Finally spoke in detail to the auditor at National Britannia who is responsible for our Safecontractor renewal.
Had a predictable discussion about how, yes, they need to see thousands of words of guff, and no, our safe, concise, effective new materials just won't do. We spoke in some detail about using sharp tools, as an example. We have a single generic risk assessment about using sharp blades. Copy here. Basically reminds you to secure the workpiece (less chance of slipping), keep yourself out of harm's way (so if you slip you don't cut your hand off), wear gloves (so if you do slip, and somehow slip blade onto hand, injury reduced somewhat).
But that's just not enough for NatBrit. They want to see a separate risk assessment for every job where you might be using a sharp blade, plus a method statement to describe the steps to take to perform that task. So one risk assessment plus one method statement for cutting a carpet tile; one for opening a package; one for cutting into plasterboard, etc. And then (although I think he was just getting carried away here, and he can't have really thought this through) they also want risk assessments for permutations of tasks (e.g. cutting into plasterboard while also up a stepladder). Not sure how good our man is at arithmetic, but if you had risk assessments for every job and every combination of jobs, you really would have a book full of worthless guff.
So, I have written to Jim Neilson, who is the man at HSE responsible for the Workplace Health Connect programme (through which we produced our new materials); copying in Geoffrey Podger (HSE Chief Exec) and Lord McKenzie of Luton (Minister responsible for the HSE).
Copy of my letter is here.