This month we look at health and safety and, in particular, the pros and cons of the HSE’s controversial ‘Fee for Intervention’. Will contractors clean up their acts with greater alacrity if there’s a financial penalty?Isn’t the risk of injury or death sufficient incentive?
For several years now, efforts to improve standards of health and safety have focused on changing people’s behaviour and what they think of as acceptable site practice.
Although it’s relatively easy to train people not to “walk on by” if they spot dangerous behaviour, it’s altogether more difficult to get them to change their whole philosophy.
Suppose somebody doesn’t care much about their own health and safety? “But of course they do!” I hear you say. But no they don’t. People all too often take stupid risks with their own safety (although, in many cases, their employer might have created a situation that encourages them to do so).
But still we see, time and again, self-employed tradesmen doing stupid things up ladders and on roofs, jumping into unsupported trenches, using digger buckets for access and generally acting in a devil-may-care way, either to get the job done quickly or just out of sheer bravado.
Many years ago I came to work early to find a man standing on the ledge outside my office window, three storeys up, cleaning the glass with a squeegee. I was a union health & safety officer at the time. I coaxed him inside, like one of those police negotiators, and told him I couldn’t stand by and watch him risk his own life.
He told me to mind my own business and climbed back outside.
Health & Safety