Anyone that works in the construction industry knows that there are a vast number of risks. Over 59,000 construction workers were injured in the UK between 2019 and 2022. Risk Assessment Method Statements, or RAMS, are central to preventing accidents and protecting everyone’s health and safety on construction sites.
RAMS are health and safety documents that provide in-depth information on workplace hazards. We answer the question: What are RAMS in construction and how can they prevent accidents, injuries and fatalities on construction sites?
What are RAMS Exactly?
Have you ever heard the term RAMS used within a building project? If you have and you’re thinking of woolly creatures with horns, you’re on the wrong track.
So, what are RAMS in construction exactly? In the building game, RAMS health and safety documents are critically important.
The RAMS meaning is an acronym for Risk Assessment and Method Statement. The purpose of RAMS is to provide detailed information on workplace risks and the measures taken to control or eliminate them.
The Risk Assessment
A risk assessment identifies all the hazards in a workplace environment and the likelihood they could harm someone. The risk assessment is used to develop measures that remove or control the hazards as much as possible.
The Method Statement
Once you’ve completed a risk assessment, you must provide precise information on your risk control measures. This is your ‘method statement’, sometimes called a safe system of work document. A Risk Assessment and Method Statement (RAMS) contains more detail than a risk assessment.
A method statement includes step-by-step instructions on performing specific work duties safely to eliminate or mitigate the risks identified in the risk assessment.
A RAMS document spells out the following:
- What hazards are present
- How particular work activities can be done safely
- What control measures are in place
- How to implement the control measures
- What equipment is used
- How to use the equipment
RAMS are documents that flesh out the bare-bones findings of the risk assessment. While a risk assessment can be brief, RAMS must contain much more detail.
Is It a Legal Requirement to Have RAMS?
All UK employers have a duty of care to their employees and the public. Part of this duty is to conduct a risk assessment before any work is carried out. For construction companies, this responsibility is mandated by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. Not conducting a risk assessment or keeping a record of it could result in criminal charges, unlimited fines and even imprisonment.
But, unlike risk assessments, companies and self-employed people aren’t legally obliged to complete RAMS. RAMS documents can still be worthwhile and are considered best practice in the construction industry, even if they’re not strictly a legal necessity.
What Are the Benefits of RAMS?
The main aim of RAMS is to help you create a safer workplace for your staff and the public. While a risk assessment will give you a broad overview of what the risks in the workplace are, RAMS go much further. RAMS provides step-by-step information on conducting work activities in the safest way possible. Once you’ve decided on a method, you can formulate it in a RAMS. RAMS also help to enhance your decision-making process.
RAMS give staff members clear step-by-step instructions to follow, so they help significantly in eliminating misunderstandings. RAMS contain guides on completing a process, so workers don’t have to waste time figuring out how to do a job properly. The RAMS guidelines also help workers avoid injury, reducing absenteeism rates.
Another benefit of RAMS is that it proves you have met your obligations under UK health and safety legislation. If there is an accident or incident, you can show that you did everything possible to avoid it.
Why RAMS Are Important in the Workplace
Generally, RAMS are used in the workplace where you can’t eliminate the risk posed by a hazard. If you’re writing a RAMS, you should include the following:
- The most up-to-date risk assessment relating to the job
- Contact information and details for all site supervisors
- Information on what equipment will be used and how
- Any other relevant information about the work
- Detailed step-by-step guides on how to complete work processes safely
Your RAMS must be distributed to all staff members and any third parties who are working on-site. You should regularly review the RAMS to ensure it’s current.
Sometimes, a Risk Assessment and Method Statement may be expressly requested by a client. It proves that a contractor understands the risks involved in the work and has taken measures to eliminate or control them. Some contractors provide RAMS to their clients, as a matter of course, to prove their professionalism.
Why Are Risk Assessments So Crucial in Construction?
Construction is one of the most hazardous industries to work in in the UK. Thirty construction workers and five members of the public were killed due to construction work from 2021 to 2022, as per the latest HSE statistics. If risk assessments had been conducted and followed, many deaths could have been avoided.
A case in point is the tragic death of 20-year-old Matthew Mason, who fell from a height while installing a public announcement system at Bearsden train station, East Dunbartonshire, in 2018.
The construction company Linbrooke Services Limited was found guilty of failing to correctly identify the risks associated with working at height. The company was fined £550,000 and made to pay £200,000 to the Mason family in compensation. The head of the investigation team, Debbie Carroll, stated “Matthew Mason lost his life in circumstances which were foreseeable and avoidable. His death could have been prevented had Linbrooke Services Limited put in place appropriate planning, supervision, and protective measures to manage the risk.”
Learn How to Conduct Risk Assessments and Write RAMS
Risk assessments and RAMS do more than ensure you are following the letter of the law. They save lives. Our RAMS in Construction for Frontline Employees course will teach you how to conduct a proper risk assessment and how to write and use RAMS. The knowledge gained in this course will protect your business and could help to save someone’s life.