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damian2701  
#1 Posted : 09 April 2018 20:36:05(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
damian2701

Hello IOSH community,

When reviweing a Risk Assessment would you insist on the assessor stating will rather than must within the applicable control measures, i.e. "daily & weekly inspections must be carried out & recorded on the inspection register. Records will be held on file on site" - as a health and safety advisor (not manager) I reguarly comment on correct terminology as I honestly think a control measure will be carried out rather than must - or is just me!!!

Your comments welcome.

Damian

Kate  
#2 Posted : 10 April 2018 07:40:56(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Kate

Hi Damian

I take the opposite view to you and I'll explain why.

I don't see any practical difference between 'will' and 'must' in this context.  Either way a commitment is being made to do the thing, and that is what matters.

I also think it may be counter-productive to criticise your risk assessors on small points of terminology.  The thing you need from them is to identify the required control measures.  If they feel the risk assessment is being treated as an exercise in English language they are less likely to put in their best efforts in terms of the content of the risk assessment which is what really matters.

Even where someone has used incorrect terminology or spelling, so long as the meaning is clear I usually let it pass and focus on the content as being what is important.

In this particular case of 'will' and 'must' I don't see that either terminology is incorrect at all.  I see this one as just a matter of style and preference.

thanks 4 users thanked Kate for this useful post.
WatsonD on 10/04/2018(UTC), damian2701 on 10/04/2018(UTC), julietpowell on 14/04/2018(UTC), jwk on 17/04/2018(UTC)
RayRapp  
#3 Posted : 10 April 2018 09:39:06(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
RayRapp

I agree with Kate, getting bogged down in semantics is not the way forward. Indeed many words in the English language can be used interchangeably without any perceptible difference. That said, the spoken word is often more subtle when it comes to persuasion - for example, would you say to someone you 'will' or 'must' when giving an instruction?

thanks 1 user thanked RayRapp for this useful post.
damian2701 on 10/04/2018(UTC)
A Kurdziel  
#4 Posted : 10 April 2018 09:39:27(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
A Kurdziel

As Kate says once controls have been identified as being required through a risk assessment they must be applied. Words like “must”, “should”, “will” don’t make any difference.

As has been said before the risk assessment itself does not confer any protection against the risk. It is the controls that do that and the emphasis should be on getting them adopted and maintained not on the nuances of the risk assessment ( which is one reason why I dislike the risk assessment  matrices people use: too much effort spent trying agree  the scores and not enough time getting it to work!)  

thanks 1 user thanked A Kurdziel for this useful post.
damian2701 on 10/04/2018(UTC)
WatsonD  
#5 Posted : 10 April 2018 14:50:16(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
WatsonD

I agree with other that we are not marking grammar here. And this is the sort of thing that will simply get peoples backs up. As at the end-of-the-day it makes no difference to the controls.

thanks 1 user thanked WatsonD for this useful post.
damian2701 on 10/04/2018(UTC)
damian2701  
#6 Posted : 10 April 2018 16:28:46(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
damian2701

Many thanks for your comments, I will surely take these advisory comments forward when reviewing further clientele RA, the last thing I want to do is get people's back up - particuarly within our industry ..........we get enough bad press as it is without pressing for more selective terminology. Damian

Edited by user 10 April 2018 16:29:59(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

thanks 3 users thanked damian2701 for this useful post.
Steve e ashton on 11/04/2018(UTC), Kate on 11/04/2018(UTC), RayRapp on 11/04/2018(UTC)
stevedm  
#7 Posted : 14 April 2018 09:26:36(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
stevedm

I'm sure this will create further debate but legally - must/shall are the only words that places a legal obligation on the person 'to do' something...'will' can be interpreted in different ways...and adds an element of decision making for the reader/person doing the task...there have been some practice notes on that but I haven't had enough coffee to dig them out...

So my vote must or shall...  :)

Kate  
#8 Posted : 14 April 2018 09:48:37(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Kate

But we are not writing laws here, we are writing risk assessments or instructions for operatives.

thanks 1 user thanked Kate for this useful post.
damian2701 on 16/04/2018(UTC)
stevedm  
#9 Posted : 14 April 2018 10:02:06(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
stevedm

mmmm...great post Kate very helpful...  

Kate  
#10 Posted : 14 April 2018 11:56:15(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Kate

In case my point wasn't clear, I will express it more explicitly.  When writing laws it is crucial to use the correct legalistic language.  When describing control measures in a risk assessment, it is only important to get the control measures right and to express clearly what they are.  Legalistic language isn't a requirement of risk assessments.

thanks 2 users thanked Kate for this useful post.
damian2701 on 16/04/2018(UTC), jwk on 17/04/2018(UTC)
Zyggy  
#11 Posted : 14 April 2018 13:11:26(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Zyggy

From bitter experience I have to disagree that using the right language does not make a difference. In a previous employment an operative fell from a ladder which resulted in a visit to Court. Within the written instructions to operatives the word "should" was used when describing how the ladder was to be tied in or footed. We lost the case as the judge decreed that the word "should" seemed optional & that the he expected to see the word "must". I fully understand that words can have different meanings & are interchangeable, but the experience taught me a valuable lesson!
thanks 2 users thanked Zyggy for this useful post.
Kate on 14/04/2018(UTC), damian2701 on 16/04/2018(UTC)
RayRapp  
#12 Posted : 16 April 2018 10:35:28(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
RayRapp

Good point Zyggy, however 'should' was never part of the question or discussion. It clearly gives an impression the instruction is not mandatory, hence I would not use should as for an instruction which mist be carried out. 

Zyggy  
#13 Posted : 16 April 2018 13:21:06(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Zyggy

Ray, I was responding to the comment made in #4 rather than the original posting, but it looks like we are in accord!
thanks 1 user thanked Zyggy for this useful post.
RayRapp on 16/04/2018(UTC)
damian2701  
#14 Posted : 16 April 2018 16:06:34(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
damian2701

I am of the opinion now through some extensively competent advice that it does not matter what wording is used 'as long it is not should' the critical factor here is that written control measures are robust, realistic, persuasive, effective but fundamentally comprehensible so that personnel are clear on how to go about hazardous tasks in a manner that reflects written procedures.

Many thanks for all those who have taken time to read and respond.

Damian 

Edited by user 16 April 2018 16:07:21(UTC)  | Reason: Spelling

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