Managing Risk

What does risk management mean?

Date: Tuesday 17 October 2017, 09.15 - 16.00
Venue: The Netherwood Hotel, Grange-over-Sands, Cumbria LA11 6ET

Programme summary:

A strategic overview of workplace risk management. What does it mean? How should risks be prioritised?

Speaker: David Mason, Director, Health & Safety, Travis Perkins plc

David challenged seminar delegates to reassess their safety management systems during a thought provoking and interesting presentation that was based on the ‘real world’. He used case studies to demonstrate the importance of:

  • Using accident and ‘near-miss’ investigations to refine and improve provisions in current Risk Assessments
  • Listening to, and acting on, constructive employee suggestions for improving safe systems of work
  • Replacing a ‘blame culture’ with a ‘reward culture’
  • Prioritising workplace risks
  • Relevant training
  • Regular behavioural safety observations for high risk activities.

Download David's presentation

An HSE perspective on workplace risk management

Speaker: Mark Dawson, HM Principal Inspector (Cumbria & North Lancashire), Field Operations Division.

Mark met David’s challenge and explained that HSE’s aim was that workplace managers should develop effective ways of controlling workplace risk. He used a quotation from Janette Winterson to emphasise this point:

“…There is no safety without risk… and what you risk reveals what you value…”

He then explained that a key problem was that people had different perceptions of risk.

Mark said that HSE’s aim was to encourage companies and organisations to have:

  • Competent managers with good communication skills and
  • Sustainable compliance and improvement policies.

He explained that HSE Inspectors found that the organisations that they visited generally fell into four main health and safety legislation compliance categories:

  • Wilful non-compliance: including rogue traders
  • Partial compliance: obstructive and disengaged management – uncooperative, want to be told what to do
  • Full compliance: willing, constructive, responsible employers and managers – open and honest, professional pride and commitment to improve
  • Beyond compliance: proactive, industry leaders

Mark said that HSE valued workplaces where risk assessment was: evidence based, targeted towards practical ways of reducing potential risks, impartial and sought to prioritise all potential hazards. Mark identified the following indicators of a negative workplace health and safety culture:

  • Lack of employee understanding
  • Lack of ‘ownership of health and safety (“…It’s not my job…”)
  • Poor management – lack of leadership commitment to health and safety, paperwork prioritised over implementation of safe systems of work, ambivalence.

Mark identified the following indicators of a positive workplace health and safety culture:

  • Learning from past experiences such as ‘near misses’ -looking for solutions rather than ‘quick fixes’
  • Integrated management systems that include planning for the future and look at best business outcomes as well as compliance
  • Employee involvement in the development and implementation of risk assessments and safe systems of work
  • Development of an improvement workplace culture rather than a blame culture
  • Ownership of safe systems of work: a collective and personal responsibility

Mark then explained the format that HSE Inspectors follow during their routine site visits. He said that they: introduce themselves, confirm site details, explain the purpose of their visit including how they would like to conduct it and explain HSE’s fee for intervention. He said that during their visit HSE Inspectors always like to speak to employees who they see working and they will make their judgements based on assessments of selected areas of work. During this process they will explain the basis of their opinions and relevant legal requirements, review their findings with a senior manager and clarify their findings if necessary. He emphasised that HSE does not: routinely inspect entire workplaces, perform audits or provide consultancy services.

Mark concluded that HSE’s goal was to see workplaces where there was a commitment to sustainable health and safety compliance and where managers recognised potential weaknesses and sought to address them.

Soft skills leadership for managing risks.

Speaker: Dan Terry, Director, Ascend & Council Member of IIRSM

Dan’s presentation focused on the need for workplace managers to adopt ‘soft skills leadership’ to help them manage risk effectively. He asked delegates to think about what leadership means and how different styles of leadership can have a negative or a positive impact on work place culture and employees’ attitude to working safely.

He defined soft skills as a complex combination of: people skills, social skills, communication skills, character traits, attitudes, career ambitions, work ethic, social intelligence and emotional intelligence. He also reminded delegates that good managers used their technical skills as well as their soft skills.

He explained how important it was for managers to engage with their colleagues during risk assessment processes and to listen to their opinions about practical ways of dealing with potential workplace hazards so that they built up mutual trust and respect.

Download Dan's presentation

Transferring risk: what insurers like to see and what they don’t like to see.

Speaker: Ian Dandy, Risk Consultant, Global Consulting, RSA Insurance Group.

Ian’s presentation covered workplace risk from an insurer’s point of view. He explained that the insurer’s initial consideration was “…What might we have to pay out in the future? ...” therefore, their workplace assessments concentrated on:

  • The potential for loss to the insurer - risks and
  • The quality of site control measures

This process includes:

  • Workplace Observations: general conditions, activities and staff behaviour
  • Interviews and discussion: attitudes, knowledge, competence, commitment
  • Management systems and documentation: Health and Safety Policy, organisation including health and safety management responsibilities, monitoring systems, review and audit procedures

Download Ian's presentation

Workplace risk from an employee’s perspective

Speaker: Tim Briggs, Director & Programme Leader, Safety Health and Environmental Management Courses, Leeds Beckett University & Chairman, IOSH Professional Standards Committee.

Tim started his presentation by saying that he believed that:

“…It’s people who make things safe…” and “…It’s people who make things unsafe…”

He then considered how people’s perceptions of hazards differed and asked delegates to consider what ‘common sense’ meant and how people’s views could be manipulated by peer pressure and the media.

He used major accident case studies to ask why we do not appear to have learned the lessons from past, well publicised, major accidents such as the sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise. He explained that people’s tendency to take risks depended on them weighing up perceived dangers versus potential rewards. This applies in the workplace as well as during leisure time.

He then considered how undertake: sensible risk assessment, assess the consequences of risk, the role of workplace culture.

Download Tim's presentation

Understanding environmental risk through case studies

Speaker: Howard Dawes, Senior Consultant – Environment, British Safety Council.

Howard explained that it was important to understand environmental risk. He defined it as:

Actual, or potential threat of adverse effects on living organisms and environment by effluents, emissions, wastes, resource depletion, arising out of an organisation's activities.

He said that Environmental Risk Assessment is a systematic procedure that can be used to predict potential risks to human health or the environment with the aim of establishing whether or not a process can be undertaken without causing detrimental effects to human health or to the environment. He explained that environmental risks had: a source, a pathway and a receptor and then explained how to undertake an environmental risk assessment.

Howard identified three business strands associated with environmental risks:

  • Strategic requirements: animal welfare, provenance, market, customer
  • Tactical requirements: logistics, quality control, supply, value chain
  • Operational requirements: resource use, waste, emissions, effluence, compliance obligations

He stressed that it was important for businesses to undertake environmental risk assessments as well as health and safety risk assessments.

Download Howard's presentation

Living in a world of risk – dynamic risk assessment

Speaker: Elspeth Mason, Director, JEM Group

Elspeth has worked in outdoor adventure training since her teens and has been managing the cocktail of risk and benefit that activities such as climbing, canoeing, caving and being a member of a mountain rescue team bring.

In 1995 she developed a system for recording and explaining how complex dynamic risks can be managed.

She uses this management tool ACT (Assess, Contain, Train) as the basis for staff training and to illustrate the decision-making processes that underpin dynamic risk assessment. She illustrated her presentation with case studies showing how the right mix of training, equipment and confrontation of risk, in a controlled environment, can be a beneficial and enjoyable team building exercise for both children and adults.


Have a team of experts in training and consultancy for workplace mortal risk, hazard control, safety competence and industrial occupational hygiene and health as well as being suppliers of safety equipment.

Have developed and market an online management system that can be used to keep track of workplace chemical products and safety data sheets.

Bennet Workplace Solutions with Ergotron
Market and provide training for ergonomic seating, workstation tools, assistive technology hardware and software. They can also provide diagnostic workplace assessments for staff with disabilities such as hearing loss and visual impairment.

Hampton Knight
Has specialist laboratory facilities for workplace alcohol and drug testing. They can also provide expert advice on developing and implementing appropriate workplace alcohol and drug policies.

The International Institute of Risk Management – provides expert advice on integrated risk management and professional support for members who are responsible for overseeing risk management in their workplaces.

Nationwide Fire Training
Provides staff fire training, First Aid training and manual handling training tailored to meet specific workplaces. They also supply fit and service fire extinguishers and safety signs and undertake Fire Risk Assessments.

Have developed and market an on-line system, with bespoke legal registers for environment, health and safety and food, that is designed to help organisations meet the compliance requirements of management systems such as ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety and ISO 14001 Environmental management etc…