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Chris Shaw

Let there be light 04/11/2016

With the long winter nights drawing in I’ve become fascinated by RoSPA’s campaign to adopt a system called SDST - or Single/Double British Summertime.

By moving the clock forward to GMT+1 in the winter and GMT+2 in the summer, the SDST system would result in increased evening light all year round, bringing a shift in average sunset time year round from 6.35pm to 7.30pm. This would give an average gain of 55 minutes of accessible evening daylight every day of the year.
This isn’t just a flight of fancy. As a consequence of the current system (GMT from October to March and GMT+1 during British Summer Time) the number of people killed and injured on the road rises considerably during the darker evenings in the autumn and winter.

In 2015 deaths rose from 27 in September to 42 in October, 45 in November and 58 in December. The casualty rate for all road users increased from 573 per billion vehicle miles in October to 619 per billion vehicle miles in November, before falling back slightly to 614 in December.

Recent research estimates that adopting SDST would have the net effect of saving around 80 lives and 212 serious injuries a year.

It wouldn’t be the first time that alternate UK times had been adopted. An experiment between 1968 and 1971 saw British Standard Time (GMT + 1) employed all year round (the clocks were advanced in March 1968 and not put back until October 1971). Around 2500 deaths and serious injuries were prevented each year of the trial period.

Indeed in 2009, the Department for Transport confirmed that moving to lighter evenings would prevent about 80 deaths on the road a year. It asserted that there would be a one-off cost of about £5million to publicise the change, but then benefits of around £138m per year, as well as energy savings, business benefits and more opportunities for sport and leisure.

RoSPA’s arguments for adopting the new system are compelling. More evening daylight would encourage outdoor activity, making outdoor leisure activities possible in the evening during two more months of the year – people spend about 60% more time watching TV in winter than in summer. It adds that SDST would bring an average increase of 28% more accessible daylight during waking hours, maximising the beneficial effect of natural light – summer sunlight is our primary source of vitamin D. Because of this, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and sub-clinical depression, suffered by 500,000 people in the UK, would be reduced by this extra hour of accessible daylight.

Extra daylight hours for leisure activity would help fight increasing obesity in UK society, particularly among the young.
RoSPA recommends that lighter evenings be introduced on a trial basis for two to three years, after which the decision about continuing permanently would be based on the consequent effects on road casualties.

In an era where internet campaigns and social media can have an unprecedented impact on Government decisions - for example Brexit - I believe this system would have a positive effect on the health & safety of the British public. Let me know your thoughts!

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What's the Brexit strategy? 13/06/2016

By the time you hold the next copy of HSM the nation will have voted in the European Union Referendum to decide whether Britain should leave or remain in the EU.

The historic Referendum has created intense debate, with conflicting information being provided by both sides of the fence, to a public that can only possibly tick ‘Don’t Know’ with any sense of confidence. Little surprise when both 'In' and 'Out' supporters often provide the same argument: The economy would be worse if we stay in / a Brexit would cause another Credit Crunch - or Crexit Brunch.

But let’s imagine for a moment: If the UK left the EU, what might that mean for health and safety in the UK?

Critics of Brussels claim that EU regulations create excessive red tape and hinder business competition, particularly in relation to small-to-medium sized companies. One of the biggest culprits, according to these critics, is health and safety.

Leigh Hayman, founding director at consultancy 4see believes this is not fair: "The UK has always been ahead of the pack in this area," he asserts. "The Factories Act was passed way back in 1833 and the foundation for current legislation in the UK stems from the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act.
"The EU Framework Directive is implemented in Great Britain by the 1999 Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations, which requires employers to evaluate, avoid and reduce workplace risks."

Health and safety continues to mature, to improve and it certainly leads the way in Europe and most of the world. The HSE, OSH and UK consultancies are highly sought after in regions of the world looking to catch up with UK safety standards and skip the growing pains that has led to 'elf and safety'.

So will health and safety change if the UK leaves the EU? According to Hayman, no: "There are quite a few reasons, but here are a few of the more persuasive.
"It works! Work place incidents and cases of ill-health have continuously reduced since the introduction of health and safety related regulations. It would be an extremely brave government to introduce measures to relax or reduce health and safety legislative requirements that, in all likelihood, could reverse this trend. If this was to happen, the pressure from trades unions around worker safety would quickly rise.

"We are in a global market and standardisation is a key requirement across multi-national companies. Having standardised regulations allows multi-nationals to effectively produce and implement policy and monitor performance throughout all regions they operate in. Small to medium sized companies may not have the same need to standardise, but most work for, with or through large organisations, and would still have to meet these health and safety requirements that, in all likelihood, wouldn’t change if the UK Regulations were relaxed.”

And there are moral reasons. The majority of employers really do want to keep their workforce safe and healthy. Most companies perceive legislative requirements as the absolute minimum and have implemented health and safety systems that far outweigh this as they know that effective health and safety has huge cost savings.

Hayman believes that in time there may be a subtle change in health and safety legislation if the UK did leave: "Some legislation could be altered or amended to suit the UK socio-economic climate at the time, but it wouldn’t reduce requirements,” he observes. “If anything it would just reduce the administrative burden around health and safety. Although, we are well on the way to that anyway.”

So it seems that if you are basing your decision on a complete reversal and relaxation of health and safety regulations then you might be disappointed!

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Mixed reactions 15/12/2015

Following the publication of new sentencing guidelines on 3 November, some have described the event as: “one of the biggest changes to health and safety enforcement that we have seen in decades.”

The Sentencing Council’s guidelines effectively change the way in which companies are held to account if convicted of corporate manslaughter, health and safety and food safety and hygiene offences.

For a detailed account of how this will affect you and reaction from the industry, turn to page 4 of the latest edition of HSM magazine.

While there has been a positive reaction to the new guidelines, the same cannot be said for the proposed HSE changes to Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) for Construction Design Management (CDM) regulations.

Trade unions have rejected HSE proposals to halt the planned ACoP supporting the CDM Regulations 2015. The Unite union insisted the regulator’s recommendations were: “not worth the paper they are written on,” as HSE officials failed to get the support of the Construction Industry Advisory Committee (CONIAC), who stated that the ACoP is ‘unnecessary’.

“The HSE held a consultation on revisions to CDM in 2013, proposing to replace the ACoP with guidance, arguing the ACoP was too complex to be of use to those who would benefit the most from it,” notes Amy Batch, legal author at legislation analysts Cedrec. “This view was met with strong opposition, with only one third of respondents agreeing it should be removed.

“The HSE then proposed the creation of a new ACoP, with the hope it would ‘add value’. This idea was also refused by the Unite, UCATT and GMB trade unions. As a result, the HSE board were told the proposal could not go ahead.”

According to Batch, the decision to remove a planned ACoP directly stems from the Government’s red tape challenge. “The frustrating element to this news is that, by seeking to cut red tape, HSE board’s solution was to create another ACoP as a replacement,” she added.

“The fact is that ACoPs are highly useful to industry professionals. They offer guidance, clarity and peace of mind that duties and responsibilities are being fulfilled effectively. This is emphasised by their legal status.

“Guidance on the other hand, whilst helpful, is designed to be a brief point of reference. The ACoP is more in-depth, making it the perfect tool for a complex piece of legislation such as the CDM Regulations.

“It is encouraging, therefore, that the plans have been rejected by the industry that actually use and benefit from them.”

Chris Shaw, Editor, Health & Safety Matters


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Safety spotlight 05/10/2015

The health and safety sector will be once again be heading to Bolton Arena this October to keep up to speed with the most significant changes to affect the industry over the past year.

The free Health & Safety North conference and exhibition takes place on 7 and 8 October, having firmly established itself as a must-attend event of the year.

This year's educational seminar programme, organised by the British Safety Council, features a broad range of talks from such industry leading lights as Kate Haire, head of local authority unit at the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) and Neil Budworth, vice president for HSSSE for Clean Energy/ Director of HSSSEQ for E & I, Amec Foster Wheeler.

One of the highlights of the two day event is undoubtedly provided by Pinsent Masons law firm, which will be providing visitors with a unique opportunity to take part in a mock trial: 'A construction industry accident - who's at fault? You decide'.

Attendees will not only be able to view the reconstruction of a health and safety prosecution, but after hearing the evidence then cast a vote of 'guilty' or 'not guilty'.

Elsewhere, more practical Event Partner Seminars will provide advice on specifying personal protective equipment (PPE) and also guidance on implementing the latest standards and regulations.

Safety Dialogue live panel debates will also return to this year's Health & Safety North. The educational experience will give visitors the opportunity to discuss and debate some of the most critical issues in health and safety with a panel of industry experts from the Heath & Safety Laboratory (HSL), the British Occupational Hygiene Society (BOHS) and diversified technology company 3M.

Daily topics include: Managing Respiratory Hazards, with a focus on construction dusts and asbestos; Managing Noise Hazards, covering noise hazards and the practical aspects of protecting people against them; and Health Risks at Work, where attendees can meet their local Safety Group and attend an informative workshop on the charity's campaign 'Health Risks at Work'.

Health & Safety North has built up a reputation for providing the industry with a high quality educational conference and a comprehensive exhibition featuring more than 100 suppliers of health and safety products and services.

To read more and discover the broad range of products and services available in the exhibition hall, turn to page 21. We look forward to seeing you there!

Chris Shaw, Editor, Health & Safety Matters

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See danger, speak up 26/08/2015

From 1 September 2015, the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) will be running its ambitious, month long safety campaign - Safetember.

As part of the programme the FLTA will be providing a range of free resources designed to help companies to eradicate bad practice and tackle a range of safety issues on sites of every shape and size, whether the site runs just one or a whole fleet of fork lift trucks (FLTs).

The safety campaign has been extended from one week to a month this year in an effort to mount a larger offensive on the unacceptable number of fork lift truck accidents in our industry. Last year a staggering 800 people were injured in accidents involving FLTs, most resulting in traumatic injuries that will change lives forever. One worker is killed by a fork lift every six weeks in the UK.

When a fork lift truck makes contact with flesh the results are not for the faint hearted – a glance at the accident statistics involving FLTs will reveal the words ‘de-gloved’ with alarming and stomach churning regularity. Warning: do not Google that phrase if you are in any way squeamish! And it can happen when a fork lift travelling at walking speed simply runs over a foot. FLTs are not like cars.

Through Safetember the FLTA aims to encourage businesses to establish a self-policing environment where bad practice is simply not tolerated by the community. The Association wants to take the lead in ridding British industry of a culture in which employees may spot bad practices but don’t report them, either because they don’t think it is their responsibility or, far worse, fear that they will be ignored, socially excluded or worse.

This means creating an environment where responsibility for safety across a site is shared by all who work there. With all of us looking after each other and those speaking up being encouraged to do so. When this attitude becomes part of all of our shared values we will have a safer industry.

One of the innovative resources that will be available during Safetember is a cleverly designed online attitudinal test for managers, operators and pedestrians - produced in partnership with Mentor Training. Not only will the test highlight safety concerns that are common to all sites, it will also (anonymously) build up a profile of current attitudes and highlight misconceptions and gaps in understanding that can then be addressed.

The resources being delivered during Safetember will include those that support continuing vigilance and reminders so that bad habits do not creep back in. These include videos, guides and posters that will also share many affordable and easy to apply gems of safety wisdom on how to make space use on sites safer, including how to create pedestrian segregation.

During Safetember, Mentor and the FLTA will also release an aide memoire for managers and supervisors, which is a quick reference guide of safety issues concerning fork lift trucks in the workplace. It can be used not only as a prompt but also as documented evidence that necessary checks have been performed.

The aide memoire will be officially launched at the FLTA National Fork Truck Safety Conference at Loughborough University on 23 September, where attendees will each be given a free first copy.

For more information on Safetember and to download the resources visit: www.fork-truck.org.uk

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Time to step up? 06/01/2015

As we enter 2015, it’s interesting to reflect on the pace of regulatory reform throughout 2014. In particular, two  major reforms created a lot of heat and light.

Government plans to remove a vast swathe of self employed people from the protection of health and safety legislation has generated widespread criticism and concern. And, according to Neal Stone, acting chief executive at the British Safety Council, the evidence in support of this fundamental reform does not stand up to close scrutiny.

"HSE proposals for reform of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 produced a record number of responses to the public consultation,” Neal told me. "While British Safety Council members broadly supported the thrust of the changes, including repealing the competence requirements and ending the CDM coordinator role, we did express concern about the proposal to axe the ACOP. We keenly await having sight of the seven sets of guidance that will support the CDM 2015 Regulations.”

So what should the industry be aware of in 2015? We are nearing the end of what has been a lengthy and resource intensive period of legislative review and reform. Employers, and those involved in managing workplace risks, have had to absorb a mountain of changes concerning health and safety regulation.

Stone believes that people at the sharp end need time to review the adequacy of their policies, systems and practices to ensure continuing compliance. "Good quality and proportionate guidance from HSE is key,” he observed.

"What the commercialisation of HSE will mean in practice is still to be determined. It is essential, going forward, that HSE continues to be an effective regulatory, with a continuing policy capability and the source of technical and scientific expertise.”

Last year also saw the 40th anniversary of the landmark 1974 Health & Safety at Work Act. And there is widespread agreement that vast strides have been made over the last 40 years in reducing the toll of workplace injury and work-related ill health occurrences.
The 1974 Act has played a significant role in helping improve the management and regulation of workplace health and safety. However, the latest HSE statistics, 2013/14, highlight that much remains to be done to make that further step change - particularly concerning ill health occurrences. Stone warns that the improvements going forward will need a concerted effort by a wide range of stakeholders: "We cannot and must not be solely reliant on HSE. We all have to step up.”

According to BSIF chief executive, Alan Murray, the statistics since the launch of the 1974 Act speak for themselves: "Enacted in 1974 when fatalities while at work were close to 700 per annum,” he noted, "the latest figures from the HSE show that this number has fallen by 80%. This statistic reinforces the UK’s world leading record in safety and health and the country should be proud of this.”

With 2015 underway, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and successful new year.
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An inspiring sector 12/11/2014

With Georgina on maternity leave, I will be taking over the reins of HSM for the coming year and I must say I relish the opportunity.

Having already met a number of key industry stakeholders and witnessed some of the latest technological innovations, it’s clear that the health and safety sector is one built around passion and integrity.

Health & Safety North, which took place at Bolton Arena on 8 and 9 October, provided ample opportunity to hear from top level health and safety experts in a broad array of educational conferences.

Speakers from organisations such as the Health & Safety Executive, 3M, Arco, DuPont and the British Safety Council delivered talks on every aspect of safety issues and, not surprisingly, the conferences were packed.

Perhaps the most resonant message across the two days was delivered by key note speaker, Ian Travers, deputy director of the HSE: "There are no new incidents, just new people repeating the same mistakes.” It seems that one of the greatest challenges of addressing health and safety within high risk working environments is one of communication. The day-to-day management of PPE compliancy for example, must be an arduous task for the busy employer working to tight deadlines.

Against this backdrop, what’s particularly inspiring is that the employees who work in often treacherous conditions are actually being listened to by manufacturers and suppliers. Most of the products within the pages of HSM have been developed based on issues raised by workers - whether they may be safety related, addressing comfort issues, focusing on ease of use, or based around energy efficiency. 

It is this level of communication that not only enables technology to advance at the research and development level but also help to improve the resources available for the UK workforce. 

Last month, I was privileged to attend the 17th BSIF annual networking day, which was held at The Belfry and was attended by leading health and safety delegates from across the UK. The event was the first in which Alan Murray played host as CEO and, once again, it demonstrated the industry’s focus on communication at every level. Alan Murray emphasised this desire by underlining the Federation’s drive to increase its engagement at a political level - not just with local MPs, but all the way to Westminster.

This month also saw the 40th anniversary of the landmark Health and Safety at Work Act - which John Hannett, general secretary at trade union Usdaw, describes as ‘one of the most important pieces of legislation that Labour, or indeed any government has ever introduced’. 

Since 1974, the UK health and safety sector has surpassed itself in terms of R&D, developing innovative safety technologies that not only adhere to safety regulations but often exceed them. 

It’s this level of passion that makes the health and safety sector stand out from the crowd and, over the coming year, I look forward to delivering up-to-date information on the newest innovations and providing regular updates on legislation and regulations.

I look forward to receiving your feedback.
Chris Shaw
Acting Editor
HSM magazine
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Health & Safety Matters Editor