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Sheila Pantry Associates Ltd


Editorial Archive

Will your holidays be safe and healthy?

April 2002
Sheila Pantry, OBE

Spring has arrived in Europe and for many people this means more opportunities for sports and leisure activities, whilst for others it may be the time for the real 'spring clean' and getting out the equipment to start lots of do-it-yourself (DIY) jobs, gardening and other pursuits.

Do you want to be another statistics?
The holiday time brings more and more accident cases to doctors and hospital casualty stations. Why? Because people forget the lessons learned at work where risk assessment is or should be constantly applied. So before you start all the jobs on your long list of things-to-do, check out ladders, electrical equipment, the garden tools, the protective equipment, and honestly answer if the equipment you are about to use would pass OK test.

Likewise think about the sports and leisure activities. The same risk assessment applies - for example is the boat functioning 100%? Is the safety gear in good order? Is the caravan road worthy? Can the car stand a long journey loaded up with the holiday equipment? Is the gas equipment working correctly? Is the swimming pool you are about to use, clean and healthy? You SHOULD make up a list of equipment to be checked and get it sorted before anyone is injured or worst fatally injured.

Steps to Risk Assessment

Being able to make a judgement about the hazards in your daily life is useful, and the following advice may help when assessing even your sports, leisure and DIY activities.

STEP 1 - Look for the hazards
If you are doing the assessment yourself, walk around and look afresh at what could reasonably be expected to cause harm. Ignore the trivial and concentrate only on significant hazards which could result in serious harm or affect several people. Ask your family and friends what they think. They may have noticed things which are not immediately obvious.

STEP 2 - Decide who might be harmed, and how
Think about people who may not be aware of activities and assess if there is a chance they could be hurt by being in or near your activities, e.g. sports and leisure activities do injure people!

STEP 3 - Evaluate the risks arising from the hazards and decide whether existing precautions are adequate or more should be done
Even after all precautions have been taken, usually some risk remains. What you have to decide for each significant hazard is whether this remaining risk is high, medium or low. First, ask yourself whether you have done all the things you would have done for example in the workplace.

But don't stop there. Your real aim is to make all risks small by adding to your precautions if necessary. If you find that something needs to be done, ask yourself:

  1. Can you get rid of the hazard altogether?
  2. If not, how can you control the risks so that harm is unlikely?

STEP 4 - Again as in a workplace situation - are you sure that:

Assessments need to be suitable and sufficient. The real points are:

STEP 5 - Review risk assessment from time to time and revise it if necessary

Sooner or later you will use new equipment, substances and ways of doing things which could lead to new problems or hazards.


This month's Focus article is about the European Environment Agency and it gives an insight to how it operates.

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Remind everyone to make 2002 a zero accident and incident-free year in your workplace.