Suitable and sufficient: Finding the right balance in your risk assessments

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The term ‘suitable and sufficient’ is a common phrase when it comes to workplace risk assessments. What does it actually mean?

Suitable and sufficient are terms that are woven in to the DNA of risk assessments. The words are used in regulation and are therefore commonly referred to in enforcement.

Suitability and sufficiency mean just those things. Is the risk assessment that you are carrying out reflective of the scale of the task and contain enough information that it will do the job that is asked? As a UK health and safety consultant, I am not exaggerating when I tell you that I have seen multi-page risk assessments for an office glue stick, and, in contrast, a one page risk assessment for working at height or confined space access.

risk

Size doesn’t matter

Sometimes we confuse ‘suitability and sufficiency’ with the size of the risk assessment document or format. If every conceivable use of that glue stick is covered by our risk assessment, then that has to be sufficient, doesn’t it? No. We should all know that this approach is a step too far.

I have seen multi-page risk assessments for an office glue stick, and, in contrast, a one page risk assessment for working at height or confined space access.

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Author

Health, Safety and Sustainability Consultant

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