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LAC 67/2 (rev5) - Setting priorities and targeting interventions

Annex D – Risk Rating System

Site risk rating should not be used to determine the need for proactive inspection interventions – the choice of proactive inspections should follow the principles within the Code - it will however help LAs to formulate their relative intervention priorities i.e. allow them to better target their other interventions on the basis of risk.

This Annex provides a simple four Category (A – high risk; B1 and B2 - medium risk and C – low risk) premises risk rating system based on a business’ health and safety performance (See Table 1).

N.B. The risk rating system below closely followed that used by HSE’s Field Operations Directorate (FOD). During 2015 FOD plans to introduce a new rating system. LAU will maintain a watching brief to assess whether or not this new risk rating system would benefit LA regulators. Any new risk rating system is unlikely to be introduced before 2016/17 at the earliest.

Table 1 – Category Rating Criteria

Category Rating Score
A Score of 5 or 6 on any risk
B1 Score of 4  on any risk
B2 Score of 3 on any risk
C No score greater than 2

Where appropriate, the rating process can be used to evaluate and give a value to four different elements of a business’s health and safety performance (i.e. how effective is the business at managing any risks it creates.):

Inspectors should give ratings based on what they find during an intervention, using the guidance below to select the most appropriate value for each of the four elements. Inspectors should rate at the level of the site and not the company and when allocating a rating for the relevant element, bear in mind the relevant group at risk, not just the employees.

Whilst risk rating should not determine proactive inspection interventions - the choice of proactive inspections should follow the principles within the National LA Enforcement Code - it will help LAs to formulate their relative intervention priorities i.e. allow them to better target their other interventions on the basis of risk.

LAs can assign a Category to a premise following an intervention or by undertaking a desktop assessment using the available national and local knowledge of the premises. For example local knowledge of individual business poor performance, particular building hazards, knowledge of the likely inherent risks within a particular business sector, any known significant sector hazards or incidents including national safety alerts. The inspector's assessment should represent a proportionate balance of their findings, knowledge and professional judgement.

Should you need to revisit, e.g. to check on a Notice, and conditions have changed, then it is entirely appropriate to re-rate any or all of the four elements and carry forward the ratings of the others (as, generally, little time will have elapsed).

Confidence in management

This is a numerical rating (see Table 2) reflecting an inspector's level of confidence in management's ability to attain or maintain a low level of health and safety risk, at the workplace or in relation to work activities, in the foreseeable future.

When rating premises LA inspectors should have regard to the necessary level of management required to control the risks inherent within the particular premises under consideration. Inspectors should make their judgements in relation to management standards required for that type of site and not the standard that may be more relevant to a site with potentially higher inherent risks. Inspectors should bear in mind that in many cases procedures may not be documented. In such cases, inspectors will be looking to identify how far the spirit and practice is evident in the way companies deal with health and safety issues given the inherent risks. Inspectors should refer to any relevant guidance. See Managing for health and safety.

The following example may help:

Following a complaint about inadequate health and safety, an inspector visits a small family run newsagent and although the owner has little health and safety knowledge or awareness there are no significant safety or health related performance issues. The inspector does not rate their confidence in Management as ‘5’ ‘Management are not up to the task’ because they consider the inherent risks of the business to be low, meaning that a proportionately lower level of management is required for the task. For this reason the inspector gives a rating of ‘4’ and also decides that follow up inspection action is not warranted. Later that day, following a complaint, the inspector finds a similar management approach at a builder’s yard and gives it a rating of ‘5’ because this management approach is insufficient to successfully control the inherent risks of such a business. The inspector writes to the builder’s yard setting out what enforcement action they are taking and setting out the actions management should consider taking, directing them to suitable published guidance.

Table 2 – Confidence in Management Rating

Rating Descriptor
1 Full compliance. Management know the relevant health and safety standards have put them into effect and check they are applied correctly. There is clear evidence of effective self-regulation with standards being monitored and refined.

Strong Evidence that management are up to the task. Management generally enthusiastic and competent with either:

  • effective systems in place for other business processes (e.g. quality assurance) but with knowledge gaps for health and safety requirements, or
  • good health and safety knowledge with systems requiring improvement.
There is potential for good performance.
3 Some evidence that management are up to the task. Management are knowledgeable about relevant health and safety standards but there has been little effort to adopt a proactive approach to health and safety management. However, senior managers volunteer their thoughts as the intervention progresses and appear to be committed to adopting a more proactive approach. There is general confidence that the recommendations resulting from the intervention will be put into place.
4 Management are ambivalent about health and safety. Management have only a patchy knowledge of relevant standards and there is little or no evidence that a proactive approach to ongoing health and safety management has been adopted. However, senior managers recognise the need to satisfy explicit statutory requirements and there is some prospect that a more proactive approach may be adopted. There is some confidence that the recommendations resulting from the intervention will be put in place.
5 Management are not up to the task. Management have significant shortcomings in their knowledge of relevant standards. Management do not appear to be willing to instigate a proactive approach and have not recognised that health and safety is an issue where they need to be personally involved. There is uncertainty as to how they will respond to the findings from the intervention.
6 Management avoid the task and/or connive in cutting corners. There is a negative approach to accepting legal duties and management dispute the relevance or validity of recognised benchmark standards. Totally ineffective in the management of health and safety. The findings from the intervention are likely to be ignored.

Safety or Health Performance

This is a numerical rating (see Table 3) reflecting the inspector's judgment of the overall level of compliance of safety risks (the potential of an item of work equipment, procedure or method of work to cause an undesirable injury of any nature. Inspectors should not automatically award the highest rating because of the mere presence of electricity, gas or any other safety hazards when the risk is effectively controlled or minimised so far as is reasonably practicable) and of health risks (the potential of a substance, chemical, force (e.g. noise), event (e.g. commercial robbery) or method of work to cause harm or ill health. Aspects related to both physical health and mental health (e.g. stress) are covered by this criteria. Health hazards are not always cumulative (though they may be) and there are a wide range of causative agents) at the workplace.

Inspectors have discretion when assigning these overall ratings. However, inspectors should apply the following checks, as a way of ensuring consistency -

  1. Undertake a review of all aspects of safety covered during the inspection, including matters of evident concern (MECs - defined as those that create a risk of serious personal injury or ill-health and which are observed (i.e. self-evident) or brought to the inspector’s attention.) and matters of potential major concern (MPMCs - are those which have a realistic potential to cause either multiple fatalities or multiple cases of acute or chronic ill-health).
  2. Identify the issue or topic where compliance was poorest.
  3. Assess how this issue would score, if it were to be scored in isolation on the six-point scale.
  4. Consider the outcome of step 3. If there is a single issue that would, in itself, warrant a score of ‘5’ or ‘6’, the overall safety rating should not be less than ‘5’ because the duty-holder is clearly not managing the risk.
  5. If a notice is to be issued on a matter relating to safety, the overall safety performance rating should be ‘4’ or greater.
  6. Repeat steps 1 to 5 for the aspects of health covered during the inspection.

The checks outlined above are a way of ensuring that the rating process is in line with scoring criteria set out for the six-point scale. If any aspect of a visit meets the criteria for scoring ‘5’ (a score which should be assigned in situations where there is a discernible risk gap) or ‘6’ (a score which should be assigned when standards are unacceptable and may necessitate a notice being issued) this would be incompatible with an overall score of ‘3’ or better. The latter score should only be assigned if the general picture is one of only minor shortcomings that can be dealt with informally with oral advice.

These criteria are a matter of professional judgment on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, inspectors may need to balance aspects of the visit where compliance was poor against other aspects where compliance was good in order to come up with their overall judgment. Moreover, some aspects may be more important than others in the context of the particular premises visited.

The following example may help:

At a visit to industrial wholesale premises, an inspector focuses on work place transport and work at height activities to assess the company’s health and safety performance. Compliance was found to be good, but enquiries into a matter of evident concern relating to lifting equipment revealed unacceptable compliance in this area. On their own, these shortcomings would have warranted a score of ‘5’ on the six-point scale. However, taking into account the good compliance in work place transport and work at height, the appropriate safety rating is likely to be ‘4’.

Table 3 - Safety or Health Performance Rating

Rating Descriptor
1 High standards. Some aspects exceed the minimum legal requirements.  
2 Good standards. Minimum legal requirements have been met.
3 One or more minor shortcomings. Since these shortcomings are not serious, they can be dealt with informally with verbal advice.
4 Standards are variable. It is necessary to address one or more shortcomings (which are not minor) by giving formal instructions for remedial action to be taken e.g. sending a letter.
5 Standards generally unsatisfactory. There is at least one contravention that gives rise to either a substantial or extreme risk gap (as defined by EMM). Formal intervention is required to achieve improvement in standards e.g. Improvement Notices. Risks are not being adequately controlled.
6 Standards unacceptable. A disregard for expected standards and/or significant breaches has been observed and/or could be expected. Extreme risk gap present as defined by EMM. Unless application of the EMM identifies duty holder factors that provide strong mitigation, issuing a notice or prosecution is likely to be appropriate.

Welfare compliance

This is a numerical rating (See Table 4) that reflects the inspector’s judgment on the overall level of compliance regarding welfare standards at a workplace.

The descriptors in the welfare compliance gap table have been written mainly in terms of toilet and washing facilities, as these are likely to be the main indicators you will use during inspections. This does not mean, however, that you cannot consider other welfare issues when rating the overall welfare provision.

Table 4 – Welfare Compliance Gap

Score State of Compliance Descriptor
1 Compliance Good, clean, suitable and sufficient provision of welfare facilities.
2 Minor non-compliance Welfare facilities need cleaning, temporary absence of consumables such as soap or towels.
3 Inadequate provision Inadequate or dirty welfare facilities. Inadequate rest facilities. No heated water or too few toilets.
4 Major non-compliance Welfare facilities not present or so poor as to be unfit for use. No toilet or washing facilities.
Updated 2016-11-19