Are Generic Risk Assessments Acceptable?
One of the questions we are frequently asked is “Are generic risk assessments acceptable?” The answer is, that it depends on whether your risk assessment adequately identifies the hazards and evaluates the risk properly in the particular situation you want it to apply to!
Confused? Let me give you an example …
A plumber may have a set of generic risk assessments that cover activities involved in installing a domestic boiler. This could include soldering, installation of a new flue, working with gas and manual handling. The same basic hazards would be encountered every time a boiler was installed, however depending upon the circumstances, levels of risk may change or new hazards may be introduced. For example, installing a flue on a second-floor flat would involve a higher level of risk than installing one on a ground-floor flat. It would also incur a higher level of manual handling risk as equipment and materials would have to be carried upstairs rather than on one level.
It doesn’t mean you need to throw out all your generic risk assessments!
Generic risk assessments are good starting points for activities that are regularly carried out by your employees. In fact, some may be valid without having to change them at all if your workforce is largely static and carries out either low-risk or repetitive work activities. A library of generic risk assessments also means that you do not have to reinvent the wheel every time you need to produce documents for new situations.
So, who decides whether you should use a generic risk assessment or a specific one?
The law largely puts the onus on you, the employer, to decide whether you have carried out an effective risk assessment or not, so it is up to you to properly identify the hazards and assess the risks to your workforce. You should, however, also be aware that some health and safety regulations require that you should carry out specific risk assessments rather than generic risk assessments, they include:
- Work at Height Regulations 2005
- Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002
- Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005
- Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005
- Manual Handling Regulations 1992
- Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
- Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981
- Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012
- Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005