getting it right
Following a long-running legal battle, the Supreme Court has ruled that Uber drivers are in fact workers, not self-employed contractors.
The UK’s highest court unanimously upheld a 2016 Employment Tribunal decision which stated that drivers are in a “position of subordination and dependency to Uber”, making them more akin to workers than contractors and therefore entitling them to greater protections under employment law.
In the UK, there are three main employment categories that a person may fall into, each with its own qualifying criteria and related legal rights and entitlements: employees (those who provide services under a written or implied Contract of Employment); workers (who are contracted to provide services and agree to undertake the work personally, but who are not guaranteed to receive work or obligated or take work); and self-employed contractors (who work for themselves, are responsible for how and when they work, and invoice for their services).
Those classified as employees benefit from the most employment law rights, while self-employed individuals are only entitled to basic protections such as health and safety protection, protection against discrimination, and protection against mistreatment for whistleblowing.
The highly-anticipated Uber decision stands to impact not just the drivers who brought the claim but the entire gig economy, calling into question the employment status of those currently classified as self-employed and potentially affording them the right to holiday pay and minimum wage.
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However, things can be missed, which leaves the door open to accidents and ill health. Indeed, the vast majority of serious safety incidents could have been avoided had risks had been properly assessed and managed.
All too often, our Health & Safety specialists find that risk assessments are not in place or, if they are, they are not regularly reviewed, lack specific information and/or aren’t conducted by a person who actually does the job. In many cases, staff simply aren’t aware of their existence.
With this in mind, here are our 12 top tips based on the common mistakes we see employers make when compiling risk assessments.
Ensure that at least two, preferably three, people are in involved in the creation and reviewing of risk assessments.
Involve those who carry out the task / use the equipment in the writing and review of risk assessments.
While the HSE say there is no requirement for those completing a risk assessment to have had training, you should make sure that they are competent. This can be defined as those with the necessary Knowledge, Ability, Training and Experience (KATE) to identify hazards and implement sensible, proportionate solutions.
Within the assessment, ensure that you consider how a person can be injured (i.e. head injury, etc.)
Reference applicable guidance, both from the HSE and trade associations.
Cross reference to other assessments that are in place to prevent duplication.
Avoid generic, ambiguous terms such as ‘heavy’ and ‘PPE’. Instead, use more precise weight measurements, for example ‘<25kg’, and be explicit with the PPE to be worn and the Standard of the PPE item (which is usually found within the item itself or in the manufacturer’s instructions). Similarly, be specific with your statements, for example ‘a person will/must/shall use hearing protection’, etc.
Any risk assessment is likely to require consideration of:
If using a scoring system, ensure that a defined matrix with definitions is provided.
Communicate the findings of risk assessments to staff and obtain documented evidence that this has been seen.
Ensure that risk assessments are reviewed often and at least annually.
Have an index in place which lists all assessments and the dates reviews are required, to provide a quick reference guide.
If you’re looking to upskill staff, our interactive e-Learning course covers the five key steps to risk assessment and is ideal for anyone who needs to conduct them in their workplace. For larger organisations, we can also put together a risk assessors training package to support internal competence.
Relieve the stress of risk assessment
From an General Risk Assessment of your environment to help formulating specific assessments through expert guidance and templates, our fixed-fee Health & Safety support gives you all the advice and tools you need to simplify risk assessment and stay compliant. It even includes access to our award-winning software, MyH&S, which allows you to monitor actions, build your own assessments, and view your risk status in real time.
To discuss your risk assessment needs and find out more about how we can assist your organisation, call 0345 226 8393 or request your free consultation using the button below.
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