Any director of a company should have half an eye on health and safety at all times.
Now, I can imagine this opening sentence is hardly going to heighten the senses and get pulses racing for those reading this blog entry. However, a quick flick through the news pages on the HSE website will certainly sharpen your vision and trigger reflection on the way in which you are monitoring and managing your processes, especially where third parties are concerned.
Every entry is concluded with a list of all companies involved, every fine incurred and any prison sentences applicable. Can everyone reading honestly, hand on heart state that none of these things can happen on their sites? Most will claim yes. However, on unmanned sites where the emphasis is on the contractors to follow the processes, procedures and RAMS approved by your own property professionals – can you guarantee that Jonny on the roof is going to carry out safety checks on his harness or not feel that a hard hat is really necessary in the searing heat?
The point of this is not to scare monger, its merely to point out the fact that it’s impossible to control everything and even those with the most stringent processes in place can fall fowl of a tradesmen making an erratic decision which can result in potentially catastrophic results.
Our name was recently raised in an independent health and safety seminar where we were complemented for doing as much as anyone in the industry to ensure contractors are vetted, validated and enrolled in an ongoing management scheme to ensure they are competent and safe in their work.
We employ H&S consultants to verify at both head office and site level everything our contractors claim in their initial paperwork and relevant accreditations – having a process is one thing, applying it is another.
During one of the on-site spot checks, it was found that the contractor was using a ladder that was beyond its annual testing certificate. For us, this validates everything we are trying to achieve to promote how seriously we treat health and safety.
However, the consultant at the seminar was later approached by a member of the audience who’s view was: “I’m really glad that wasn’t us you made an example of in the seminar”. At first I was astounded by this standpoint – surely the fact we have these procedures in place to pick up on these points is better than not knowing? However, I then came around to the thinking that we are still at a stage where ignorance is often bliss when it comes to health and safety. Some may view our processes as excessive or over the top – all I know is that as long as my name and the name of the company I am directing remains unknown to that HSE news page, we are doing the right thing.
Ian Robertson, Director, PropertyServe UK