Health & Safety (Risk Assessment Templates)

Griz Park

Cleantalk Member
Hi all,

prior to jumping ship to the carpet & upholstery cleaning trade, I was a Senior Health & Safety advisor, both as staff and on a consultancy basis, for 11 years.

I’ve noticed a few questions relating to Occupational Safety & Health popping up, so if I can lend a hand to any health & Safety related questions, or supply some Risk Assessment (RA’s) or Risk Assessment & Method Statement (RAMS) advice or templates I’d be happy to do so.

My qualifications are as follows;

NEBOSH (National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health) Master of Science (MSc)

NEBOSH International Diploma for Occupational Health & Safety Management Professionals

NEBOSH International Oil & Gas certificate

NEBOSH General Certificate

NCRQ Diploma in Applied Health & Safety

IOSH Chartered Member (CMIOSH) -No longer practicing/No longer registered member.

Risk Assessments can be a daunting undertaking, especially for your first commercial client, but they’re always relatively simple when broken down, let common sense lead the way.

I still attend IOSH conferences (more webinars during the current SARS-Cov-2 climate) and I’m still up to date on my legislation and tort 🙂

As an example…

scenario:
You’ve recently received an enquiry from a commercial client who works from an office space. He has several employees or more working from that space, who access to the building between 0800hrs & 1830hrs.

He has requested a quotation for you to clean the office space carpets, and has asked you to provide a Risk Assessment, in keeping with his own obligation to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) England.

The office space is not uncommon, it provides workstations supplied with electricity to power desktop PC’s, wheeled seating and walkways for the employees to move to and from one area of the office to the other. It has several rooms accessible by all employees to stow stationary and equipment, and rooms specifically used for equipment like printers/large format printers etc.

how do we successfully implement a Risk Assessment? Remember as an unqualified Health & Safety Practitioner, you’re not required to know the ins and outs of Health & Safety legislation or practice.

However, as a business providing a service, where employees or members of the public are exposed to hazards, , you are by law required to;

So, what do we need to know?

The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 Section 2
Our clients obligation to us...


(1)It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees.

(2)Without prejudice to the generality of an employer’s duty under the preceding subsection, the matters to which that duty extends include in particular—

  • (a)the provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that are, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe and without risks to health;
  • (b)arrangements for ensuring, so far as is reasonably practicable, safety and absence of risks to health in connection with the use, handling, storage and transport of articles and substances;
  • (c)the provision of such information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of his employees;
  • (d)so far as is reasonably practicable as regards any place of work under the employer’s control, the maintenance of it in a condition that is safe and without risks to health and the provision and maintenance of means of access to and egress from it that are safe and without such risks;
  • (e)the provision and maintenance of a working environment for his employees that is, so far as is reasonably practicable, safe, without risks to health, and adequate as regards facilities and arrangements for their welfare at work.

(3)Except in such cases as may be prescribed, it shall be the duty of every employer to prepare and as often as may be appropriate revise a written statement of his general policy with respect to the health and safety at work of his employees and the organisation and arrangements for the time being in force for carrying out that policy, and to bring the statement and any revision of it to the notice of all of his employees.

Section 2 of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 shows us the obligation an employer, so far is as reasonably practicable (this phrases is the be all and end all of Health & Safety), his obligation to us, as a sub contractor under his direction and overall Health & Safety supervision. Don't worry too much about Section 2(unless you have employees yourself), though always consider it. Always ask for an up-to-date Risk Assessment that's currently in use from a potential client. Knowing their Safety Culture and methods for identifying hazards & mitigating subsequent risks is a clear indication of the clientele you're dealing with. Don't underestimate this step.

The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 Section 3 (2)
Our obligation to the client...


(2)It shall be the duty of every self-employed person [who conducts an undertaking of a prescribed description to conduct the undertaking in such a way as to ensure], so far as is reasonably practicable, that he and other persons (not being his employees) who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.
  • (2A)A description of undertaking included in regulations under subsection (2) may be framed by reference to—
  • (a)the type of activities carried out by the undertaking, where those activities are carried out or any other feature of the undertaking;
  • (b)whether persons who may be affected by the conduct of the undertaking, other than the self-employed person (or his employees), may thereby be exposed to risks to their health or safety.
Section 3 (2) of the Health & Safety at Work act 1974 defines our responsibility as a sub contractor - in this case a carpet cleaner - with regards to people not in our employ. For example, employees of the client and/or members of the public. SO

Risk assessments & method statements need not be complex or overthought. At the end of the day, you're not a qualified Health & Safety Practitioner, and there's no lawful requirement for you to be educated in Health & Safety, though it does help. There's some great courses out there, and they're relatively cheap, and in some cases, free!
 

Griz Park

Cleantalk Member
What can we identify?

Hazards - A Hazard is something that has the potential to cause harm. For example;
  • An incorrectly stowed trailing cable
  • A solvent solution exposed and accessible
  • Noise levels from machines
Risk - Risk is the likelihood of harm taking place due to exposure of a hazard. For example;
  • An incorrectly stowed trailing cable is likely to cause harm via trips and falls if employees are not informed/made aware via verbal warning or visual signage.
  • A solvent Solution is likely to cause harm to the respiratory system if it is not safely contained and remains out of reach.
  • High noise levels are likely to cause hearing damage and/anxiety triggers
How do we mitigate the hazards and reduce the risks?
The
Hierarchy of Control
The Hierarchy of Control exists as a "system of systems." If you cannot remove the hazard and subsequent risk, with reasonable practicability in the first tier of control, you move to the next. The Hierarchy of Control is as follows

Eliminate - Physically remove the hazard (Remove the hazard completely, i.e. removing solvent solutions from the work place, or contain them without access)
Substitution - Replace the hazard (Replace solvent solutions with bio-friendly products)
Engineering Controls - Remove people from the hazard (can you clean the area without employees present?)
Administrative Controls - Change how people work (Enforce areas that cannot be accessed, signed and posted)
PPE - (Personal Protective Equipment to protect the worker - ALWAYS the absolute last line of defence. Only to be used if eliminate, substitute, engineering and administrative cannot be used.

Don't be afraid to go through the hierarchy of control and create a hazard and risk reducing strategy for each section of your controls. Approach your employer and ask if these mitigations are possible during your discussions. Remember you're working for him, but as far as the HSE England are concerned, negligence stops with you, corporate prosecution is another matter entirely.

No employer should be put off by an in-depth risk assessment, so far is as reasonably practicable. At the end of the day you're protecting their interests as well as your own.

Don't over-think your Risk Assessment at the same time…
A scenario stands out to me when I approved a risk assessment for a carpet cleaner in another life...

Carpet Cleaner:" I've purchased a cordless vacuum specifically for this job, no need to worry about employees tripping over cables."

Me: "Oh Fab, do you have a cordless carpet cleaner too? if not, what's controls do you have in place for trailing cables from the extraction machine?"

Carpet Cleaner "errrrrr, well I've got signs to alert staff."

Me: "absolutely, How much was your cordless vacuum out of curiosity?"

"Carpet Cleaner:"£500, top of the range, best suction etc"

Me: "I'd have preferred corded, it's not reasonably practicable to spend £500 on a single job for you, and I'd prefer the toolbox talk, it alerts our employees to hazards and risks whilst you're on our premises"

The moral of the story... With two £12 signs, a toolbox talk from himself to staff and a request to circulate an email... He could've saved himself £500.
Don't over-think it!

Any Questions reference OSH post below. It'd be a good idea to keep the editable risk assessments & method statements accessible for all, instead of via PM etc. Promoting a positive Safety Culture for our industry is always a great thing.

Regards,
Griz.
 

Darren Paterson

Cleantalk Member
Griz
Some Interested and useful info you have available.
just one question:
couldn’t you sleep I noticed you wrote this post at 3:29am. ?👍 😀
 
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