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Keeping the dialogue open

13 April 2017

At the Health & Safety Event at the NEC Birmingham in March, the Safety Dialogue theatre produced just that, a series of two way dialogues with visitors on safety topics over all three days.

During the course of the event the theatre held 14 sessions on a variety of safety topics.

BSIF sat on the discussion panels for several of the sessions, covering Hearing Protection, Working at Height and Fall Protection, and Respiratory Protective Equipment. The discussions brought active participation from visitors to the show and the thirty minutes allotted for each one seemed to flash by quickly. I am sure the topics could have continued to generate discussion for much longer as the audience shared information with each other just as much as they directed questions and comments to the panel.

The sessions on Hearing Protection inevitably brought about comments on the move for all types from Category II to Category III when the new PPE Regulation becomes applicable in April 2018. Generally this is accepted as a beneficial move which will help to eliminate inadequately performing products from the market. Fit testing for hearing protection and the pros and cons of individually moulded products were also raised at all three of the Hearing Protection sessions, and some of the myths around selection were dispelled, referencing the BSIF ‘Listen Today, Hear Tomorrow’ campaign.

Interest was brisk and wide ranging around the Working at Height and Fall Protection sessions, with training requirements a common topic across several scenarios. Queries were raised on requirements for documentation and recorded rescue plans when using powered and mobile access equipment, and as expected several aspects of ladder work were discussed. One specific and particularly interesting issue was raised combining confined space entry  and work at height on storage vessels in the chemical industry.

At all three Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) dialogue sessions the need for fit testing was high on the agenda. Clarity on the need for it, why it is different from the pre-use seal check, and alternative types of RPE that don’t require fit testing were actively discussed. A common issue was the difficulty in enforcing a clean shaven policy, not just for during a fit test but throughout the use of the RPE. Fortunately the panel were able to provide some advice on different ways to approach this with the workforce and gain their buy-in and understanding of why it is essential if the RPE is going to protect them as it should.

It was really great to find that visitors were so ready to share their experiences and solutions with others during all the Safety Dialogue sessions.