The Importance of Identifying Site-Specific Dynamic Risks and Failures

The Importance of Identifying Site-Specific Dynamic Risks and Failures

Picking up on one of the major issues faced by property management companies is Identifying site-specific or dynamic risk failures.

We share Health and Safety consultants Sarah Millen’s professional, trusted advice in this article. Sarah offers some real-world experience to help you understand what issues and hazards may unexpectedly present themselves and what you can do.

The first and most obvious thing you would expect from a health and safety consultant is they have the knowledge, skills, and experience to know what to look for, even when things appear normal. And they take relevant action.

Risk assessment is about identifying any hazards quickly and assessing the risk on the spot. This may remind you of Columbo, who seems to view things with innocence when all the time he is using his vast experience to flush out the murderer.

Sarah’s real-world experiences

Prior to leaving my previous employer, there was a water leak in an electrical cupboard ...of all places. At the time, the leak was mains water and not excessive, therefore was a low risk to the electrics.

Low risk doesn’t always mean that it will stay that way. Contractors advised us that the leak was due to an increase in mains pressure and therefore could become an issue if the seal came under greater water pressure. As you would expect from pipework installed more than 30 years ago, some of it wasn’t in the best condition.

The only way to access the pipe and fix the leak was through a very small void above the electrical cupboard. The pipe was located behind the board see pic). To repair it meant getting above the hatch in an area of less than 1 meter.

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This tightly confined space was not the only hazard!

Although you can’t clearly see from the picture, the asbestos insulation board is located above and attached to the hatch and surrounding board.

Because I had carried out the asbestos survey, the contractors were aware of the risks from asbestos that would have been disturbed should the repair have gone ahead.

So that contractors could work safely in the tight space, we decided to have this area of asbestos removed.

Once the asbestos was removed, contractors started to remove the fireboard located at the ceiling height within this cupboard, which should have meant that the area of pipe that needed fixing could be repaired.

As is so often the case with older buildings, there are always more things that can crop up. Because I was on site whilst contractors were removing the fireboard, I noticed lath and plaster above.

Despite carrying out a specific risk assessment, I had not accounted for the lath and plaster as I did not know this existed. Therefore, I had to carry out a dynamic risk assessment due to the additional hazards presented to the work environment.

Lath and plaster, much like asbestos, can present a risk when disturbed. Horsehair, which was potentially contaminated with Anthrax, was commonly used in the formulation of lath and plaster, especially in buildings of this age.

As you will have guessed, the lath and plaster would need to be disturbed to access the pipework.

Contractors were informed to report once the fire board had been removed. It was also important that the electrical cables be made safe for several reasons, such as entanglement, risk of electrics and water coming into contact, etc.

Our work is rarely as simple as it first seems.

The next problem was because this was a nursing home, there was the potential risk of exposure to residents, visitors, and contractors.

Work had to be stopped for a further 3 days whilst the Anthrax sample was analyzed, and we also had to ensure the electrics were secure from water.

There have been many situations during my career in health and safety when the working environment has changed suddenly.

This means that dynamic risk assessments should be carried out on the spot.

Dynamic risk assessments are used when you cannot predict changes in circumstances, environments, work practices, or even human behaviours. Therefore, they need continually assessing and should complement the original risk assessment for the site or work being carried out.

In a situation like a nursing home, there are the added problems that some of the residents could be aggressive due to mental health or medication and would be very unpredictable. The behaviours of people are often an issue that’s often overlooked.

Health and safety are about assessing the risks and implementing suitable sufficient control measures, and monitoring those arrangements. But it is also going beyond that and being like a detective to ask what else and if this building is really safe. This is why health and safety must always be assigned to a competent person. That’s why our bespoke consultancy services with consultants like Sarah can help you because she and the rest of our team will do more than just ticking boxes.

Our high-calibre consultants ensure you have expert advice and guidance to proactively manage any risks and keep your people, brand, and reputation safe

Alongside our consultancy services Ligtas offer practical health and safety training to ensure safer working practices are adhered to, like confined spaces awareness, fire awareness, and electrical safety. All can be completed online via our Learning Management System (LMS) in just a few hours.

After all, that’s why people entrust Ligtas with all their health, safety, and consultancy work.

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