The risks associated with erecting and dismantling scaffolding are well known within the industry. But the one area where many organisations neglect to effectively manage risk is within their own yard, as John Steven Simons, of JS Safety Associates, highlights.
Designing and organising a yard should always start with a risk assessment. It is always preferable to eliminate risk by design, than by adding control measures in after – something that can be both time consuming and costly.
There are no fixed rules regarding how a risk assessment should be developed, but the following five steps will guide you through the process.
Identify what in the yard can cause harm
Accurately identifying the hazards in your yard is one of the most important elements of the risk assessment. When you are familiar with a workplace, it can be easy to overlook hazards, so take the time to walk around your facilities and consider the activities, processes and substances being used. Here are some considerations to get you started:
- Check manufacturers’ instructions – What does the data sheet provided with the fitting lubricant state?
- Review your accident and illness records – Are there any reoccurring incidents such as trips or slips attributed to an uneven yard surface?
- Consider non-routine tasks – Where is quarantined material safely stored until it is removed from the premises?
- Think about longer term health hazards – Can equipment be stored differently to reduce the amount of manual handling required?
Identify who could be harmed within the yard, and how
For each hazard you identify, you need to be clear about who might be harmed. This will enable you to develop the most appropriate solution for mitigating that risk. It is important to remember things like:
- Specific worker requirements – Are you employing young people, temporary workers, or will there be lone working?
- Visitors – Will delivery drivers or clients be entering the premises?
- Public – Can members of the public enter the yard?
- Shared workplace – If the yard is shared with another business, how does this affect your work activities?
Evaluate the risks and select the appropriate control measures
Having established the hazards within your yard, and who could potentially be harmed, you must then consider what the level of risk is and how it can be mitigated. You need to ensure that your control measures are ‘reasonably practicable’. This means that you need to balance the level of risk against the control measures in terms of money, time and trouble. You are not expected to take action if it would be grossly disproportionate to the level of risk.
Some of the control measures you may consider implementing could include:
- Can the risk associated with moving vehicles be removed by the implementation of barriered pedestrian routes?
- Can we use manual handling equipment, like forklifts, to move equipment and stock around the yard?
- Are chemicals and fuels stored securely in line with their COSHH assessment?
- Have drivers received suitable training relating to the yard traffic management plan?
- What will be the inspection programme for checking storage equipment for damage and defects?
- Is waste segregated in line with a Fire Risk Assessment, so as to prevent the spread of fire during an emergency?
- Do the noise levels within the yard require the use of hearing protection?
Record the risk assessment
A written record of your assessment demonstrates that you have undertaken suitable and sufficient analysis of the hazards within your yard, and taken appropriate steps to ensure the safety of your yard users. It can be used as a tool to communicate the findings effectively within your business, to all of the relevant individuals.
Regularly review and update the assessment
Nothing stays the same forever, and your risk assessment is a working document. It is important to monitor the effectiveness of the control measures in place and address any changes that may have occurred. There is no legal timeframe for when you should review your risk assessment, but, as a minimum, it should be reviewed annually.
This article illustrates the kind of approach a business might take to managing their yard. It can be used as a guide for some of the hazards found within a business, and the steps that could be taken to control risks. However, every business is different, and it is important that you consider the specific hazards and controls required for your business.
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John Steven Simons
JS Safety Associates