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HSE secures 100-plus OSH improvement pledges to support strategy

Sixty-six organisations have committed to improving workplace safety and health in the UK through more than 100 pledges to the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) five-year strategy, Helping Great Britain Work Well.

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The regulator has released a document, Helping Great Britain Work Well: Commitments, which lists what individual employers and other bodies are doing, and will do, to help reduce work-related deaths, ill health and injury.  

The strategy was published in March this year following a consultation in December 2015, when the HSE encouraged the whole of industry to participate in order to improve standards. 

The commitments from industry, unions and other groups span the strategy’s six themes, which include tackling ill health, simplifying risk management and anticipating and tackling new health and safety challenges.

The HSE held a Help GB Work Well “Commitments” event at the Imperial War Museum on 24 November to celebrate the pledges. 

IOSH is among those to have launched an initiative. It has committed to tackling ill heath by raising awareness of occupational cancer through its No Time to Lose campaign.  

Other organisations that have committed to this theme include Crossrail, which has implemented strategies to minimise silica dust exposure and diesel engine exhaust emissions, and the Health in Construction Leadership Group, which will provide clear leadership and drive in the construction industry to reduce ill health. Laing O’Rourke has promised to work on wellbeing, manage key onsite occupational health issues, and establish a “fit for task” and health surveillance programme. 

Silvana Martin, occupational health manager at Laing O’Rourke, said at the event: “The commitment that we have made is around mental health. Our plan is to deliver a programme that raises the awareness of mental health and removes the stigma of mental health in the workplace so people feel able to talk about mental health, seek any support services that they require, and that we as a business are open and able to support our employees with any issues or challenges they face in their working environment.”  

British Gas has made three pledges to managing risk well, including its “Don’t Walk By” initiative to increase reporting of near-misses and hazards, and Costain aims to halve the rate of harm in its business by 2018. 

To keep abreast of safety and health challenges that come with social, economic and technological changes, the University of the West of England said its Master’s graduates will be “ready to deliver the most up-to-date proportionate health and safety approaches in their future practice”. 

Opening the event, chair of the executive, Martin Temple, said: “Today we can see that it’s starting to have effect through the commitments you have made. Since the strategy was published in March, there are more than 100 positive initiatives towards the outcomes we all want to see.

“In this historic venue, I think the following words of wisdom from Winston Churchill are apt: ‘Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.’” 

He added: “Improving work-related health will not happen overnight but it needs as much emphasis as safety. Around 1.3 million workers were suffering from a work-related illness last year and 26 million working days were lost as a result. The economic costs to society are equally stark – totalling around £9bn each year for new cases of work-related illness.

“This publication is the first crystallisation of some exciting initiatives that are already underway.

 

Keeley Downey is acting deputy editor of IOSH Magazine. She is a former editor of Biofuels International, Bioenergy Insight and Tank Cleaning Magazine

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