Review your system periodically

calendar icon 9 November 2018
clock icon 4 minute read

Once your health and safety working system has been developed and implemented you will need to review it periodically. The more comprehensive your written SSW's and records are, the easier this will be. Reviews serve three important purposes:

1. To comply and keep up to date with legislation
Many health and safety regulations stipulate that risk assessments, monitoring results and equipment checks etc. must be reviewed at specific intervals and whenever you make any significant changes. You will need to be aware of those that apply to you. Changes in the legislation or hazard safety data may also mean that assessments will have to be amended. For example, the significance of endotoxins in piggery dust is being investigated and the findings may result in lower occupational exposure limits being set.

In general you should review your risk assessment records at least annually and as and when you introduce changes such as new areas, procedures, staff or hazards. Once your initial assessments have been revised to take account of any new control measures most records will hopefully not require further amendments, but you should still document the fact that you have checked them and that they are still valid.

If you have introduced any changes you must re-assess the relevant areas and procedures, and revise the existing records or compile new ones. For example, if you have an outbreak of salmonella in pigs in the finisher / grower house, you may need to introduce additional controls to minimise the risk of employees contacting or transmitting the disease. The new controls must be documented on the assessment record and brought to the attention of the employees.

You must also review your risk assessments if circumstances suggest that problems are occurring. For example, you may have assessed the risks associated with dust in the pig houses to be low (providing your specified control measures are implemented) but find that employees still suffer from, or begin to suffer from, respiratory problems. This may be due to an incorrect assessment originally, or because a change has gone unnoticed e.g. a different type of feed or bedding perhaps. Whatever the reason you will need to investigate and re-assess.

2. To monitor and improve the system
As with all management practices it is necessary to check whether the system is working effectively, or if it should be improved.

For example, your SSW's may specify that something is to be inspected by somebody at given times and that the results are to be recorded. If your review of the system shows that the inspection is not being carried out or that the results are not being recorded you will need to revise the system. It may be that the person is not aware of their responsibility to perform the task, does not appreciate the importance of it, or does not have enough time to do it.

The solution may be to leave the SSW unchanged but to re-train the individual concerned, emphasise the importance of the task and / or make more time available for them to do it.

Alternatively the responsibility for the task may have to be assigned to somebody else and the SSW should be re-written accordingly.

3. To demonstrate your commitment to health and safety
If you want the system to work and for everyone to play their part you must convince all concerned that you will continually check it and make changes as necessary. Formal reviews will achieve this. If however, it is seen as simply a one off paper exercise with no follow up, it will not be taken seriously and the time and effort spent developing the system will have been wasted.

If you think all of this is too much (and for the small business it invariably is) use the services of a competent organisation that specialises in health and safety in your country. It will save you considerable time and effort and allow you to concentrate on what you are good at - pig production. Salus QP Ltd can provide this service.

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