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The History of Risk Assessment in the United Kingdom

The notion of risk assessment is both an ancient and modern concept. With a long history dating back thousands of years to the ancient world, the idea of assessing risk is nothing new to humans engaged in potentially dangerous pursuits. In fact, making successful risk assessments has been key to the survival of the human race over centuries.

But risk assessments as we know them today would be unrecognisable even to health and safety workers carrying out audits just a few decades ago. Modern technology and the use of data and statistics have allowed us to turn risk assessments into a calculated and scientific process that is only ever improving with each new advance.

In this article, we explore the history of risk assessment and examine how it has evolved over the years.

The Origins of Risk Assessment

In its simplest form, a risk assessment is a calculated examination that determines the dangers posed by our environment or our activities.

Our ancestors were making risk assessments of their environment long ago. Determining if the dangers involved in crossing a river outweighed the opportunity for finding resources on the other side was a basic risk assessment. Calculating whether a hazardous crossing through the mountains to find new lands is worth starvation, injury, or even death – that’s another risk assessment that’s been made on countless occasions.

As humans evolved and became more aware of their environment, surroundings and history, risk assessments could become more calculated. The Ancient Greeks, in particular the Athenians began developing philosophies to weigh up risk and the dangers posed by taking decisions in politics, daily life and war.

Rather than individuals taking their own risks, states and governments would begin making risk assessments on larger scales aimed at mitigating risks to their societies. As societies developed, it became apparent too, that much could be learned from past events and previous risk calculations that had failed or been successful.

Laws and Regulations

As societies became more governed, technological advances allowed humans to make more calculated risk assessments. But as the scope of our pursuits, at work and in daily life, became wider, the need for more comprehensive and scientific risk assessments soon arose.

In the UK, the industrial revolution saw a huge demand for the development of workers’ rights. Paramount to this was health and safety. The first inspectors began producing early risk assessments of mines or factories to minimise injuries and loss of life.

It wasn’t until 1974, however, that risk assessments were enshrined into UK law with the passing of the Health and Safety at Work Act. This was soon followed by the creation of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and an ever-increasing quantity of laws and regulations designed to minimise injuries in the workplace.

Modern risk assessments can draw on large databases of information, past historical events and health and safety precedents (both successful and unsuccessful), leading to safer working environments across the country.

The Future of Risk Assessment

Be Safe Technologies has been developing the next generation of cloud-based technology to ensure that health and safety compliance can be simpler yet more effective than ever before.

Our innovative Compliance Genie app allows you to streamline your company’s health and safety needs while carrying out comprehensive risk assessments in your workplaces.

Contact Be Safe Technologies today to find out more about the future of risk assessment.

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