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Topic: Workplace

unblocking drains and pipes
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Unblocking drains and pipes

Unblocking drains and pipes

Unblocking drains and pipes can be a hazardous activity for those carrying out such work. These risks will exist whether you are unblocking drains and pipes by hand rodding, using high-pressure water jetting or even pipework dismantling.

If these risks are left unmanaged, they could cause accidents and potentially put you on the wrong side of the law. To ensure that this doesn’t happen you should complete a risk assessment for such activities, which identifies all “significant” hazards and appropriate “reasonable” ways of reducing risks to an acceptable level. You should ensure that your document only addresses “significant” hazards, i.e. any that could, and more importantly are likely to, cause an accident or injury.

Managing the risks

To help you identify the hazards associated with these activities and the appropriate ways of controlling them, use our example Risk Assessment - Unblocking Drains and Pipes. It covers the generic hazards associated with this type of activity and suggests control measures to reduce risks to an acceptable level. You can use this as a basis for conducting your own assessment.

Make your instructions clear

Don’t include activities in your document that simply don’t need to be there. Work to the principle that if there is any chance of your staff being unaware of the safe way of doing something, then you will need to make it clear in your document. Finally, always ensure that any control measures you identify and follow are decided upon the principle of “so far as is reasonably practicable”.

Note. The list of potential hazards is not exhaustive. However, for your risk assessment to be considered suitable and sufficient in the eyes of the law it must accurately reflect the “significant” hazards found when carrying out this type


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