This paper provides an introduction and guidance to forces considering how to assess and manage areas of policing where there is a higher level of exposure to psychological hazards known to be associated with an increased risk of anxiety, depression, primary and secondary trauma.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work (1999) Regulations provides the framework with a specific reference to the need for risk assessment and management.
“Every employer shall ensure that his employees are provided with such health surveillance as is appropriate having regard to the risks to their health and safety which are identified by the assessment.”
Risk Management falls within the wider Risk Control and Management Cycle in which organisations are required to undertake key five activities:
1. Identify the risks in the workplace: What hazards exist and how could these hazards affect the health and wellbeing of employees?
2. Find out who might be harmed and how this might occur: Who might be exposed? Which groups are particularly vulnerable? How could they become exposed? Which roles or tasks are particularly hazardous?
3. Analyse and evaluate the level of risk: What is the likelihood of an injury occurring? What could be the magnitude of harm caused? How can the risk be measured?
4. Establish ways to reduce the risks: What are the control measures? Are they proportionate? How should they be implemented? Who would be responsible?
5. Record, monitor, review and improve: How is the surveillance programme working? How do we compare with other organisations (including those outside Policing)? What can we do to improve?
The approach covers all stages of employment; starting with recruitment, induction, deployment and post incident support. To be successful there is also a need for some investment in the training and education of officers and staff in how to recognise symptoms of psychological distress and to provide the early interventions essential to the wellbeing of police officers and staff.
The paper cannot cover all eventualities, roles that involve an exposure to high levels of stress and/or occasional exposure to traumatic events are covered by the Blue Light Wellbeing Framework and the Early Intervention Post-Trauma procedures adopted by forces. The following guidance relates to the risk assessment and management of high risk roles within policing.