The HSE prosecuted Veolia after a serious accident happened to one of its employees, despite there being a Risk Assessment for the work being undertaken.The Company had a generic Risk Assessment for stacking bales of waste which covered the presumed levels of risk and the controls that should be employed. However, it was not sufficient for what happened at that site, hence the accident. And hence a £450,000 fine!
Generic Risk Assessments are OK – if they cover what actually happens. But having them can lead to a false sense of security and so what you need to do is to check the Assessments that you have and ensure that they are relevant to whatever they cover. If there are any situations where they are insufficient, you need to re-write them to include the actual, not the presumed, situation.
Also, having a Risk Assessment, specific or generic, is all very well but if the people dealing with that particular operation haven’t read it, or been instructed how to work within it, it would be useless as a defence to a prosecution. So, as part of Induction, or at any time if you feel that people may not be fully aware of what they should be doing in that situation, get them to read the document, ensure that they understand what they should and should not be doing and get them to sign that they have had the information and understand it.
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