Risk perception and safety

Risk perception and safety

June 23, 2015

Risk is something we all have to deal with, but how we perceive risk leaves some at more risk than others.

People I meet are often left confused by the fact that I am a health & safety professional and a motorbike rider. They view my motorbike as something dangerous and therefore a high risk activity; which it is. But the right controls can mitigate the risks involved.

You must be asking yourself why does somebody whose work is risk management /reduction appear to have so little regard for risk control in their personal life? And what has this to do with residential property health and safety.

The answer is risk perception. That does not mean I take more risks than others; my perception of the risks and the control measures differ to what the majority of people would deem appropriate.

So why do some people take on significant risks either without knowing the consequences or implementing control measures to reduce the risk. Take the following reported cases for example.

A wall collapsed injuring an employee cost one company in excess of £26,000 in fines and costs. The company accepted a verbal confirmation the wall would be OK for its intended purpose from the building contractor who erected the wall. Or, the property management company that received a fine in excess of £14,000 plus costs because of dangerous working at heights practices. Both of these have one thing in common. A failure to identify the risks and implement suitable and sufficient control measures for which they ultimately they paid for. So did the injured employees.

Having the right control measures would have mitigated the risks; written confirmation the wall was built, designed and would fulfil its purpose would allow the company to argue it had taken all reasonable steps. The provision of risk assessments and method statements and a regime of inspections would have prevent the dangerous working at heights.

So how do I as a health & safety professional see these risk where others do not? Perhaps because I look for the risks whilst in the pursuit of my hobby; perhaps because I, like many others, have been trained to notice these things.

Whatever it is, a health & safety professionals insight can save you money and prevent injury.

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