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Where do I turn for my H&S answers

  • 22 December 2016 - 10:25

    I often get asked where is the best place to go for the answer to a site health and safety issue. I hear people say the HSE website – yes, there is some good stuff there, but it probably won’t answer the specific issue you have. Others say a H&S consultant – again, some are good and understand your industry, but they won’t necessarily understand your site and your employees.

    Where would I go? To the employees – the people who work on your site and have to deal with the issues day in day out. In my 30 years in the quarrying industry I have met some amazingly resourceful people at the sharp end of the business. They know how the plant and equipment works, and they know what has worked in the past. All they need is some good guidance and often a confidence boost to supply the answers.

    Good-quality consultation and communication with employees can have an enormous effect on improving your health and safety performance. Ensure that:

    • There are good arrangements in place for consultation and communication within the workplace on health and safety matters (this is usually achieved by organizing a safety committee);
    • Each area/sector of a site has representation at the safety committee meeting. Where a trade union is recognized on site indicates a desire to appoint a representative under the provision of the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977. The site manager should accept the appointment to the safety committee. Note: On small sites it may be appropriate to involve the whole workforce;
    • Minutes are taken for every safety committee meeting, and to promote the effective discussion of health and safety, the minutes of the previous meeting and the new agenda are displayed on notice boards well in advance of the meetings;
    • A senior person attends the meeting so they can make decisions with the group;
    • Meetings are held regularly (at least once every six months), but if they are beneficial hold them more frequently;
    • Wherever appropriate, specialist advisors such as health and safety advisors, occupational health consultants etc are invited to attend the committee;
    • Regular contractors and temporary workers, and even visitors are involved

    A safety committee can play an active part in the proactive management of health and safety on site. Regular agenda items could include:

    • A review of the previous minutes;
    • What good stuff that has happened since the last meeting
    • A review of any incidents and near hits/misses that have occurred during the previous period;
    • The top health and safety issues of all persons attending the safety committee;
    • An examination of current policies and procedures to ensure they remain effective;
    • An overview of any inspections and audits that have been undertaken since the last meeting;
    • A review of any health and safety training that has been provided since the last meeting, and what training is planned;
    • Any changes in health and safety legislation;
    • Methods to promote the health and safety message within the workplace.


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