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26th October 2019

Watch Out For Generic Risk Assessments

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What’s Happened?

A construction company has recently been fined £65,000 after one of their carpenters sustained nerve and tissue damage to his lower back after a fall from height.

The employee had climbed up to remove a nail from a brace holding trusses, one of which started to fall causing the employee to fall with it. The 36-year-old employee sustained nerve and tissue damage to his lower back, whiplash to his neck and his little finger was ripped open.


The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation into the incident and discovered that the raised safety decking being used to prevent falls occurring within the building did not actually cover the whole area, and left significant gaps.

The HSE also noted that the risk assessments being used by the construction company were generic in nature. Whilst the assessments identified falls from height, the control measures only focused on scaffolding issues and did not even mention internal falls and decking. It was also found that operatives on the site were not even trained to install the safety decking they were using.

MP Building Limited of Bilton Road, Hitchin pleaded guilty to contravening both The Work at Height Regulations 2005 and The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. The company was fined £65,000 and ordered to pay £6,298.82 in costs.

Should I use Generic Risk Assessments?

We have many clients who use what would be termed as ‘Generic’ Risk assessments. It should be noted that there is no legal prohibition on using such documentation, and where companies have similar workplaces or undertake similar activities they make clear sense to implement. However when using ‘Generic’ assessments employers must always ensure that they:

  • satisfy themselves that the ‘Generic’ assessments are appropriate to their type of work; and
  • adapt the assessments to the detail of their own actual work situations, this needs to include any additions necessary to cover hazards and risks not referred to.

If you have any queries regarding risk assessments don’t hesitate to call out team of health and safety advisors on 0845 459 1724 or email  

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The competent person role does not have to be fulfilled internally within every company. You can, therefore, outsource the appointment to a contractor or consultancy with the necessary qualifications and experience.

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