ICE and Capita Symonds Health and Safety Lecture

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Assessment of Risk: How much is ‘suitable and sufficient’?
Jean Venables OBE FREng FICE
President, Institution of Civil Engineers
Crane Environmental
Wednesday 23 September 2009
The Institution of Civil Engineers

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ICE and Capita Symonds Health and Safety Lecture

  1. 1. Joint ICE/Capita Symonds Safety Lecture 2009 Assessment of Risk: how much is ‘suitable and sufficient’? Jean Venables OBE FREng FICE President, Institution of Civil Engineers Crane Environmental Wednesday 23 September 2009 The Institution of Civil Engineers
  2. 2. Jean Venables OBE FREng FICE President, Institution of Civil Engineers Chairman, Crane Environmental
  3. 3. Assessment of Risk: how much is ‘ suitable and sufficient’ ?
  4. 4. Structure <ul><li>Why the question? </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion of the issues </li></ul><ul><li>A way forward </li></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>‘ Risk can be managed, minimised, shared, transferred or accepted; but it cannot be ignored.’ </li></ul><ul><li>Sir Michael Latham: Constructing the team (1994) </li></ul>
  6. 6. Why the question? <ul><li>An HSE prosecution some years ago </li></ul><ul><li>Criminally liable but not professionally negligent </li></ul>
  7. 7. Sources of information: <ul><li>Legislation: Acts and Regulations </li></ul><ul><li>Approved Codes of Practice </li></ul><ul><li>Codes of Practice </li></ul><ul><li>Best practice guidance </li></ul><ul><li>Rules for Professional Conduct </li></ul>
  8. 8. Legislation: <ul><li>Suitable and Sufficient </li></ul><ul><li>ALARP: As low as reasonably practicable </li></ul><ul><li>SFARP: So far as is reasonably practicable </li></ul><ul><li>Reasonably foreseeable </li></ul><ul><li>(Grossly) disproportionate </li></ul>
  9. 9. Professional Conduct <ul><li>6 Rules of Professional Conduct </li></ul><ul><li>..integrity; </li></ul><ul><li>..competent; </li></ul><ul><li>..full regard for the public interest, particularly in relation to matters of health and safety,.... </li></ul>
  10. 10. Institution of Civil Engineers <ul><li>Professional Conduct Panel </li></ul><ul><li>Disciplinary Board </li></ul><ul><li>Appeal procedure </li></ul>
  11. 11. How to balance risk and sacrifice? <ul><li>Time </li></ul><ul><li>Effort </li></ul><ul><li>Cost </li></ul>Risk Sacrifice Injury Illness Danger
  12. 12. Professional Judgement <ul><li>How to balance risk and sacrifice </li></ul><ul><li>Exercised by both practitioners and HSE staff </li></ul><ul><li>Can be wrong without being negligent </li></ul>
  13. 13. Compliance by construction professionals <ul><li>Innovation vs risk aversion </li></ul><ul><li>How to cope with the complexity of definitions </li></ul>
  14. 14. Suitable and Sufficient, ALARP and SFARP <ul><li>How can construction professionals be confident they have discharged their legal obligations? </li></ul>Proportionate Disproportionate Grossly Disproportionate COST / EFFORT / TIME
  15. 15. <ul><li>‘ ....we can’t go on with the ALARP system forever as it is becoming increasingly difficult to do anything.’ </li></ul><ul><li>Ian Walmsley: Manifesto for rail, </li></ul><ul><li>in Modern Railways (Sept 2009) </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>A Review of, and commentary on, the legal requirement to exercise a duty </li></ul><ul><li>‘ so far as is reasonably practical’ </li></ul><ul><li>with specific regard to designers in the construction industry. </li></ul><ul><li>ICE, May 2009, revised September 2009 </li></ul>
  17. 17. ICE Discussion paper <ul><li>When enough is enough </li></ul><ul><li>Are we obliged to make ‘disproportionate’ effort or continue to the point of ‘gross disproportion’ </li></ul>
  18. 18. Boundaries, externalities and transferring risk <ul><li>Perceptions of risk </li></ul><ul><li>Assessment of risk </li></ul><ul><li>Where to draw the boundaries </li></ul><ul><li>How to value costs and benefits </li></ul>
  19. 19. Professional Judgement <ul><li>Decisions have to be made despite the absence of all the facts </li></ul><ul><li>Past risks and statistics can be a poor guide to future risks </li></ul><ul><li>Climate change challenge needs innovation </li></ul>
  20. 20. What is different about construction? <ul><li>Different to processes and product manufacture </li></ul><ul><li>Rarely any prototypes </li></ul><ul><li>Almost all projects unique and vary daily </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore no data for precisely similar situations </li></ul>
  21. 21. Construction Industry Designers <ul><li>What should they do? </li></ul><ul><li>Can assume competent contractor </li></ul><ul><li>But have no control over construction unless have further appointment </li></ul><ul><li>When is enough? </li></ul>
  22. 22. Debate needed on the way forward <ul><li>Procurement: </li></ul><ul><li>Client’s leadership </li></ul><ul><li>Anti-corruption procedures </li></ul>
  23. 23. Resolving Issues <ul><li>Involve all parties </li></ul><ul><li>Reduce conflicting requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Give practical advice </li></ul><ul><li>SCOSS / CROSS </li></ul>
  24. 24. Conclusions <ul><li>Significant area of concern </li></ul><ul><li>Needs case studies </li></ul><ul><li>Civil engineering needs a system for sharing information </li></ul><ul><li>No fault compensation? </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>‘ Professional judgement is by far the most important tool in risk management... </li></ul><ul><li>...Formal risk assessment and evaluation of methods should be used as an aid to judgement, not as a substitute for it.’ </li></ul><ul><li>T he Engineering Council: Guidelines on risk issues (1993) </li></ul>
  26. 26. Thank you Jean Venables ice.org.uk crane-environmental.co.uk

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