Construction Health and Safety Consultancy and CDM Adviser Services

The Number One Risk Management Misunderstanding
Posted by David Cant on May 30, 2013

Risk managementHealth and safety, as we’ve noted in a recent blog post, often gets some bad press. Partly this is down to the fact that risk management can often be misunderstood or misinterpreted. So let’s clear up some of these misconceptions.

We live in a risky world. Quiet apart from thirty ton metal presses, scaffolding hundreds of metres in the air, chain saws, knives and a million other man-made dangers, the world is a risky place.

We’re designed for those risks though. Over millions of years we, and all other life on earth, have evolved and adapted to cope with risk, to make judgements and to calculate the risk/reward ratio. If it wasn’t for the presence of risk, and for our ancestors making the decision that the reward outweighed the risk, we would never had climbed down from the trees or stepped out of the cave in the first place. Heck, we might still be worms burrowing into the safety of the sand at the bottom of the ocean.

Risk is a fact of life, and it’s an inevitable fact of business. Unless your job involves stuffing teddy bears full of cotton wool in a factory that’s made out of bubble wrap you are inevitably going to face a degree of risk every day, as indeed are all your employees.

No matter how good your health and safety policy, and no matter how thorough and intensive your risk management is, you will never entirely eliminate all risk.

Once you fully appreciate this fact then it makes it very much easier to carry out risk management in a sensible way. It’s also more likely that people will see your risk management and health and safety approach as being reasonable, rather than either draconian, unnecessary or ridiculous, as sadly has been the case with some business.

What Is Good Risk Management About?

Good risk management should ensure that both workers and members of the public nearby are appropriately protected, but also making sure that those working on site are aware that as well as expecting a right to be protected they are also obliged to exercise responsibility themselves in terms of health and safety.

Risk management should not be about stifling progress, development or innovation, but should aim to foster these benefits whilst managing the risks in a responsible manner.

What Is Risk Management Not About?

Risk management is not about trying to eliminate all risks, or about stifling creativity, opportunity or progress. It is not about creating reams of useless paperwork, or looking for opportunities to scare people by exaggerating potential risks, or making more of an unlikely or trivial risk than is appropriate.

It is also not about stopping people from experiencing recreation or learning activities because of the presence of some element of risk. As long as the risk has been identified, and is suitably managed, such activities should always be allowed to go ahead, as long as those involved are aware of the risks.

If you feel a little uncertain as to whether your risk management is itself at risk of either going too far, or not far enough, call one of our Risk Management Specialists on 0800 1488 677 and let us help you make the right choices and take the right approach to this essential element of health and safety.


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Health and Safety, Health and Safety Consultancy, Health and Safety Regulations, Health and Safety Services, Risk Management, Workplace Safety

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