How to proceed after a health and safety incident?

Where to start when you have to manage a health and safety accident?

There are no books or specific legal guidance documents on how managers and business leaders should behave. Without a doubt it is a time of uncertainty for colleagues, co- workers and everybody involved with the injured or diseased employee.

There are lots of aspects of the situation to consider.

Firstly of course the managers need to pay attention to the particular legal proceedings and investigations, either internal or external of the case. As important as these is the moral responsibility of the organization. Their families and colleagues may need support may it be practical, emotional or financial, what assistance would be adequate at the particular situation?

Here we present you with a basic checklist of things for employers to have in mind in the event of health and safety accident.

Gossip and rumours.
There are going to be all sorts of conspiracy theories, distortion and exaggeration of the truth among the staff. Many of these rumours will also be shared with people from outside the company- families, competitors, etc. Try to avoid a situation of too much gossip because it creates instability, breaks down the organizational process and could lead to reduction of the productivity and a bad name with competitors and customers.

Be communicative.
Try at all costs to stop the gossip. A straightforward explanation at the right time can make the difference, save you time and lots of problems. Some staff gossip because they are worried about external bodies investigating and also about their own safety and jobs. So try to be concise and explain what is about to happen, when and why. Reassure them, and remember-accident happen all the time but you are a team and should remain a good team in the bad moments too.

Remember people are different.
Different people react differently. There will always be the employee who will be back at work as soon as he or she feels better, while others would need more time to recover. Of course as a manager you are concerned about work witch needs to be done, customers attended and generally, business has to carry on no matter what... A health and safety incident could lead to a conflict of interests, where you are short of staff and those people remaining are upset and worried. In this situation the management would always benefit (if it allows) some compassion and some time for the staff and injured employees to recover from the trauma.

What about witnesses?
If an investigation is taking place, those of the employees who have witnessed the accident will be under pressure. Act sensitively and assure your employees that the main idea of the investigation is to improve safety at work and find the root of the problem. Also it is necessary to inform them that they are not obliged by the law to respond to specific questions, witch make them uncomfortable. This is unless the investigation is carried out by the HSE under section 20 of the HSWA 1974.

Contact relatives with care.
When and how to approach an injured employee or the family of a diseased colleague? Before responding to this question, employers should think exactly what they want to achieve by this contact. Certainly In some situation a different approach is needed, think about if you would just like to show some support or you might need a written statement for the internal investigation?

Is it necessary to visit the family or would just a phone call be enough, etc.
Sometimes the correct person to send and make contact would be a senior manager or director, This should give out the message and demonstrate that the company is serious about fixing the problem. In other cases the most adequate person might be a close friend or colleague. In many cases it will be necessary to involve the companies HR department and the companies Lawyers, especially if disciplinary action is to be taken or long term sick pay is to be given.

Make the legal process easy.
Always maintain a good level of dialog whatever the situation may be. Good communication with the employee preceding a court hearing will always benefit the company.

Keep the press away as much as you can.
Limiting any press comments as to avoid their natural urge for sensational headlines is the best you can do. Any inaccurate information could cause substantial problems between you and your staff including mistrust and unease. Your main goal should be to take care of your staff and keep them informed; you can always deal with the press at a later time.

Can’t see the high visibility woods for the trees

OK so any feedback or comments will be great regarding this one.

Recently we were completing a safety survey for a company who specialise in laying new water pipes in existing paths and roadways. One of the Site Foreman asked me a great question.

“Can you remember not so long ago when high visibility clothing was not mandatory?”

“Well yes of course” I said “what about it?”

“Back in the day” He continued “No one but the police wore high visibility jackets and boy did they stand out”

At this point I started to get his drift and as I looked around me I noticed what he was implying.
Obviously every single workman on the site was wearing the compulsory full highway high visibility garments, over fifty of them.
But also I noticed a school boy on his bike wearing a high visibility vest, a man walking his dog wearing a full high visibility jacket and the postman in his high Visibility gear.

“Do you reckon that people have got used to seeing high visibility clothing everywhere so they don’t pay as much attention any more?” The Foreman enquired.

“Well it’s a very good point and something to ponder” I replied.
I must admit at the time the whole area was just a blur of fluorescent green, yellow and orange.

“However I do know something” I continued “if a couple of your men were not wearing high visibility clothing they would definitely not be spotted as well as any of the other men in this sea of high visibility”

The Foreman gave me a kind laugh and got back to what he was doing but it did strike a cord with me.

What do you guys think out there? Is it similar to our sense of smell in the fact that we get used to it over a period of time and can’t smell it any more?

If so maybe we should come up with clothing that changes colour over time similar to the well known brand of air freshener that has three different fragrances that change on a time delay?

I jest of course but it’s worth a thought

Office hazards

Is an office environment a safe place to be? Certainly yes, if you compare the risks in the office to the risks at the building site or those at the road repair works, for example.

Is your office safe? When was the last time you have carried out a risk assessment ?

Dangerous Office

Safe Office?

The truth is that sometime an unsafe office environment could be as dangerous as a construction site. The good news is that is much easier and less expensive to comply with the regulations, get properly assessed and trained. The most important actions you have to take at least once per year are of course renew your Health and Safety Policy, Fire Risk Assessment and PAT Testing -Inspection of Portable Electrical Equipment for electrical dangerous faults.

Some of the many office hazards are

- RSI Repetitive Strain Injury, an injury witch is a direct consequence from poorly designed computer work stations caused particularly from prolonged use of keyboards

- An excessive use of VDU- Visual Display Units can affect the eyes

- A series of back pain injuries, due mostly to poor training and improper sitting stations

- Poor housekeeping can create slips, trips and falls witch leads to a big percentage of the office injuries and are the most expensive ones

Sometimes is difficult to choose what to concentrate the resources for the health and safety part of your business. You do not need to worry about health and safety policy at all if you have fewer than five employees. In any case you are obliged to have a Public Liability Insurance, and of course Fire Risk Assessment for your office. A proper and particular training of your employees might be of need in some situations for example if the building where your office premises are is undergoing a major refurbishment etc. Always a good health and safety consultant would safe money to your business for the long term.

Gender sensitive Health and Safety

Health and safety regulations are uniform and applied to everyone. Luckily there are some specific issues witch affect especially pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers and those undergoing the menopause. They are more susceptible to certain hazards due to physiological reasons.

The most common dangers at the work place witch expectant mothers can encounter are,

- Manual handling and bending hazards

- Infectious diseases such as chicken pox, rubella or those representing danger of infection trough animal contact

- Display screen equipment- it is not demonstrated yet to link directly to a particular disease but certainly the possibility for occasional breaks and comfortable and correct posture are very important.

- Strong colleague support against violence required particularly at public related jobs.

There are specific Health and Safety regulations for pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers who have given birth in the last six months and women who have miscarried after 24 weeks of pregnancy. In each one of these situations a particular risk assessment and method statement must be carried out. The employer is obliged by law to reduce the existing risks for the vulnerable woman and if a particular risk could not be eliminated, an alternative job position must be considered. If there is no a possibility to do that, a temporary work suspension on a full pay must be agreed between the parties. The risk assessment has to be reviewed at every different stage of the pregnancy, because of the possibility of harm to the fetus and mother vary at the different stages.

Health and Safety Events in March

March is going to be a busy month for the construction industry, particularly regarding safety issues.
If you are in the business and have maintenance or repair works site of any size, prepare yourself.
There is a big possibility that you could get a visit from HSE inspectors.

The initiative is part of the organizations' purpose to raise the awareness and remind the
construction professionals all around the country that poor standards in health and safety politics
are unacceptable. That sometimes cost the industry and companies a fortune and more often than
not lives. Only for the period 2010/2011 42 very serious injuries have occurred on
construction sites in Nottinghamshire. Also there were 3 deaths for the same period and 188 serious
accidents across the East Midlands. Even bigger is reported to be the cost of small and totally and
easily preventable accidents- British companies lose around 250 Pounds a second in compensation
costs and pay outs or those accidents. The same study conducted by the British Safety Council
revealed that six million days are lost annually because of work-place injuries.
Generally the inspectors would be concentrating on checking high- risk activities and tidiness or the
good order of the construction sites. Unfortunately the falls from heights still remain one of the
most common causes of fatalities and major injuries in the UK. There are more than 5 of those
incidents every day around the country. The possible agenda for the inspections will concentrate in
the following points
Jobs involving working at height were properly planned, staff realizing them were trained in
accordance and appropriate precautions and equipment were in place
Sites are tidy and well organized, according to law regulations
Special attention would be given to walkways, stairs and main public access to the
construction site which should be free from obstructions and the pass byres protected

construction site which should be free from obstructions and the pass byres protected
Work areas are clear from unnecessary materials
Visits are planned to start from today 27* of February and will be carried on for a month.
Sincerely, from the team of Safe2use we wish good luck to everybody who gets visited. And if you
need to get your Health and Safety or Risk Assessment Policy in place or other Health and Safety
advice, do not hesitate to contact us.
Also during March will take place the HSE's Behaviour Based Safety- How to improve Health and
Safety Culture event. All delegates will be advised from industry experts on different health and
safety issues, especially on prevention trough better training. It will take place at the MWB Meeting
Rooms, London on the 7th of March. Certainly, an effective training is one of the major challenges
faced by the construction industry. Apart from being part of the regulations to complete, everyday
becomes clearer that an effective health and safety training adds value to the company, creates a
secure and healthier work atmosphere and ultimately increases the quality and productivity of your
business. The experts are also expected to provide information on how to engage the workforce
from these working at the office to those on the construction site to be more proactive and
concerned on health and safety issues._ '_

Health and safety tips for small businesses

Running a small business

Only firms with fewer than five employees are not required to have a written health and safety policy statement or risk written assessments. By law and also logic all businesses have to assess the potential risks which their activities represent for the employees, customers and the public. The truth is that if you run a SME and fail to comply with the health and safety law, the fines you would be facing will be considerable and can cripple your business. That's why it is essential to get a good professional advice from the beginning or as soon as possible of your work activities.

Every year small and medium size enterprises lose money and working days due to occupational ill health and injuries. This is a direct result of inappropriate health and safety management. Regular updating, monitoring and reviewing of the policies and practices in your company need to become a monthly procedure and should be treated as important as the accounts and tax reviews. Some of the most frequent causes of compensation claims for SME's and temporary absence from the work place are the injuries from slips, trips, falls and manual handling.

To avoid this we recommend you pay special attention to the quality of indoor and outdoor facilities and training. If you are lucky you may also employee workers with an amount of common sense.

The correct management of health and safety issues will translate not only in complying with the law, but also will benefit your company in other aspects.

- Reducing the sick leaves and absences, witch on the other hand will help you to retain your qualified staff.
- Will improve productivity and profits in the long term by creating a nice and secure working environment.
- Will maintain and even boost your reputation with customers.
- Will reduce costs- insurance premiums (Employers Liability Compulsory Insurance) and legal costs.

Relaxing Health & Safety Regulations?

The  Löfstedt’s review

The Department of Work and Pensions has commissioned Professor Löfstedt, director of the King's
Centre for Risk Management at King's College, London to perform a study on the current situation
of the Heath and Safety Act and its implementation in the day to day business life.

The study focuses in particular on the 200 Regulations and the 53 Approved Codes of Practice (ACoPs) Enforced by the
HSE.

It is part of the Government's plan to reduce the existing bureaucracy and confusion in legislation against which businesses were complaining for some time.

Some of the already announced changes and direct results of the Lofstedt's review include relaxing the need of inspection visits
for properly attended low- risk small businesses, simplification of the safety guidance for small businesses and abolishment of the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority. There are some more changes to be brought forward by 2013 and 2014 focusing on the regulations for self- employed people (some of whom would be exempt of health and safety legislation) and simpler accident
reporting.
New legislation if and when needed would be risk and evidence based.

There may also be suggestions in changes of an independent health and safety regulator for the nuclear energy industry.

So far so good.

the planned changes will mainly tackle unnecessary paperwork for most businesses owners, health and safety advisers and
regulators as well as promising to provide a a simplified and clear way for companies to comply with the law.

What does it mean to your company?

There is not going to be a major alteration in the current legislation. The Government accepted most of the study's suggestions to remove the existing bureaucracy burden from companies and focus on the correct  assessment of higher risk businesses.

From 2013 most low risk self-employed will be almost absent of health and safety regulations.

We here at Safe2Use.com will provide you with the latest news and changes as soon as they are communicated.

Until then we would love to hear your feedback.

Health and safety regulations

Health and Safety Rules and Regulations

Health and Safety Rules and Regulations

Is it getting too much?

There has always been a lot of debate about grey areas in health and safety regulations.

I originally came from a construction and engineering background and have heard arguments both from workers in the trenches and now from the view of health and safety authorities, consultants and advisers.

First let’s look at from what I can gather is the sensible worker or business owner’s point of view.

The main problems seem to stem from safety rules and regulations that interfere with productivity speed, additional cost and ease that a particular job can be completed. I’m sure you have spoken to a veteran who has been doing a particular job for twenty years without incident and now new enforced safety laws result in the same task taking twice as long and more money has to be spent on unnecessary safety procedures.

Less productivity, more cost, more time to complete same task.

I have also been told by such similar people as mentioned above that they had an apprenticeship period with a mentor when they were young and over the years honed their skills to be able to complete such a task as efficiently and to a the highest quality possible.

As we know apprenticeships schemes are rare now and from the veterans point a view common sense has been taken from the youth.

One statement from a 52-year-old lathe operator struck a particular cord and it went like this.

“When I started my apprenticeship there were 6 of us being trained for the job however 2 of the lads were a danger to their selves and us, they just did not have the mental capacity to be working around dangerous machines. They were clumsy, forgetful, and immature and had no common sense what so ever. So before the inevitable injury took place they were duly informed by a professional operator that they were not cut out for the job.
Nowadays all responsibility is taken from workers. Let’s say all humans are not all created equal and you as a company employ someone who is a liability, you have some major problems ahead. No matter how much training you give said person this will never amount to safe operation and an accident is bound to happen. This will then surely be deemed as the manager’s fault or lack of training, safety procedures, too much stress and so on. Thus the company and manager gets fined and injured party (normally incompetent person or liability) gets a big payout. Next if you determine that said operator is beyond useless you have then got to remove said person from the company before anything bad happens. This will probably result in unfair dismissal in return giving said person a big payout from the company.
So we now have a country with dwindling manufacturing plants and factories. We produce hardly anything because everything we do now cost twice as much and takes twice as long due to tolerating incompetence!”

Strong views from a man who has seen significant changes in health and safety legislation over the years.

Obviously there needs to be balance and a sensible approach to how a particular task must be handled.

The resistance and defiance from workers and company owners can sometimes be very fierce as we can see so we should address these issues and actually get all parties involved when it comes to health and safety Regulations.

Next time we will be exploring responses from the other side of the coin i.e. a health and safety adviser’s point a view.

We would like to answer all concerns highlighted in this post and work out some strategies on how we could better keep people safe but at the same time allow work to be completed more efficiently and cost affective.

If you would like to view health and safety regulations that affect your type of work you can find information at www.hse.gov.uk

Please feel free to voice your opinions below or contact a health and safety advisor for more details

Delivering results with audits

Audits (if done right) help workers to carry on with health and safety procedures easier.

Very often the audits could be seen as unhelpful and interfering with day to day tasks and also when workers are faced with complying with health and safety requirements at the work place there often will be resistance.

Health and safety regulations are getting tougher every year, as are the regular visits to the businesses from the HSE.

In these difficult economic times no company can afford a huge fine due to bad compliance with the law.

This is where a quality audit can achieve the desired result of not just interfering with work but complying with the law and at the same time actually helping with and improving the daily tasks of workers.

If you as a manager are able to choose the right health and safety expert, he or she could be a great addition to the team. Instead of a boring and nagging person who doesn't know what the business is all about interrupting around the office, shop or factory floor making everybody miserable… And believe me, this is what happens most of the time when you have a health and safety advisor taking an audit around your business premises.

Again an audit could improve the quality of your team/management relationship while saving you money (if it is done by the right people and in the correct manner!).
Internal audits are important too, usually done by the manager.

This person will know the organization of the work and the type of business and certainly could provide a good advice.

If this is the case the wise thing to do is at least once per year have your safety expert visit your premises to have a good look and provide you with up date information about the latest law changes and regulations.
Any of the reports from these audits needs to be presented in a positive and constructive manner, because this way they can be more effective and actually implemented.

Also it is very important for the effectiveness of audit reports to be delivered in simple and clear language.
Make it easy to use and present in a daily or weekly plan for the needed changes.
A good audit would includes what your company is doing right too, not just the mistakes.

Sometimes a quality audit can even solve some of your organizational process issues by pointing out problems you or your management are not able to see.
Most of the health and safety advisers out there would also offer you a tailor made plan and on site help on a daily basis for the problems to be efficiently sorted.
In conclusion a health and safety audit is able to save you money, time and ultimately improve your business.

Risk Management

Risk management may be the branch of study that are responsible for determining, assessing and monitoring risks or risk (any uncertainty) for a corporation. It may be put on both private and public industries. In public places sector, risk management could be completed in certain infrastructure development projects like construction of public structures whereas private sector risk management include business or places of work. Financial risk management, evaluates the economical value and handles the connected financial risk (if any). Enterprise risk management, however, includes all kinds of chance of a business, either financial or proper. Let us have a look in the fundamentals of risk management.

Risk Management: Fundamental Information

The primary principle behind any kind of risk management would be to recognize and minimize the approaching problems, in order to reduce the deficits that’ll be incurred soon. Risk management could be either continuous or non-continuous. Within the former situation, assessment of risk is performed continuously, from the beginning of the project till its completion whereas within the latter one, risk assessment is generally done only one time throughout the first stages from the project. Following fundamentals are covered inside a risk management program.

Looking at Previous Data

Looking at work or previous procedures is relevant while assessing risk web hosting companies. The danger management committee evaluates the state data from the previous years, to ensure that they are able to understand the organization profile, and also the current terms and guidelines of the organization.

Determining Danger

Risk identification is a vital part of control over risk. Within this stage, because the title indicates, the potential risks are recognized and named. While determining the danger, it’s apparent the causes of the danger will also be examined to be able to evaluate the potential impact(s). The danger management team can compare the conventional risk lists with regards to the specific project.

Assessing Risk

Risk assessment is performed when it comes to probability ratio. The prospect of the danger ought to be more than zero, otherwise you will find no likelihood of the danger occurring. In other words, if probability is generally under 100, then uncertain problems may occur. When the probability ratio is 100, then your risk is known to being an problem that’s handled under problem management. Risk may also be evaluated when it comes to scale viz. low, medium, high and critical. Though, people think mostly concerning the negative impact of risk management, there may also be an optimistic impact.

Monitoring and Controlling Risk

After assessment of risk, you will find four methods that may be implemented staying away from the danger (altering the program), moving the danger (to a person more responsible to deal with it effectively), mitigating the danger (doing something to reduce the impact) or accepting the danger (relevant when the risk is minimal). By manipulating the risk, we mean to evaluate the continuing project and appearance for just about any new risk (if there are any).

More specifically, the entire risk management process involves keeping treatments for the danger. Hence, it is extremely entirely possible that a business are affected deficits, despite risk management. Controlling risk isn’t a struggle, rather we are able to refer to it as an important job. It ought to be carried out by professionals, who’re experienced enough to create forth ideas and promote practices for the advantage of the business. Inside a company, the project manager usually handles the control over risk. Risk management, otherwise done correctly, can result in lack of possibilities and/or business. For those who have an in-depth curiosity about controlling and fixing problems, then risk management could be a rewarding and satisfying profession. Nowadays, you will find certain schools that provide risk management courses.