Home >Blogs> >Catherine Hackett
Catherine Hackett

Building a safer future  01/06/2018

Dame Judith Hackitt’s review of building regulations set up in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster has proposed a new standards regulator as the centrepiece of a reformed building safety system that will increase the priority of safety in buildings.

Hackitt blamed "indifference and ignorance" for poor building standards, which she said had led to a “race to the bottom” in building safety practices, with cost prioritised over safety.

“The report makes it clear that the current system of building regulation in this country is not fit for purpose," Rhian Greaves, director in the regulatory team at law firm Pannone Corporate LLP, told HSM. "It calls for an 'integrated systemic change' and a stronger regulatory regime for residential tower blocks, reflective of their inherently high-risk nature.

“Dame Judith Hackitt proposes a framework designed to create a more straightforward and proportionate means to secure building safety, incentivising the right behaviours whilst effectively sanctioning poor practice and, importantly, reasserting the role of residents, involving them in building safety.”

However, Greaves went on to say that “whilst any steps taken to strengthen safety systems must of course be welcomed, in the absence of a ban on the combustible materials so inherently involved in the Grenfell fire, it is difficult to see this report providing much immediate comfort to survivors of the tragedy or indeed to the thousands of families living in high-rise residential blocks across the country, who will continue to worry for their ongoing safety".  

Grenfell survivors said they were “disappointed and saddened” that the report rejected their calls for a ban on combustible materials. Hackitt defended her decision by saying that a ban would "not address the root causes" of the problems in building regulations and she believes regulations need to be less, not more, prescriptive and it doesn’t help to ban specific items.

However, Hackitt then appeared to contradict her own report by saying she hoped the Government would ban combustible materials. That was quickly followed by the Secretary of State for Housing, James Brokenshire, saying he would consult on a ban. 

Flammable insulation and cladding products are currently being stripped from hundreds of high-rise homes in England and Wales. The day before the review's publication, the prime minister said the Government would spend £400m to help councils and registered social landlords strip it off, suggesting ministers consider it unacceptable.

While clarity is still needed around the status of combustible cladding, what is clear is that the Government must act fast to embrace the review's recommendations as soon as practicable. 

As Iain McIlwee, CEO of the British Woodworking Association, said in a statement: "The report is not the end, it is the beginning, and we need the dots to be joined up, and good guidance is embraced by robust regulation.” 

Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

On the mind 23/03/2018

Awareness is growing about the importance of health and wellbeing in the workplace.

Once swept under the carpet, mental health issues are now being discussed openly by the wider public in the news and on social media, and by businesses and organisations. 

I even received a letter the other day which had 'Royal Mail supports mental health awareness' stamped on the envelope. After an internet search I discovered that Royal Mail has partnered with Mental Health UK to help raise awareness and increase support for mental health problems amongst colleagues, customers and communities.

A number of public figures are also throwing their weight behind these important issues – one of the most recent being the Duke of Cambridge, who is set to launch a website and online training project to improve workplace wellbeing. Due to go live in September, the website has been developed jointly by Heads Together, His Royal Highness' own mental health campaign, Unilever and Mind. 

Other training courses on mental health in the workplace and work-related stress are being developed along with new approaches to tackling these issues. These include the British Safety Council's newly launched mental health training courses. 

The renewed focus on mental health in the workplace is not surprising considering that one in four people in the UK will suffer from mental ill health at some point in their lives and, in the workplace, it remains the leading cause of sickness absence. 

In 2016/17, HSE statistics revealed that 12.5 million of the 31.2 million working days lost due to work-related ill health and non-fatal injuries were because of stress, anxiety and depression (40%). 

New staff survey results issued by the NHS in March showed that 38% of staff reported feeling unwell due to work-related stress in the last 12 months, a slight increase compared to last year’s survey. More than half went to work in the last three months despite feeling unwell because of pressure. 

As Louise Ward, policy standards and communications director at the British Safety Council, says: "Mental health and wellbeing is very much the issue of our time." 

She adds: "We need to reduce the stigma associated with health and mental health issues, help people to understand that it's completely normal to not be OK all of the time, and build a network of systems to provide support as and when people need it."

Seminars at The Health & Safety Event (10-12 April, NEC) include the impact of lone working on stress and wellbeing in the new Lone Worker Theatre. Led by Terry Streather, director of training at Oakwood Training, this session will look at proactive ways to help ensure the mental health of your lone workers. 

To find out more visit www.healthandsafetyevents.co.uk

Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

Winds of change 01/02/2018

Since I stepped into the role of editor at the end of last year, a lot has been happening in the UK health and safety arena that will have a significant impact going forward. 

Just before Christmas, Dame Judith Hackitt's interim review into the Grenfell Tower fire was published and warned that the current regulatory system is "not fit for purpose" and opens the door to "shortcuts" that put lives at risk. The review of building regulations and fire safety urged a "universal shift in culture" and said: "Change needs to start now." The final report is expected in the spring.

Then 2018 began with the news that Carillion plc, the UK's second largest contractor which employs around 20,000 in the UK, had been forced into compulsory liquidation after running up debts of more than £1.5bn and a pension deficit of almost £1bn. The consequences "are far reaching and unprecedented", according to Mark Maunsell, associate director at Clearwater international, a mid-market advisory service. 

More than 800 redundancies have already been confirmed, and there are also fears about the knock-on impact among businesses in its supply chain that are still owed money. 

"[It is] a situation made worse by the fact Carillion only self-delivered 10-15% of its services. The large sums of money will bring into question the sustainability of a number of sub-contractors who considered Carillion a key client and will at best receive pennies on the pound of monies owed," Maunsell added.

There are legislative changes knocking on the door too: The publication of ISO 45001 – the new international standard for occupational health and safety – is due in March, and the new PPE regulation comes into force in April. 

With so much going on, it is vital for businesses to stay up to date on the latest news, guidance and information. 

To ensure that HSM continues to keep its finger on the pulse of the latest trends and developments in health and safety, we have strengthened our editorial team. We are pleased to introduce Charlie Kortens as deputy editor, as well as respected industry journalists Georgina Bisby and Tina Weadick, who will be regular contributors going forward. 

In 2018, our series of health and safety events will continue to provide high quality and topical education and information for health and safety practitioners that is free to attend. The first seminar topics for our next event, The Health & Safety Event (10 to 12 April, The NEC, Birmingham), are now available to view and register to attend online at www.healthandsafetyevents.co.uk 

With presentations including 'Preparing for ISO45001', 'The changing face of regulation', and 'Lessons from Grenfell Tower', it is certainly an educational programme that anyone responsible for running a safe and efficient workplace cannot afford to miss.

Look out for a full preview of the show and seminar programme in the March/April issue of HSM.

Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

What's new for 2018? 30/11/2017

2018 is set to be an active year for HSM, with a host of new projects and events in the pipeline. Having worked on HSM for a number of years as associate editor I'm now excited to be taking on the role of editor as we look to provide even more insight into day-to-day and long term issues as part of our ongoing campaign to inform, educate and advise health & safety professionals.

HSM will still give you updates on the latest news, features and products but will be adding a range of unique supplements covering all aspects of health & safety in the workplace. The first supplement will focus on work at height and include advice from top-level industry experts from a broad spectrum of associations.
The new year will also see the unveiling of a series of webinars, enabling you to interact with leading lights in health & safety. The webinars are completely free and open to anyone. The first of these will focus on the new PPE Regulations, with presentations from key industry figures including British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) CEO Alan Murray. Attendees will also be able to submit questions live to the panel.
Then, on 11 April 2018, the Safety and Health Excellence Awards will launch at The Vox, Birmingham. Designed to celebrate innovation and achievements in the health, safety, security and fire sectors, the ceremony will feature nine categories awarding prizes to individuals, teams, products and services that are making waves in these industries.
The Safety and Health Excellence Awards will also encompass the long-established BSIF Awards promoting the importance of innovation and underline the highest standards of excellence within occupational safety and health. The ceremony will attract more than 350 guests from the safety, health, fire and security sectors and will include an evening of networking, fine dining, live music and a comedy set from Rory Bremner, who will then host the awards.
Nominations are being accepted online at www.she-awards.co.uk until 10 January 2018. It’s completely free and it will only take you a few minutes to submit your entry. Tickets to attend this unmissable night can also be booked via the website.
The awards will take place on the second evening of The Health & Safety Event, which returns to Birmingham's NEC on 10-12 April. This is just one of a number of events organised by Western Business Exhibitions that will return in 2018 to provide free access to education, essential information and the latest products and services in health and safety, wherever you're based in the UK.
Health & Safety Scotland will take place at the SEC in Glasgow on 12-13 September, and Health & Safety North will open its doors on 9-10 October at EventCity in Manchester. More information on these events can be found online at www.healthandsafetyevents.co.uk
So there's plenty going on in 2018 and we hope you find it interesting and useful. As always we welcome your thoughts and feedback. Please email me at CHackett@western-bp.co.uk if you'd like to get in touch.

Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

HSM July/August Magazine available online 07/08/2013

HSM's July/August magazine is now available to read online at www.hsmsearch.com and it contains a special supplement on the hottest topics in health and safety training.

According to Arco, improved training techniques and a greater choice of courses are leading to a rise in the number of enquiries into workplace training. Online learning is also gaining in popularity but Evac+Chair International warns readers that this is no substitute for practical training in emergency evacuation.

Advice on how to tackle work-related conflict and violence is provided by Maybo, and Sabre Safety explains how it has helped to develop a new and internationally recognised standard in H2S (hydrogen sulfide) training.

Elsewhere in the magazine, standards are scrutinised: Capital Safety's EMEA president Brad Gates gives his views on how the legislative landscape for work at height can be improved; RoSPA's Roger Bibbings discusses the new ISO 39001 standard to improve road traffic safety and the BSIF's Frank Angear looks at the process by which safety standards are drafted and revised – and finds it wanting.

In 2008, public services infrastructure provider Amey became the first organisation in its sector to introduce a formal ‘staff wellbeing programme' and five years on we look how other workplaces can benefit from the insights gained.

On top of all this, Uvex identifies the latest trends in hand protection and Daniel Murray from Alexandra discusses some of the latest developments in PPE. Big Foot Systems also looks at the evolution of safe access equipment. 

As always you can find the latest industry news inside, as well as innovative products and services.

We hope you enjoy the issue!

Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

Testing times 10/06/2013

It was with interest that I read the Daily Mail’s news article ‘Companies introduce fingerprint test to see if you are still drunk from the night before when you clock in for a day’s work’ published on April 23rd.

The article was referring to the AlcoSense TruTouch device, a biometric scanner that simultaneously identifies the user and tests for alcohol giving a pass or fail result in under ten seconds. Already in use at a Coca-Cola bottling plant in the US, where there is a culture of drug and alcohol testing in the workplace, it has come to the UK to try to transform workplace attitudes towards alcohol.


In the article, some unions had described alcohol testing in the workplace as "draconian tactics" and "using a sledgehammer to crack a nut" because employers should be trying to help employees with drinking problems, not catching them out.


AlcoSense, which distributes the device, says that the AlcoSense TruTouch is intended for use in safety critical areas where a member of the workforce who is impaired by alcohol could pose a danger to the health and safety of other employees or equipment. AlcoSense managing director Hunter Abbott asked: "Is it better to test staff and stop that one person who may be impaired by alcohol; or not to test anyone and risk injury to the rest of the workforce? This protects staff and management alike from the dangers of workplace alcohol impairment.”


In some European countries, alcohol testing at work has become enshrined in law: in France and Finland, all school buses must have alcohol interlocks installed. As opposed to testing workers for alcohol 'at the gate', alcohol interlocks test remote workers who exhale into a breathalyser-like device that is installed on the dashboard of a vehicle. The device prevents the engine from being started if the worker's alcohol level is over the limit.


While not as widespread in the UK, companies – particularly in the transport and logistics industries such as National Express – use an alcohol interlock system to improve safety and brand reputation, not to mention the bottom line. In the UK, 17 million annual days are lost to alcohol related absence, a  quarter of all workplace accidents result from alcohol and one in three workers under 30 used drugs in the last year. Studies from the US also show that employees using drugs are less productive, take more time off work and are almost four times as likely to have an accident in the workplace.


Statistics aside, medical and safety technology company Draeger says that drug and alcohol testing is becoming a hot topic among employers because of imminent drug-driving legislation.


"If introduced later this year, new drug-driving laws mean that UK police forces will have the ability to test for drugs in saliva,” Steve Wilkinson, account manager (Law Enforcement) at Draeger Safety, says. "Employees caught with certain controlled drugs in their system could face fines, a driving ban or even a jail term. This leaves employers to pick up the pieces, both in terms of cost and/or damage to brand reputation. Introducing a drug and alcohol policy into the workplace could help employers identify potential problems before they escalate.”


So here is another example of an employee's health being not just their wealth but their company's too. As Henry Ford once said: "You can take my business, burn up my building, but give me my people and I'll build the business right back again."

Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

The tools of the trade 20/05/2013

This month, the UK's biggest health and safety event, Safety & Health Expo, takes place and will present the industry's latest products and services, alongside educational seminars and numerous networking opportunities.

Events such as these serve to remind us of the enormous innovative appetite of the health and safety industry and, therefore, how important it is to keep regularly up-to-date with the latest market trends and developments.

Around 8,000 visitors are expected to descend upon Birmingham's NEC for the event, on 14th to 16th May, to see 250 exhibitors. With time and resources forever stretched, exhibitions are a useful way of meeting a number of key suppliers all under one roof, trialling and comparing countless products and making the most of what are often free and ever more ingenious learning opportunities.

Outside of trade shows, organisations with an immediate need to purchase health and safety equipment can turn to Health & Safety Matters (HSM) to provide them with regular updates on products and services that can improve the health and safety of their workforce. 

Eight times a year, HSM magazine features a comprehensive and essential buyer's guide to the newest products and solutions in the marketplace.

Information on the latest products and services can also be accessed 24/7, 365 days a year on our new and improved website, www.hsmsearch.com.

This free tool allows users to search quickly and easily by product type or industry sector, offering handy comparisons between similar products and direct links to a host of leading suppliers.

The website also features the latest news, views, issues and legislative updates from the world of health and safety, keeping you abreast of industry developments as they happen.

There is a growing recognition that online tools that offer accessible and digestible information and guidance have an important role to play in helping to change the perception of health and safety as complicated and burdensome, particularly for SMEs.

In the past six months, a number of online tools have been launched, including: IOSH's Safe Start Up website; the HSE's tool kit for small and low-risk businesses; RoSPA's workplace safety blog; and the British Safety Council's progress report on the changes emerging out of the Löfstedt review. 

Navigating the changing regulatory landscape and ensuring that an organisation is compliant will be tough and time-consuming for health and safety professionals in the months and years ahead, but help is at hand with more information and advice at your fingertips than ever before.

Anti static products (New AlanM - Updated on 15/06/2015)
Whilst I am pleased to see anti-static flooring, mats and shoes, the site should offer a wider range of anti static products such as those offered by Simco or http://www.estatsolutions.co.uk . In other words more industrial products for greater protection against high voltage static shock. Often overlooked.
Agreed (New Tina - Updated on 15/06/2015)
I think you have a point here AlanM. Static is a real problem in many industrial scenarios where static can be so powerful it can give a hell of a jolt and can even kill in extreme circumstances. It is crucial to have static meters to identify and measure static output from manufacturing processes so that their effects can be minimized. These meters and elimination devices can be purchased from many companies not just SIMCO and www.estatsolutions.co.uk . Look at Meech or Fraser.

You need to or  to add comments.

Welcome to the new website 30/04/2013

Health & Safety Matters strives to evolve with the ever-changing and innovative industry in which it operates and to listen to what its readers really want.

The latest result of this close dialogue is a newly revamped and redesigned website.

With many changes taking place in health and safety legislation it has never been more important for health and safety practitioners to keep up-to-date with the latest developments.

The new website features up-to-the-minute news, views, advice and analysis, as well as blogs, videos and the chance to compare all the latest products and services, helping you save time and find best value.

Not only is there is even more content to browse, but we've tried to make the site as user-friendly as possible. We hope you like it and welcome any feedback.

Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.


Contributing Editor