Risk assessment

The property of XX Nosuch Street is located just behind the town centre of Middle Town. I live at the property with my two sons’ and my daughter. It is a three storey property; there are three bedrooms on the top floor, living room on the middle floor, and kitchen and bathroom on the lower floor. I do not have a front garden but I do have a small back garden. In this assessment I will be looking at the possible health and safety, and criminal risks and dangers inside, and outside these premises.

Alaszewaki and Manthorpe define risk as “the possibility that a given course of action will not achieve the desired outcome but instead some undesirable situation will develop”. (Alaszewski ; Manthorpe 1991). My own definition of risk is making decisions that you know will have either a negative or positive outcome therefore risk assessment is calculating the negatives and positives and trying to assess which is better, on doing this you should have the best result of that decision.

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In order to evaluate risk we need to determine the hazards that are more likely to cause the greatest harm and therefore hopefully control these hazards. In order to evaluate these hazards we need to consider the likelihood and the severity of the hazard. When assessing the severity of a situation it is important to think about what is the worst that could happen in that given situation. When assessing the likelihood, it is making a judgment on the severity and the chance that it might happen i.e. is it likely, unlikely etc.

Firstly, I will look for hazards around the home, identify the risk, and decide on the best route to take to avoid any accidents. This is what I discovered:

* In the front bedroom, there is a double socket hanging off the wall. This is very dangerous as there is a possibility off the wires becoming detached from the socket, causing a fire, or even electrocution. I have already two fire alarms installed, and these are checked on a weekly basis. However, I do not own a fire extinguisher, or fire blanket. There is an escape route through a tilt and turn window at the front of the house but there is no emergency ladder fitted. To solve these problems, the best solution would be to employ an electrician to safely secure the socket to the wall, and to purchase a fire extinguisher, and blanket. Also to make sure the escape route is fitted with an emergency ladder.

* On the landing, there is a piece of loose carpet. There is a high possibility of someone tripping over this and falling into the wall, causing great injuries to themselves. To conquer this would be to purchase a roll of double-sided carpet tape, or spray adhesive to secure the carpet in place. If that fails to hold it down then it would be best to replace the carpet, and have it fitted professionally.

* In the living room, an overloaded socket is in place at the side of the television. This is always a cause for concern as many households have experienced a fire caused mainly through overloading of electrical sockets. To make certain that it is safe I would remove the plug/s that is not in use at all times, and always turn the power off at the main socket at night. “Turn off and unplug electrical appliances when they are not being used, unless they are designed to be left on (for example, freezers and video recorders)” (Fire Safety Leaflet, 2004).

* Also in the living room, the lead of the laptop is running across the floor. There is a danger of a trip or a fall, injuring that person, and there is also a possibility of pulling the laptop over at the same time, causing them more injury. “The largest number of accidents happens in the living/dining room” (RoSPA, 1998-2008). Purchasing hooks from the diy, and pinning the lead to the skirting board can solve this problem.

* On the stairs, there are numerous pairs of shoes on the bottom three treads. This can be very dangerous to anyone coming down the stairs, causing them to trip over them, and having a nasty fall. The outcome could be a broken arm/leg, or even worse. To stop this happening, my children have been told that they are to put their shoes either in the shoe cupboard, or in their bedrooms, and if any shoes or clutter is left in any part of the house, causing any danger to anyone then they will be punished.

Next I will look at the dangers of someone trying to enter my property illegally. This is my conclusion on that subject:

* As you can see from the photograph of my home, I have double-glazing windows and doors, all these have been fitted with window looks, and satisfactory door locks. This appears to me that my home is quite safe from anyone trying to enter the property while I am at home. However, as my home do not have an alarm system fitted, it would be inviting to some burglars to target my property especially if I am away on holidays, or while I am in university through the day as there would be no capable guardian protecting my home. As the Routine Activities Theory recognizes three minimal elements to occur “a likely offender-anyone for any reason might commit a crime, a suitable target-an object or person likely to be taken or attacked by the offender, and the absence of a capable guardian-someone who might intervene to stop or bear witness to an offence” (Maguire, 2007). To target this problem it would be a good idea to get an alarm system fitted, it would be an advantage to me, and maybe deterrence to a criminal.

* There is also a high risk of someone entering my back garden, as my garden gate is in a bad state. It is almost off the hinges, giving a burglar the chance to enter my property and steal whatever he likes from there, or my shed. To resolve this the garden gate will have to be replaced, with a strong, suitable lock preventing any would be thieves entering.

Lastly, I will look at the dangers directly outside my home. This is my finding:

* As I reside behind the town centre the street can get very busy, especially in the morning, and towards the evening. There are no speed ramps in place, and I feel it is essential for these to be installed as the traffic has on many occasions come through the street at a great speed. This is a great danger, especially to children and the elderly. “Road humps in a 20mph zone reduce accidents by 42% and reduce serious injuries or death by 53%” (Road Hump Campaign, 2006). Many petitions has been signed and handed into the council to have these ramps installed, but it has been unsuccessful so far.

* There are also four public houses in the town directly behind my home, with many of the people walking through the street en-route to home. As many of them being teenagers there has been a few reported incidents of vandalism, mostly damage to cars. It would be of great benefit to the residents, myself included, having closed circuit television installed at both ends of the street, this would then hopefully deter the criminals from attempting to damage any property. The theory behind CCTV is that it aims to reduce crime by deterring the potential offender. If he were aware of the presence of a CCTV they would be more likely to not offend or go elsewhere. From the governments perspective, “CCTV has been long since seen as a useful crime prevention tool with wide ranging uses” (home office, 1994)

In the conclusion of this risk assessment I can clearly see that there is lot of improvements to be made. However, since doing this assessment I have pinned the laptop wire to the skirting board, therefore, it is no longer running across the floor. The carpet on the landing has been glued down, no longer causing a hazard to anyone tripping over it. I have unplugged the unused plugs in the overloaded socket, which is always switched off at night. I am in the process of hiring an electrician to sort out the problem with the socket hanging off the wall. The shoes have also been removed to prevent anyone tripping over them. In the next month or so a new garden gate will be fitted, taking away any opportunity of would-be thieves. Lastly, in the future at some point I will consider an alarm to be fitted to my property.