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Archive for the ‘Lighthouse Blog’ Category

SECTION 40 & THE BURDEN OF PROOF

April 19th, 2018[Comments Off on SECTION 40 & THE BURDEN OF PROOF]

SECTION 40 & THE BURDEN OF PROOF

I have heard a lot of statements about the HASWA (Health And Safety at Work Act) 1974 that you are guilty until proven innocent, a change from what normally is understood with regards to innocent until proven guilty. This is not entirely correct. In all Criminal court cases the accused is always innocent until proven guilty, however…..

Section 40 of the HASWA 1974 states…..

In any proceedings for an offence under any of the relevant statutory provisions consisting of a failure to comply with a duty or requirement to do something so far as is practicable or so far as is reasonably practicable, or to use the best practicable means to do something, it shall be for the accused to prove (as the case may be) that it was not practicable or not reasonably practicable to do more than was in fact done to satisfy the duty or requirement, or that there was no better practicable means than was in fact used to satisfy the duty or requirement.

But what does it mean?

Hold on, hold on. Lets put this into perspective a bit…. You have an employee who hurts themselves falling off a ladder, the HSE charge you under the HASWA 1974, the court would expect you as the employer to prove you did everything that was reasonably practicable to prevent that accident happening.

As a result of this, it is does make a defence hard to prove, as if you did do all that was Reasonably Practicable, the accident should not have occurred. This is not to say you cannot successfully defend yourself in a H&S court, it just becomes very difficult. Just for a minute now imagine you have a work scenario occurring, picture it in your own workplace circumstances. Now if there was to be an accident, you may be needed to prove that you did all you could to prevent it. The responsibility of proving that you did all that was reasonably practicable is down to you, as the Senior Manager or Director. Now ask yourself, can you do more? If an accident was to occur could you have done more? If the answer comes back as yes, defence of a legal situation would become very difficult.

To clarify, you are not guilty until proven innocent, however you do have the responsibility to prove you did all you could to prevent an accident the prosecution does not.

Now, this not to scare anyone, just to highlight your legal duties and to make you more aware. A lot of misconceptions occur in H&S and it is a passion of mine to correct as many as I can of them.

Look out for my next piece on Section 33.



SUPERVISION SECTION 2 HASAWA (Health And Safety At Work Act)

April 17th, 2018[Comments Off on SUPERVISION SECTION 2 HASAWA (Health And Safety At Work Act)]

 

SUPERVISION SECTION 2 HASAWA

Most Employers and Safety Managers are aware of the legal requirement to provide a level of suitable supervision, if you didn’t, you do now! Regardless of what we do with regards to the line of work, Health and Safety Laws require Supervision to be provided, however no H&S Law will not specify exactly how or what that supervision will be.

When I deliver training, I go a stage further and add to supervision the word Monitoring. For both moral and legal reasons Monitoring staff with regards to H&S is an absolute must, allow me to explain…

Lets say, I was a machine operator and every morning I was required to pre inspect my machine prior to use. I would have to, after completing these checks, complete paperwork to confirm what I had checked and its condition. Now, it is quite common practice, to tick the boxes and get on with work, not even doing the checks correctly and carrying out this practice over a long period of time.

Two things to look at with this scenario

1. The human- A human will at some point without doubt take a shortcut, if an employee realises that a shortcut taken was not discovered the likelihood of repeating that shortcut increases after each time and then becomes a habit. Leading to the machine never being checked and being operated with potential faults and risking lives.

2. The Law- If this situation was to unfold into an accident, could you prove that you provided a suitable amount of supervision? Whilst paperwork can become a burden, when was the last time you checked that the checks are being completed correctly? Could you prove you did?

As a Training Provider, all our instructors regardless of how many years they have taught for will be vetted, we will attend one of their courses to ensure that standards are high, even this morning I audited the paperwork of a trainer, to ensure compliance. We complete compliance checks to maintain standards and to ensure staff are being vigilant. Why should you Monitor your staff for H&S? Well for the same reasons – maintain high standards of H&S and to ensure staff are vigilant to ensure H&S is a priority thus prevent accidents!

A secondary reason to prove legal compliance, if an HSE inspector ever came calling you may have enough evidence to show that you did all you reasonably could to provide supervision and prevent an accident.

As H&S Consultants, we are required by our clients to audit areas of work to ensure compliance and quality of H&S work- to check that the things that should be being done are actually being done. When was the last time you checked that the checks were being done correctly? If it has been a considerable time, can we rely on everyone doing what they are supposed to how they are supposed to do it?

Remember it is a legal requirement to provide supervision & monitoring, not only will it help with legal compliance, but more importantly it will help prevent accidents occurring.



Well being and mental health in construction

March 26th, 2018[Comments Off on Well being and mental health in construction]

‘In construction, more workers die by suicide than by falls’

(mates in mind)

 

As a health and safety professional, my primary concern is not profit & loss or project completion dates, but the health and safety of those in construction. As cheesy as it sounds (and you might roll your eyes) I care about people.

I used to think I was doing all I can and the right things to make a difference, until I read the stat at the top of the page. How as a health and safety consultant, was I not aware that mental health and suicide was having such a big impact for those on site?

Luckily, while attending an on-site health and safety meeting the safety officer brought up the completion of ‘mental health first aid course’ which was the first thing that got me interested in researching this subject. A few days later an article was published in the IOSH magazine which identified ‘Mates in Mind’ as a new programme being rolled out to site to help bring awareness to this issue on site. I have not looked back since.

The first thing people think of when health and safety is mentioned in construction is risk assessments and PPE, I believe that it is time this role changed and developed. Given the seriousness of this topic, we can no longer just concern ourselves with physical hazards and documentation. We need to be doing more for health and not just safety. How may risk assessments identify wellbeing issues as being hazards?

In 2015, there was 43 deaths as a result from work place accidents…….in that same year, 454 construction works committed suicide (office of national statistics). As a health and safety professional, and a human, this stat is pretty devastating. Considering this stat is from three years ago, how many of us are aware of the problem?

Stress, anxiety, depression, lack of sleep and excessive anger are all mental health issues that are common place on a construction site, at all levels, senior management to labourer.

So why has health been left so far behind safety in regard to knowledge, controls and awareness. Well I suppose we could ask how many of the 454 construction suicides in construction in 2015 resulted in any kind of criminal or civil law suits? I am going to take a guess at none? If fact, I haven’t heard of any company being taken to court over the suicide of one of their employees. It is of course very hard to prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that a company is solely responsible for an employee suicide.

But I would like to think that unlike the safety aspects of workplace activities that can have heavy financial implications (supported by the HASWA) companies do have moral reasons to look after their employees.

I do believe that within the construction industry, a lack of understanding of mental health issues plays a hefty role in the attitude.

As I have previously discussed, construction is a very male dominated industry. The culture is to just carry on, keep going, don’t talk about it, it will go away eventually. It is harder for men to open up and seek help, it is not historically how these things are dealt with.

Are our construction sites doing enough to provide healthy workplace environments mental health?

Working hours have always been a concern to me. Part of being an external H&S consultant is that I am unaffected by company influences. When I attend site, I am focusing on one thing, the health, safety and wellbeing of those on site. Every inspection I completed I will ask, what hours are you currently working? How far do you have to travel? Are you currently working weekends? When was your last day off? The time pressures on project, companies and individuals can be immense and more often than not I am coming across 10-hour days 6 days a week, over weeks and months at a time. For me, this is unsustainable, and will over time have a real detrimental effect on anyone’s wellbeing. Plus, what affect is it having on their ability to complete work activities safety?

If I then approach excessive working hours like I would any other hazard on site, (working at height, dust, COSHH) I ask where the controls are? None. Are their managing directors, project managers, site managers, aware? I would like to think not, but realistically, they are probably working the same excessive hours.

 

Construction has a large number of workers from overseas. For them being in a foreign country, so far away from their home and family, with possible language barriers, there is a strong chance they will feel isolated and unaware of how they can get support. Are we doing enough to offer this group of people support? I believe there is defiantly ways we can reach out more. Could support information or packs be made able? Could we offer a support officer in the same way we have occupational nurses on site?

Between July-August 2017, Construction News completed a survey of 3,700 construction works, 73% said they felt their employers did not recognised early signs of metal health problem.

If I go onto a construction site I can easily talk to the supervisors and managers regarding their work process and procedures but talk about stress or depression and it is just not topics they have really thought about.  How many tool box talks cover mental wellbeing and health? How many contractors have a wellbeing policy? I do not believe that it is because the managers and supervisors just do not care, it is just down to awareness and understanding. We need to train our managers to be able to identify signs of mental health and give them guidance on how to deal these situations.

 

There is also a lot of incentives for companies to have strong wellbeing policies and procedures.

According to Health and Safety Executive figures, 15% of reported work-related illnesses in the UK construction industry are the result of mental health problems, such as stress, depression or anxiety, which accounts for 400,000 lost working days each year. (LFS annual average 2014/15-2016/17)

Poor mental health results in a reduction in productivity of 15.1 billion in productivity a year.

And companies spend £2.4 billion a year in replacing staff who leave their jobs because of mental ill health.

Taking simple steps to improve the management of mental health in the workplace should enable employers to save 30% or more of these costs a year. (Centre for mental health via mates in mind)

 

So, having a positive mental health culture, looking after the wellbeing of employees can result in happier, more efficient workforce that help to deliver stronger finical results.

And let’s face it, it is the right thing to do. Let’s start caring about our people.

Written By Louise Collins

 

Construction Industry Helpline

Call: 0345 605 1956

Provided by the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity and supported by the Considerate Constructors Scheme, the helpline advises on a range of matters including occupational health and wellbeing, support and advice for people with stress, and home worries such as divorce, tax and financial concerns. The services can also provide emergency financial aid to the construction community in times of crisis.

Samaritans

Call: 116 123 (UK & ROI)

Email: jo@samaritans.org

The Samaritans offer a safe place for you to talk any time you like, in your own way – whatever you’re going through, call free any time from any phone. Available around the clock, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You don’t have to be suicidal to call.

 Mind

Call: 0300 123 3393

Text: 86463

The team at the leading mental health charity Mind can provide information on a range of topics including types of mental health problem, where to get help, medication and alternative treatments.

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)

Call: 0800 58 58 58 (UK) 0808 802 58 58 (London)

CALM provide a helpline for men in the UK who are down or have hit a wall, who need to talk or find information and support. The helpline is open 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. They also offer a webchat service between the same hours.

Prevention of Young Suicide – Papyrus

Call: 0800 068 41 41

Text: 07786 209697

Email: pat@papyrus-uk.org

Papyrus provide confidential help and advice to young people and anyone worried about a young person. Their HOPELineUK service is staffed by trained professionals who give non-judgemental support, practical advice and information to; children, teenagers and people up to the age of 35



FEMALES ON THE TOOLS

November 23rd, 2017[Comments Off on FEMALES ON THE TOOLS]

After 9 years in construction, am I wrong to have expected improvements by the end of 2017?

Construction is, and has been for many years, a very strongly male dominated industry. But I guess you could have said the same for law enforcement,  politics, finance, even technology and science in previous generations. So why is there such a lack of females working on the tools?

Prior to undertaking a career in Health and Safety 2 years ago, I spent 7 years working as a plumbing, drainage and heating engineer in the domestic world. Sure, I would get some surprised looks, maybe even a few sly comments, and yes of course manual handling would at times be an issue for me, but overall, I would say I was as capable as any of my male colleagues and I never received any complaints from customers, colleagues or my employers.

I did not see any reason why more girls like me do not decide to make a trade such as plumbing, tiling, electrician as their career choice. So, what exactly is it that’s stopping them? A recent survey showed that only 13% of women between 16-25 said they would consider a career in construction. The ‘Macho’ on site environment and the lack of flexibility with working hours given as the key reasons.  From my experience, the ‘Macho’ environment of a site is a myth from previous decades. In fact, most of my male colleagues actively went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and supported and took pride in having me working alongside them.  As for the working hours sites currently operate, they are tough, but for everyone. With working days starting early and travelling to and from site, it is possible that more flexible working hours may be to the benefit of all, regardless of gender.

It would appear, that the first obstacle is not to change the construction industry’s view of women operatives, but is to change the image of construction. To demonstrate to women that it can be a positive, welcoming environment they can enjoy and be successful within.

I’ve now spent 19 months is construction health and safety, visiting on average 10 sites a week.  In that time I have met a few female H&S managers, I have seen 2 female operatives working on site (digger driver and a painter) and I’ve heard of one female crane driver, but I haven’t yet seen any female site supervisors or managers. I have however seen various female cleaners, canteen workers and security members.

The fact is that official statistics show that at the end of December 2016, there were 2.3million workers in construction, 296,000 of these were women, which is the highest for 20 years, at just 12.86% of the work force.  Which leads me to ask, with a constant skills shortage is construction missing out on a valuable workforce?

Should construction be doing more to actively promote and encourage female skilled operatives? What exactly can be done to help change the image of construction and make it more appealing to females?

I know from personal experience that females are physically capable, and they introduce no more hazards then male operatives. I personally decided to change my choice of career and take up plumbing at the age of 24. The opportunity for me to gain a trade skill was simply not available to me during my younger school years. Even during my plumbing college course, which I took 10 years ago, I was the only female and was fully aware I was entering a male environment. I would like to think that this has now changed for young girls in our schools and colleges of today.  Maybe this apprentice level of training should be where the active focus of the skills drive should be initiated.

So, I guess I’m just wondering when and more importantly who, is going to be that company who takes the steps and leads the way in removing these barriers and might just unlock the hidden workforce that the construction industry is constantly in need of.

I am proud to say that Lighthouse Safety have assisted me in developing and promoting me as a person within my career.  At no point have they taken any interest in my gender, but in my capabilities and experiences in life and what attitudes I can bring to my role.

I can confidently say that Lighthouse are one of the companies that are taking the positive steps to remove barriers of gender issues in construction. We truly believe in the person, not the stereotype and we pass this attitude onto those we work with, in both our training and consultancy roles. Our ability to think forward think and bring a positive culture to health and safety within construction is just another reason why we at Lighthouse Safety are such a valuable company to those who we support and assist.

Louise Collins, Health & Safety Consultant



Is the NHS Making our Statistics look better than what they actually are?

September 29th, 2017[Comments Off on Is the NHS Making our Statistics look better than what they actually are?]

 

I would like to start this blog by stating that health and safety for me, is an absolute passion. Any student, friend, colleague or family member that knows me, will all agree that I 100% believe in H&S. I would also like to say that I am not writing this blog with any other intention than to help press forward with good H&S standards in the UK and beyond.

We at Lighthouse Safety have been teaching and advising on H&S for many years, we stand in front of many students each day ranging from NEBOSH Students to IOSH/CITB and at the start of every course, we normally explain the current situation of H&S in the UK. Of which we always explain the fatality statistics over the past few years and common fatality causes.

The current statistics are 144 fatalities in 2015/16, of which, falls from height, falling objects & moving vehicles are the biggest three killers. Most H&S professionals could probably have recited those statistics. Now it must be said early on, that 144 deaths in a year is far too many, one is too much and it should be the primary objective of any H&S professional to work as hard as possible to achieve ZERO!

But I want to look deeper into the statistics. There was, last year, an estimated 621,000 non-fatal injuries sustained to the UK workforce. Now keep that statistic in your mind for the next few lines.

I want to take you somewhere completely different. To the BBC! Particularly a programme called ‘AN HOUR TO SAVE YOUR LIFE.’ The programme is simply a camera crew following a paramedic unit to an accident. Producing a documentary insight into the care and medical effort to save someone’s life by the NHS. It really is a truly magnificent programme as you get to see how brave and amazing our NHS Service is, in all its glory.

I sat one night and watched a man’s journey after being hit by a bus. The casualty was suffering internal bleeding and severe head injuries. The Paramedic who attended the scene openly admitted on the programme, that he performed on the side of the road, a lifesaving technique that 5 years prior to that event, he would have never even considered doing due to lack of technology that was available at that time. I am no paramedic, so cannot tell you what that technique was or what it was called, but it was breath taking to watch and made me feel proud of our services. The casualty in question made a full recovery (SPOILER – SORRY) and continued his life happily. Amazing!!!!

What has this got to do with H&S Statistics? The figure I left you with was 621,000 non-fatal injuries 2015/16. My first question to put to you all is this- Are we better at preventing accidents at work or better at keeping people alive following an accident? One could argue that last year there was 621,000 potentially fatal injuries. So, I suppose the next question would be- How many had the potential to cause a death? I suppose all of them have the potential! But please think about it, there was over 621,000 injuries! Even if half of them had the potential to cause death that’s over 300,000 lifesaving medical provisions needed! Okay let’s dive deeper. All the stats that I have used are from the HSE, and a link to the publications is here, so I have broken them down a little:

 

In the 621,000 injuries last year:

37,000 Injuries from falling from height

44,000 Moving Machinery

61,000 moving objects

142,000 total injuries from the top three killers in the UK

 

So, as a H&S professional, I will stick my neck on the line and say that there were at least 142,000 potential deaths that could have happened last year, but what stopped them being fatalities? H&S Management?  Whose job it is to prevent the accident, or the NHS? Whose job it is to keep people alive?

I have another question to ask on these statistics, how many are permanently injured and how many cannot return to work? I sadly, have been a carer for my Father who for a period of time was disabled. It individually decimated the lives of my entire family. It was hard to watch someone who I held to be so precious to me, become so helpless. Having to help with that life changing event has left a mark on my family bigger than any other, and it still does today. How many of the 142,000 are permanently injured? How many have to rely on family to help them live? How many Cannot get out of bed without help?

These statistics, by the HSE’s own admission have remained similar for the last 6/7 years. For the past 6/7 years there has been the same amount of accidents but a falling trend of fatalities.  So I’ll ask again and I encourage a response from all H&S professionals, Is the NHS Making our Statistics look better than what they actually are?

At Lighthouse Safety, we have created a culture of dedicating our daily profession to keeping people safe. Our Company moto is Changing Minds and Shaping Futures, because that what we do. We potentially Change the Minds of thousands each year to a more positive embracing mind set and so we therefore Shape the Futures of everyone we help, it’s our passion and it is what makes Lighthouse Safety Training shine above all else, it is what will help us to eventually wipe out workplace accidents & illnesses.



Competition Winner

November 9th, 2016[Comments Off on Competition Winner]

Lighthouse Safety attended the Construction Expo in Detling, Kent last week and held a competition to win a … See below the video of Pam picking the winner. … Lighthouse Safety works with clients across the UK.



The Confusion between Definitions

September 19th, 2016[Comments Off on The Confusion between Definitions]

Recently we have noticed the confusion that can be experienced when differentiating between a ‘hazard’ and a ‘hazardous event’.  Overcoming the confusion and getting these definitions correct is extremely important when carrying out risk assessment, both paper-based and dynamic, to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees is maintained at all times whilst at work

These definitions (from IOSH) may help;

A hazard is anything with the potential to cause harm

For a hazard to cause harm, a hazardous event must happen

There must be a hazard present first before the hazardous event is able to occur.  For example, a raised paving slab is a hazard, the hazardous event would be if a pedestrian was to trip on the raised paving slab

Hopefully this will help when trying to differentiate between the two

Is it a legal requirement for a risk assessment to be carried out for any hazardous work activity or task.  Failure to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment could mean prosecution by the HSE for failure to safeguard employees appropriately.



China, specialists in the flat pack skyscraper!!

September 19th, 2016[Comments Off on China, specialists in the flat pack skyscraper!!]

When watching some videos of China’s progression in to the world of modular building solutions showing tower blocks of various heights going up at an insanely rapid pace (30 storeys building completed in 30 days) I reviewed my opinion of the health and safety implications this could have were we to adopt more of this style of building in the UK.

Think about it, by creating most of the structure, the fittings and the finishes within a controlled environment it has the potential to bring certain benefits to the process including improved waste management and environmental sustainability, improved quality control of the final product, better time planning and lead delivery but above all else wouldn’t this improve the health and safety for the workforce with far less risks posed to them such as minimal working at height requirements, greater control of environmental risk factors such as sun exposure (melanoma and dehydration issues), cold (muscle injury, slips) lighting issues and so on. This increased control on all areas of the process may offer increased profitability for the company allowing for sustained rates for the trade workers instead of the up and down cycle we have seen in recent years as skill levels increase and dip. There are fears from some workers this would lead to a loss of skilled tradesmen but I don’t believe this would be the case in the grand scheme of things as the skills would still be required just in a different setting.

Obviously there are some drawbacks to modular build in that bespoke design is more difficult and costly, logistically there is a challenge to sending more and more lorry loads of prefabricated components around the country on our already jam packed network but with a little ingenuity and long term investment I think these challenges could be met, making the build process more eco-friendly and stimulating growth in our economy by setting us apart from other countries that are still yet to embrace this technology (as we currently are to a degree) possibly encouraging new trade deals to buy our technologies and export of these components bringing long term growth to the construction industry. With regard to the infrastructure problem of clogging up the roads perhaps we could look at reviving at canal networks and the fact we are an island nation to utilize our waterways as we did in the past as a means of moving the flat pack products around the country? What do you think?

To see the videos referenced above please follow the links below to see how China does it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwvmru5JmXk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6f_sayw0mM

 

Happy building



NEBOSH General Certificate – Day Release

September 7th, 2016[Comments Off on NEBOSH General Certificate – Day Release]

Attention Campers, we have exciting news.

 

In 2017 will be running a new addition to our course line up, a reformatted day release NEBOSH General Certificate Course. This course is ideal for those looking to supplement their knowledge in a management role to ensure Health and standards are implemented and maintained for the sustainability of their company, those who are considering a move into a Health and Safety Manager/Advisors role, or simply as another accolade to add to your CV for the future.

 

The course will cover the legal, management and practical aspects of Health and Safety Management. As the internationally recognised standard for higher level training in Health and Safety NEBOSH is a must have in today’s climate to instil confidence in clients and trading partners that your company is working to the highest standards.

 

The course will be running on consecutive weeks starting in February of next year, the course including mock exams, revision days and national exam dates will total 14 days with availability still open for several candidates should you require it.

 

For more information or book please visit our website www.lighthousesafety.co.uk or call 01634 260 631.



Charity cheque presentation

July 27th, 2016[Comments Off on Charity cheque presentation]

As I am sure you are aware, Lighthouse Safety were honoured to host a quiz night at the beginning of the month for the fantastic Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity and managed to raise the tremendous sum of £2250.  Last week we had the opportunity to meet with the charity’s CEO, Bill Hill and our very own Andrew (MD) presented him with the cheque.

Cheque_1035[1]

It was a pleasure to meet Bill and we would like to say a huge thank you to everyone that was involved in making the night such a success.



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