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Health & Safety North – a review

10 Oct

Besides the educational seminars, the event showcases an exhibition of new & innovative safety products & services.

The Health & Safety North event proved a success with a healthy flow of visitors for both the exhibition and seminars. Focussing on the seminars, the presentation by Neal Stone, British Safety Council director of policy and research, on the first day looked at the impact of the recent and planned Government reforms of the health and safety regulatory framework. He explored the significant changes taking place in sourcing expert advice and guidance and the likely impact of reduced resources for regulation and enforcement. He said, “The pace of change over the year impacting on health and safety management in the UK has been immense. Not only have we seen significant proposals to change and/or review our health and safety laws, for example, Lord Young’s review and reforms announced by the government earlier this year including Professor Lofstedt’s review of health and safety law, we are starting to see the impact of other non legislative changes. Clearly both HSE and local authorities will have considerably less resources to carry out their responsibilities following the government deficit reduction plans – their priorities will have to change and as we have seen they will have to examine ways in which cost recovery could be increased including, for example, HSE charging fees for its intervention activity to address material breaches of health and safety law by duty holders.

“HSE enforcement priorities have changed with a shift of emphasis towards high and medium hazard sector organisations with a higher level of risk. The occupational health and safety consultants register (OSHCR) a voluntary register developed by HSE in conjunction with health and safety bodies as the British Safety Council is now up and running. It’s too early to say whether it will meet its objective of assisting small organisations to identify expert, competent and suitably qualified health and safety consultants to advice and assist them with their management of risk. We do know that over 2,600 consultants have successfully registered to date.”

He added, “The British Safety Council has consulted its members on all major reforms of the past year – Lord Young’s review, RIDDOR reform, Löfstedt review and proposals by HSE to extend its powers to recovers costs. For the British Safety Council the acid test for the cumulative effect of all of these changes is what impact will they have on our health and safety performance. What will the trends in numbers and incidence of workplace fatal and major injuries and work-related ill health occurrences look like over next five years. Our surveys of our members reveal that the vast majority consider that our framework of health and safety law is working effectively. However there are concerns particular among our small organisation members that the law is incredibly complex to understand making compliance a challenge. The British Safety Council strongly believes that ensuring guidance is accessible, understandable and to the point vital in assisting duty holders to comply with the law.”

On day two, Kevin Bridges, Pinsent Masons LLP partner associate, shared lessons that can be learnt from the first corporate manslaughter prosecution. Bridges represented Cotswold Geotech and its managing director in the prosecution. He outlined the background to the case; the respective arguments advanced by the prosecution and the defence. He said, “The lesson to be learnt by employers is that it has never been more important to ensure that safety management systems are robust and senior managers understand their own health and safety obligations.” He went on to explain the significance of having a clearly defined Incident Response Protocol, incorporating Legal Privilege over accident investigation reports and other internally produced documents.

An inspiring part of the programme was a case study type presentation from Naveed Qamar, Group Safety Director of FirstGroup. He talked about the challenges of managing a workforce of 130,000 people and 2.5 billion passengers, where the challenge is to promote a proactive mindset as opposed to waiting for events to dictate. He gave an insight into how to provide safety leadership internally and externally and the results that can be achieved. He also highlighted a successful initiative on injury prevention by providing each employee a handbook that they carried with them to monitor both negative and positive health and safety actions.

If you missed the Northern event, there is Health & Safety Ireland scheduled for next month.

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Member engagement gathers pace

3 Oct

The past week the British Safety Council has been learning more on how its members are addressing topical health and safety focuses – occupational health and the green agenda.

Global law firm Linklaters invited the British Safety Council for a tour of its London offices to understand first-hand what they are doing with their staff in relation to managing occupational health and safety issues. The focus on work stress is important given the firm has recognised ill health presents far greater risks than accidents to its employees therefore aligning its health and safety policy to reflect this.

With a workforce of about 1,800 in London, the health and safety team led by Peter Kinselley are focussed on engaging its large workforce with a variety of awareness-raising initiatives, training and support. The British Safety Council was given an overview of the team’s many initiatives covering mental health talks, confidential support services and well being road shows. A tour of the firm’s extensive catering facilities serving healthy meal options using local produce, a well equipped staff fitness centre and detailed waste management system, followed. 

Later in the week, the British Safety Council visited Panasonic UK to learn more about how the business is positioning itself in relation to environmental product engineering. Following the launch of  Panasonic’s ‘Green Plan 2018’ last year, the manufacturing giant has been working towards the business goal to be the number one green innovation company in the electronics industry by their 100th anniversary in 2018 . Together with the company’s health, safety and environmental affairs team, Keith Evans, Panasonic UK managing director, talked through the vision of not just products reflecting this ambitious environmental action plan, but employees. The plan outlines initiatives that all employees should take to become an industry leader in the green indexes the company has set covering areas like reduction of CO2, energy efficiency, resources reuse and recycling, and minimising water consumption. You can read more on Panasonic’s sustainability activities in the next issue of Safety Management magazine.

Both meetings discussed the role of the British Safety Council in supporting members implement their corporate occupational health and sustainability activities. Members expressed interest in outcomes of the charity’s campaigning, influencing and lobbying work, an area both members acknowledged is fundamental in ensuring their health and safety objectives aligns with. The charity took on board the feedback and will work on further engagement with members on important legislative development in the coming months.

Automatic Fire Alarm Attendance by English Fire Brigades – A Postcode Lottery?

23 Sep

So you’re based in Nuneaton and the automatic fire alarm goes off at your business; you all exit the premises and assemble in the appropriate place. Coincidentally your sister operation in Norbury experiences the same set of circumstances at the same time.

So all of you in the two locations are stood outside in the cold and are assuming that the big red engines will respond to the automatically transmitted alarm signal and subsequently arrive and put out the fire?

Well your assumption would be wrong in Nuneaton as Warwickshire Fire and Rescue does not respond to automatic fire alarms, but in Norbury, London you’d be correct as London Fire Brigade does!

So there is now a postcode lottery with regard to fire cover for commercial premises in England and any business manager would be well advised to contact their local fire and rescue service to see how they are affected by this roll of the geographical dice. In essence, the English fire brigades are under the cosh with regard to funding and many, such as Warwickshire, are trying to drastically reduce their attendance levels at false alarms as these cost money.

There is no doubt that false alarms constitute a major problem for the fire and rescue fraternity and businesses should make every effort to reduce their incidence; help is available from the FIA on this matter by clicking here.

Warwickshire are not alone in reducing their attendance to automatic fire alarms from commercial premises; other fire and rescue services including Essex, Royal Berkshire and West Midlands have also made major changes to what has been full cover in the past. Of course, within reason, local fire and rescue services can choose how they react to automatic fire alarm signals, however, one would have thought that there would be a concerted effort to make any changes in response reasonably uniform across the country?  Sadly this has not been the case to date although the FIA continues to lobby both the Chief Fire Officers Association and local fire and rescue services to this end.

So if you’re not sure whether your fire and rescue service will attend your premises when then alarm goes off, dial 999 and request their presence, but only after you’ve exited the premises and are waiting outside in the cold!

About our guest blogger
Graham Ellicott is the CEO of the Fire Industry Association.

National Fork Lift Safety Week kicks off today

19 Sep

Today is the first day of this year’s National Fork Lift Safety Week – the safety campaign aimed at reducing the UK’s fork lift truck accident rate.

Introduced in 2008, it couldn’t have come at a more important time. Fork lift truck accidents were causing more workplace transport injuries than cars and lorries combined.

Since the campaign began, fork lift truck accidents have dropped by over a third – and fatalities by 69%… but it still remains the most dangerous form of workplace transport.

On average, at least one person is still hospitalised (or worse) in a fork lift accident every single day in the UK, and around 1,600 per year can count themselves lucky to escape with injuries requiring 3 days or more off work.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. … and it’s not just fork lift drivers at risk.

Around two thirds of accident victims are pedestrians so when new figures released today show some 1.2 million Britons regularly work near fork lift trucks without the minimum recommended training for their jobs, it’s obviously a recipe for disaster.

Somewhere along the line, a lack of training lies at the heart of most accidents. Whether it’s the operator themselves, their supervisor who doesn’t recognise unsafe practice or simply a colleague passing by, without knowing the unique dangers a fork lift truck can bring to a site.

The message is simple: anybody who will come into contact with fork lift trucks – or is responsible for their operation – needs to be trained in minimising the risks involved.

For that reason, the Fork lift Truck Association (FLTA) has created free Safety Week resources to promote workplace training – a poster, a good practice checklist and a supervisor presentation. Before the end of September there is also one free employee safety handbook per UK company available.

Ultimately, everybody onsite is responsible for workplace safety in one way or another. Make the most of these resources, support the campaign, and keep yourself and your co-workers safe and healthy.

About our guest blogger
David Ellison is the chief executive of the Fork Lift Truck Association, which aims to ensure high standards of professionalism, safety and customer service  among fork lift truck dealers, manufacturers, suppliers and training companies.

Paul Gordon reports from the World Congress in Safety and Health in Istanbul, Turkey

13 Sep

Good afternoon everybody. I am reporting from the XIX World Congress in Safety and Health here in Istanbul, Turkey.

It is one of the world’s largest, if not the largest, health and safety conferences. There are reported to be delegates here from more than 120 countries. And it’s hot, far too hot to be wearing a suit and tie.

Istanbul is one of the great cities of the world. Anyone visiting from Western Europe will notice the distinct change in feel and unique character of the place. Spread on either sides of the Bosphorus Strait it is the only city in the world to be situated on two continents, both Europe and Asia. Whilst more closely associated with Europe in political and sporting terms, the city nevertheless feels much more Asian than European.

It’s a lovely old city, dripping in history and culture. In fact, culture is one of the buzzwords at the conference – building a global safety culture.

I’m here to represent the British Safety Council in our public benefit work, and to give presentations in two of the conference symposia. We try to engage with as many stakeholders as possible in order to disseminate our key messages that no one should be killed, injured or made ill by their work, and highlighting the plight of young workers in particular. So far, it’s one down, one to go on the presentation stakes. A very positive reaction to my first delivery yesterday (I would say that I know, but its true), talking about the challenges of engaging with small businesses, with lots of interest in the role played by the British Safety Council. Tomorrow’s presentation will be looking at the British Safety Council campaign for young worker safety.

Some interesting topics throughout the congress. I have been talking with delegates from as far a field as Singapore and Azerbaijan. The UK is represented here by, amongst others, Judith Hackett, Chair of the Health and Safety Executive who spoke about the Global Challenge of a changing world of work and the global economy.

But for now from me its Güle güle (cheerio) from Turkey.

About our blogger

Paul Gordon is the British Safety Council’s policy and research manager.

Health and Safety Scotland – keynote speakers address major health and safety issues at Edinburgh event

8 Sep

Nearly 300 heard Dr Paul Stollard, HSE’s Director for Scotland set out progress the major reforms of health and safety currently taking place and the challenges facing HSE in Scotland. He made clear that the focus remained on preventing workplace injuries and ill health occurrences. The number of workplace fatalities under investigation in Scotland exceeded the number of operational HSE Inspectors.

Donna Hutchison of QuEnSH and Shaun Knott of Casella Measurement contributed excellent presentations on the work of health consultants and noise vibration respectively.

The seminars were rounded by Marion Lamb from Glasgow Housing Association (GHA), the largest social housing provider in Scotland, assisted by Partners from Strathclyde Police and Fire and Rescue Service. The risks faced by GHA employees are immense – indeed hard to comprehend ranging from preventing exposure to hazardous substances to fire and physical assaults.

Marion and her partners brought home powerfully the consequences of not dealing with risks posed to employees by anti social behaviour and the consequences which could lead to serious injury and death.

The British Safety Council will be feeding back important issues coming out of the Edinburgh event at its forthcoming meeting with Ann McKechin Labour MP for Glasgow North and Shadow Secretary for Scotland.

British Safety Council chief executive strengthens ties in India

6 Sep

Alex Botha with staff and apprentices at the Tata Motors Commercial Vehicles Business Unit, in Pune, India, where he presented certificates to six of 100 apprentices to successfully complete British Safety Council Entry Level health and safety training.

The British Safety Council’s chief executive Alex Botha has met some of the world’s most successful multinational businesses in India this week, including Tata Motors, Reliance Industries, ITC and Larsen and Toubro to build on our established strong relationships, develop further business opportunities and explore collaboration on CSR and public benefit projects.

The British Safety Council members in India have been notable over a number of years for their success in both the Sword of Honour and the International Safety Awards.

Alex said: “It is noteworthy that four of the five winners of the inaugural Globe of Honour in 2010 were ITC subsidiaries in India. We have 250 corporate members in India who have achieved 5 Star and OHSAS 18001 success and are leaders in the management of health and safety and the environment.

“A number, including Tata and Reliance, have comprehensive corporate social responsibility programmes which are integral to their business values and cover many issues, including education, health, sustainability, social inclusion and business development, apprenticeships and leadership.

“We are committed to working with our members in India and elsewhere to help improve the performance of their own organisations and share best practice internationally. Increasingly, our global reach and influence with some of the biggest enterprises in the world is becoming much more significant and our expertise respected and sought after.

“Our work with large multinationals increasingly mean we can collaborate in partnership to make a huge difference to the safety culture in countries where traditionally worker safety has been a low priority or no priority at all. In China and India there are significant safety issues to address but by using the example of their exceptional performers we can achieve notable improvements.

“Visionary Indian headquartered companies such as Tata, Reliance, Larsen and Toubro and ITC are leading the way in worker safety innovation and are working closely with us to raise standards across all of the sectors and territories in which they operate. Just these four companies represent market capitalisation well in excess of £100 billion. They occupy a powerful and hugely influential section of the global marketplace and channelling that pre-eminence into occupational health and safety and environmental and business sustainability can and will make a major difference in the workplace in all of the developed and many of the developing nations, territories, sectors and markets.

“I am convinced that together we are capable of going a long, long way towards achieving our vision that no one should be killed, injured or made ill by their work. It is an enormous challenge but one we can and must aim for if we are to embed within every company, business unit, manager and shop floor operative the belief that safety comes first. Behavioural changes are key to this and influencing the way people think and act is becoming the new business imperative.”

The British Safety Council operates in more than 50 countries serving 7,500 corporate members, offering a range of internationally validated audits, awards and qualifications aimed at raising standards.