As an employer, it is your responsibility to ensure the health and safety of your employees. It’s important that you are aware of the difference between risk assessment and risk assessment method statements (RAMS), so you can fully obey health and safety laws.
What is a Risk Assessment?
A Risk Assessment is a legal requirement for every employer and is a crucial factor in protecting employees and your business. A Risk Assessment is an examination of what could have the potential to cause harm to people in a workplace. This has to be undertaken before a planned maintenance job is carried out, to ensure that you undertake any necessary precautions. The law does not expect or require you to eliminate all risk but instead you are required to protect people as much as is ‘reasonably practical’.
What are RAMS?
RAMS stands for Risk Assessment Method Statements. Safety method statements are most often found in the construction sector and are useful for higher-risk, complex or unusual work such as the use of hazardous substances. Method statements are widely used in the construction sector as a means of controlling more specific health and safety risks which usually will have been identified following a risk assessment. It would generally include things such as lifting operations, demolition, working at height and the use of plant. The aim of a method statement is to help manage the work and ensures that relevant risks and the necessary precautions have been communicated to those who they attain to.
Why Do You Need RAMS?
RAMS are helpful for providing important information to employees about how the work should be done and the precautions to be taken, as well as providing the principal contractor with information to develop a health and safety plan for the construction phase of a project.
As with risk assessments, safety method statements aren’t critical; however, it is essential to make sure that risks are controlled, and it is of benefit to workers to have knowledge of potential risks and how they can be controlled. The main benefit of a method statement is to assist those carrying out the work to do so safely. This is why safety method statements should primarily be clear and not overcomplicated so they can be easily understood.
How to Use RAMS
If during your risk assessment you notice a risk that cannot be eliminated you should ideally have a RAMS document in place. When completing your RAMS there are a few things to keep in mind;
- Make sure you include the original risk assessment as part of the document.
- Ensure you include details of your first aid provision.
- Include details of supervisor, equipment and anything which may be relevant to the task.
- Prepare a detailed, step-by-step guide based on how to perform the task safely which covers every detail and step in the entire process.
- Make sure that everyone who is or may in the future be involved in said task gets a copy of the document. This is one of the most important steps and can easily be forgotten about, but it is the main reason you should do a RAMS.
A RAMS document is only relevant and useful if it used how it should; updated regularly and given to the relevant employees to ensure they fully understand how to carry out tasks safely.
We hold monthly Toolbox Talks where health and safety information are discussed. In a recent discussion, we shared key information about risk assessment and RAMS, find out more here.