D. Keep it safe!

King of the risk jungle is no other than health and safety and Risk Assessment is the backbone of the health & safety process. It needs to involve everyone that is responsible for the safety and those that will be carrying out the activity.

A risk assessment is simply a way of identifying:

  • All the hazards – anything that has the potential to cause harm.
  • Who could be harmed – volunteers, team members, participants, the public. Give some thought here to particular risks for certain people (e.g. those with some disability, people whose first language is not English etc).
  • The risk – the likelihood of that hazard causing harm, and the degree of harm it would cause.
  • Measures – how to reduce the risk to an acceptable level.

Potential premises related hazards lurking in a typical venue may include:

  • Trips, slips and falls – does your building have any uneven flooring, wires or cables, dark rooms or corridors? How are spills dealt with?
  • Substances hazardous to health – are there any chemicals stored in the building? Who can access these and do they use protective clothing?
  • Falls from a height – Are ladders or other equipment checked and maintained? Do people currently stand on rickety chairs to reach objects?
  • Hygiene – are there adequate toilet and hand washing facilities, including a disabled toilet? Do you prepare food for/with young people?
  • Transport – is your venue on a busy main road, or has a well used car park next to it? Do you use a hired minibus or volunteers own transport for activities? Are these adequately insured and maintained?
  • Stress – do you provide support (training, supervision sessions) to your team members to raise their skills in handling overstressed participants?
  • Fire safety – do you have adequate fire escapes from your building? Does everyone know what to do in the event of a fire?

What would one of these hazards look like in a Risk Assessment?

HazardKitchen equipment – knife cuts, shocks from electrical equipment, burns/scalds, food poisoning
Risk (how serious x how likely) 1= low (not serious/likely) 5= high (serious/likely)3 x 4 = 12 
Who is likely to be harmed?Young people / Leaders
Control Measures1) Kitchen not accessed by young people unsupervised
2) Sharp knives in locked drawer with key kept by youth worker on duty
3) Team member trained in First Aid
4) All electrical equipment PAT tested yearly
5) Team member has been on food hygiene course
Risk after control1 x 2 (risk decreased by control measures in place) = 2
Source: Internal