As Wimbledon gets into full swing I’ve been thinking about assessing risks to spectators. I know – you think I’ve lost it, but bear with me. What are the chances of being hit by one of Andy Murray’s finest? How badly might you get hurt? There is a risk, isn’t there? But there’s also a ‘but’.
When assessing risks, employers only need to consider real and appreciable risks, not notional or trivial ones. Two things need thinking about – the likelihood of the event happening (being hit by the ball in my example) and how bad the outcome will be. It starts to look like this may not be much of an issue, doesn’t it?! But hang on a moment – what about those on the court – umpire, line judges and ball boys and girls; surely the risk is higher for them than for Joe Public, since those on court are closer to the action and are there for longer, thereby increasing the risk of being hit (the law of averages and all that).
That tells us something important about risk assessment – we can’t always treat everyone the same (although many poor assessments do). There may be occasions where the same hazard may affect different people differently, so we need to be mindful of the possibility and assess accordingly. Now back to the tennis…
Exactly how much of a risk is there really? In any event, even if I found there was a risk, however large or small, what could I reasonably be expected to do about it?
Now, I live in the real world, so you’ll be pleased to hear I’ll not advocate putting up nets or plastic screens, oh no. The risk is too small for that (besides, we don’t put up screens at cricket matches and the balls are way harder there!). I could suggest it, but that wouldn’t be very sensible now, would it!
So, it is possible that I might get hit by a fast moving tennis ball, especially if I’m an umpire, but this is a risk I’m happy to accept. I’d therefore suggest getting comfy and enjoying the tennis, with strawberries and cream of course (if you can stand the risk of heart failure). Already there? That’s because you have common sense – an important thing in risk assessment.
These simple lessons apply in workplaces too. Look out for real risks and don’t stress about the trivia. It takes practice, plus a good, clear risk assessment system, but it certainly need not be complicated, time consuming or costly.
If you need help in setting up a risk assessment system for your business and/or training your staff in how to do it properly then why not give us a call? We can manage your risks in a sensible way, leaving you better placed to focus on growing your business – and enjoying the tennis.