A senior executive from a property management company recently stated the company they worked for operates within a low risk environment. Which started me thinking, is there such thing as a low risk environment?
Superficially the industry in question does appear to be low risk. It does not manufacture chemicals or fuels, operate in extreme areas of the world nor does it have any significant industrial processes. What it does have that makes it more than low risk is high numbers of uncontrollable people interacting with the properties. By uncontrollable I mean people who are not subjected to the same rules as direct employees.
Residents interact with properties in startling ways; from storing petrol containers in the communal areas to driving around car parks like racing drivers.
Publically accessible areas, where it is notoriously difficult to implement risk reduction controls, can be a hot bed of slips, trips and falls. All of which will result in the insurance companies and solicitors being involved.
Maintenance contractors unless strictly controlled have the potential to significantly impact the management. Working at heights, in confined spaces, working on life safety systems or electrical circuits; the potential for some to go wrong is significant. Vicarious liability can be costly and ignorance of what contractors are doing is no excuse in the eyes of the law.
Where controls cannot be implemented, are difficult to enforce or where hundreds if not thousands of people are involved there will always be an increase risks. What therefore could possibly give anyone, who has such minimal control, the idea their company operates in a low risk environment?
Can any environment be deemed low risk compared to another? The consequences when something does go wrong can be just as significant no matter what the environment may superficially look like.