HSE secures 100-plus OSH improvement pledges to support strategy
Monday 28th November 2016
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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.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) board has agreed to restore limited public access to its decision-making by opening up half its meetings in 2017 to outside observers.At its 7 December meeting, the board agreed a proposal to hold four open meetings in 2017. A paper presented to the board suggested the increase to restore the “openness and transparency” of the group's decisions on the executive’s policies.
David Roscoe, a plant controller at the company’s now decommissioned power station in Alloa, Scotland, was engulfed in high-temperature steam and severely burned while inspecting a faulty drain valve in October 2013. The valve opened unexpectedly, releasing high-pressure steam.
Business secretary Greg Clark, who moved the debate in the House of Commons on 7 November, said: “No one […] should think that we have any intention of eroding the rights that we enjoy in this country through our process of leaving the European Union. We will be using the legislation before this House to entrench all existing workers’ rights in British law, whatever future relationship the UK has with the EU.”
Some 30.4 million working days were lost to injury or ill health in 2015-16: 25.9 million days due to work-related illness and 4.5 million days due to workplace injury. This is up from 27.3 million in the previous 12 months is the highest since 2007-08.
Figures obtained by law firm Clyde & Co under the Freedom of Information Act show that the HSE prosecuted 46 company directors and senior managers in the 12 months to 31 March 2016, compared with 15 in the previous 12 months. In contrast, the number of employees prosecuted by the HSE dropped from ten last year to one in 2015-16. Thirty-four of the 46 people prosecuted were found guilty and this resulted in 12 prison sentences – the longest of which was two years.
IOSH Magazinereported last week that a worker was diagnosed with HAVS in October 2014 after he visited his GP. He was not under any health surveillance and did not know how to report his symptoms. Thanet District Council reported the injury under RIDDOR (the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations).
A Belfast-based Risk & Compliance software provider has been collaborating with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and construction giant Costain as part of an ongoing project to unlock artificial intelligence’s (AI) potential in improving the management of risks on worksites.
Safety interventions should be practicable and cost-effective, but too much of an imbalance towards safety does not make economic sense for employers, argues Geoff Vaughan, who suggests ‘gross disproportion’ provides a practical limit.
A proposed new law aims to revoke EU-derived legislation, including life-saving protections, by December 2023, unless specifically kept or replaced – Richard Jones CFIOSH explains how OSH practitioners can get involved.