Risk assessment FAQs
Discover the frequently asked questions related to risk assessments.
No, Commissioners (or their designate) are only required to see risk assessments for all nights’ away activities (and for a short time, the COVID-ready risk assessments to allow return to face to face Scouting as we progress through each readiness level). You must however always document all your risk assessments so that they are available if required.
The mandatory safety module has been updated and this covers risk assessment. It’s available for anyone so this would be a good starting point. There is also content in Running Safe Activities (17) and Safety for Managers.
Remember you’re not alone so work with your leadership team and line manager. Also check out the Mandatory Ongoing Safety Training which talks you through the process of doing a risk assessment. We’ve also provided some example risk assessments and don’t forget if you’re using the online programme planning tool then the safety alerts there are a great starting point for your risk assessment.
Yes, risk assessments are not the responsibility of just one person so firstly work with your leadership team. If you require more support then speak to your line manager who should be able to point you in the direction of people who can help. Safety Coordinators are available within Counties (islands, areas and regions) to help and support; and also permit holders all have to prove their capability with risk assessment in order to get a permit so they may be another resource. Don’t forget too that Districts and Counties often have deputies with programme responsibility or section leads who can also help.
Not in its documented form, but ensuring young people understand about risk is a really important element of what we provide within the Scouts. This will vary between sections and ages so find a way which works for you to help young people learn about risk (perhaps in the way you explain the rule or boundaries of a game or activity), and understand the controls which you have in place and how they can help keep the activity safe. It helps to see safety from a young person’s point of view and it’s also good development for them to as they shape the safety in their own programme.
You need to agree that with your leadership team but it should be somewhere accessible to the whole team and easily shared when needed with others. That might, for example, be an electronic shared folder or hard copy within your meeting place.
Risk assessments should not contain personal sensitive information, and only contain the name of the person who completed the risk assessment. Keeping your past risk assessments is a helpful tool to inform future ones, so keeping them handy in case you do a similar activity in the future is recommended. If something goes wrong and someone gets injured then retaining the risk assessment as part of the incident follow-up will be required. As there is no personal data there is no data retention policy to apply but you wouldn’t want to start afresh every time leadership teams change.
You will need to update risk assessments when significant changes happen, e.g. when you move to alternative premises for a few months during maintenance work. You must also build in annual review time and make sure all your risk assessments are within the current review period. You will also be able to use that time to reflect any changes since the last review and lessons learned from your dynamic notes when you last ran that activity.
We know leaders are good at assessing risk and adjusting their programme but across the country, we are not very good at recording these risks, communicating them to colleagues or young people and having them available for future reference and adjustment. Therefore we fail to build on our collective learning. When asked to justify our mitigations we often have no documented evidence to show what controls and hazard reduction we planned and why. Besides, it is good practice right across society to have everything documented and shared.
Leaders have always been required to undertake risk assessments for activities they do within the Scouts, with the encouragement to document them. This change requires the documenting of the risk assessment and so there is no change in liabilities. As always if members are following the rules and policies of the Scouts they will receive support should something not go to plan.
The Group Scout Leader (GSL) has oversight of programme for all sections. This is noted at POR rule (9.1). This is delegated to them by the District Commissioner (DC). In some cases the DC may delegate that to someone else. The GSL therefore is obliged to inform Districts that adequate controls are in place and written records maintained.
Yes, so long as it follows the five steps in our process. Just make sure that it’s clear for others to understand and in a format which can be shared.
We use the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) basic risk assessment approach which does not include a risk matrix for severity and likelihood.
Yes, you can if you are more comfortable with that. Remember though that everyone in your team also needs to comfortable and able to use that format and any template you may expect them to complete if they are to assess an activity using that format.
No, all Scout activities, events and meetings should be risk assessed, and now those risks should be documented. This includes all sections, leader training, activity centres and campsites, as well as other events such as awards evenings.
The important part of planning for a safe event is to fully risk assess the activity, part of the risk assessment process is recording and communicating your risk assessment and the controls being put in place to reduce risk. If everyone is on the same page with understanding how risk is controlled and managed within a situation then this should reduce the incidents which may occur.
Dynamic risk assessment is still a key part of managing risk, adapting from your plans to any changes which occur. Activities should still be planned in advance but if you need to change what you are doing then this can be dynamically risk assessed, still consider what to record and communicate and add to / amend any risk assessments after the event if this will help with future planning. If you’ve done something completely new then going through the process of documenting your plans for each element of the risk assessment is also important, this could be done in notes on your phone or on a note pad.
Recording your risk assessment will allow you to share it with others easier than if the information is in one persons head, this also helps with making this a more collaborative process. You can also return to previous risk assessments and update for future activities.
The leader in charge is responsible for ensuring a risk assessment is done for the activities they oversee, but all adults involved in the activity should be aware of the risk assessment having been completed, where to find it, and understand the controls required to reduce risk within the activity. So everyone has a responsibility to raise challenge or concern and to be involved in the development of the risk assessment.
Within the leadership team you should decide how best to keep the risk assessments, this may be a range of options with an online bank in a cloud storage system, but key ones may be printed and available at the meeting place. Premises risk assessments should also be available at the venue they cover and event risk assessments circulated before the event to those involved.