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Building knowledge and developing confidence

23 January 2013

Ahead of the northern leg of the Heath & Safety '10 series,Neal Stone takes a look at some of the health & safety issues faced by organisations in this region and explains what visitors to the Bolton show can expect to gain

Ahead of the northern leg of the Heath & Safety '10 series,Neal Stone takes a look at some of the health & safety issues faced by organisations in this region and explains what visitors to the Bolton show can expect to gain from this year's seminar programme

The British Safety Council is looking forward to continuing its role as education partner to Western Business Exhibitions at Health & Safety '10 Bolton. The seminar programme put together for Bolton reflects many of the major issues that those involved in preventing workplace injury and ill-health are grappling with.

Health & safety and those involved in the management of health & safety are very much under the spotlight at present.

Come the exhibition we should know the outcome of Lord Young's review of health & safety and compensation. This review reflects government and society's concerns surrounding the impact of health & safety both on the management of risk in the workplace and on society more generally.

The accusation is frequently made that health & safety and its practitioners should shoulder the blame for a society that is increasingly risk averse. The benefits that well-managed health & safety brings ? preventing the huge financial and human cost of injury and ill-health - are often overlooked by critics keen to focus on silly stories that tend to concentrate on the consequences of risk aversion and unnecessary bureaucracy. Speakers featuring in the Bolton seminar programme will be addressing the important issues not the trivial.

The task of preventing injury and ill health in workplaces across the north west region must be the top priority for the regulator, employers, workers and all of those involved in health and safety. The reality is that a considerable number of workers are still being made ill or injured through work-related activities. The injury and ill-health statistics produced by HSE for the north west region paint a worrying picture. In 2008/09 there were 22 fatal injuries, 3,281 reported major injuries and 12,901 over 3 day injuries.

One third of fatal injuries were caused by falls from heights. Another third of major injuries to workers were caused by slips, trips and falls. In the north west the construction sector had the highest incidence of fatal and major injuries.

The incidence and occurrence of workrelated ill-health in the north west region also gives cause for serious concern. It is estimated that 3.5 million working days were lost in the region in 2008/09 due to workplace injuries and ill-health ? slightly above the national average. The vast majority of days lost were caused by illhealth such as stress and musculo skeletal disorders.

Criminal prosecutions HSE reported two cases in the north west region on the same day in early September where fatal accidents had resulted in criminal prosecutions. Fines totalling ?30,000 were imposed on building and demolition contractors following the death of a Salford worker, who was struck by the excavator bucket on a digger. John Cain, 36, who was working on a project to demolish a building in Salford in November 2004, died from his injuries later that day. The case took six years to come to court.

The UK's biggest food manufacturer was fined fined ?14,000 after a 65kg metal pillar fell on a maintenance engineer at a site on the Wirral, Merseyside, in 2008, crushing his skull. Thomas Williams, aged 61, suffered severe traumatic brain and spinal injuries, and was in hospital for more than six months. He now has difficulty speaking and moving. These two tragic cases highlight the human cost of badly managed health & safety and the criminal consequences of breaking the law.

It is with such cases in mind, along with the feedback provided by those attending last year's event, that the issues and speakers for the eight educational seminars for the 2010 programme have been selected. Consequently the event provides the ideal opportunity for those attending to build knowledge and develop competence year-on-year.

The number of people attending the eight seminars at the '09 Bolton Exhibition ? over 3,000 ? strongly reflected the quality of the speakers and the importance of the issues they addressed. The British Safety Council will be striving to maintain and build on those high standards achieved last year.

The speakers we have won't shy away from some of the difficult and complex health & safety issues employers and workers in the north west are facing. Our speakers will give practical advice on how better to manage risks to workplace health and safety, identify the vital building blocks as leadership and workforce involvement vital to preventing injury and ill-health and update those attending on key legal developments. Those attending will have plenty of opportunities to engage with and question the speakers. It is a must attend event.

Neal Stone is head of Policy and Public Affairs at the British Safety Council. Dressed to protect