Research by Community Care has shown that many English councils do not have risk assessments designed specifically for social care staff. Paul Durkin offers advice
The duty to carry out health and safety risk assessments is nothing new – it has been with us for between 17 and 35 years, being explicitly mentioned in the Management Regulation 1992 and implied in the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.
Care workers are required to eliminate or reduce foreseeable risks so far as is reasonably practicable and record the significant findings of assessment.
Which tasks do I have to risk assess?
Those which may cause harm either physically or mentally.
But driving is risky so would a risk assessment be required every time I drive?
It’s not about your everyday tasks and it’s not about no risks, it’s about work activities and the harm that may be caused to yourself and others.
But, at work I drive Molly to the residential home, does that require risk assessment?
Yes, it’s a work activity and you will require information on Molly, her mental and physical condition and whether you need an escort etc. Follow the Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) five-step guidance:
When I need to work at a residential home or in a service user’s home do I require a risk assessment?
Yes, it’s a work activity, which could place you at risk of injury. For example, when it comes to manual handling, transferring or repositioning, dressing or bathing, lifting is required that puts workers at risk of musculoskeletal disorders.
What should I do if I can’t make my mind up over whether to risk assess?
If you need to ask the question the answer is probably yes, so go ahead and risk assess and by all means have it checked by your manager.
What do I need to record and report on?
It may be wise to record everything done as part of your care plan, but for risk assessment all that is needed is to record those things you consider are of significant risk of harm either to yourself or your service user.
Where can I check my knowledge?
If you need to apply for refresher training, contact your training provider or for further information visit the HSE’s website: www.hse.gov.uk.
Paul Durkin is a health and safety consultant advising social services for Kent Council
This article is published in the 8 July issue of Community Care magazine under the heading Risk assessment in council social work