Control Measures: Say What We Do - And Then Do What We Say

The safety risk assessment is a central part of the modern health and safety management system, of which control measures form a key component.

Written by Laura Fitzgerald

The safety risk assessment is a central part of the modern health and safety management system, of which control measures form a key component.

Most health and safety regulations include a requirement to carry out a risk assessment. Most enforcement officers want to see evidence of them, and the lack of a suitable and sufficient risk assessment is a key issue for many prosecutions.

Failure to implement control measures that we come up with from our risk assessments are a common cause of failure: leading to Accidents and Incidents.

What are Control Measures?

Control measures are the things that we identify in safety risk assessments and procedures that are intended to keep people safe, or to reduce the risks, or to mitigate the consequences of failure. It stands to reason that if control measures are not adhered to (ignored, or people not being aware of them) then people are not being kept safe, and they may be harmed.

A recently reported Irish case demonstrates that control measures need to be managed. In this Dublin-based case, a driver was employed by a logistics company and was collecting packages at an Aer Lingus cargo warehouse at the airport (November 2014). The driver fell from a loading bay and died some days later from the resulting head trauma.

The court heard that the airline had a procedure, but that it failed to apply its own procedure, which required drivers to enter and leave the warehouse via stairs and a doorway adjacent to the loading bay.

Aer Lingus pleaded guilty to an offence under section 12 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005 and was fined €250,000 (£213,000).

Reactive Monitoring vs. Active Monitoring

Part of good health and safety management is to identify the appropriate control measures (such as through risk assessment), communicate the findings to relevant people (such as those working in the area), and then monitor the use and effectiveness of the control measures. This last part is known as active monitoring.

A simple way to think of this is: “say what we do and then do what we say”.

By creating the safety risk assessment and the method statement or procedure we are “saying what we do”.

Now we need to “do what we say”.

Companies should validate (audit) their risk assessments, policies, procedures, and method statements. Basically, this means observing what happens in the workplace and comparing it “what we say we do”.

If observation matches what we say we do, then we should record this positive safety outcome. If observation does not match what we say we do, then we need to do something.

We have 2 basic options:

1. Enforce the use of the identified appropriate control measures

This can be achieved via: 

  • Training and instruction (including refresher training)
  • Toolbox talks
  • Active supervision, correcting behaviours
  • Disciplinary action (if the educative and cajoling approach does not work)

2. Update our control measures to reflect the new (safe) method of working


Either way, it is vital that we enforce the control measures that we identify. In the case cited above, a worker died not for the lack of a risk assessment or a procedure, but because the control measures were not adhered to and were not enforced.

Identifying Control Measures With Safety Risk Assessment Software

Without an adequate amount of safety risk assessments taking place on a regular basis, identifying and implementing control measures becomes a difficult task.

Without control measures in place, people are not being kept safe, and may be harmed. With our safety risk assessment software, we can help you with the management of your organisation's Risk Assessments and Method Statements.

For more information as to how EcoOnline can help you easily create, share and manage your risk assessments or streamline any of your organisations health and safety processes, why not Contact one of our super friendly product specialists or request a demo.

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