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19th February, 2018

Health And Safety: The Principles Of Prevention

The principles of prevention involve a series of principles, ordered to form a best practice approach to risk management, from most effective to least effective - the most effective being to avoid risk. For those risks that cannot be avoided each of the other principles of prevention should be applied where appropriate, to reduce the risk so far as is reasonably practicable to do so.

Often a combination of the principles of prevention may be use to provide the best approach.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations outline the principles of prevention to be applied when introducing preventative and protective measures.

Principles of prevention to be applied 4. Where an employer implements any preventive and protective measures he shall do so on the basis of the principles.

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (referred to as the CDM regulations) also require duty holders to use these principles to direct their approach to identifying and implementing precautions which are necessary to control risks associated with a project.

The principles of prevention are outlined in both sets of regulations, and are as follows:

(a) avoiding risks

Where possible you should avoid risks all together. Obviously, it is impossible to avoid all risks in the workplace, but those that can be avoided should be. This is the most important principle – the safest risk is the one you don’t take.

(b) evaluating the risks which cannot be avoided

Risks that cannot be avoided should be evaluated through a risk assessment to determine the safest method of work.

(c) combating the risks at source

Combating the risk at source is better than managing the risk through warnings or PPE. For example a slippery surface should be treated or replaced as opposed to putting up a warning sign.

(d) adapting the work to the individual

Especially as regards the design of workplaces, the choice of work equipment and the choice of working and production methods, with a view, in particular, to alleviating monotonous work and work at a predetermined work-rate and to reducing their effect on health

(e) adapting to technical progress

Technologic advancement involves solutions to existing problems. When new equipment is developed you should take advantage of any opportunities to make your working processes safer.

(f) replacing the dangerous by the non-dangerous or the less dangerous

If you cannot remove a risk entirely, you may be able to replace it with another less dangerous method to get the work done. For example, you may be able to substitute a toxic substance for one that is less hazardous, or work from height could be carried out from fixed scaffolding rather than a ladder.

(g) developing a coherent overall prevention policy

This policy should cover technology, organisation of work, working conditions, social relationships and the influence of factors relating to the working environment.

(h) giving collective protective measures priority

Collective protective measures should be given priority over individual protective measures. Collective measures give the greatest benefit to protecting the whole workplace, it is important to consider how preventative measures will work together and ensure they are compatible.

(i) giving appropriate instructions to employees

Any control measures you introduce are no use if your workforce do not comply with them, understand them or even know about them. Communication is vital to ensure the successful implementation of health and safety measures to protect everybody.

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