Is your risk management effective?

24th January 2016

A popular lighthearted news article in the last few days has identified the winner of the “Biggest Idiot on a Ladder” competition. If you missed it, here’s the source:

Looking beyond potentially trivialising situations where people could easily have been killed or seriously injured, it does present an interesting insight into the level of risk control achieved by business in the UK on this key issue of working at height.

Care is required when trying to extrapolate extreme examples of performance to reflect the whole country. But ask yourself the question – have you seen tasks like this on your own site or on your travels? The answer is probably yes.

The article addresses a number of myths & issues facing business currently. These include:

The accusation of widespread “Gold Plating” of H&S arrangements: many companies simply do not understand basic risk management and keeping their employees safe.
Small companies equates to small risks: the photos you will have seen as part of the competition make it clear that this is not the case.
Observing and attempting to modify the behaviours of front line employees alone is the answer: how is this approach impacting the types of activities that have featured in this competition?
Regardless of the size of an organisation, the role of those who run the business in evaluating their significant business risks and managing them effectively is far from consistently understood or achieved.

This level of thinking should occur long before an employee is put to work in completing a task such as painting a window on the second floor of a house.

The behaviour of the employee – whilst important – is ultimately the symptom, not root cause, of how ineffective risk management of the business is.

Effective risk management starts when those in charge can establish and emotionally connect with good risk management being a genuine value of the business. Values do not change, they do not get reprioritised and they do not fail for want of capital. It is important that you instinctively back risk management and work hard to ensure you are successful.

The time required to evaluate your work activities for risks and consider the most suitable controls is not significant and once done, much of the information will hold true for the majority of your work activities.

However each time you put your employees to work, there must be a natural thought process: i.e. What are we doing today? Are the hazards and risks any different? Do we have adequate controls in place? Risk assessment is a thought process; an approach to conducting your business safely and not a work product you put in a folder for audits.

When effective risk management is at the core of what you do, you seek from advice from those whom you are strongly confident will share your values and beliefs. They will be highly effective in assisting you to keep your teams safe and sending them home fit and well every day.

Challenge yourself: Do you know what your key business risks are? Do you know the controls required to eliminate or mitigate them? Are you getting the right standard of advice to allow all managers and employees to manage risk effectively? If you cannot quickly answer these questions with confidence and clarity, what does this say about your business risk control?

Ultimately – are you certain that one of your employees is not being put forward for the Biggest Idiot on a ladder, or the Biggest Idiot in charge of a delivery vehicle, etc, etc??

If you would like to discuss achieving effective risk management as an organisation then please get in touch.

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