Being a health and safety advisor and Construction Safety plus trainer, I often discuss at length the 5 principles of risk assessment.
5 principles of risk assessment
- Identify the hazard
- Who may it affect
- Evaluate risk and severity
- Record your findings
- Review and monitor
Recently during these discussions, I was considering non anti impalement methods of protection on reinforced steel starter bars and wondering its inclusion as an adequate control measure regarding the foreseeable risk of impalement.
I thought I would carry out a risk assessment for this exact task.
- The first step would clearly be to identify the hazard. In this case the task was installing reinforced steel starter bars and leaving a long row of knee height starter bars on completion. The hazard clearly being impalement on exposed steel starter bars.
- This exposed hazard would pose a risk to steel fixers , site managers and site visitors.
- The initial evaluation would conclude that without adequate control measures the likelihood of fatality would be high.
Up until recently, I would recommend that individuals completing a risk assessment would identify competent persons carrying out the task, good house keeping and the use of plastic mushroom caps as a means of protection from the exposed bars. And due to a lack of alternative options, this would have been deemed as perfectly adequate!
The issue we have to consider now is: have we gone far enough with our risk assessment? I would say we have not!
As competent persons and safety professionals, we need to be aware of our duties regarding being aware of new innovations in the market.
Fortunately, there are now cost and time effective systems available that provide adequate protection and which can potentially eliminate and reduce the risk of impalement on your construction sites.
I believe, in order to adequately reduce the foreseeable risk of impalement on reinforced steel starter bars, competent persons should identify and implement an anti impalement system. Only then, can we guarantee a safe system of work when installing steel bars, providing safe access and egress from that place of work.
My recommendation: please ensure that your risk assessment goes far enough, ensure the task has been planned correctly and that suitable and sufficiently protective equipment is available on your sites. It maybe the difference between life or death!