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Out and about

One of the most enjoyable aspects of my role is being given the opportunity to get out and about visiting industry and seeing some of the great practices going on.

The HSE Board recently met in Scotland and while there visited the Rosyth dockyard to see, first hand, the construction of the second Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carrier.

The engineer in me always gets excited about big projects like this, but it was the site’s approach to health and safety that really impressed our group. At no point during the visit did anyone talk to us about rules, regulations or compliance. It was clear that health and safety is properly and fully integrated into the business from the top to the bottom. Leadership is evident and effective.

How did we verify that?

Well, at the end of the visit we had an opportunity to speak with two members of the workforce - without management present. One told us he had been working in shipyards for 38 years. We asked whether they thought there was a good health and safety culture onsite and they told us it was “the best place we’ve ever worked - management live out what they say”. That sounds like a ringing endorsement to me.

Last week, I visited a very different industry sector when I attended the Ceramics Industry Health and Safety Pledge Conference. The first pleasant surprise was being asked to present several awards to member companies and individuals for their outstanding work in tackling respirable crystalline silica in the workplace. It’s really encouraging to see an industry sector demonstrating leadership on its key occupational health issue.

I then visited pottery manufacturers Royal Crown Derby and Denby and saw for myself what these companies are doing to manage their health and safety issues. No one complained about too much regulation but they did complain about paperwork and bureaucracy created by third parties blaming the paperwork requirement on unspecified rules and regulations. We’re going to work with the companies on this issue to find out more about what’s really going on here, because we don’t want to see companies bogged down in paperwork.

In the meantime what I saw were two very committed medium sized companies doing a great job in health and safety while being very successful in business. The British brand is sought after as a mark of the highest quality and their products are exported around the world.

I left the Potteries feeling very proud of what - ‘Made (safely) in Britain’ means.

2016-04-13