Understanding what level of risk assessment is necessary and the unpredictable nature of engineering were key themes of ICE president Jean Venables’ recent Capita Symonds safety lecture.
Assessment of Risk: How much is “Suitable and Sufficient?” was the 18th safety lecture jointly organised by ICE and Capita Symonds. It attracted more than 200 people from industry, academia and the public sector.
Venables spoke of the relationship between the exercise of engineering judgement, the need for risk assessments to meet the criteria of being “suitable and sufficient”, and rules of professional conduct.
“Even though we can’t plan for every occurrence, we can certainly ensure we have risk management procedures in place.”
Jean Venables, ICE
“In our line of expertise there is a certain amount of risk that cannot be avoided. However, it can be mitigated and planned for as much as possible. Engineers must exercise professional judgement, but be aware that there is an element of the unpredictable in the nature of our work as well.”
She emphasised the need for greater clarity about the legal obligations imposed on engineers.
“When incidents do occur, it is important that we learn from these experiences. As a profession we must work together to share evidence and best practice to try and minimise risk.
“Even though we can’t plan for every occurrence, we can certainly ensure we have risk management procedures in place and are ready and armed to deal with situations as they arise.”
Venables also stressed that, although legislation is necessary, it can be restrictive and engineers need to exercise a certain amount of common sense in day-to-day practice.
- Listen to the lecture online at www.ice.org.uk/lectures