Electrical Safety John Madden CEng FIET Electrical Safety Consultant firstname.lastname@example.org 07511654975
Risk Assessments • Reflect on: • my experience as an HSE Electrical Inspector. • issues raised during recent Crown Court trial. • How to comply.
My experience • Assessing risk is not a new concept. • Electrical engineers had a legal duty to produce ‘risk assessments’ since 1908 – Electrical Safety Rules. • Prior to MHSW Regs, we had method statements, codes of practice, standing instructions, safety rules etc. All were ‘risk assessments’.
My experience • Risk assessments are always examined during investigations. • Remember: investigators apply 20/20 hindsight. • Risk assessments are all too often: • None-existent • Drafted but not available • Overly complicated • Not known or understood by the workers, ie those at risk • Not related to the specific job and/or site • Not applied by workers and their supervisors
Crown Court Trial – Feb/March 2013 • Lorry loader operator seriously hurt delivering cabin to site of music festival. • To be security cabin located in field used as camp site for festival attendees.
Crown Court Trial • Unloaded cabin underneath 11000 volt overhead line. • Crane touched the line, he received serious shock and burn injuries. • Line at height of about 7 metres.
Crown Court Trial • Two risk assessment elements: • The responsibility of the festival organisers/managers to manage the risk from the live line. • The responsibility of the crane operator to manage the risk from the line while unloading the cabin.
Crown Court Trial • Organisers had engaged event planners to identify risks, but with limited remit • Hazard of live overhead line not identified
Crown Court Trial • Judge said that it was common sense that the live line should not have been there. If this had been recognised by risk assessment, accident would have been prevented • A simple risk assessment would have identified the risk to the festival goers and workers. • What about the injured driver’s responsibilities?
Crown Court Trial • Event organisers pled guilty to HSWA charge and fined £20K with £25k costs. • Event planning company also charged under HSWA, pled not guilty, and were acquitted by the jury.
How to comply • Legal duty to do them. • Do they need to be written? • HSE staff use dynamic risk assessments based on hazard-based instructions applied by competent persons. • One means of complying but not always suitable, especially for high risk or unusual situations or where competence may be limited.
How to comply • Keep them simple, understandable and available. • Apply common sense and be proportionate. • Make sure they address the task- and site-specific risks and identify suitable control measures. • Make sure that the workers either see them or are instructed in their content.
How to comply • Good advice, with some model assessments and references to guidance material, available at www.hse.gov.uk/risk/risk-assessment.htm