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Hazardous field of risk assessment

As a professional risk assessor, I agree with Dai Hudd of Prospect's comments that risk assessments should (and I emphasise "should") be about common sense ("No thaw on attitudes to risk", TES, February 16). In particular, the comment that "even last-minute changed plans could be dealt with by simply annotating a risk-assessment form" struck a chord.

Absolutely right: keep it simple. Sadly, as a health and safety governor, I cannot allow my school simply to "annotate a form", or do anything on paper. Our authority, like many others, insists that we use risk assessment software for all risk assessments - even the simplest. This turns the simple recording of a competent teacher's thought processes - which is all a risk assessment is -into a battle with a database. Satisfying the law is easy; satisfying county hall is much harder. Risk assessments are important and valuable as long as they are simple and straightforward. If not, diligent schools will cancel the activities while the less diligent will take the risk. Neither is acceptable, and we should not accept that the bad application of policies forces schools into these positions.

Andy Millar Engineering manager, Bombardier Transportation, Callington, Cornwall

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