H&S and Risk assessments

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pedals2slowly
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H&S and Risk assessments

Postby pedals2slowly » 26 Jun 2019, 9:36pm

Anyone else wondering if written risk assessments are fit for purpose?
In my opinion the critical risk assessment is the dynamic one being constantly conducted by instructors on the road or at the roadside, as such these should take precedence over any written 'snap shot' risk assessment and control measures and be stated as the ultimate control measure rather than specific instructions about how to cross a road etc.
Also has anyone else got good H&S credentials and agree that we are actually trying to progressively increase the risk and level of hazards to the children, the control measures being the increased awareness and skills of the children.
It seems that this approach is virtually impossible to deal with using standard workplace H&S guidelines and poorly understood by the H&S paperwork management.
(I'm just NEBOSH and forgotten a lot since leaving 3 years ago as H&S rep for manufacturing company of 100+ employees working on and off site, nuclear, offshore, heavy engineering and assembly)

mattheus
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Re: H&S and Risk assessments

Postby mattheus » 27 Jun 2019, 10:52am

I can see an argument for assessing *unusual* risks using conventional written RAs e.g. your pupils are based next to a cliff, or there are quarry vehicles using the road, or your pupils are all deaf.

But I see your general problem too! Perhaps worth speaking to people that deal with relevant training experience e.g. police/army?

[I just have basic H&S training, work in manufacturing. Cycle a lot :) ]

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pjclinch
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Re: H&S and Risk assessments

Postby pjclinch » 27 Jun 2019, 4:05pm

pedals2slowly wrote:Anyone else wondering if written risk assessments are fit for purpose?


That depends, quite crucially, on what you think the purpose is and what the actual words are. I've certainly seen plenty that I don't think were good for anything other than ticking a box, but that's not all of them.

pedals2slowly wrote:In my opinion the critical risk assessment is the dynamic one being constantly conducted by instructors on the road or at the roadside, as such these should take precedence over any written 'snap shot' risk assessment and control measures and be stated as the ultimate control measure rather than specific instructions about how to cross a road etc.


I think this is a fair comment, but there are reasons to do a written RA. There are the organisational bureaucratic ones of box-ticking and arse-covering, which I suspect you probably dislike at least as much as I do, but you might come to appreciate the arse-covering if something does go badly wrong and you can point to the RA and demonstrate that you've thought about it.
And it's thinking about it that is, to my mind, the main point of a written RA. For quite a lot of a written RA a copy-and-paste of "dynamic RA will be used to monitor the ongoing safety of trainees" or similar boiler-plate will be the meat of it, but riding around your training area, humming and harring and making a few notes will usually be a useful exercise in itself and will be most of what you need for an RA.

pedals2slowly wrote:Also has anyone else got good H&S credentials and agree that we are actually trying to progressively increase the risk and level of hazards to the children, the control measures being the increased awareness and skills of the children.
It seems that this approach is virtually impossible to deal with using standard workplace H&S guidelines and poorly understood by the H&S paperwork management.


I don't know about "good H&S credentials", but Cycling Scotland are happy for me to make RAs and teach Cycle Training Assistants about dynamic RAs and how to use written ones. Your call as to whether that's "good"...

The game is to realise that the risk management includes the concept of Risk/Benefit. While a lot of people have entirely the wrong idea about RA/RM and think you're looking to ban anything that might cause a problem, Risk/Benefit acknowledges there is a balance between outright danger and the possible benefits of controlled amounts of it. Look at https://rethinkingchildhood.com/2014/11/12/rba-risk-benefit-assessment-form-launch/ for more.

As an example, riding around a training area you might find the local council collect the bins every time your class will be out on that road. If you were in to minimising the risk you might say change the lesson time or use a different venue, but in Risk/Benefit terms the bin lorries are a problem for an initial session but further in to the course they present an opportunity to show how to deal with real-world issues of genuine use to the class. If you put this sort of thing in a written RA then someone taking over from you will be able to find that out in advance and build it in to their planning in a way a dynamic RA won't. Similarly, quiet cul-de-sacs are great for a first session where you're getting trainees to get started but poor for interacting with traffic, so you can grade suitability of different venues according to the risk/benefit balance. No point starting off on a pretty hard place, not much in sticking with a really simplistic one.

RA forms I've come across have a lot of free text possibilities, so you can usually build this kind of thing in. There will probably be a lot of useless guff too, but that comes with the territory.

Pete.
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pedals2slowly
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Re: H&S and Risk assessments

Postby pedals2slowly » 27 Jun 2019, 10:40pm

I think the key to it is getting the 'dynamic RA will be used to monitor the ongoing safety of trainees' onto the written risk assessments, and also something along the lines of 'where written risk assessed junctions are deemed unsuitable on the day instructors may use other locations provided they satisfy the dynamic risk assessment. This allows us to move on when our only RA suitable junction has a gas main being dug up or some such.
Now to tackle the bureaucratic side of a county council and see if anyone really knows what they are doing..................

teamonster
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Re: H&S and Risk assessments

Postby teamonster » 28 Jun 2019, 8:48am

I'd tend to agree that most of the RAs Ive come across or done fro cycling training are not brilliant. Some of the pro forma to be used are certainly not fit for purpose. I think what's really needed in each company is a generic activity based assessment which lays out in more detail the general risks and control measures and then explains how increasing risk will be managed. A large part of this being the use of instructors who are trained to dynamically assess. It probably needs backing up with an on the day location based assessment, but this needs to be no more than laying out the area to be used, with a note about anything that's not already covered in the generic.

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pjclinch
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Re: H&S and Risk assessments

Postby pjclinch » 28 Jun 2019, 9:17am

pedals2slowly wrote:I think the key to it is getting the 'dynamic RA will be used to monitor the ongoing safety of trainees' onto the written risk assessments, and also something along the lines of 'where written risk assessed junctions are deemed unsuitable on the day instructors may use other locations provided they satisfy the dynamic risk assessment. This allows us to move on when our only RA suitable junction has a gas main being dug up or some such.
Now to tackle the bureaucratic side of a county council and see if anyone really knows what they are doing..................


What I found to be very useful was have a whole bag-full of RA-d locations, preferably continuously linked. Partly this made making the course progressive a fair bit easier, but it also meant if e.g. the council were digging up your usual patch there were easy options.

While it is standard practice in Scotland to use continuous assessment for, err, assessment, I also liked to have the riders lead a trainer around the village on pre-set route to show that they could do a journey with thinking involved form start to finish. One of the caveats for this is the route should have a written RA, even if most of the de-facto work will be on the fly.

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pjclinch
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Re: H&S and Risk assessments

Postby pjclinch » 28 Jun 2019, 9:30am

teamonster wrote:I'd tend to agree that most of the RAs Ive come across or done fro cycling training are not brilliant. Some of the pro forma to be used are certainly not fit for purpose.


Aye. One obvious sign is when a potted RA for Bikeability is trying to control risks by insisting on helmets: at this point you know you are In The Realm Of The Box-Ticking Platitude.

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pete75
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Re: H&S and Risk assessments

Postby pete75 » 5 Jul 2019, 10:15am

pjclinch wrote:That depends, quite crucially, on what you think the purpose is and what the actual words are. I've certainly seen plenty that I don't think were good for anything other than ticking a box, but that's not all of them.


Pete.


That's the reason to do them. If something does go wrong and blame needs allocating part of that will involve someone checking that all boxes are ticked. Many written risk assessments are for bum covering purposes.

freeflow
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Re: H&S and Risk assessments

Postby freeflow » 5 Jul 2019, 1:45pm

Do you clearly distinguish between risk and hazard. IMHO risks are activities/properties that can be assessed and eliminated/mitigated before you start cycling. Hazards are what you deal with when interpreting road conditions/traffic.

pedals2slowly
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Re: H&S and Risk assessments

Postby pedals2slowly » 5 Jul 2019, 2:17pm

In health and safety terms:-
A hazard is something that can cause harm, e.g. collision with car, cold weather, falling off bicycle, etc. A risk is the chance, high or low, that any hazard will actually cause somebody harm.

freeflow
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Re: H&S and Risk assessments

Postby freeflow » 5 Jul 2019, 2:44pm

Ok, my terminology is wrong but I think the differentiation stands.

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Re: H&S and Risk assessments

Postby landsurfer » 5 Jul 2019, 2:53pm

pedals2slowly wrote:In health and safety terms:-
A hazard is something that can cause harm, e.g. collision with car, cold weather, falling off bicycle, etc. A risk is the chance, high or low, that any hazard will actually cause somebody harm.


Totally agree, almost the IOSH definition of the terms.
If applied to cycling no one would wear helmets.
The hazard is head injury, the chance is minuscule.
So helmets would not be needed, as their exclusion from PPE attests.
It's not about the bike .. It's about the journey.
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pedals2slowly
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Re: H&S and Risk assessments

Postby pedals2slowly » 5 Jul 2019, 8:28pm

Absolutely agreed, anyone in industrial H&S knows that PPE is bottom of the list in 'Hierarchy of controls', if ONLY we could get the general public, politicians, safety 'campaigners' and other cyclists to understand that there are many many things to tackle before helmet wearing it would be a tremendous step in tackling the real problems of safety when cycling on the road.

Mike Sales
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Re: H&S and Risk assessments

Postby Mike Sales » 5 Jul 2019, 8:39pm

pedals2slowly wrote:Absolutely agreed, anyone in industrial H&S knows that PPE is bottom of the list in 'Hierarchy of controls', if ONLY we could get the general public, politicians, safety 'campaigners' and other cyclists to understand that there are many many things to tackle before helmet wearing it would be a tremendous step in tackling the real problems of safety when cycling on the road.


I suspect that controls higher up the hierarchy might involve changes or restrictions which impinge on other groups of road users (or road builders) and that is precisely why there is so much helmet propaganda. If helmets are the solution, then it is up to cyclists to make themselves safe, and nobody else need do anything.
These people do not want to understand.
Helmets are a diversion and an alibi.

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pjclinch
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Re: H&S and Risk assessments

Postby pjclinch » 8 Jul 2019, 8:22am

Mike Sales wrote:
pedals2slowly wrote:Absolutely agreed, anyone in industrial H&S knows that PPE is bottom of the list in 'Hierarchy of controls', if ONLY we could get the general public, politicians, safety 'campaigners' and other cyclists to understand that there are many many things to tackle before helmet wearing it would be a tremendous step in tackling the real problems of safety when cycling on the road.


I suspect that controls higher up the hierarchy might involve changes or restrictions which impinge on other groups of road users (or road builders) and that is precisely why there is so much helmet propaganda. If helmets are the solution, then it is up to cyclists to make themselves safe, and nobody else need do anything.
These people do not want to understand.
Helmets are a diversion and an alibi.


They're a diversion and an alibi, but much of the promotion comes from within cycling itself, including from with the cycle training industry.

In Scotland at least it's not unusual for cycle training to be delivered by way of outdoor education departments, who in turn tend to see cycling from an adventure sport ethos. While it's hardly unreasonable for a school MTB adventure day to have a helmet requirement, this is translated in to balance bikes at nurseries having a helmet requirement. And it's fairly typical for volunteers for Bikeability Scotland to be the sort of sensible people who haven't had reason to delve in to the research and assume from the general culture in the UK that they're an obvious sensible precaution.

I talked about this at some length with Christopher Johnson who's in charge of Bikeability Scotland, and very much one of the Good Guys. While he understands the helmet issue very well, his remit it to roll out a National Standards programme as widely as possible in Scotland,which means creating a programme that will voluntarily be taken up by local authorities. With a fair few having their road "safety" input from RSOs who moved on from the police when it was reorganised from regional forces in to Police Scotland that gives you a hard core of people who absolutely wouldn't touch a programme that had a proper helmet message, so as a result there's a lot of pussyfooting around the issue, and cultural assumptions aren't challenged.

So I think the real problem is lack of a coherent message from government. Nothing much will move while cycle training is primarily looked after by local authorities who tend to be averse to perceived risk and who aren't very progressive or generally aware of the realities of cycling. And a coherent message from central government isn't very likely when the DfT's last look at it concluded that the evidence was mixed and inconclusive so they were going to carry on promoting them anyway.

The continued promotion of helmets in training is, I think, a cock-up on multiple fronts more than a conspiracy.

Pete.
Often seen riding a bike around Dundee...