When carrying out a project or services, especially within higher risk industries like construction, you will often be asked for risk assessments and method statements for the work.
These are two different documents, but might cover the same task or activity. But what are the differences between risk assessments and method statements?
A risk assessment is simply, as the name suggests, an assessment of risk.
A risk assessment should be carried out before you do any work that presents a risk of injury or ill health.
You should carefully identify the hazards, and the severity and likelihood of harm occurring to establish the risk level present. Then look at the controls you need in place to minimise the risk so that the work can be carried out safely.
For more information on completing a risk assessment, check out the 5 steps to risk assessment.
And as we have discussed previously, a risk assessment is a specific legal requirement under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations.
So, what’s the differences between a risk assessment and a method statement?
Well, a method statement is not an assessment of risk, it is more like a safe system of work, or instructions for how the work will be carried out safely.
The method statement will usually be accompanied by the risk assessment, and will include the risks identified within the risk assessment and the control measures needed. In fact, these two documents support each other and will contain overlapping information.
The difference is that method statements are not always required.
All work should be covered by a risk assessment, whereas method statements are usually for higher-risk, complex or unusual work.
A method statement will set out the work in a logical sequence and explain to employees how the work should be done, providing additional details.
Method statements are not specifically required by law in the same way that risk assessments are, but they can help you to comply with the law and the need to carry out your work safely.