Suitability and Sufficiency in Risk Assessments
When the government asks employers to carry out risk assessments which are meant to be ‘suitable and sufficient’, three interpretations can be immediately created. The first one is the interpretation of the government, the second is the interpretation made by individual employers and finally the interpretation of the courts when there is a dispute as to whether the assessment made was suitable and sufficient in the first place. To better understand the concept of suitability and sufficiency, it would be prudent to examine these interpretations and see what the government expects as well as what the courts have decided in the past.
The government’s interpretation leaves the least to be doubted since it has been put into words and the government has given suggestions to employers for conducting suitable and sufficient risk assessments. The HSE is the main source of these requirements and suggestions which are summarized in the publication titled 5 steps to Risk Assessment (1999). When it comes to suitable, the HSE is looking for risk assessments which show that proper checks were made to account for all reasonable risks and evaluations were made as to who could be affected. Obvious hazards and reasonable precautions are also a part of the suitability of a risk assessment.
Sufficiency of a risk assessment has to do more with non-quantifiable risk factors which can influence the amount of danger involved during work. The correct combination of sufficiency and suitability will need a risk assessment which deals in good faith with all the obvious risk factors and provides some means to predict and tackle risks which are less obvious. The required result of a risk assessment and evaluation is a list of precautions and methods which reduce the risk associated with the task at hand. If such an assessment is done, the remaining risk will be certainly lowered to an acceptable level (HSE, 1999).
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