I was recently asked this question: "What's the most important piece of health and safety advice I could offer someone?"
My answer: "Make sure you've done your risk assessments!" To be honest, my reply wasn't received all that enthusiastically. I've noticed people get a bit tired of hearing about risk assessments.
Now I could go on about how risk assessments are a legal requirement. Or I could talk about how risk assessments lie at the heart of all health and safety legislation and practice. But I guess you may be a little tired of hearing about that too.
No, instead I'm going to share with you the findings of some research we carried out at Aviva recently.
We took a detailed look at around 7,500 employers' liability claims - incidents where someone was killed or injured at work. In particular, we wanted to know what was behind most of these cases.
And the thing most employers hadn't done to stop these incidents happening - "failure to carry out a proper risk assessment." Found in over 38% of cases.
So the message about risk assessments really is very important.
In case you're wondering, the next two most common failings after risk assessments were "lack of training" - found in 27% of cases - and "poor housekeeping" (11%).
The next time someone asks me what's really important when it comes to health and safety, I'm going to say "risk assessment, training and housekeeping."
By our reckoning, that should cover three-quarters of all incidents where someone ends up losing their life or suffering an injury at work.
Aviva Risk Management Solutions offers a one-day training course which covers both health and safety and fire safety risk assessments.