The Health and Safety
Executive's (HSE's) consultation on the assessment closed today and
in a detailed response the Union says it is totally wrong to
classify shops as 'low risk', especially as a number face a very
real threat of robbery. The Union also says the assessment takes
insufficient account of the variety of risks and hazards faced by
shops, which vary widely depending on obvious factors such as
location and what is sold.
The on-line risk assessment
has been developed by HSE as part of its efforts to follow up
recommendations from Lord Young's review of health and safety. In
his report to the Government called 'Common Sense. Common Safety',
Lord Young argued that the HSE should produce simple on-line risk
assessments for 'low risk' premises such as offices, schools and
At the time Usdaw raised
concerns about the idea of pro-forma risk assessments, arguing that
while shops may not have the obvious dangers of a large factory,
there were still very real risks such as robberies and violence and
abuse to staff.
Hannett, Usdaw General Secretary said:
"This attempt to develop an
on-line 20-minute risk assessment tool for so called 'small, low
risk shops' reveals all too clearly the impracticality of Lord
Young's belief that health and safety can be reduced to a simple
'one size fits all' box-ticking exercise."
"By giving the impression
that spending 20 minutes going through the online questions an
employer will have met their legal obligation to do a risk
assessment, the HSE could end up encouraging a dangerously
complacent approach to health and safety management. "
Russell, Usdaw's Health and Safety Officer added:
"The nature of the business
being assessed and its location is obviously crucial and this
simplistic assessment completely misses the point that the risks
faced by a local bookmakers or off-licence will obviously be very
different to say a second hand bookshop or hairdressers."
"The process encourages the
view that health and safety management is all about doing a one-off
risk assessment which is done occasionally instead of it being seen
as an essential part of the day to day management of the business -
as important as stock control, cash accounting and people
- The Health and Safety Executive's on-line shop risk
assessment can be found at: www.hse.gov.uk/consult/condocs/risk-assessment/shop.htm
- Usdaw (the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers) is
the UK's fourth biggest Trade Union, with over 395,000 members.
Usdaw is the country's fastest growing Trade Union; membership has
increased by more than 15% in the last four years and by over a
quarter in the last decade. Most Usdaw members work in the retail
sector, but the Union also has many members in transport,
distribution, food manufacturing, chemicals and other trades.