Home >Blogs>Georgina Bisby >How not to get stung

How not to get stung

17 September 2013

A hot topic on our LinkedIn Group this month has been the question of how much you trust safety product sales representatives.

Since the closure of the HSE's Infoline in 2011, research suggests that companies are increasingly relying on free advice given to them by manufacturer and distributor sales representatives, but with this varying considerably in quality how can you tell whether the advice you are getting is competent? 

In our poll on the issue, while 18% of voters said they trust advice given to them by sales representatives, 64% said they only trust the advice sometimes, and 8% said they don't trust it at all (a further 8% were unsure) suggesting there is a significant amount of questionable advice being given in the name of health and safety. 

Complaints about incompetent advice come from both ends of the spectrum. There are those  who have been bamboozled into buying over-specced products, only to realise at a later date (probably when someone from another company comes in) that they have been stung. Meanwhile others are caught out by representatives who under-spec as an easier way to get a sale and are left out of pocket once they realise a product isn’t up to the job. 

During recent reviews of health and safety legislation, much was made of the importance of ensuring the competence of health and safety consultants, hence the formation of OSHCR (Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register), but this will have had little impact on  incompetent advice coming from other corners, which are less easy to police.  

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to establish the legitimacy of advice you are getting from safety representatives and some useful tips were given as part of the LinkedIn discussion, including: Do your research about the company and the individual in question, consult or request recommendations from others, and don't trust someone who has all the answers, health and safety is a broad topic so be reassured when someone seeks further advice. See the full discussion at: www.linkedin.com/groups/Health-Safety-Matters-HSM-5123981/about

Turning to stinging of the literal kind, I was speaking to a construction worker last week who was stung by a wasp seven times in one day which he thinks was down to his brand new yellow high-vis jacket. On further investigation I learned that wasps are particularly attracted to certain colours, and yellow and white are the most attractive of all. With this year’s weather conditions causing an explosion in their number this could prove troublesome for those who need to wear high-vis for work. While aftershave, perfume and anything containing a scent, including hair gel and sunscreen, can all apparently exacerbate the problem, thankfully there are also ways to deter wasps. The waspinator (available from waspinator.co.uk) is a replica of a real wasps nest which is said to repel wasps because they are territorial and stay away from each others nests. However before I am accused of over-speccing, it is said that brown paper bags can do the same job. 

We wish you a sting free September.