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How can you follow legislation if the terminology is open to interpretation?

How can you follow the letter of the law if the terminology itself is open to interpretation?

Qualitative adjectives in guidelines or laws may leave room for interpretation – which provides an individual with a seemingly high level of control when implementing a risk assessment.

If disaster does strike, how can it be proved that a ‘suitable and sufficient’ risk assessment was conducted or that everything ‘reasonably practical’ was undertaken? This kind of terminology makes the risk assessors job relatively high risk.

Qualitative adjectives are adjectives which describe the subjective or perceived quality of living or non-living things, these are unique to the individual. We cannot count Qualitative Adjectives as they are mostly abstract and perceived through our senses. Examples of qualitative adjectives include: Boring, Interesting, scary, funny, dark, fair.

The courts have - on numerous occasions - noted that what is ‘reasonably practicable’ is to be determined objectively. This means that a risk assessor must meet the standard of behaviour expected of a reasonable person in that position and who is required to comply with the same duty.

‘Reasonable and Practical’ in practice:

Is there a way of reducing the subjectiveness and looking objectively at something which is open to individual interpretation? At iHASCO, our certified Risk Assessment eLearning Course aims to do this. By law, every employer must undertake this kind of assessment to reduce health and safety risks within their working environment.

This eLearning course gives a concise, structured overview of what a risk assessment is, and explains each stage of a risk assessment in a clear, step-by-step manner. Whilst ensuring legal compliance, our course will show you how to assign ratings to workplace risks, as well as put appropriate control measures in place.

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