Are we becoming to risk averse?

Discussion in 'Officers' started by JimsBoyAllGrownUp, May 25, 2006.

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  1. Do you remember as a child riding your bike without a helmet, or climbing trees and falling out of them but there were no lawsuits, there were no child proof lids on medicine bottles, we had full on fist fights but had no prosecution from other parents....then we grew up and joined the army and could drive all hours until we fell asleep at the wheel with no prosecution, could carry out bayonet fighting with sand backs stuffed with offal, run until we dropped, trained until we were sick, drilled into the ground..... but now? Do we think too long and hard before pulling a trigger, do we stop exercises or ops because of hours worked, are we afraid to take the risk, are we afraid of being prosecuted in the line of what do you think? Are we becoming too risk averse in the Army?
  2. It might be tempting to think that but I don't think that the Army as an organisation is becoming risk averse. I believe it is is correct that most activities require a risk assessment and that is not a bad thing I have seen too many lads injured or killed because of poor planning or plain idleness. It comes down to the individual I think. If an activity/exercise planner can't be bothered to do the job properly and write an effective risk assessment then nothing will happen. Conversely there is an increasing number of people who just won't take the risks in case it goes wrong (as things inevitably do) and despite going through the correct assessment procedures find themselves in the sh1t. Given that our recruits, soldiers and officers, grow up in a nanny state where a blame culture is ridiculously prevalent I don't find it surprising.
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  3. I'll stick my neck out and give you my 2p worth - not as an officer mind, but comparing what I see in my civvy job with what I have seen in the Army. Since the demise of crown immunity the military has been subject to the same H&S regs as everyone else - with exemptions. These exemptions were applied for so that H&S wouldn't get in the way of training and ops. However, clearly they do - so why ?

    First off, the way H&S is applied in the military is often far, far too rigorous. My impression is that it's down to two things; widespread ignorance of what H&S actually is and/or shoddy internal training about same, which leads to an inability of those in the CoC to understand what their liabilities are. So everything gets banned, just in case - no-one trusts the CoC to cover their backs if they make an honest mistake. And it's a convenient excuse for a jobsworth - as no-one has the knowledge and confidence to challenge stupid decisions.

    Unlike industry, there is no financial penalty associated with banning activities. If I shut down a million pound piece of machinery for safety concerns they would be addressed PDQ to avoid loss of revenue - and correctly to avoid liability in case of an accident. Shut down training for soldiers and there are no financial results. Ever wonder why the really stupid H&S stories always come out of councils and the civil service - organisations that exist to spend money, not make it ?

    There is also a strong resistance to the CoC signing waivers and accepting responsibility for same. Drivers hours, for instance, can be set aside for operations and operational training any time the CoC wishes to, as long as they take responsibility. So why don't they ?
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  4. At the end of the day it comes down to common sense. As Xenophon has said we should not be killing or injuring soldiers unnecessarily. The old saying of "you can't make an omlette without breaking any eggs" can be applied, however training should be carried out sensibly where risks are "as low as reasonably practicable". The days of drivers caning it around day and night achieves 2 things - dead soldiers and broken kit. Drivers hours can be waivered and where able to should be to provide a controlled risk to familiarise soldiers. The same idea can be put to any form of training.

    Think of the following:

    Would you put a soldier on a range without training him in the weapon system?
    Would you let someone who isn't trained run the range?
    Would you ensure the range was fit for purpose?
    Would you let a Private soldier proceed from passing a weapon handling test straight to stage 5 live firing without any development?

    If you answered yes to any of the above you are a fool.
    If you answered no to them you have applied common sense.

    Unfortunately H&S is misunderstood by people who listen to the advisors; who are getting paid a fortune peddling common sense repackaged in complicated forms of words. It is the industry of H&S that is to blame along with peoples unwillingness to carry on sensibly.
  5. No we are becoming more 'Clain aware' its an easy way to make money - really takes the fun out of life!
  6. Well said HLM. H&S is a fact of life. I don't like the way it sounds and people get far too agitated about it. Any activity should be subject to Risk Assessment - we do this in its simplest form when crossing the road and looking to see if any traffic is coming.

    We can still conduct good, robust training. Identify the risk, look at the control measures. Are the control measures sufficient? If not then either change the control measures or accept the risk!
  7. The_Duke

    The_Duke LE Moderator

    Unfortunately, there are also far too many people who are more than happy to write meaningless risk assessments, but never actually evaluate the risks. How many risk assessments have you seen with an entry for "trips/falls" but no way top mitigate against the risk (because you cannot always remove the risk)?. The tendancy can be for people to ensure they have a full and thorough (but totally meaningless) risk assessment in place just to prove they have gone through the process.

  8. the idea is to reduce the risk of injury to the lowest level that is reasonably practicable. A risk assessment must contain control measures to reduce the hazard otherwise it is not deemed suitable and sufficient for the purposes of the management of health and safety at work regs. There was another thread entitled health and safety nazis where similar issues were raised. Agree common sense does play a part but the army takes H&S to ridiculous extremes and it is far easier to ban something than put in place adequate controls to reduce the hazard. The army only needs to comply with the statutory duties laid down by the regulations not exceed them.
  9. Just one question then, who was the tw*t who did the Risk Assessment on Op Telic then?
    If you find him let me know I want a serious word in his ear!! :)
  10. there are exemptions in times of war/operations
  11. Now there is a suprise :)
  12. But do you think that our guys are also afraid to pull the trigger in sticky situations for fear of prosecution. Remember the Trooper Williams case where a Iraqi civilian was killed in a firefight? In his case the case was dismissed......but has this had a detrimental effect on the way we fight? Has it changed the way that we react in a war-fighting scenario? Are commanders not taking the risk and avoiding these situations...are we casualty averse?
  13. Hey in the sand pit I was shot at several time did I return fire once - no. Why? - easy its the old all shots have to be Reasonable and Justified.
    When I went to return fire a) there was more of them than us all armed - and b) I could not clearly identify who had fired the shots - for every guilty one shot there could be an innocent for which you get prosecuted!

    Each situation is different - I made that choice and have to live with it. better still I lived to tell the tale some unlucky ones did not - thats life and the risk comes with the job!


  14. Question: Is this your real question as it has a tenuous link to your original post?

    Question: Are you a journalist after an new story? If not I apologise.

    The point of a risk assesment as I understand is to identify and reduce the hazard (as already stated). I hope that on the next field exercise I attend that:

    a. All trip hazards are removed.
    b. All overhead hazards are removed.
    c. There is no part of the Ex that involves working above ankle height.
    d. There is no part of the Ex that involoves working in confined spaces.
    e. No loud bangs within 400m.
    f. No night work without adequate illumination.

    Just a few items that require an risk assessment prior to deployment (or should).

    In short - Yes.

    Unfortunately leaping from your trench, sprinting through woodland, at night, whilst carrying an object intended to injure, is impossible to mitigate for.


    The risk assessmments carried out in the majority are pointless and damage the enviroment.
  15. Risk assessments need to be made in context with the work being done and the caveat here is "reasonably practicable" It is not reasonably practicable to scour the training area looking for hazards. If hazards are identified (such as rough ground) then guidance needs to be given ie on the orders process if the situation deems it.
    The applicable regulations have been enforced since 1993 yet it is only in the last couple of years that the army has got into a panic and banned everything. If they had their house in order earlier all this health and safety malarky would be old news