Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Risk Assessments & Method Statements

I hope like me, you are now starting to take bookings for corporate events for later in the year! With more of us working with corporate clients and in public spaces, I felt that it might be helpful to talk about Risk Assessments and Method Statements

It is becoming standard practice for a venue to ask event vendors to provide risk assessments along with proof of their business liability insurance prior to working in a venue, without either of these they will not permit you to work.

So what exactly is a Risk Assessment? In simplest terms, a risk assessment is a systematic process of evaluating the potential risks that may be involved in a projected activity or undertaking. 

Whereas a Method Statement is a document detailing how a particular task or activity will be carried out. It should detail the possible dangers/risks associated with your particular part of the project and the methods of control to be established, to show how the work will be managed safely. 

This all sounds pretty complex, like it's something that would only apply to industrial type businesses. However, in today's world of stricter health and safety laws, there are often requirements for us as event decorators to produce these documents.

Every employer and self-employed person should at least know the basics of health and safety at work. Whether in your workshop, retail store, or on-site, the safety of you, your employees, and the public are of utmost importance. For a small business, you do not need to bring in health and safety experts to identify risks; as long as you are confident that you know what's involved, you can do assessments yourself. (Please check the Heath & Safety laws within your country).

Of course accidents will sometimes happen. But by being aware of the obvious dangers and acting to reduce risks, you are creating a safer working environment for yourself and everyone around you. Clients and insurance companies like to know you are creating as safe an environment as possible for everyone involved.

More and more places, especially shopping malls and larger venues, will now ask for a method statement and risk assessment to be provided along with your insurance certificate. All businesses should be covered for public liability, workers compensation/employee liability, and property insurance as a minimum. For larger jobs in particular, it's good practise to offer these before being asked, as it shows you have a professional approach to your work.

Here is an example of a Risk Assessment form that you could work with and adjust to fit the jobs that you are undertaking.

The form highlights the potential hazards, who might be harmed and how. If there are any risk controls in place, is the risk low, moderate, high, or extreme. And finally, what further actions can be taken to control the risk further.

I have given some example of potential risks and how you might record them on the form. To download this form, right click and save to your computer.

Generally, we are a low to medium-risk industry. However, we do handle gas cylinders under pressure, and therefore we need to ensure that we follow the correct procedures. For those who work with special effects, these offer different and potentially greater liabilities, so ensure that your insurance policy covers everything that you offer.

The Method Statement works in conjunction with the Risk Assessment and is a document that details the work that is to be carried out. 

Method Statement

Section 1

A brief Description of work to be undertaken,:

Your company details, logo, name and address, etc

Start Date & Completion date, if applicable

Site address

Site contact numbers 

Section 2 

This section can be used as a summary of the main potential hazards and the control measures that must be implemented, and should also be used to list any Personal Protective Equipment that must be worn, such as protective glasses or ear defenders. The information for this section can be extracted from your risk assessment document. You can also detail any Environmental or Quality procedures that must be taken during the task.

Environmental: you can state what materials you are using and if they are biodegradable or non biodegradable. You can state that balloons should not be released into the environment and how they should be disposed.

Quality: this defines very simply what tasks you are required to perform to complete the job. This could include how materials and equipment will arrive at the venue, and where the construction will take place. State what electrical equipment you will be using, if any, as well as if you will be using helium and helium regulators; I recommend stating that helium is an inert gas and that it will be used in a well ventilated area. You may want to go into greater details regarding any information you think is relevant.

I would also include any strike details, the removal of balloons, and any other materials. It is also important to outline how and when you propose to do this and any measure that you will take to ensure that the venue and working areas will be left free from dirt, dust, or any other hazards. 

I know that producing a Risk Assessment and Method Statement is not a requirement in all countries, but they are certainly becoming required more often in the U.K.

If it is contracts that you need help with, I have written several blogs on this subject.

'Contracts or Service Agreements' as a small business do we really need them?

Working with corporate clients and on larger events usually means a lot more work, especially in advance, but that is exciting, too, as it means that your business is growing. Once you have written your first contracts, risk assessments, and method statements it will all seem at lot easier for future jobs.

Ideally, creating templates for these will save you time in the future, so you may want to think about that.

I hope that this and my other business-related blogs are helpful to you and your business.

Happy Ballooning!



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