At the heart of Risk Assessment is deciding if enough is being done to prevent injury and illness to people. At this stage, we consider what is done to limit the chance of harm to people as well as what might be needed to improve the safety and health of people.
What is a control measure?
A control measure is something that has been put into place to protect people from harm.
Control measures can include such things as:
- Preventing access to a hazard;
- The training, instruction and supervision that people have received;
- Selecting the right tools, equipment and substances for a task;
- Procedures and written systems of work;
- Personal protective equipment; and
To some extent, control measures can also include those things that are in place to mitigate against an incident should it happen like first aid boxes. However, the aim of Risk Assessment is to prevent the injury or illness in the first place and not provide treatment after it has happened!
Current Control Measures
This is all about those control measures that are currently in place. When looking at what is in place, it is important to check that it is effective at controlling the risk.
Give consideration to anything relevant that is already in place to prevent injury or illness to people.
The next stage is to decide if this is enough to protect people from harm. The controls that are put into place must be effective at reducing the risk of injury or illness to an acceptably low level. If the controls do not achieve this, new control measures should be considered and put into place.
Many a Risk Assessment stops here, as if to act as some kind of justification for what's already being done. It it important to take time to consider if this is adequate or if anything new needs to be introduced.
New Control Measures
Any new control measure that is planned must be considered to make sure that it will have the desired effect at reducing the risk. Additionally, the control measure, or measures, proposed must reduce the risk to an acceptable level. Furthermore, the new control measures should not, by themselves, introduce additional hazards that give rise to unacceptable risk.
When choosing the control measures, remember that the measures chosen need to be kept in proportion to the risk. Higher risks need greater control than lower risks.
New controls need not be complex. In fact, the best controls are often the simplest ones, such as putting a lock on the chemical store cupboard to prevent children accessing bleach and other cleaning fluids, or putting candles and matches away in a secure place when they are not needed.
If a new control measure is planned, give consideration to who will be responsible for this, and when it should be introduced by.
For more information on new control measures see our Reducing the Risk page and our page of examples.
Example: We have seen how the location of the mat alters the level of risk. If the mat is only used in the vestry and in the correct orientation, there is an insignificant chance of injury so we may decide we don't need to replace the mat at the moment. We may need to move the mat if it has been put down the wrong way so we might want to mention this to those people who might move it about.
We may not have to repair or replace the mat if it remains in the vestry, but we probably should consider this as an option for the main entrance. But if a mat is bought for the entrance, we no longer have to move the one in the vestry so this may solve both parts of the problem at the same time. This can be done within a month by the treasurer.
Don't foeget that this is not the end of the Risk Assessment process. What's needed next, after the new measures have been decided, is to actually carry out the actions identified! If this step does not happen, no matter how good any documentation may look, the Risk Assessment has been pointless.
Previous stage: Evaluate the risk
Next stage: Record the significant findings
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