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The launch of Phase 2 of the Foundry Industry's SHIFT Initiative, 20th March 2012

National Metal forming Centre,
Birmingham

Judith Hackitt CBE, HSE Chair

The value to HSE of Joint Working with Industry

I am very pleased to be here today at this event to launch the next stage of the molten metals industries Safety and Health Foundry Targets Initiative – known as SHIFT although strictly speaking this appears to me to be an anagram rather than an acronym!

Today’s event is important for a variety of reasons:

  1. It is an opportunity to celebrate the significant progress the original members of SHIFT have already made. In 2003 you pledged to reduce reportable injury rates by 30% in 5 years but actually achieved significantly more than that [50-60% among core group] in the accident rate among reporting member companies. Today as you remake your pledge, you are committing to a further 25% target reduction over the next 5 years.
  2. There are companies here today who were not part of the original SHIFT initiative but who are now interested in being part of the process going forward. It is good to see you here. I hope that you will make the commitment. By doing so you have a golden opportunity to accelerate your own progress in health and safety performance by learning from the good practices and lessons learned by others as well as bringing some new thinking to the table.
  3. The next phase of SHIFT also includes a commitment to address health risks in the industry as well as continuing to address the areas which cause the majority of accidents within your organisations. Foundries have been identified as a priority long latency health risk area by HSE because of the potential for exposure to chemicals and substances which can cause long latency disease and because there is some statistical evidence of a higher than normal level of cancers occurring within the industry. This is an area where we are very keen to work with you to identify opportunities to reduce exposure, whether that be by substitution or improved controls.

You've asked me to say something today about the value to HSE of joint working with industry. It is our firm belief that where industry sectors are ready and willing to engage in partnership working with the regulator that it is an effective means of having an impact and making progress across the whole sector. There have been a number of targeted injury reduction schemes run by industry associations within the manufacturing sector – all of which have been supported by HSE. In addition to the SHIFT initiative we have seen successes in Quarrying with Hard Target/Target Zero, Concrete with CT 2015 and the Ceramics Industry PLEDGE. HSE commissioned research has confirmed that such initiatives can be particularly successful in raising and focusing attention on health and safety issues which are specific to an industry and in securing reductions in injury rates which are greater than for those who are not part of such schemes. This is an important message especially to those of you here today who are not yet part of the SHIFT initiative because the evidence shows that there are tangible benefits to be gained if you put in the effort and make this a real commitment, not just a signature on a piece of paper.

This sector employs some 20,000 people in 400 foundries throughout Great Britain. By coming together three times a year to exchange ideas and share good practice you are maximising the opportunities for learning and raising the bar across the whole industry. I am particularly pleased to hear that shop floor employees are now included in these SHIFT forum events and that the aim is to make worker involvement and competency more central to the initiative.

We have already seen some excellent examples of partnership working under the SHIFT banner including:

Since we published our strategy for health and safety in Great Britian in the 21st century back in 2009, we have been calling for everyone who had a stake in the health and safety system to be part of the solution. We have said repeatedly that this is about people taking ownership and leadership to ensure that they focus on managing the health and safety risks which are really important to them in their industry sector. That is exactly what SHIFT is about and I can only encourage you to keep going. You have made good progress to date but there is still more to go after.

You will all be aware that the last twelve months or so has seen a number of reviews of health and safety which have significant consequences for HSE and indeed for everyone who is part of the health and Safety system. Lord Young’s report, our own minister’s announcement, Good health and safety Good for Everyone in March last year and more recently Professor Lofstedt’s report have resulted in an ambitious programme of reform which is already underway. We have welcomed the opportunity the reviews have presented for our system to be challenged and the recommendations made for improvement have been sensible – they are all about making it easier for industry and dutyholders to understand what is required, they are not about reducing the standards of what is required.

Most encouraging of all, the recommendations mean that our strategy remains our road map and our guide for the future. There will be some changes to how we go about the delivery of our work, but the purpose and the general thrust remain the same. It is important that we all place the extent of the changes which are taking place into context. Much of what HSE has done in the past will continue unchanged. This means that partnership programmes like SHIFT remain an important feature for us in the future. We remain committed to supporting those who want to do the right thing but also to ensuring that those who choose to ignore or avoid their legal obligations are held to account. HSE’s reactive work in response to incidents and complaints received will continue to be based on our well established incident selection criteria and complaints system. Proactive work, including a reduced number of unannounced inspection visits will be better targeted based on evidence and intelligence. We have already made it clear that foundries will continue to be a priority area for us within our manufacturing sector strategy. However, greater targeting means that we will focus on those within the sector who are poor performers, which is much less likely to include those who are active participants in SHIFT and who are making significant progress towards becoming good performers.

Our proposals for Fee for Intervention underline our approach to differentiating between those who are committed to doing the right thing and those who seek to gain commercial advantage and expose their employees to unacceptable risks. Although we have recently announced that the scheme will not now be introduced until later this year, the principles of the scheme remain unchanged and we will continue to trial the scheme in shadow operating mode until its expected formal introduction date in October of this year.
I would like to offer some clarification about some of the legislative changes we are making. In the case of RIDDOR, whilst we are changing the requirement for reporting of RIDDORs to HSE from 3 to 7 days, there is still a legal requirement for you to record all RIDDORs of 3 or more days. Given that you will still need to keep these records there is no good reason for you to change the data collection criteria you use within SHIFT. In fact, as the number of injuries across the whole sector continues to fall you may need to move to a system in SHIFT, already used in some other sectors, of aggregating sector data for all 1 day or more incidents.

Some of you may also be aware that there is some specific foundry regulation which is in line for revocation as part of our work to streamline the full suite of regulations. As with all of our streamlining and rationalisation, the requirements of the non-ferrous metals regulations 1962 are effectively dealt with by more modern health and safety legislation which provides an equal or higher standard of protection, so there is no change at all to the levels of worker protection which are required. However, I am sure that we will need your help and support to ensure that changes such as this are properly understood throughout the industry.

In conclusion then, may I offer you:

It has been a pleasure for me to join you here today at the re-launch of the SHIFT initiative and I wish you all the very best for the future in improving health and safety and in growing your businesses in these challenging economic times.

Updated 2012-05-18