Worker Involvement in Health and Safety Conference
14 October 2008, Sadler's Wells Theatre, London
Summary of discussions
Discussion on how various stakeholders in the GB health and safety system can increase the level and quality of worker involvement across all of GB industry
Discussion panel: Judith Hackitt, Gary Booton (EEF), Roger Bibbings (RoSPA) and Hope Daley (Unison)
The session was started off by presentations from Gary Booton (EEF), Roger Bibbings (RoSPA) and Hope Daley (Unison). Some of the points and ideas aired include:
- Greater activity for HSE and LA inspectors
- HSE and LA inspectors should facilitate health and safety representatives and employers to come together to improve health and safety management and address problem areas.
- It was suggested that HSE should place more emphasis on greater enforcement of existing consultation regulations.
- Delegates underlined the importance of HSE inspectors talking to safety representatives and the workforce as well as employers when doing inspections to check compliance with the law.
- Influencing the leaders of the industry to promote worker involvement in the context of their management responsibility to lead on health and safety management
- It was important that directors, middle managers, supervisors and workers all understand the benefits of worker involvement, as sometimes there was a in the middle to be tackled.
- Those who promote business improvement more widely in organisations could help drive effective worker involvement.
- Influencing SMEs through supply chains
- In practice, this needs a strong focus on managing contractors. There need to be clear expectations set on contractor competence before they start work; for example, checking their risk assessments and hands-on management of their health and safety performance.
- Continuous promotion of good practice
- It is important to continually demonstrate what looks like. The new good practice guidance already addresses this by using case studies but much more needs to be done, including demonstrating what is good and productive enforcement on this topic for HSE and LA inspectors.
- Influencing SMEs and large businesses through major communication campaign to raise the profile of worker involvement and consultation
- Better health and safety training for lower grade managers and supervisors thereby increasing competence and an understanding of their responsibilities
- The training should include clearly identifying roles, responsibilities and accountability
- More people should intervene when they see unsafe practices
- More joint training for managers, supervisors and H&S representatives and improved learning from accidents investigation to develop shared understanding of what is important and shared goals
- Joint training will enable matters to be seen from a shared perspective. The benefit of this was emphasised by a delegate from a company participated in the noise and vibration initiative who stated that joint training resulted in lower accident rates and reduction in insurance costs.
- Joint accident investigation and inspections by management and safety representatives would foster an environment of cooperation and openness
- Influencing greater interest in worker involvement by insurers
- Getting insurers to promote worker involvement in their assessment criteria
- Consultation with workers was one of the key factors of the "health and safety performance indicator", a self assessment tool for SMEs jointly developed by HSE and the Association of British Insurers (ABI)
These ideas generated will be a useful input to helping develop plans to take forward worker involvement under HSE's new strategy for the GB health and safety system. We also hope this will encourage stakeholders to consider what contribution they could make towards this.