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Chris Shaw

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Waxing lyrical about health & safety 03/11/2017

September and October have been particularly active months in the health & safety arena.

On 10 and 11 October Health & Safety North played host to a record number of visitors at its new venue, EventCity in Manchester. A packed hall was filled with more than 200 exhibitors and an unprecedented number of seminars from industry experts. The numbers speak for themselves, with a 30% increase in visitors compared with the 2016 event.

The BSIF had its biggest ever presence at Health & Safety North, taking part in many of the Safety Dialogue sessions as well as presenting its ‘Step by Step’ talk on the new PPE Regulation. With the new Regulation becoming applicable in just a few months, the BSIF has been working with the European and UK authorities in supporting its implementation. Updating its ‘Countdown’ pamphlet and working with the European Safety Federation, the Federation has produced a flowchart to illustrate what it means to all the commercial operators in the market.

The annual BSIF Networking event on 28 September gave attendees the chance to enjoy day time activities and golf, followed by a gala dinner in the evening. BSIF CEO Alan Murray launched the event by discussing the Federation’s successes over the past year, as well as plans throughout 2018. Noting the rapid expansion of BSIF membership, Alan told delegates: “This highlights the importance of focusing on quality and PPE compliance and I'd like to take this opportunity to tell the industry to be outspoken and drive the story of PPE quality."

The Federation's key challenge is to rebuild the image of the safety and health industry. "In our Federation Strategy which we launched last year we  focused on key pillars to give our members and the market the best trade body possible – one that they deserve and would be proud to be part of," Alan explained. "The pillars and the activities within them properly executed will deliver the best Federation in the country.”

A week after Health & Safety North visitors headed to Messe Düsseldorf for the bi-annual A+A Trade Fair. Providing an opportunity to witness some groundbreaking technology, not to mention plenty of networking opportunities in the old town, the show was a celebration of the industry’s commitment to addressing health & safety issues throughout the world.

Attitudes to mental health, especially within the workplace, have become a hot topic in 2017 and last month actor Ruby Wax discussed the issue at 3M’s Safety Network Live event in Bracknell. Ruby, a keen mental health campaigner, gave health and safety professionals a ‘tour of the mind’ during her hour long talk and demonstrated her dedication to the cause by revealing how she completed a Master’s degree in Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy.

Ruby’s advice to managers on the importance of training to help spot mental health issues can be read in the October / November issue of HSM magazine, which will be published 10 November.

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Notified Bodies - post Brexit 16/10/2017

The UK structure for CE marking and product certification operates within an EU-wide system, and the output from organisations that issue certificates is accepted throughout the EU, and wider. But what will happen to these organisations when we are no longer in the EU?

Frank Angear, general manager, British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF), explains that currently, in line with the PPE Directive and the European New Legislative Framework, an organisation established in the UK to issue product certification is assessed by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS), which proposes it to the Government department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

BEIS in turn notifies the European Commission and, if no other member states raise an objection, it becomes a ‘Notified Body’, authorised to award the CE mark and issue certificates to EN standards.

“There are currently 12 Notified Bodies in the UK scoped for PPE,” Frank notes. “They attract work from far and wide, within Europe and outside it, because of their professionalism, in depth skills and knowledge of the processes, and ease of communication. They are particularly active because of the industry in which they operate, and taking in other industries BEIS estimate the total of Notified Bodies in the UK employ c.4500 staff and contribute £2billion to the UK economy.

“Once we are no longer in the EU this system will cease to operate, and while existing certificates will continue to be valid until they expire, UK Notified Bodies will not be able to award new CE marks for products to be sold in Europe. There is real potential that a large proportion of the jobs and turnover they provide will be lost to the UK.”

The BSIF has been lobbying MP’s, BEIS and the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) for a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) to be in place on the day we leave. Such an agreement would allow the ‘notification’ process via UKAS and BEIS to be maintained, and certification work carried out by Notified Bodies based in the UK to continue to be valid for products to be sold throughout the EU.

“MRA’s already exist with countries outside the EU such as Canada and Switzerland,” Frank continues. “They allow two countries to recognise each other’s conformity assessments of testing and certification. However,structure of a MRA between the UK and the EU would be unique as those currently in place are with countries who have never been in the EU, while this would be with a country who has operated the system fully, and is now stepping outside of it.”

At this stage Frank says the BSIF’s major concerns are 1) that the threat to Notified Bodies and the potential loss to the economy is acknowledged by UK Government, and 2) that as negotiations proceed this issue is ‘on the table’, seeking a MRA as part of the exit deal. Frank asserts: “We will continue to lobby for this.”

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CDM 2015 – Two years on 03/10/2017

The latest Construction (Design and Management) Regulations have been effective for two years but what has changed?

Over the last 22 years, the CDM regulations have played a great part in reducing Construction Fatalities from 100 in 1991-92 down to 30 in 2016-17 and a reduction in thousands of non-fatal injuries.

Previously updated in 2007, the regulations are based on an EU directive of 1992 that applies to all mobile or temporary work sites. The essence of the regulations is that around 60% of fatal and non-fatal accidents could have been avoided by better planning of a design or project.

A key desire of the HSE in the 2015 regulations was that designers considered and dealt with health and safety issues in design from the start rather than as a paperwork exercise following completion of the design.

The role of the CDM coordinator under the 2007 regulations was seen as operating in a silo and separate from the design team. By replacing that role with a principal designer (PD), integrated into the design team, more effective coordination would result.

With a disproportionate number of injuries and poor consideration of health issues on smaller sites, the 2015 regulations were configured to place greater duties on clients, with a view to driving the H&S agenda from the top.

Whilst the UK implementation of the 1992 EU Directive continues to be the most successful in Europe with the lowest accident rates of all countries, the extra impact of these latest changes has been mixed.

Architects and designers continue to be reluctant to take on the PD role partly because of where their interest lie, partly because of lack of knowledge of risks or legislation and partly because of the additional legal responsibility.

The great majority of this work is still carried out by the skilled specialists previously known as CDM coordinators. Typically, in a third-party position but with increased resources and embedded in the project team from the beginning, this perspective allows focus and objectivity on the health and safety aspects of projects.

Bernie Sims, MD of BSA, one of the UK’s largest independent health and safety practices and with a particular specialism in CDM says ”Many of the changes to the 2007 regulations had great intentions but the Principal Designer still has challenges to ensure that all duty holders work closely enough together. Principal Contractors in turn need to coordinate more closely both with the Principal Designer and with workers, employed and self-employed.”

“We are still finding that designers have a relatively low level of knowledge and training in CDM and run seminars to boost awareness of issues and solutions.”
As a result, the HSE’s plan of action for 2016-17 will continue into the 2017-18 period focusing on duty holders’ compliance and health issues including respirable dust and musculoskeletal risks.

The HSE’s ‘Fees for Intervention’ (FFI) strategy will continue where material breaches are discovered with a view to generate fuller compliance.

Rob Price of BSA added “Better coordination between the duty holders starts with the earliest possible appointment of the PD – it doesn’t necessarily cost anymore and it may save a lot of time and money caused by making changes or getting FFI at a later date.”

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Grenfell: What have we learned? 02/10/2017

In the weeks that have passed since the Grenfell Tower tragedy, much has been written on the safety issues that surround this catastrophic event.

Having established that the fire spread so rapidly because of the block’s external cladding, it will be many more months before the ongoing investigations will establish the full story.

The source of ignition was a faulty fridge freezer on the fourth floor, which had not been subject to a product recall or safety notice. However, over the past six years, fire services in England have gathered data which shows that four fires a week, on average, are caused by faulty fridge freezers.

In response to this, leading charity Electrical Safety First is lobbying government to provide electrical checks - initially in tower blocks - but with the potential to extend to all social housing.

In a letter to Margot James MP, who is the Minister for Small Businesses, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, the charity has called for a new policy requiring housing assocations and local authorities to provide free mandatory electrical safety checks  - including fixed electrical installations and appliances – for all tenants.
Phil Buckle, chief executive of the charity, said: “We are also suggesting that social landlords compile a register of white goods located in their tower blocks, regardless of tenure. And we have just launched a microsite to advise consumers on white goods safety, including how to register an appliance, with a search tool allowing users to find information regarding any recalled electrical items.

"Electrical Safety First has already successfully lobbied for regulations requiring five-yearly electrical installation checks in the private rented sector (PRS) and these are now in operation in Scotland, with Wales and Northern Ireland committed to following suit. Details of how similar requirements will be introduced in England’s PRS have yet to be announced, though the amendment – which we supported - was included in England’s Housing and Planning Act, which gained Royal Assent last May. However, the amendment has not yet been agreed by the Housing Minister and we are pushing for it to be enabled."

The Group believes that extending regular electrical checks to the social housing sector is beneficial to both landlords and tenants – people and property. Current Government policy states that there is an ‘expectation’ on social landlords to keep electrical installations safe. On this basis, electrics and appliances contained within the sector could go unchecked for many years and remain dangerous until action is taken.  So it is also calling for housing associations and local authorities to ensure that their tenants have registered their products.

Research to date indicates that recalls generally have a very limited success rate (an estimated 10% - 20%), in terms of engaging the end consumer. So many people were disappointed by the Government’s muted response to Lynn Faulds Woods’ independent Review of the UK’s System for the Recall of Unsafe Products. However, a Working Group on Product Recalls and Safety - which the Group is members of – was established by the Government.

The Group has now produced a report, yet to be published, offering a number of recommendations for improving product safety, including the development of a recall code of practice.  Other recommendations call for research into consumer behaviour, the promotion of product registration and greater coordination of product recalls and enforcement. And a new website, Product Recall  has just been launched by the Government to act as a centralised resource for consumer information.

But to optimise efforts to improve product safety, data collection issues need to also be addressed. There does not appear to be a uniform approach to the collection of fire statistics, with regions providing different classifications for the same source of ignition. This means it is difficult to determine exactly what electrical appliances present the greatest risk and why this should be – is it down to an issue with the product or consumer misuse?

This sort of confusion was illustrated by one of the supposed causes of Grenfell Tower itself. It was suggested that the source of the fire was due to the use of plastic-encased consumer units, or fuse-boxes, as there appeared to be an increase in fires with this point of origin. But this was, it seems, due to a change in reporting by the London Fire Brigade, rather than an issue with the materials encasing the consumer unit itself. And it is worth noting that clarity in relation to data should be considerably improved if related agencies – for example, fire and rescue services, trading standards, retailers and insurers – could share information.
The multiplicity of safety issues arising from Grenfell Tower will take some time to address, of that there is no doubt. But The Group aims to ensure that every tenant – whether they live in social housing or rent privately – feel confident around the electrical safety of their home.

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Fire safety: not just a box-ticking exercise 02/10/2017

Recent global incidents have resulted in wide spread media attention and have brought into sharp focus the wider issue of fire safety.

Many have opined, often well before the findings of full investigations, what went wrong and what should be changed. Some have pointed to legislation, design firms or construction firms, and owners as part of the issue.

Our modern world is much safer than a century ago, but far too frequently, we are still reminded that forces of nature can overcome our experience and capabilities. These reminders force us to increase our awareness and refocus our attention on research, development and increasing fire safety understanding.

Speaking to Simon Goodhead, vice president - strategy at Jensen Hughes, it became clear that despite the fact that most people know the importance of smoke alarms, in many fire incidents involving fatalities, the finding is that the building safety features have not been maintained or have been disabled. Similarly, there are reports that occupants have become desensitised to the potential risk due to false alarms, such that they do not appropriately respond to the warning signs/alarm.  
Simon observed: “Whether considering events in the UK, USA, United Arab Emirates, or elsewhere, what would additional fire safety education, had it been received and understood, been able to provide?

“Material choices, design or construction methodology, may have been different, or approval processes may have been more stringent, perhaps including peer reviews due leverage specialty industry knowledge.

“Fire doors may have been closed preventing internal fire and smoke spread. Sprinklers would have been fitted. Occupants would have responded in different ways. Smoke alarm batteries would have been replaced. The “what ifs” are endless.”

For the public at large, Simon believes that fire safety education must be simple enough to allow automatic response in an event. “With respect to health and safety professionals, fire safety education is even more essential,” he asserted.

“Some fire hazards result in a one-second event and multiple fatalities - think combustible dust, gas/vapour clouds, or oxidising materials. Others take minutes, and sometimes hours to become a safety issue.

“A lay person may not realise the extent of a hazard, and so it is incumbent on the safety professionals in every role around the world to continue to learn, and, possibly more importantly, recognise where their expertise ends, and the need for a true technical expert arises.”

Simon warned that a concerted effort is needed to step up fire safety checks and ensure buildings are safe.

Risk assessment and safety checks should not be misconstrued as box-ticking exercices. People’s lives depend on it.

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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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Health & Safety Matters Editor