A Guide to Risk Assessments

What are Risk Assessments? A Risk Assessments looks at the daily tasks in your school \ business and looks at what the risks there may be, in these activities and the steps we can take to mitigate the risks involved. For instance, lets look at a couple of the risks in the kitchen, on the Boarding Units and how we can minimise them. Risk Assessments are a legal requirement, under the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act and must be reviewed yearly or as the risks changes \ additional risks are identified.

Remember: Each activity \ task, may require it’s own Risk Assessment.

Trips and Falls

Trips and falls can happen in a kitchen, due to water on the floor from washing up, or maybe someone had spilt water on the floor and had been careless and not cleaned it up. Possible other hazards, may include electrical cables trailing, equipment or aprons left lying about or even a fall from climbing on a worktop to reach for something. So… How do we manage the risk?

For trips and falls, spills should be cleaned up immediately, using the correct colour coded cleaning equipment and a wet floor sign is to be put in place. Cabling is a hazard and should not be trailing. Equipment that needs to be plugged in at floor level, should be placed as near to the appliance as possible and spare cabling should be tucked behind the appliance. Appliances on the worktop, should also be plugged into a socket as near too the appliance as possible. You should never climb onto a worktop to reach for an item in a cupboard. You should use a 2 step kitchen ladder or an “Elephant’s Foot” for this purpose.

Fire

A fire in the kitchen can be deadly and can easily escalate out of control. Ofte, fires start when an appliance has been left unattended, such as a oven or a microwave. Some fires start, due to electrical faults or by accident. Fire is a serious hazard, which can have serious consequences, so the risks need to be dealt with promptly.

Firstly, the kitchen should have a Fire Extinguisher, (Normally Carbon Dioxide or Dry Powder) and a Fire Blanket. Both of these appliances need to be checked regularly and serviced \ replaced as needed. Appliances should never be left unattended and should always be switched off when you leave the kitchen. All kitchen equipment should be PAT Tested each year and should also be checked on a daily basis. Equipment that is faulty or damaged should be replaced. Where there is the risk of an accidental fire starting. (IE: Someone has put the toaster on and due to a fault, it does not pop up, starting a fire.) Thankfully, there are members of staff nearby at all times, as the kitchen is next to the staff base, which is constantly manned.

Burns

Cooking can cause burns, which can be serious. This could be caused by taking something out of the oven, a scald from the kettle or from touching a hot surface. (IE: The ring on the cooker.) Burns need prompt treatment and are not normally serious, if dealt with quickly. So how do we manage the risk?

Firstly, it’s all about PPE. (Personal Protective Equipment) In this case, we need oven gloves to take a very hot pie out the oven. The gloves will protect our hands from the heat and allow us to pick the tin up and safely take it out the oven. Kettle scalds are common and we do not allow younger pupils to make hot drinks in the kitchen. The Hydro-Boil in each kitchen, is above the sink, which is high enough to stop them from being used. Also, after meals and after bedtime, the hydro-boils are switched off at the wall and are emptied.

On the older boys units, our pupils are shown how to safely use the hydro-boils by a member of staff. Pupils who may not be safe to use the hydro-boils, must ask a member of staff or another boarder to make them a hot drink. The hydro boils are positioned just above the draining board, so that a cup can be placed on it and lowers the risk of a scald or a boarder dropping a hot mug of water.

Our Young People are not allowed to use the cooker, while unsupervised. We have a key switch on the wall, which isolates the supply to the cooker. (including the oven) When being used for a group activity, (such as baking) there are always 2 members of staff in the kitchen to keep an eye. Staff also know how to deal with burns, by running the burn under a cold tap for 10 minutes and to take appropriate First Aid measures, depending on the degree of severity.

So now we have looked at a couple of the risks and identified the risks and the measures we can take, it’s time to write the risk assessment.

First, you will need a Risk Assessment Template. If you do not have a Risk Assessment Template, you can download the blank one I use for my school, below (Word Document) and add rows to it as you need to.

First, we need to look at the hazards, such as trips and falls, fires or scalds. Who may be affected by the activity? Staff, Pupils or Visitors? Then you need to outline your current controls, such as staff supervision, fire fighting equipment and PPE. Next, you need to identify who will carry out and enforce the controls. This could be one person, such as a Unit Leader or several members of staff. If needed, you can use job titles instead of names, if several staff are to control the risk. IE: Care Staff or Head of Care) Finally, state the date the controls came into force.

Now your Risk Assessment is complete, save it and print it. In my School, we have several copies of some Risk Assessments. I have a folder with them in, which is kept in my office and there is also copies in each Unit Office, (as appropriate) and in the Health and Safety Folder in the safe, over in the main school.

Risk Assessments are here protect individuals from harm, so it is important that your Risk Assessments are in place and are reviewed on a regular basis. If the risk changes, make sure that your Risk Assessment is updated too!