As recent court activity demonstrates the need to review and monitor your risk assessments is vital.
The operator of an outdoor activity centre near Bath has been ordered to pay £33,000 after a member of the public suffered a fractured hip when the quad bike they were riding tipped over and landed on them.
Council investigators discovered that staff had not received formal training in riding quad bikes and were not adhering to the risk assessments. Inadequate procedures were in place to ensure that staff were being appropriately supervised.
On 8 June 2015 the local authority served an immediate prohibition notice against Hamburger Hill, citing the risk of serious personal injury posed by an all-terrain vehicle overturning “and/or impact caused by loss of control due to inadequate rider skills and knowledge, lack of supervision and information, instruction and training”.
Hamburger Hill had introduced concrete tracks for quad bikes in 2009, surrounded by tyre walls of varying heights. The investigation highlighted failings in how these walls were maintained, as well as inadequate procedures to monitor and review the design and construction of the tracks to ensure that they remained suitable for their intended use.
“You can have the most wonderful risk assessments and policies in place but if they are not monitored and reviewed then they are worthless”
District Judge Taylor, Bristol Magistrates’ Court
Hamburger Hill director Russell Steel appeared on behalf of the company before District Judge Taylor at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on 5 July 2018. The company pleaded guilty to an offence under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations in that it failed to control, monitor and review health and safety policies and risk assessments; failed to monitor design and construction of the quadbike tracks and their suitability for that purpose; and failed to monitor and supervise staff.
The company was fined £8000 plus £25,000 in costs as well as a victim surcharge of £170. In sentencing, District Judge Taylor said: “You can have the most wonderful risk assessments and policies in place but if they are not monitored and reviewed then they are worthless.”
Rejecting the argument made by the defence in mitigation that the injury sustained by the member of the public was the result of an isolated incident, the judge said “it was a matter of chance of whether an injury occurred”.
Councillor Bob Goodman, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and development at Bath & North East Somerset Council, said the case “illustrates the importance for businesses to not only have the correct safety policies and procedures in place but also to make sure they’re adhered to – day in, day out – and ensure that risks to public health are addressed”.
Author:- Robert Preston Health & Safety @ Work