What are RAMS?

What are RAMS in the world of Health and Safety?

If we were in the land of Clarkson’s Farm (anyone watched it? I love Wayne Rooney and Leonardo DiCaprio) then we would know that RAMS look like this:

Ram to illustrate the article What are RAMS?

When talking health and safety, RAMS stands for Risk Assessments and Method Statements.

Risk assessments and method statements are two separate process that, when used together, form a basis for your safe systems of work. They are used together widely when managing health and safety, particularly in high hazard industries like Construction.

But even if you don’t work in construction, you have more than likely used RAMS – just ask the Green Cross Code Man.

So, what are risk assessments and method statements?

What is a Risk Assessment?

A risk assessment, simply put, is a methodical way of identifying what might go wrong when carrying out a task or activity. We use them to foresee how people might get hurt and what we can do to protect them and keep them safe from harm.

We are required by law to carry out risk assessments for our activities, and if our business has 5 or more employees then it is a legal requirement to make a record of your risk assessments. These requirements are set out in the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

There are many different types of risk assessment covering a huge range of work activities, tasks and situations. The basic method for carrying out these risk assessments always stay the same. The five steps to risk assessment are:

  1. Identify the hazards
  2. Estimate the risk by understanding who might be harmed, the likelihood of harm and the potential consequences
  3. Evaluate the risk and, where needed, put additional controls in place to reduce the risk to an acceptable level
  4. Record the significant findings of the assessment
  5. Review your assessment periodically or if anything the risk assessment is based on changes.

What are Method Statements?

Method Statements are typically used in high hazard industries (e.g. Construction) and gives us the step-by-step instructions for completing a job safely. There is no legal requirement to provide method statements, but they can play a significant role in ensuring we provide a safe system of work.

A method statement is usually accompanied by the risk assessment for the task or activity it covers. The risk assessment tells you what the risks are and the controls to be used to reduce the risk to an acceptable level. The method statement gives you instructions on how to carry out the work, with each step set out sequentially detailing exactly what needs to be done. The method statement will refer to the risk assessment and will include the steps needed to make sure the controls detailed in the risk assessment are put in place.

Method statements usually contain the following details:

  • Project details – including key contact information for people in control of the works
  • Description of the specific work the method statement covers
  • Date and duration of work
  • Step-by-step instructions for carrying out the works
  • PPE requirements
  • Management arrangements
  • Monitoring requirements
  • First aid provision
  • Welfare provision
  • Emergency procedures

Method statements are much more detailed than risk assessments; where a risk assessment tells us what we need to work safely a method statement will tell us how to do it.

What does this have to do with the Green Cross Code Man?

We all have experience of working with RAMS, even if you don’t realise it. One of the first forms of risk assessments and method statements we learn as a kid is the Green Cross Code. We learn the systematic way to identify the hazards (moving vehicles), assess the risks (is the vehicle speeding towards us) and put controls in place to reduce the risk (find a safe space to cross). We also learn the step-by-step method statement that we need to cross the road. We are taught to Think, Stop, Look and listen, Wait, Look and listen again, arrive alive.

Picture of the Green Cross Code Man to illustrate the article What are RAMS?

When we are young and learning the green cross code, we get taught to break the complicated, risky and scary task down into an easy to follow step-by-step process. That what RAMS do for us in the workplace, they take high hazard, complicated, risky jobs and break them down in to simple to follow steps with all the things we need to do to stay safe set out and integrated into the job.

So, the next time you are asked ‘What are RAMS?’ you’ll be able to point people in the direction of the green cross code!

Do you need any help in preparing your RAMS?

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