The UK Government has delivered its message on the much trumpeted cuts that are there to confront us all. Behind the scenes, there continues to be much activity, sifting, shaking, shifting, restructuring, posturing, trailblazing new solutions to old problems. Doing nothing is not an option; this is serious stuff.
Meanwhile, life goes on. Health & Safety may be 're-clothed' but the workplace still needs appropriate attention from the parties that need to be involved. Change is the order of the day and most of us are immersed in it. 15 years' experience in the trade of crafting health & safety solutions tells me that a robust approach with proven tools is the most likely route to success. In spite of much change and government cuts, I am delighted to report that the ToolKit™ Compliance System is alive and well. So if you too need to save some management cost whilst increasing your control over compliance, this could be a good time to give us a call.
The Prime Minister, Mr Cameron hailed Lord Young's report on Health & Safety as a "turning point" and has backed proposed reforms to safety laws. However, the unions said it was a missed opportunity to prevent death and injury at work and was based on "myths". The government has accepted all of the recommendations in Lord Young's report Common Sense, Common Safety.
All very interesting but does it go far enough into the real issues of Health & Safety within construction and asbestos management?
A recent new release from IOSH (Institution of Occupational Safety and Health) highlighted their concerns over the government cut backs. They fear that the recognised workplace dangers of organisations cutting costs - including excessive working hours, ageing equipment and lack of training - are the "hidden dangers" of Budget deficit reduction.
As we all know health and safety is one of the first things that suffer when cuts are being made. What we don't want is to 'go backwards' in our handling of health and safety matters. So much work has been done over the past few years; do we want this hard work to go to waste? We think that most organisations can see that good health and safety management has cut back on accidents, improved the employees working environment and, more importantly, saved lives.
We agree with the recommendations that IOSH made, calling on the Government to ensure its managers are well-trained and follow sensible health and safety guidelines as they look at where and how to cut costs, including:
The SHP (Safety & Health Practitioner) has stated that the charges against the director have been dropped in the first corporate manslaughter trial. This has raised concerns as Sally Roff, partner and head of the safety, health and environment group at law firm Beachcroft LLP, believes that the Corporate Manslaughter Act has been tainted by the latest delay in court proceedings.
The long-awaited trial of Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings Ltd under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 has been adjourned again until 24 January 2011. Sally Roff also stated that "The Corporate Manslaughter Act has become tarnished with delay, both by the time it took to come to the statute books and now in its implementation."
This is a shame as most of us had such high hopes of this particular act providing a better mechanism of taking those responsible to 'task' over their negligence. We can now only await the outcome, but one has to feel for those families that have been affected; surely they would like to have some sort of closure sooner rather than later?
We read an interesting article recently regarding fighting the cuts in health and safety (as discussed earlier in this newletter). It posed such questions like:-
It has some interesting points to make. In particular what does the HSE cost. It stated that The HSE now employs around 3,200 people. This is about 25% less than the number of employees it had 15 years ago. If it was to lose a further 25% it would have an enormous effect on the way the organisation functions.
Previous cuts have led to a big fall in both the number of inspections and prosecutions. In 1999/2000 the number of inspections made by HSE Field Operations Division inspectors was 75,272. In 2008/09 the number of recorded inspections was 23,004. This is a fall of 69.5 per cent in 10 years. The low number of inspections has had an effect on the level of enforcement activity. The number of prosecutions has fallen from 1,986 in 2001/2 to 1,090 in 2008/09. There has been a similar fall in local authority enforcement. The number of improvement notices and prohibition notices has also fallen dramatically.
Further cuts could lead to a similar fall. Nearly 90 per cent of all employers who have had contact with the HSE have seen it as a 'helpful' organisation. There is also a clear link between prosecution activity and preventing injury and ill-health. If employers know that there is very little chance of them being inspected, they will see little reason to make sure they are complying with the regulations on health and safety. We would wholeheartedly agree with this last statement! However its about getting the right balance is it not?
We have seen that the TUC are being pro-active and have a workshop planned for Champions for Change at Work. It looks very interesting and promotes good practice in the workplace. In particular we noted the topic 'effective communication and negotiation at work'. One would think that this is something many organisations are doing naturally; this is not always the case.
As we all know communication, co-operation and co-ordination are the key ethics of good CDM management and many of our customers have been working hard to promote this way of working for many years. It seems at last the rest of the working environment is finally catching up on what we all have been doing for years.
If you are interested in the workshops then go to http://www.tuc.org.uk/workplace/tuc-18660-f0.cfm
We regularly receive updates from our customers and contacts about changes to legislation, the latest rumours and so on. We try to be selective with what we pass on and acknowledge our sources as appropriate. If you have information of general interest in the Health & Safety, and particularly, CDM and Asbestos Management arena, then please let us know by e-mail if possible.