RISK-BENEFIT ASSESSMENT, unlike conventional risk assessment, aims to balance an assessment
of the potential benefits of an activity with the potential risks associated with it.
At the centre of any assessment is a judgment about what is reasonable in the circumstances -
'reasonableness' is the axis around which the UK's approach to health and safety revolves.
Making judgments about what in any particular case constitutes an 'acceptable level' of risk
can itself be a source of anxiety to the risk assessor, and in practice distort decision-making.
The principles of Risk-Benefit Assessment are straightforward and easy to understand.
Translating the principles into day to day practice on the ground can be a little more tricky
as risk-benefit assessors take account of the 'surrounding circumstances' of, for example,
organisational culture, existing procedures and practices that may have a tendency
to pull against or contradict the rationale and intent of risk-benefit assessment.
The conversational risk-benefit workshops allow these and other complexities to be acknowledged,
analysed and, hopefully, addressed. The overriding aim being to clear the way for risk-benefit
assessors to make informed decisions about what might be best of children and teenagers in their play.
Knowledge of context, knowledge of technique
Judgments about 'reasonableness' take place within the context of values, law, regulation,
organisational objectives, and the assessors personal approach to risk. The workshop will look at:
- Clarity about service objectives
- The law and regulation
- Culture of anxiety: how it affects judgement
- Negligence: the difference between negligence and an accident
- Reasonableness: how can you show that you make reasonable judgements about risk levels?
- What constitutes a serious injury?
- Secondary risk management and primary risk management: the difference between the two,
and the danger of not noticing the distinction.
- Risk-benefit assessment - how it's done.
Bernard Spiegal will be leading the workshop. He writes extensively on risk, and confronts the reality
of making judgments about risk as a consequence of PLAYLINK's design work for schools, parks,
public realm. He is co-author of Managing Risk in Play Provision: implementation guide (MRPP)
and the Play Safety Forum's Risk-Benefit Assessment form and guidance.
Bernard is an advisor to Play Safety Forum.
Who has attended
National Trust; Local authorities; Park departments; Schools; Housing Officers; Landscape Architects;
Designers; Children’s Services; Health and Safety Officers; Out of school provision; Play associations;
Play Wales; Play Services; Playworkers; School district, Lund, Sweden;
International School Grounds Alliance, California.
We recommend in particular in-house workshops commissioned by one or more organisations.
The advantages are lower cost and, importantly, that opportunities and barriers to implementing
a more confident approach to risk are shared by those responsible for implementing any changes.