Health and Safety & Risks

What is risk?

The word risk is used in a variety of contexts. But what does risk broadly mean from an insurance perspective? One definition is that risk is the likelihood of a hazard causing adverse effects as well as the impact of those effects. It is important to differentiate between risk and hazard. A hazard is a condition, situation or physical object that increases the likelihood and or severity of an event with an adverse effect. For example, a hazard could be a wet floor and the risk would be injury caused by slipping.

The risks and hazards will be different in every organisation and will depend on factors such as the activities in which they engage, how the organisation is managed, the type of property and assets it is responsible for and the level of training and competency of its staff.

What risks does the insurance industry perceive within the Church and Charity Sector?

Drawing from our own experience and expertise in the Church and Charity sector, we believe that some of the most significant risks to Churches and Charities are:

• Injury to employees or volunteers caused whilst carrying out activities or work.
• Injury to third parties from slips and trips.
• Allegations of abuse and the paramount safety of children and vulnerable adults.
• Theft or Fire damage to property.

Whilst there are many more risks that could be stated here, it is important that risks are identified, assessed and if possible protected against by an appropriate insurance policy.

How is risk managed?

To help mitigate risk, Churches and Charities need to identify ways of reducing the hazards. This is often carried out by an insurance broker, the organisation themselves or by a specialist risk management company. This involves looking closely at the organisation’s activities and property to see where the hazards exist and then deciding how they can best be controlled. The aim here is not to create barriers to prevent the organisation from carrying out particular activities and events, but instead, to ensure that everything runs smoothly and safely.

Many organisations carry out their own risk assessments on their activities, have Health and Safety policies in place and also carry out background checks on their staff and volunteers. However, to maximise the effect of these assessments and the checks that are carried out, it is advisable to keep them regularly updated and ensure that they are tailored to your individual organisation.

Questions that are worth asking are:

• Are you covering all the areas which are specific to you?
• Are you taking practical steps to remove hazards and reduce risks?
• Are you protecting your employees, volunteers and service users to the best of your ability?
• What impact will these risks have on your organisation?

Health and Safety must be managed by a competent person; this means that they have the knowledge, experience and skills to help with these duties. This could be carried out internally by someone in the organisation, or externally by a specialist consultant. Often it is best to deal with Health and Safety internally as the employee or volunteer will understand the organisation, and how it works down to the ‘nuts and bolts’, better than anyone else.

Access Insurance has a number of options available to help ease the burden of managing risk. For more information please contact us.

Useful resources on HSE website

1. Risk Management
2. Risk Assessment
3. HSE Five Steps
4. Sensible Risk Management

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