' A life without adventure is likely to be unsatisfactory. A life without limits on adventure is likely to be short. ' - Bertrand Russell
All off-site visits MUST be risk assessed, as part of the planning and preparation process.
Schools and organisations are advised to follow the procedure below:
At the start of the year:
1. Staff teams should select, download and complete all relevant Generic Risk Assessment forms from the list
below (according to the type of visits and activities normally organised during the year).
Click here to view and download Generic Risk Assessments
2. Store completed forms in a marked file in a clearly known and accessible place (e.g. staff room or dept office) and keep familiar with the agreed practice.
In preparation for each visit:
3. Visit organisers should select, download and complete any additional generic risk assessment forms that might apply.
4. Visit organisers should complete a Specific Visit Risk Assessment to address any extra issues relevant to the specific site/group/activities involved.
Click here to download a blank Specific Risk Assessment form (Chris - link as before to list of GRAs):
5. If necessary, all group leaders should remind themselves of agreed practice by viewing relevant Generic Risk Assessments forms (especially for venues/activities that are less familiar to staff).
During each visit:
All visit leaders should always be alert to the possibility of new hazards, and be ready to take additional precautions and
adapt the planned programme, as necessary (no additional written risk assessment is necessary).
For further detailed guidance, click to view chapter 9 'Risk Assessment and Management' in the LA Educational Visits Safety Guidelines.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Risk Assessment
1. What are generic risk assessments?
- Generic Risk Assessments highlight commonly identified hazards (i.e. things with the potential to cause harm) and control measures (i.e. ways of
reducing the likelihood of the hazard causing harm) associated with general locations, events or activities (e.g. visits to coasts).
- The main aim of these Generic Risk Assessments is to help raise overall safety standards on educational visits.
- They aim to fulfil the Local Authorityís legal responsibility to provide employees with relevant written risk assessments.
- They are not mandatory, but are made available as helpful tools for all those who have responsibility for the organisation and leadership of
2. How can generic risk assessments for educational visits help?
Generic Risk Assessments should help all those responsible for the organisation and leadership of educational visits by:
- raising awareness of possible hazards and control measures that might have previously not been considered;
- promoting recommended good practice;
- providing information that can easily be shared with, and adapted by, all leaders (and group members) to ensure a common understanding of
expected standards and responsibilities during a visit.
Generic Risk Assessments should therefore help to:
- protect young people, by highlighting ways of improving safety standards on educational visits;
- safeguard leaders from the threat of litigation, by providing clear written evidence of the risk assessment and management measures that have
been taken (as required by law);
- save considerable time and effort, by providing an initial framework of ideas for discussion (rather than starting with a blank sheet of paper! - it is generally easier to cross out the suggestions that may not apply, rather than to think from the start of all the issues that do).
3. How should generic risk assessments be used?
Generic Risk Assessments provide a useful starting point for discussion and consideration, BUT they must never be regarded as:
- foolproof - accidents can still happen! (but the risk assessments do give written evidence to help show that leaders have given reasonable
prior thought to the risks and control measures involved!);
- comprehensive - whilst generic risk assessments seek to identify and highlight key hazards and control measures, it should never be
assumed that all significant issues have been recognised and included. It is still up to the leaders to identify and add any other hazards or control
measures that may appropriate;
- rigid - generic risk assessment forms are flexible, and must be adapted to each groupís own circumstances by adding further hazards/control
measures that may be relevant, or deleting those hazards/control measures that are not appropriate or acceptable, or cannot practically be
implemented for some reason. Indeed, whilst the control measures suggested might all be worthy of consideration, it is understood that they are not
all universally applicable for all groups and situations. However, if an accident were to occur as a consequence of a control measure not being
adopted, a court of law might expect the leader to justify that decision!;
- one personís sole responsibility - all risk assessments should be shared and discussed in advance with all the other leaders (including
volunteer helpers). Wherever possible, the young people from the group should also be involved in this process;
- an opt out - whilst Risk Assessments should significantly ease the workload of leaders, considerable thought, discussion, and interaction
are still required to complete the forms. A risk assessment is not complete unless it has been suitably adapted (see above), the residual level of
risk evaluated, and the hazards, control measures, and risk ratings agreed as acceptable by all those responsible for the visit (evidenced by written
and dated signatures);
- complete - in addition to using relevant risk assessments, a 'Specific Visit Risk Assessment' form should be completed to identify hazards
and control measures that are unique to precise locations, activities, and individuals within the group (see the blank 'Specific Visit Risk
Assessment' form below). Furthermore, it must be clearly understood by all leaders that risk assessment and management is an ongoing process that involves far more than written documents. Therefore, during a visit, all leaders must maintain a 'Dynamic or Ongoing Risk Assessment' (this is NOT a form!!!) by remaining alert to, and responding to, changing circumstances or additional unforeseen hazards;
- static - At the bottom of each form is the name of the person who initially wrote the risk assessment, together with the date it was last
updated. Inevitably, during the course of time, various changes, corrections and improvements will be made. Users of the forms are encouraged to
notify the Educational Visits Consultant of any mistakes or suggested amendments, so that the forms can be steadily improved, and thus become
increasingly useful and effective tools for developing safe practice on educational visits. The forms may also need to be amended in the light of
accidents, incidents or near-misses during visits. It is important therefore that leaders review visits after they return and, as part of the risk
assessment and monitoring process, record and pass on to others lessons that can be learned for future visits. In particular it may be helpful to
raise awareness of newly identified hazards or of management strategies that were not effective, or indeed to share with others successful strategies
and good practice. Leaders should therefore note changes that do occur (by checking on the date of the last update), and regularly update any hard
copies of these forms.
4. Who needs to see and check completed generic risk assessments?
- Completed risk assessments should be available for inspection, if requested, by all those who are responsible for overseeing, monitoring and approving visits (e.g. for schools; the Educational Visits Coordinator, the Headteacher, the Governing Body, and the LEA Educational Visits Consultant).
- Normally for schools, copies of the forms should only be presented for inspection and checking internally, and there is no need for additional copies to be sent to the LEA (N.B. This reflects a change of policy that takes effect from 1st January 2005). However, the LEA Educational Visits Consultant may request copies of documentation for specific visits that are causing concern, or for a spot check, as part of the LEAís standard monitoring policy.
- N.B. For Youth Service groups, copies of risk assessments will normally need to be sent to the LEA (Youth Service Management team) for inspection and approval.
5. When, and how often, should generic risk assessments be completed?
- For risk assessments that are used frequently and/or regularly (e.g. 'All Educational Visits' or 'All Travel'), it may be appropriate and acceptable for the form to be completed, signed and updated annually by all those to whom it might have relevance (i.e. staff who wish to be involved in visits during the year). It is suggested that staff are directed to read the standard forms online, and then to sign a hard copy that is kept for reference in a clearly marked file in the staff room. Staff can always download or scan additional individual copies for themselves if required.
- For any other specific, non-routine visits, the relevant risk assessments should be completed and signed in addition.
- New staff arrivals and prospective new leaders should be made aware of any risk assessments that are used regularly, and should be asked to read and add their signatures, in acceptance of the recognised and adopted safety measures.
6. When should the generic risk assessments for outdoor or adventurous activities (e.g. Rock Climbing) be used?
- The generic risk assessments for outdoor or adventurous activities should be used only on those occasions when members of your own staff are
directly responsible for the leadership or instruction of the activities (e.g. your own staff are leading/instructing a canoeing group).
- If external service providers (e.g. instructors from a residential outdoor centre) are directly responsible for the leadership/instruction of
activities, the Overall Group Leader is not responsible for completing generic risk assessments for each activity, and therefore the generic risk
assessments are not applicable.
- However, the Overall Group Leader has a duty to check that the external activity provider has full safety management systems in place, and it
would be appropriate to obtain a written assurance from the providers that they have their own generic risk assessments for each activity, and that
these are available for inspection if required.
7. Where should generic risk assessments be stored, and for how long?
- It is suggested that hard copies of all risk assessments are kept for reference in a clearly marked file in the staff room. It is important that
staff can easily access and remind themselves of recommended safe practice. Staff can always download or scan additional individual copies for
themselves, if required.
- Hard copies of completed and signed risk assessments should be retained by those responsible (i.e. for schools; the Headteacher and/or the
Educational Visits Coordinator), at least until such time that they are confident that all issues/incidents arising from the visit have been dealt
with fully. Whilst a young person might theoretically bring legal action until they are aged 21, it is recommended that, for practical reasons,
documentation is stored only for a period of 6 years, unless there is good reason to suspect that further legal action might be taken.
8. Are these generic risk assessments compulsory?
- By law, those who are responsible for organising and leading visits should be able to show evidence of the risk assessments they have undertaken,
and of the preventative control measures they have established to safeguard those in their care. There is no single acceptable method for this, and
it would ultimately be up to the law courts to decide what level of risk assessment and management is deemed 'reasonable'.
- These risk assessments reflect the LEAís ultimate responsibility in law (see 'The Health and Safety at Work Regulations' 1999) to assess the
risks of activities, and to pass on to its employees recommended measures that it should consider adopting.
- It is not mandatory for staff to use these exact forms, and it is perfectly acceptable for leaders to complete their own risk assessments in a
different format, if preferred. However, in the event of an investigated incident, leaders clearly might need to justify why they had chosen not to
adopt the forms provided by the LEA.
Generic Risk Assessment Forms
You require Adobe Acrobat Reader
on your computer to view PDF files.
The documents below are available in two versions (Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat PDF), but contain the same information.
PDFs are smaller, therefore quicker to download, but the Word (.doc) versions can be saved and edited to suit your requirements.
Specific Risk Assessment Forms
If you require further information for this subject area please contact:
Taff Bowles, Educational Visits Officer
Tel: (01482) 392417