H&S advice needn’t cost the earth

You’ve heard the saying if you think its expensive to hire a professional, then wait until you hire an amateur”.

We all know that there’s much health and safety governance in the UK, leading many people to believe that ‘elf n’ safety’ puts unnecessary burden on SME’s with seemingly endless form-filling and training to be done. It needn’t be like that at all.

There is lots of negativity and commonly talked about myths when it comes to the world of health & safety compliance – some by misreporting of the tabloid newspapers and idiots being filmed whilst fooling around on building sites, uploading to social media just to make a few quid…

Have we all heard of the ‘bonkers conkers’ story – where a British school was said to have banned children from playing conkers in the playground unless they wore safety goggles?, or the office workers banned from putting up Christmas decorations?, and what about the ruling that all ladders on building sites are banned due to the risk of injury from a fall?

The Health & Safety Executive have a web-page specifically dedicated to dispel many of these myths and common misconceptions over health & safety. See their website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/myth/top10myths.htm

With most health & safety legislation, it’s based upon the assessment of risk in any given situation.  For example, take the case of the banning of ladders on building sites;

Ladders are not banned at all, instead under the Working at Height Regulations (2005), the HSE detail that where possible the need for working at height be avoided, or where that cannot be done prevent the risk of falls either using an existing place of work that is safer, or use appropriate equipment such as a tower scaffold or a mewp*1, or use advances in technology to get the work done, i.e. use of a drone to inspect a roof or blocked drain gulley.

In the construction industry particularly there is legislation in place with the key aim to control how works are planned and carried out to ensure everyone remains healthy and safe from serious harm. The key legislation of the construction industry, are the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations, 2015. Since their introduction in 1994 they have shown to be a contributing factor in reducing the numbers of fatalities, injuries and near miss incidents. *2

Ill health however in the construction industry has remained largely the same, particularly when considering the numbers of construction workers dying of cancers contracted through their work, such as asbestos-related disease, silicosis of the lung, etc, and now a big focus is on stress in the workplace and mental wellbeing, with good reason.

One important thing to remember is that the management of health & safety must be proportionate to the level of risk. It is about taking the necessary action to reduce significant risks arising from work – and not about banning activities. *3

Notes *

1 MEWP, a specialist item of plant (mobile elevating work platform), such as a scissor lift with safe enclosure and controls in which to work safely at height – requiring training in its use and emergency procedures will be required)

2 http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/history/index.htm

3 http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/history/index.htm

There’s plenty more to consider besides… if the world of health & safety is concerning you as a business owner, or you have a construction project you are about to start, you need to get in touch with Emerald Health & Safety Services Ltd.

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