Research gives fresh insight into practices and perceptions of modern-day safety and health
Monday 17th October 2016
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Negative perceptions of health and safety appear more associated with "public" than "workplace" issues -- members of the public are more supportive of efforts to promote safer workplaces than interventions out of work.
And the profession is having to adapt to address a variety of challenges presented by a rapidly changing world of work, from managing transient workforces to supporting smaller businesses that suspect "gold-plating" by practitioners of their safety and health policies and practices.
These were among a wide-ranging set of findings, published today, from one of the most ambitious programmes of research ever undertaken into the ways we protect people from ill health and injury in the workplace.
Commissioned by IOSH, research teams conducted six studies to shed new light on modern-day worker protection at a time when health and safety has been lambasted in sections of the media and become the subject of reviews into its regulatory frameworks.
The findings of IOSH's five year programme -- Health and Safety in a Changing World -- give fresh insight into the role safety and health is now playing in a world of transient or disparate workforces, automated production and economic and political uncertainty.
IOSH executive director of policy Shelley Frost said: "It is clear from our research that the modern-day safety and health practitioner faces multifarious challenges in their vital work to safeguard working people.
"Businesses, politicians and the media are posing questions of the profession and the system in which its members work, asking whether we need current levels of regulation and whether practitioners are being overzealous in their recommendations to employers.
"However, it is evident that safety and health is a stable system that is valued by business and the public at large. People do care that they and their loved ones are not placed in unnecessary risk at work. Our research programme underlines the need for the safety and health profession to be agile and open-minded in the face of change, and more confident in promoting the very many positive contributions it makes to our lives."
IOSH's five-year research programme set out to explore the landscape of occupational safety and health and its implications for developing solutions that provide effective protection for workers and their communities.
The professional body commissioned studies by teams from the Institute of Occupational Medicine, Loughborough University, Cranfield University and the universities of Nottingham, Reading and Portsmouth, under the direction of Professor Robert Dingwall.
Prof Dingwall said: "IOSH's investment in the research programme Health and Safety in a Changing World has delivered a rich resource for strategic thinking and discussion within the occupational safety and health [OSH] profession. In particular, it offers a deep analysis of the changing institutional contexts of work and employment, the evolution of management thinking and practices, and the emerging place of OSH within this.
"This analysis provides an opportunity to widely reflect on the fitness for purpose of established approaches to education, training and professional development and on the relationship between OSH professionals, managers and workers to ensure currency and connectivity of the profession in the world of work and society."
Citrix issued an FoI request in August to 129 local authorities across the UK to find out how much money they invested in courses for safety and health and mindfulness/meditation, compared with IT security and data protection training. Councils were asked to indicate how much of their budget had been dedicated to different training programmes over the past two years and to detail how much was spent in each fiscal year. Some 109 responded.
In 2015-16 fatalities at work, including those in areas that are the responsibility of local councils, were down 48% to 12 compared with 23 in the previous year. There was one fatality in general manufacturing, one in health and two in other work activities. Farm-related deaths were down from nine to six and construction fatalities fell from five to two, one of which involved a member of the public. “Zero fatalities, as was achieved in 2009, has to be the industry objective,” the report says of the construction sector.
The Welsh village of Aberfan, in the Taff Valley near Merthyr Tydfil, was engulfed in more than 40,000 cu m of mine waste. The waste, mud, rock and coal from the Merthyr colliery, operated by the National Coal Board (NCB), had been dumped in seven mountainous tips, known as slag heaps, on the lower slopes of the mountain behind the village.
In the 11th biennial TUC survey of more than 1,000 UK safety representatives, 70% cited stress as the main hazard of concern to workers, especially for employees in the public sector most affected by government cuts. This was up 3% from the last survey in 2014 and a higher proportion than in any previous TUC study.
Nick Phillips, senior environmental health officer at Chiltern District Council, which brought the prosecution, told IOSH Magazine that the victim had worked for the company for around six months but had been moved to the goods- in department just one week before the accident.
A mechanic sustained injuries to his thigh when he was attacked by the dog in January 2014. When the HSE visited the garage, it uncovered various offences, including spray painting without appropriate control measures to prevent workers and members of the public from breathing in hazardous chemicals, an unsafe vehicle lift, and a lack of adequate welfare facilities. The HSE had previously taken enforcement action against the garage’s owner, Mehmet Salih, in relation to these offences.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is reminding those responsible for the safety of high-rise residential buildings in England have six months from April to register with the new Building Safety Regulator by law.
In the first part of this two-part series, Paul Verrico CMIOSH and Sarah Valentine set out a new safety theory that uses a ‘story’ to illustrate the need for rest, observation, planning and empowerment (ROPE).
Companies are deliberately choosing not to report all of their safety breaches and fines, so risks to safety are not being picked up by shareholders and other stakeholders, a review of workforce safety disclosures from publicly listed companies (PLCs) has found.