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Helping Great Britain Work Well

06 March 2017

The HSM Campaigns Hub provides you with information on the latest health & safety initiatives and guidance on how you can get involved. This issue we examine the Health & Safety Executive's Helping Great Britain Work Well campaign, which focuses on addressing health in the workplace.

Great Britain’s health and safety record is the envy of much of the world. Central to this is that workers are protected by managing risk in a proportionate and effective way. Nevertheless the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) believes that the real challenge is to improve even further on this record.

On 29 February 2016 the HSE launched its 'Helping Great Britain Work Well' strategy, following a series of nationwide workshops designed to take opinions from industry stakeholders and use them as a foundation for the strategy.

As a regulator, the HSE positioned itself as a key player in the campaign, but interestingly encouraged everyone who has a stake or interest in improving health and safety in the workplace to get involved. Since then networks of organisations and individuals have supported the strategy - from employers, employees and industry/trade bodies to supply chains, third-sector bodies and insurance/legal bodies - as well as workers’ representatives, professional institutions and government.

According to the HSE, the Helping Great Britain Work Well strategy sets out priority themes to focus on over the next five years. The regulator noted: "It is important to acknowledge at the start that this will not be at the expense of what is already done well, but the areas identified here are those on which all will need to focus their efforts collectively to make the greatest improvement."

The strategy, says the HSE, is to act increasingly as an enabler, supporting businesses - particularly SMEs - by providing simple, accessible and relevant advice and challenging so-called ‘experts’ who over-prescribe and over-interpret requirements. This, the regulator notes, should facilitate proportionate, appropriate and effective risk management, encouraging all those in the system to take much greater ownership of health and safety and, ultimately, help Great Britain work well.

To provide a focus for this work, HSE set out six strategic themes in a bid to bring a renewed emphasis on improving health in the workplace, as well as building on the successful track record on safety:

    1.    Acting together: Promoting broader ownership of health and safety in Great Britain
    2.    Tackling ill health: Highlighting and tackling the costs of work-related ill health
    3.    Managing risk well: Simplifying risk management and helping business to grow
    4.    Supporting small employers: Giving SMEs simple advice so they know what they have to do
    5.    Keeping pace with change: Anticipating and tackling new health and safety challenges
    6.    Sharing our success: Promoting the benefits of Great Britain’s world-class health and safety system.

Nationwide engagement

These strategic themes were discussed with key players – representing all sectors and organisations with an interest in health and safety – during a nationwide engagement programme in January and February 2016, and the feedback suggested unanimous support for the overarching objective.

The key points behind the campaign are that there needs to be broader ownership of health and safety; the costs of work-related ill health must be tackled; wider recognition is needed of the business benefits that come with proportionate approaches to risk; too many SMEs are still unaware that straightforward advice and simple guidance is available that can help them manage their health and safety responsibilities; and that industry must 'horizon scan' and ‘design-in’ effective risk management of new or emerging technologies and business models. Ultimately, the strategy highlights the fact that there are benefits for Great Britain and British industries by promoting our health and safety approach around the world.

The six themes are the basis for agreeing a collective way forward that will help Great Britain work well. The themes have received widespread support across different sectors during the engagement process and provide a strong platform on which detailed delivery plans can be developed, in partnership with stakeholders.

The new strategy is built on a basic premise – by acting together in a supportive and encouraging environment, complemented by effective and proportionate regulation and risk management, the system can be greater than the sum of its parts. For HSE, the strategy also provides a clear direction on where resources should be targeted to greatest effect.

The result will be greater and wider ownership of the issues, with businesses able to enjoy the improved productivity that a strong health and safety culture will generate, while workers will be healthier and safer.

Key points
Maintain the gains made in safety, while giving health the same priority
Broader ownership of health and safety issues can lead to improved productivity and business benefits, while protecting workers
Collective and concerted action is required by everyone in the system to help Great Britain work well
Great Britain’s health and safety record is the envy of much of the world. Building on a sound regulatory framework which has stood the test of time, the last five years have been guided by the Be part of the solution strategy. But as a number of factors have changed, including new technologies, social change and a renewed focus on occupational health, it is timely to look again at where the focus for the next five years needs to be. The fundamentals remain:

strong and visible leadership
collaboration and partnership, including genuine worker engagement
directors, managers, supervisors and workers having the competence to identify and control the risks created by their work activities
having public confidence in the safe running of high-hazard industries
The focus of the strategy is to provide direction to the wider health and safety system for Great Britain and all those who are involved in, or interact, with it so that a much greater collective contribution to improving outcomes can be made. HSE is committed to playing its part to improve outcomes and deliver on its responsibilities as the independent regulator and prime mover in the system.

HSE will be there to support those efforts by capturing and promoting successful approaches and developing measures to track progress towards the delivery of the themes. The leadership from HSE will give others in the system the confidence to take more ownership.

For the whole of the health and safety system, there are a number of commitments to help Great Britain work well. The system, including HSE, should:

encourage and recognise improvements, being increasingly joined up to deliver improved outcomes and minimise unnecessary burdens on businesses
continue to promote the risk-based, goal-setting regulatory regime that has served health and safety in Great Britain so well
work with partners in the system to make workplaces safer and healthier, providing a level playing field for responsible employers with regulators and co-regulators, by advising, promoting, and where necessary, enforcing good standards of risk control
use proportionate, risk-based regulation to support better outcomes, innovation and the safe use of new technologies
develop services and products that contribute to improved management and control of risks, sharing our knowledge here at home and further afield
continue the dialogue and conversation with stakeholders to make the system better, always looking to provide simple, pragmatic advice and support

I never cease to be amazed at how quickly the world of work changes, despite a career in industries where everything, including health and safety, is now completely different from when I became a dutyholder. The pace of change is not slowing down, so it is vital that everyone who has a stake in improving health and safety in the workplace rises to the challenge of delivering on ‘Helping Great Britain work well’.

This strategy builds on the existing good work to improve health and safety over many years and provides added impetus to these initiatives and the opportunity to think afresh.

When I took up post as Chair of HSE in May I was already familiar with the strategy and, as with many of you, I took part in its development as a stakeholder. It has my full backing, and turning its clear vision into strong commitment and delivery is the vital next step. This should lead to concrete results in reducing work-related deaths, ill health and injury.

Improving work-related health will not happen overnight but it needs as much emphasis as safety. Around 1.3 million workers were suffering from a work-related illness last year and 26 million working days were lost as a result. The economic costs to society are equally stark – totalling around £9 billion each year for new cases of work-related illness.

 The beauty of ‘Helping Great Britain work well’ is its strong and integrated emphasis on ensuring health and safety is managed well – effectively, proportionately and efficiently. The only things it sets out to prevent are death, ill- health and injury. It enables everything else – innovation, productivity and growth.

This publication is the first crystallisation of some exciting initiatives that are already underway. I want to thank all those who have contributed, and more importantly the commitment that goes into making each example a reality. Contributors ‘get’ that it is more than worthwhile for the benefits they will gain.

Please read through the examples – there are new ideas or sources of inspiration for all of us. If you have examples of your own – big or small – please do share these with HSE and your contemporaries. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose. I look forward to being able to report on further successes, including yours, in the future.

Join the conversation at #HelpGBWorkWell or email HSE.WorkWell@hse.gov.uk – share your successes!

Martin Temple, HSE Chair

When people are harmed by work it leads to pain and suffering for individuals and their families, disruption and damaged reputations for companies and costs to the whole economy that make businesses, and Britain, less competitive.

Nobody wants that to happen and, more importantly, we cannot afford it to happen. It is vital that everyone is able to play their part in keeping Britain’s economy running as effectively and efficiently as possible.

I was inspired to hear through the strategy road shows about businesses – large and small – that know effective health and safety management allows innovation, enhances productivity and enables growth. They are exemplars for everyone in the health and safety system.

That’s why this new system strategy has my full backing. It will help ensure Great Britain maintains its world-class health and safety record, whilst also maximising the wider benefits that the system can bring.

Tackling workplace ill health is rightly a key theme. Some 23 million working days are lost each year because of it. Individuals, employers and the state incur an annual cost of around £9 billion from ill health due to today’s working conditions. So reducing workplace ill health is a must for Britain’s well-being and prosperity.

Another key theme in the strategy is ensuring that businesses – especially SMEs – know how to take the right actions easily and efficiently. Legislation and guidance have already been simplified but more needs to be done, and the strategy sets out how.

I was impressed with the energy and drive that has gone into creating the new strategy, involving stakeholders at events held around Great Britain and discussions over social media. It is now vital that the impetus is maintained and that the theme on ownership is taken up by everyone in the system – whatever your role, you have an active part to play in delivering on the strategy’s potential. If that happens, we really will all be helping Great Britain to work well.

Justin Tomlinson MP, Minister for Disabled People (covering HSE)

Great Britain’s health and safety record is the envy of much of the world. The challenge is to improve even further on this impressive record. FLTA chief executive Peter Harvey MBE, discusses the HSE’s #helpingGBworkwell strategy and explains what the Association is doing to support this vital work... and save lives.

When accidents occur, they cause pain and suffering for those involved and their families, lose productivity and damage reputations for companies and and cost the economy, making businesses and Britain less competitive.

While no one wants them to happen, they do. We cannot afford for them to happen, so it’s important to recognise that we each have a role to play in preventing them.

That’s why, as an Association, we have fully embraced the HSE Helping Great Britain Work Well initiative. As well as creating new campaigns, we’ve reinvigorated existing ones so that we can provide maximum support to the materials handling industry across the initiative’s key themes.

Managing risk

Safe operations rely on those responsible for ensuring safety being aware of the associated risks and equipped to minimise them on site.

In response to the strategy, the FLTA introduced two new online programmes to help all those involved in fork lift operations (from senior management to the shop floor) to work more safely: starting with an audit and followed up by practical, real-world advice.

Safer Site Essentials is a comprehensive but basic programme available at no cost to the public, while Safer Site Pro is much more detailed (with more resources) and is available exclusively to members of our Safe User Group members.

Alongside this, we have introduced a regular Health & Safety newsletter offering advice on topics of concern, such as the need to use seat restraints to mitigate the dangers of fork lift tip-overs (“mousetrapping”).  These e-newsletters feature links to relevant HSE prosecutions and in-depth guidance.

In addition, FLTA and Safe User Group members benefit from Technical Bulletins that provide detailed answers to frequently asked questions.

Keeping pace with change

Our Safe User Group was established a decade ago, with the remit of providing fork lift truck owners and operators with expert, independent and up-to-date guidance and resources in a clear and concise format that is easily employed in the workplace.

For engineers responsible for maintaining and servicing fork lift trucks, we offer a full range of courses (Levels 2-4) and, in association with fellow trade association BITA, we deliver a highly successful apprenticeship programme through the industry’s first, and recently-established, dedicated fork lift training centre: F-TEC.    

Supporting SMEs

Small and medium enterprises are most at-risk of fork lift truck accidents, so their engagement in safety issues is crucial. We support them in a number of ways.

Safetember (National Fork Lift Safety Month) is key to making everyone who works with and alongside fork lift trucks aware of the unacceptably high level of accidents. This is only possible through widespread media and social media interest and is supported by the sector’s most influential magazine ShD Logistics.

To support this important group of truck users all-year-long, we maintain and regularly enhance an ever-expanding library of online fact sheets at www.fork-truck.org.uk which cover a broad spectrum of guidance on fork lift safety and best practice.

In order to answer urgent questions that are not answered elsewhere on the FLTA website, the Association also operates a number of expert helplines for its members and the public covering Technical, Employment Law and Health & Safety issues.

Most recently, the FLTA has launched an online Stolen Truck Database to help identify stolen trucks in the marketplace – and help the police to apprehend the culprits.

Acting together

Collaboration is key to maximising engagement, which is why the FLTA takes pride in establishing and maintaining close partnerships with its members and other relevant bodies.

Safe Users Sharing Together (SUST) provides companies interested in sharing best practice with assistance in visiting each other’s sites – allowing them to take away valuable new ideas for initatives and recommendations for safety equipment, etc.  

Earlier this year, the FLTA joined forces with West Berkshire District Council, under the Government’s Primary Authority Partnership scheme, to create Fork Truck Watchdog. This landmark scheme aims to tackle mis-selling, poor standards and rogue trading in the materials handling marketplace.

The first initiative of its kind, Watchdog is designed to protect customers by gathering evidence and providing the mechanism for taking fast and decisive action against wrongdoers. The scheme ensures that seemingly isolated cases throughout the UK involving the same unscrupulous on-line seller, are consolidated - allowing the full weight of evidence to be brought to bear.

Sharing our success

It’s important to recognise and reward those who have successfully improved safety on site... and to allow others to benefit from their experience.

Our award-winning annual National Fork Lift Safety Conference is one way we do this. Most of the content for the conference comprises peer-to-peer presentations from companies who have demonstrably enhanced safety on their own sites… sharing tips and best practice.

As part of our Annual Awards for Excellence, we have introduced an award specifically aimed at teams which have improved safety on site. The close-fought, high-profile award attracts entries from companies of every size and from every sector. Recent winners include Heineken, G’s Fresh Beetroot and Taylor’s of Harrogate.

Recognising that behind every initiative is a safety champion, the FLTA launched the Fork Lift Safety Champion Award in 2015. Sponsored by Briggs Equipment UK, it rewards those who stand up and drive change – especially in the face of apathy and opposition.

By acknowledging their efforts, we hope they inspire others to instigate safety initiatives of their own.

In turn, successes like these inspire the Association to strive ever higher in delivering the highest standards of support to its members, as well as those who work with and alongside fork lift trucks in Great Britain.

Helping GB to work well has been a key objective for the Association since its inception in 1972… and will continue to be long into the future.

The Fork Lift Truck Association is the UK’s independent authority on fork lift trucks. For more information on safe operations and minimising risk, please visit www.fork-truck.org.uk.

Peter Harvey, FLTA

It is great to see the regulator reaching out for opinion and it is helpful to have them articulate the themes which we can all get behind.
Before going into further details on the Strategy, I do want to raise a concern that I’m sure won’t come as a surprise. The nuance from the process is that we are moving focus from safety to health. I was somewhat surprised when the Minister announced that 'Safety was Sorted' and I fear that if that attitude prevails, we will compromise the progress that has been made.

In order for the Strategy to be a success, I believe that those responsible need to be clear that safety underpins health and that there is an essential linear relationship between the two elements; under-valuing safety will compromise health.
Consider this if you would; the provision and use of respiratory protective equipment would naturally be considered as 'safety', while the outcome or consequence of not using respiratory protective equipment where it was necessary could result in a health issue, such as respiratory disease.

So to the Strategy and the key messages themselves.
The key messages are:
    •    We can be proud of the UK’s record on occupational health and safety as it is one of the best in the world
    •    Getting risk management right is integral to business success in addition to the well - being of the worker
    •    Everyone in the system needs to play their part - safety and health is a shared responsibility.

I would not argue against any of the points above but I would say that while we are all proud of the UK’s record on safety & health, the man in the street is not. The brand has a tarnished image and the HSE should recognise this very clearly by communicating the key positive messages to a non-stakeholder audience.
The six strategic themes start with:
1) Acting together: Seeks to promote a broader ownership of health and safety in Great Britain.
The BSIF supports the promotion of a 'health and safety is everyone’s responsibility' culture within businesses. Embedding an effective health and safety culture should not be burdensome. Good health and safety practices should be embedded within the culture of a company and should not just be the sole responsibility of a health and safety representative. From the top to the bottom of an organisation, everyone should be engaged.
2) Tackling ill health: Highlighting and tackling the costs of work related ill health.
The Strategy highlights that work related ill health is a problem across every sector of society, with conditions ranging from cancers and other long latency conditions to muscular skeletal disorders and stress. The impacts on the individual are obvious, as are the costs to society and the NHS. It is recognised that 12,000 people per year die from work related disease.
Prevention is a key element in the strategy and it is always a better approach than a cure. The BSIF wholeheartedly supports the health related focus but reiterates that the relationship between safety and health is fundamental. An appropriate well managed safety programme is key to prevention of ill health. That must be fully understood.
3) Managing risk well: Simplifying risk management and helping businesses to grow.
The BSIF supports efforts to simplify risk management and to help businesses grow. We believe that good business goes hand in hand with good safety and health, and that this message should be promoted within and between businesses.
The BSIF supports the ‘proportional safety’ message and believes that often behavioural management is key to preventing problems. We further are clear, as promoted strongly by John Green, that people are the solution. Safety is the presence of positives, not the absence of negatives and safety is an ethical responsibility. This message should be promoted within the HSE Strategy.
4) Supporting small employers: Giving SMEs simple advice so that they know what they have to do.
The BSIF supports the principle of locally supported safety networks designed to provide advice, support and information for companies who do not have a full time health and safety representative. For example, Local Safety Groups which sit under the umbrella of Safety Groups UK.
More needs to be done to encourage small businesses to become part of these local groups. The HSE’s Estates Excellence Programme was very successful in reaching this fragmented sector and it should be an ever present programme.
5) Keeping pace with change: Anticipating and tackling new health and safety challenges.
The HSE Strategy focuses on a knowledge based approach linked to changing hazards, however the safety and health industry will have a number of challenges to face over the coming years, not least the rise in respiratory illnesses, an ageing workforce and the changing physiology of the workforce.
In the UK, 23% of workers are aged over 60 with this figure set to rise inexorably. It is estimated that over a third of people aged 65 and over will fall at least once a year, which can lead to further injury. It should be noted that over the coming years, the over 65s will comprise a higher percentage of the overall workforce and falls, therefore, will occur more frequently with potentially worse outcomes.
6) Sharing our success: Promoting the benefits of Great Britain’s world class health and safety system.

The BSIF is proud of the culture of health and safety within many workplaces across the UK. The HSE’s record of promoting and supporting this is world class, and we are proud to support the ongoing work to improve the culture of safety and health across the UK even further.

The success of safety and health is difficult to measure, as it is often perceived as the absence of negatives. However, in order to ensure full and robust uptake of recommendations and initiatives promoted within the HSE Strategy, it is crucial to promote the positives.

We look forward to continuing to work with the Health and Safety Executive to develop this important strategy.
Alan Murray, BSIF chief executive