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HSE rears its ugly head again!

#1
I dont know if this is the right place, its news, it is current affairs and has been in just about every persons working life for the last few years or so! but Mods please move if in the wrong spot!

BBC News - Fire chief says health and safety law 'prevents rescue'

I am a Health and Safety Ninja (In construction), But I must say sometimes H&S people really give themselves a bad name. The HSE per se is not a ridiculous organisation with ridiculous rules and regs, but the rules and regs are left open to a hell of a lot of wrong interpretation by H&S 'Professionals' (and the way some of the Inspectors interpret the rules and regs leaves a lot to be desired too!)

Take conkers being banned in schools, the HSE never had a view on conkers, If I recall correctly NO SCHOOL banned conkers it was a press story made up to highlight the 'intrusiveness and absurdity' of Health and safety. Another example...ladders Shortly after I started my job in H&S a directive came down through then company I was working for 'HSE Bans work off ladders' I beleived it, many still do, The HSE has NEVER banned working from ladders!

There are two reasons why the there are specific Health and Safety Regulations, Someone somewhere in the past has been killed or injured by a work activity. And in the past organisations have been sued/prosecuted because somones loved one has been killed or someone has been injured by a work activity. Nothing in the regs has been written or formulated for the hell of it!

Companies can protect themselves from litigation/prosecution if they have good HSE practices because they protect the workers from injury. The workers can protect themselves by following the company HSE procedures properly..easy peasy (if it was I wouldnt have a job!)

However certain public services are by their very nature inherently dangerous, Police, Fire brigade, The Military and more so nowadays the Ambulance service. Because the nature of the job is dangerous doesnt mean that those working in that job should not have as much protection as possible.

A soldier is a risk of injured or killed on operations, but should the soldier be at risk injury or death in training for those operations?

The Ambulance service are at risk from RTA's and Violent patients, shouldnt they be given the training and equpment to reduce those risks?

Should police officers risk their lives and the lives of the public in a high speed car chase if there is no other direct risk to life from the 'offenders'? Should a copper chase a crim onto the roof of a building and risk a fall if there is no direct risk to someones life from that crim?

Should a fireman walk onto railway lines without express confirmation from a rail engineering manager that the lines are not under power? (as in the 7/7 tube bombings) Should a fireman walk into a burning building to save lives?

The problem with ANY work activity is that we have humans carrying out the work. I myself am in work (most of the time) because on construction sites, the contractors WILL try to save cash, usually cutting safety measures to do so, if they are allpowed to get away with it. The workers WILL take short cuts or use the wrong equipment or use equipment they arent trained on etc etc, to save time or work, IF they can get away with it.

I personally think that the main reason why 'Health and safety has gone mad' is because just as we have dilligent, honest, hard working people in every walk of life, we also have lazy, whining, people who will take the easiest option and complain/sue when things go wrong! And that includes the Police, the Fire brigade the Ambulance service and the Military

I read of a police force who sent a directive around saying that sharp/bulky objects were not allowed to be carried in the leg pockets on their cargo style pants in case they fall and land on the leg with the objects causing injury. There wasnt a previous directive saying they MUST carry sharp/bulky objects, so why have a directive saying they mustn't? Because some Police association bod has 'flagged it up' as a cause of concern (why?) or because somebody has already had such an accident and has complained/sued!

I also read of a Paramedic who was disciplined for not attending a heart attack victim who was 15 mins away from his location, as he was on a statutory rest break. An ambulance had to be called from another location about 40 mins away and the heart attack victim died before it got to her! Was the paramedic's stautory break so important that he was willing to let someone die for it?

As for the fire brigade, surely you KNOW before joining the firebrigade, that there is the possibility of having to enter a burning building if people are still alive in there? if you are not willing to risk your life to save others, why be in the Fire Brigade? Likewise if you see a load of injured people stumbling along a railway track and they are NOT getting zapped by the power line, and a station worker (OK not the manager) tells you the power is off. How on earth can you not feel compelled to go in and help! Because your Boss is frightened that he will be prosecuted if you or a colleague did get zapped?

I feel that few jobs are so important that you need to die for it, definitely not in the commerical/industrial world, however there are some jobs where by their very nature you must take risks to save the lives of others. If not what is the point of having these jobs!

And as long as you have had the best training and equipment available you should neither be able to sue your employers or your employers be prosecuted by the HSE if your particular job may demand levels of courage and risk that us normal folk dont expect to face!
 
#2
Geo7863, I do so agree with this. I've had my share of Health and Safety pratts too, and I'm sure there'll be many more.

I recall a time a few years ago when the very top bloke from the HSE was being interviewed on Radio 4's today programme, and he couldn't believe the rubbish he heard too! He made it very clear that ladders were NOT banned, and that has been good enough for me ever since. After that day the HSE website started to feature their "Myth of the Month", and the very first example was, yep, ladders!

Myth of the month shows the site, and this link: Myth: HSE has banned stepladders shows the ladders page that started it off.

Yet people still insist that ladders are banned, blinking pratts!
 
#4
Unfortunately H&S has become an exercise in risk aversion as a pose to risk management. It would appear that the job attracts a particular type of person, often not good at lateral thinking. As an example, I have been asked and refused to sign a risk review looking at the danger of being drowned by eye wash! I have taken a fair bit of shite for this, however our H&S muppet cannot see the irony of having a risk assessment for 25Ml containers of eye wash and no risk assessment for the millions, nay trillions of gallons of seawater that surrounds us.

The fire service is full of H&E clowns and are in serious risk of losing any public sympathy they may have had because of the increasing risk aversion culture. As for the paramedic on his/her break, tosser. If someone cannot look beyond stupid little regulations to try and save some ones life they deserve no respect.
 

BuggerAll

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#5
Nobody would accuse me of being a fan of wendyball but this annoyed me:


ST. ANDREW'S TO HOST CIVIC RECEPTION

We are pleased to confirm that St. Andrew's will play host to a civic reception in conjunction with Birmingham City Council on Sunday (March 6) from 12pm to celebrate Blues' momentous Carling Cup success.
Following discussions with the city council and West Midlands Police, it was agreed that the best way to mark the club's historic achievement at Wembley would be to hold a ceremony at Blues' famous home.
It is now hoped that the tremendous royal blue scenes that lit up Wembley at the weekend can be repeated at St. Andrew's with Bluenoses creating a carnival-like atmosphere to welcome the club's first piece of major silverware in 48 years.
An open top bus tour was considered however following a risk assessment with the city council it was decided on safety grounds that a civic reception at St. Andrew's would be the best option to accommodate all supporters wishing to toast the triumph.
Discussions with all parties will continue to take place over the coming days and fulldetails will be communicated to supporters via bcfc.com as soon as exact details are confirmed.
Lord Mayor of Birmingham Cllr Len Gregory, who was at Wembley to see Blues' dramatic 2-1 victory over Arsenal, said: "Blues did the city of Birmingham proud at Wembley and we're delighted to play our part in the celebrations. Understandably the club want to celebrate with their fans at St Andrew's and we are meeting with them over the next couple of days to see how we can contribute toward this event."

Birmingham Council and West Midlands Police are having to get rid of staff to save money. It strikes me that they should start with every clown involved in this decision.
 
#6
It looks like a fair amount of inexperience was involved in the mine incident.
Think before you act rather than act before you think!
The adage for Fire and Rescue is this:
We may risk our lives a lot, in a highly calculated manner, to protect saveable lives.
We may risk our lives a little , in a highly calculated manner, to protect saveable property.
We will not risk our lives at all for lives or property that are already lost.
*
That’s it.
The Incident Commander in the mine shaft incident was (As far as can be seen with hindsight) wrong. But hindsight is a wonderful thing and all we see is what the press would let us see. There is no doubt an investigation going on.
*
As far as Atherston is concerned I am deeply concerned. Why a pair of Watch Commanders and a Station Commander are being held responsible mystifies me. By the time the situation began to worsen there were much more senior officers in charge (And therefore responsible) than them.
It’s like blaming a couple of Sergeants and a Lieutenant for Arnhem!
*
 
#7
Unfortunately H&S has become an exercise in risk aversion as a pose to risk management.........................................................................................................
Many good and interesting posts on this thread. (My bold above). The assertion above sums it up, allied to the fact that it is impossible to legislate for common-sense.

Sadly, it becomes increasingly apparent that many 'H&S appointees' are appointed because they were found lacking in their ability to do the core job they were being paid for.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#8
Funnily enough, seconds before opening this thread I was relating to my team how, when I transferred from an Armd Recce Regt to the shiny-arrsed Pay Corps in 1982, the first thing I saw when I drew bedding was a Health and Safety At Work Act poster on the back of the Worthy Down bedding store door. Having just spent half a career either walking or driving the streets of NI and Cyprus (just after the war) or training to lob HESH rounds at 3 Shock Army tanks, I have always considered that poster to be one of the most incongruous sights I ever saw.

I went on to point out to the team that Scorpion was binned in the mid-90s, apparently because when the HESH round went downrange, the breech opened, the empty case clunked into the bin and some of the carbon monoxide was drawn back into the turret. I can vouch for this: a good few times I left the ranges with the mother of all carbon monoxide headaches. But it was as nothing compared to the headaches I was creating downrange where the HESH rounds struck.

I can also point out that the carbon monoxide headache is as nothing compared with that induced by handling PE88.

Health and safety at work? What's that all about? Don't make me larf.
 
#9
Re the ladder business, every site I've ever been to has had an outright ban on ladders and only uses trolleys which have to be inspected every month for structural integrity and given a PASMA style ticket as proof of inspection, I believe this is also the case for Network Rail/London Underground and other gubment style companies.

It isn't the HSE who makes these rules it's the construction companies themselves doing an arse covering exercise, one company I worked for had a trained electrician come in to check the kettle to make sure the staff didn't get eletrecuted, another time during a brief visit to hospital I was told by one of the nurses that she couldn't change the lightbulb on the bedside lamp because she wasn't covered under HSE.

The reason the Chinese can build somethring twice the size of Terminal 5 in half the time and for half the price is because they aren't restricted to doing toolbox talks and risk assessments. The only problem is that they probably have a lot more accidents.

DC
 
#11
This is another example fo the removal of personal responsibility form the individual and them trying to make someone else responsible.
Its about time people started to think for themselves, decide if something is a risk worth taking and then crack on with it. If it screws up, well thats just your tought titty.
This is the one thing that really, really grips my shit!!
 
#12
The trouble with Health & Safety is that, in reality, most of the activity in this area has little to do with health & safety, but lots to do with power and influence..

By establishing an "independent" H&S structure, the law separated power and responsibity in this area. Responsiblity for establishing safe work practices was left with management, however the power to decide what constituted "safe work practices" and to punish transgressors was handed to the courts, who then demonstrated a tendency to favour the victim in any incident, regardless of how irresponsible the victim had been. As a result management is always on the back foot in these situations..

There was also at the time (1980s) a noticable move of individuals who had been active in the trade unions (whose power was diminishing) into the H & S "business" as "paid advisors". It was noticable that the power broking game continued, only the big stick was moved from "I'll hit you with a strike" to "I'll hit you with an H & S violation"!

Much in the same way as other groups such as the animal rights, teachers and nurses use "special pleading" in their areas, the cry "you can't argue against H & S" is used to kill legitimate dissent. Inevitably the solution is to throw money at the problem which:

a. Rarely solves anything.
b. Empowers the pleader.
c. Guarantees it will happen again.
d. Attracts lawyers like flies...

H & S is costing the UK a fortune in terms of inefficiency and jobs. To apply H & S to the military and emergency services is lunacy.

Yes, we need to establish an effective mechanism to ensure that irresponsible actions by organisations and individuals are curbed, but the courts have proved ineffective and eyewateringly expensive. They need to change their tune or be taken out of the equation. A proper system of immunity needs to be restored to protect people who are forced to make judgement calls with insufficient information.

It happens - we need to deal with it!

...and we need to keep lawyers out of the equation!
 
#13
Podium steps what a F**ing joke.

They cause more problems on site that a step ladder.

We have this problem all the time, from the start of the job, "step ladders are banned" which we all know is complete tosh, to come the finishing off step ladders are suddenly safe again as time is running out.

My favorite at the moment for podium is podium surfing :) one site had it so bad that they banned the use of podiums with 4 wheels, strangely no one from the H&S team noticed that podium steps weight around 30Kgs so cause allsorts of MH issues :)

The other we had was a ban on Stanley knifes on site, the H&S guy wanted us to use the safety retracting blade ones, the ones you use for opening cartons, have you ever tried to cut something using one of these?
 
R

rogermellie

Guest
#14
Well this all very refreshing people actually supporting the HSE (sort of)
For my sins i work for said organisation and i am gobsmacked at some of the stuff i see and hear about, namely "ladders have been banned by HSE", no they havent. as someone posted to many peeps on a power trip.
One of the route causes of where it has all gone belly up is this compensation culture that we now have in the uk, people are scared to do anything in case they get sued. In saying that the "lord young" review has recommended that these compensation firms need gripping something that i fully support.
I work on a rather large site owned and run by HSE and the contractors we have on site are crapping themselves but by the end of the first week on site they do comment on how chilled out things are, yup and we are doing things by the book because we have to !!
Right i shall bimble along.


Kind regards,
 
#15
It isn't the HSE who makes these rules it's the construction companies themselves doing an arse covering exercise,

The reason the Chinese can build somethring twice the size of Terminal 5 in half the time and for half the price is because they aren't restricted to doing toolbox talks and risk assessments. The only problem is that they probably have a lot more accidents.

DC
Well not quite but almost, The HSC (commission) writes the legislation, The HSE (Executive) write the regulations and codes of practice, the Companies translate that into their H&S Policies. And to a large degree yes its the Policies that makes it a farce. And yes it is an arse covering exercise but you cant blame the companies because you can bet your bottom dollar that if you havent covered your arse then you WILL be prosecuted sooner or later.

You mention London underground, yes they do have a restrictive bunch of rules and regs and Policies, a mate of mine was a safety officer for them and a small job was required one night, which led to a massive amount of meetings and memos, My mate who likes bullshit and paperwork as much as I like being buggered by a rhino, took a worker to the jobsite, whilst all the managers were ranting on about method statements and risk assessmenst, he asked the worker what needed doing and then told the worker what he thought the risks were and how he should observe safety and then watched the worker take fifteen minutes to do the job. When he returned to the offices the managers were all still arguing about how to do the job which had just been successfully sorted!

Yes having worked out in China (as HSE for a large global corporation), I can tell you that they have a very very very large pool of labour so killing a few at work doesnt matter (well it did for the US led corporation which is why I was out there). What is more important though and is also a semi safety responsibility is that the quality of the work is usually shoite. Better spend a bit more cash and a loty more time for something that wont fall down or crumble in a decade!

It's all down to insurance premiums. Insurance companies practices help drive this madness

VH

Not sure about that, Insurance premiums obviously increase after incidents but in reality its the whole lot that drives H&S madness, the chance of prosecution with duty holders facing jail time, the chance of being sued and the insurance costs going up, but not solely insurance to blame!
 
#16
An open top bus tour was considered however following a risk assessment with the city council it was decided on safety grounds
I wonder which idiot came up with that and how they can possibly justify it... also why didnt the senior officials involved just tell the muppet to take his head for a shoite!

I dont work in the UK if I can help it as the regs can be far too restrictive at times, but the biggest problem I find is convincing the contractors that "yes we can do Site safety this way, its not impossible, no you havent done it before but believe me the client is willing to take the time and pay the costs and give you the training, because I have convinced the client that its the best approach and thats why the client has me full time on this project" once that is out of the way there are seldom major problems, (they still try and swing a few cheeky ones past me though thinking that I wont notice!)

However the next biggest nause for me is having to tell the 'small fish' in the clients site staff, usually the process engineers and even the cleints process safety people, to forget what they think H&S should be as the process safety methods that they are used to usually bear very little relation with the highly fluid safety methods that one finds in major costruction. For example a process engineer asking if guys should be using the ladders on a scaffold because the ladders dont have the 'safety hoops' around them!

Another example engineers insisting that hot works permits are written for using a concrete cutter on a slab on a greenfield site, because the 'Plant' uses hot works permits within the production facilities and hence ALL hotworks (including the chance of sparks from re-bar within concrete) must be accompanied by a permit. I tactfully tell them to **** off!
 
#17
And as for PPE...

Supposedly (in the H&S community) a last resort, it has become a uniform on construction sites. Nearly every site demands that you wear hard hat, boots, hi viz, gloves, safety specs at all times. Ear defence, goggles, dust masks, coveralls depending on task. No mobile phones on site in case you're distracted, similarly with radios.

How many of these are actually needed? I've worked on sites where the building is occupied by the tenant so you have a situation where the construction workers are fully suited and booted yet the office staff wander round the same areas without any PPE whatever. (Of course the construction workers also have to wear polythene overshoes to prevent dirtying the carpets, introducing a further slip hazard).

Hard hat, boots and hi viz are certainly a good idea on a site with traffic and cranes, but safety specs and gloves? If dust is an issue, it should be dealt with at source. Gloves surely depend on the task in hand. While there is an argument that gloves help to protect against dermatitis and contamination, there's an equal argument that they can be the cause of skin ailments and promote poor hygiene because the same gloves are worn day after day, week after week.

I'm a fan of risk assessments because, properly done, they not only identify what's needed, but also what isn't needed. Trouble is, companies prefer to produce over-the-top generic risk assessments than ones which are actually pertinent to the specific job because saving someone 15 minutes in the office is more highly rated than saving the discomfort of a dozen site workers for weeks on end.
 
#18
And as for PPE...

Supposedly (in the H&S community) a last resort, it has become a uniform on construction sites. Nearly every site demands that you wear hard hat, boots, hi viz, gloves, safety specs at all times. Ear defence, goggles, dust masks, coveralls depending on task. No mobile phones on site in case you're distracted, similarly with radios.

How many of these are actually needed? I've worked on sites where the building is occupied by the tenant so you have a situation where the construction workers are fully suited and booted yet the office staff wander round the same areas without any PPE whatever. (Of course the construction workers also have to wear polythene overshoes to prevent dirtying the carpets, introducing a further slip hazard).

Hard hat, boots and hi viz are certainly a good idea on a site with traffic and cranes, but safety specs and gloves? If dust is an issue, it should be dealt with at source. Gloves surely depend on the task in hand. While there is an argument that gloves help to protect against dermatitis and contamination, there's an equal argument that they can be the cause of skin ailments and promote poor hygiene because the same gloves are worn day after day, week after week.

I'm a fan of risk assessments because, properly done, they not only identify what's needed, but also what isn't needed. Trouble is, companies prefer to produce over-the-top generic risk assessments than ones which are actually pertinent to the specific job because saving someone 15 minutes in the office is more highly rated than saving the discomfort of a dozen site workers for weeks on end.
We had the same on the first site I worked on, because hand injuries in construction are the most common form of injury everyone, and I mean everyone, managers included had to wear kevlar gloves on site, however inside the building some workers complained that they couldnt work with these wooly gloves, so they were exempt inside the building, it came to a point were everyone had to wear gloves outside and only the managers and foremen (who didnt work with their hands and materials) had to wear gloves inside.. madness!

Then we had my pet hate, Safety glasses, everyone had to wear safety glasses, except some people complained that they couldnt do the finer jobs, electrictians and some of the painters, with glasses so they were exempt, EVERYONE else had to wear them.

My son recently underwent a six hour long heart operation, the surgeon wore exactly the same safety glasses as we had on that first site (UVEX astrospecs)... if he can repair a damaged heart on a three month old boy, that heart being barely bigger than a walnut, I think a fcuking electrician or a guy painting wood grain on screw caps can wear them too....However I always question the need for a blanket ruling on safety glasses, If there is no real risk or need for everyone to wear them all the time then why make everyone wear them? carry them on their person for areas where they may be a risk yes but wear them constantly! No not on my site!

I must admit I dont have sympathy for those who whinge about helmets or vests, I WILL let people take them off if there isnt a risk However because the client always expects them to be worn then they must be worn around site, and when I let guys take them off for one job they ALWAYS forget to put them on when nipping out across the yard where there may be Plant and cranes for tools etc and then I get it in the neck.

Also most times Guys will complain about helmets and then if you let them take them off they stick a ******* baseball cap on! We had a paving crew do that...whinge whinge whine whine, we cant wear helmets they are too hot with the hot ashphalt and then stuck baseball caps and wooly hats on as soon as we let then take the helmets off!

You HAVE to be sensible in H&S work, I am NOT there to **** the guys around, I am there to help them because helping them makes it less likely that they will have an accident and less accidents mean my Bosses are happy which means they pay me a shed full. But I am not daft enough to let the workers try and and pull a fast one over me either... and what they sometimes forget, no matter what the reason, sometimes we all have to do some things because it is ingrained in the clients policies and I cant always make the client see sense sometimes either!

Back on track to the original theme rescue services and HSE, I have never heard of a Lifeboat chap or Rescue Helicopter crew suing for HSE or indeed having HSE madness thrust upon them and they have to be two of the most dangerous jobs going!
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
#19
Yet people still insist that ladders are banned, blinking pratts!
Ladders are not banned per see. But when I managed a small company I had a visit from a H & S jobsworth and was told the following.

1) Ladders were the causes of many accidents and should only be used by qualified personnel.
2) I had to use a padlock and chain so that ladders could not be accessed by unauthorised personnel.
3) The key to the padlock had to be held in a safe place so that it could only be handed out by me or a designated deputy.
4) I should keep a register of when I issued the key so I knew who had permission to use a ladder.

So who's the blinking pratt? For my money the jobsworth.

Wordsmith

As a PS, I will say I have worked with some first class H & S advisor's. They have tended to people with long experience of that segment of industry. The jobsworths have been people that have come straight out of university, done and H &SE course and are going around factories enforcing regulations with *no* practical experience of actually doing the job.
 
#20
I`m interested in the fire service prosecutions. Shouldn`t the managers that gave these guys responsible jobs be in the dock too? They are seemingly incapable of being in charge of a serious incident, so shouldn`t have been there. I bet they could spout h&s at interview though.

Maybe the old Station Officers exams which really tested your knowledge of managing fires but were phased out, were actually quite a good idea. Probably not fair that only the bright and committed ever passed them.
 

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