9 ways to stop your risk assessments being rejected

by Alex on February 18, 2015

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Having risk assessments and method statements rejected by a client is a frustrating experience – you’ve spent hours on listing risks, methods, and control measures, only to have your client say it’s not detailed enough, too generic or it doesn’t take the specific needs of the site into account. It costs you hours of effort and potentially thousands of pounds every year – and you look unprofessional in your client’s eyes. If you want to make sure your RAMS documents get accepted – keep these 9 strategies in mind next time.

1. Write new documents for each job

The number 1 reason for rejected risk assessments and method statements is lack of project-specific details.

Every job has its own individual risks and controls that need to be considered with most jobs never being exactly the same. If the site requires you to work from Scaffolding or mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPS), each will have very specific hazards that need to be considered and a plan needs to be produced on how these risks can be mitigated.

Demonstrating your understanding of the different risks found on each site will often be the difference between acceptance or rejection by your client of your RAMS documents  – it’s important you take the time to consider all the possible activities site operatives will be undertaking for the job.

2. Inspect each site carefully


After coming up with an initial plan that includes the activities that you’ll be doing and the equipment you’ll be using, it’s a good idea to make a detailed inspection of the job site to see if there are any factors that will increase risk. This will help you identify any hazards that you missed on the first draft; openings in floors, public thoroughfares, loose ground, and unexpected work at height should all be addressed in your risk assessments and method statements.

3. Adjust methods according to the needs of the site

Making sure that everyone at the work site is watching for changing conditions and new hazards can head off problems before they derail the job. Regular tool box talks can help managers stay updated on what’s going on at the site and help them make recommendations for new safety procedures quickly.

Dynamic risk assessments are also becoming a more common sight on larger construction sites; where 1 week or even a days worth of work is broken down into tasks and produced as one concise risk assessment document. This ‘sprint’ like approach to managing hazards works well in high risk industries, allowing the work force to concentrate on a small period of work and planing their controls effectively.

4. Review control measures

Just because you’ve used a particular method to control a risk in the past doesn’t mean that it will work the same way at a new job site. By reviewing the measures that you put in place to control risk, you can make sure that you’re always taking the right steps toward reducing the chance of an accident happening. Our risk assessment matrix will help you assess the risks at any site and easily reduce or increase the likelihood or severity for your task.


5. Know the site rules

Speaking with site managers to get a handle on the rules of each site is crucial, and should be demonstrated in each RAMS document. If there are specific first-aid procedures, waste management guidelines, or special requirements for site access that need to be followed, mentioning them in your documentation will show your client that you’ve taken a good look at the site and considered the risks that are unique to that location and job.

6. Identify who’s at risk

When you’re assessing the risks at a job site, it’s important also identify who could be at risk – and it’s not always the same on every job. If your working on tower scaffolding near a public walkway, not only are all site operatives at risk but also the public – your risk assessment should clearly identify this.  Editing a hazard in HANDS HQ, you can easily select from a list of possible persons who could be at risk.

7. Have a system in place for quickly making updates

Whether there’s an unexpected task that needs to be completed, an additional team of contractors brought in to work, or just a change in the weather, you need to be able to update your documentation quickly to show that you’re prepared to deal with the new conditions. Tool box talks and staying in communication with workers will help you stay on top of changing conditions, and everyone having immediate access to the same risk assessment can make the updating process even more seamless.

8. Stay up-to-date on the latest legislation

Health and safety legislation can change quickly, and being up-to-date on the latest laws and regulations is crucial for creating accurate documentation. Since the implementation of Health and Safety at Work Act in 1974, there have been over 150 new laws created, and on top of these new laws, there are amendments, redactions and approved codes of practice to stay on top of.  Having out of date information in your RAMS is another reason to ensure you have a system in place that can be instantaneously updated across the business as soon as any laws or codes of practices change.

New H&S laws since 1974 (Taylor, 2010)


9. Designate who’s responsible for enacting control measures


When you detail the control measures that are necessary for handling a specific risk, it’s important to specify who’s responsible for enacting those control measures. Even if it’s understood that a certain group or person is responsible, making a note of it makes it clear to everyone involved that someone has been identified as the primary holder of responsibility for mitigating a particular risk or as changes to risk arise.

Say “No more!” to rejected RAMS documents

Many of our customers have had problems in the past with having a high proportion of their documents rejected, especially because of a lack of detail and or not submitting site/task specific documents. In fact, one of our customers has seen a document rejection rate of 90% to having every single one accepted.

Don’t waste time re-writing your RAMS documents because they’re getting rejected. Keep these rules in mind and save yourself the time and hassle of re-writing your documentation!

Image credits: moppett65535USACE via flickr, MTA via Wikimedia Commons.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Simon oliver February 20, 2015 at 11:43 pm

A very helpful article, which I will call on through out my carer .


Alex February 24, 2015 at 5:18 pm

Thanks Simon – do share around, I know a lot of people struggle with getting their risk assessments site specific and accepted by clients.


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