RIS Group


Gaining Health and Safety Culture

Alex McHugh - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Health and Safety: How to drive the correct culture through your organisation.

Driving a positive health and safety culture primarily comes from management levels.
Key aspects of an effective culture are:

Management commitment: Commitment produces higher levels of motivation and
awareness in terms of health and safety throughout an organisation. The active
involvement of senior management in the health and safety system is very important,
and overall can save employees and the company time and money. The investment and
commitment from management into health and safety and supporting staff works out as
less expensive to companies in the long run.

Visible management: Managers need to be seen to lead by example when it comes to
health and safety. Managers who have more control of their health and safety and make
regular visits to the ‘shop floor’ can openly express the importance of health and safety
and act by leading by example to resolve issues first-hand. 
It is important that management is committed to safety. If not, employees will generally
assume that they are expected to put the company’s commercial interests first, and
safety initiatives or programmes will be undermined.

Good communication: All levels of the organisation need to be able to hear positive
feedback and questions concerning health and safety as part of everyday work, whether
it be a story of good health and safety practice or a way in which health and safety can
be improved. 
Management should listen actively to what they are being told by employees, and take
what they hear seriously. In return employees should listen to management just as
seriously about working to health and safety legislation and safety management

Active employee participation in safety is important to build ownership of safety at all
levels and exploit the unique knowledge that employees have of their roles. This can
include active involvement in workshops, risk assessments, plant design and more. In
companies with a good culture, you will find the story from employees and management
being consistent, with safety seen as a joint exercise. 

“Leaders, at all levels, need to understand the range of health and safety risks in their part of the
organisation and to give proportionate attention to each of them. This applies to the level of detail and
effort put into assessing the risks, implementing controls, supervising and monitoring.”
HSE - Management of health and safety.

Health and Safety: How to drive the correct culture through your organisation. Text

Working at Height – Don’t be a statistic

Alex Mchugh - Tuesday, February 25, 2014
One of the critical pieces of health and safety legislation often overlooked by employers and employees is the Working at Height Regulations 2005. In a one year period alone, Working at Height incidents accounted for 40 fatalities and 3000 major injuries. By simply being aware of the regulations and guidelines companies, whatever their size, can avoid punitive costs, by following simple procedures.

Download the RIS Group factsheet, Working at Height – Reduce accidents in your workplace and find out for yourself how to avoid becoming a statistic.

0151 608 0023
One of the critical pieces of health and safety legislation often overlooked by employers and employees is the Working at Height Regulations 2005. In a one year period alone, Working at Height incidents accounted for 40 fatalities and 3000 major injuries.  Text

Making Safety Simple

Alex Mchugh - Monday, October 14, 2013


All you need to know about the basics of health and safety

Who to Put in Control

Appointing a person to cover your health and safety needs is not a difficult task. It could either be yourself if you are competent enough to do so, an employee(s) who you trust and is also competent enough to complete health and safety tasks, or an external body. A competent person would be someone with experience, knowledge and the correct skills to manage health and safety.

Health & Safety Policies

Your company must have a written health and safety policy if you have 5 or more employees. The document should consist of a description of how you manage your workplace health and safety and let staff know that you are committed to health and safety. This document does not need to be long or complicated, it just needs to be followed by your employees and reviewed on a regular basis.

Managing Your Risks

You know what the risks are in your business. You know what is within your business, what might cause harm to employees, and whether you are doing enough to prevent that harm. All of this is documented in a risk assessment. Once these risks are identified, you or your competent health and safety advisor need to decide how you are going to control them and what appropriate measures are going to be put in place.

Again, a risk assessment doesn’t have to be a massive document; it just needs to be detailed and understandable for your employees to know how to work safely and know where the risks are for the less experienced members of staff. Law doesn’t state that all risks need to be removed from your workplace, but to protect people by controlling them. Risk Assessments should be reviewed on a regular basis, to make sure all risks are being documented and controlled.

Assessing Risk in your Workplace

Begin with a site inspection, a visual tour of your company’s workplace and look for any hazards – anything that may cause harm. What risks do you see – the chance, high or low, of someone being hurt by that hazard. Then consider who will be harmed. Ask employees about what hazards they believe are in the workplace as they may have some you may have missed. Consider measures that are already in place incase there is some way you could make the workplace even safer. After putting the appropriate measures in place make sure you record your findings.

Training and Information

You must provide appropriate instruction, information and training to all of your employees. This includes any contractors or self-employed workers that are working for you. The information and training must include: the hazards and risks of your workplace, measures in place to deal with hazards, and emergency procedures. Any training must be done in work hours and there can be no charge given to employees.

Workplace Facilities

For your employees will be you need to provide:

  • toilets and hand basins, with soap and towels or a hand-dryer;
  • drinking water;
  • a place to store clothing (and somewhere to change if special clothing is worn for work);
  • somewhere to rest and eat meals.

To have a healthy working environment, make sure there is:

  • good ventilation – a supply of fresh, clean air drawn from outside or a ventilation system;
  • a reasonable working temperature (usually at least 16°C, or 13°C for strenuous work, unless other laws require lower temperatures);
  • lighting suitable for the work being carried out;
  • enough room space and suitable workstations and seating;
  • a clean workplace with appropriate waste containers.  

To keep your workplace safe you must:

  • properly maintain your premises and work equipment;
  • keep floors and traffic routes free from obstruction;
  • have windows that can be opened and also cleaned safely;
  • make sure that any transparent (eg glass) doors or walls are protected or made of safety material.

First Aid Basics

As an employer you are responsible for the immediate care of your employee when they have had an accident. As a minimum you must provide: a suitable stocked first aid box, an appointed person to be in charge of the first aid box, information of details around the first aid box. You should have at least one first aider on site with you at all time, but after that there is no law on how many first aiders should be there. The best way to manage this would be by looking at the likelihood of risks, to the number of people on site.  

Keep up to Date

And finally keep up to date with all of your information and procedures. New employees, new machinery, new tasks should all be monitored, documented and reviewed on a regular basis and ensure that your workplace is as safe as possible and that your employees are working safety too.


Why Do People Hate Health and Safety?

Alex Mchugh - Thursday, August 29, 2013

Author - Alex McHugh RIS Group

Health and safety is a touchy subject. As a whole people in the UK are sick of having to abide by health and safety regulations because, yes, a lot of it is ridiculous. We here about schools not letting children play conkers in the playground and we hear about work induction being taken up by health and safety tick boxes about how to sit at our desk appropriately. We automatically think “health and safety is going crazy again!” 

These disaster stories of children being hurt in school and then parents turn round and get an easy cash prize at the end of it, then a system needs to be made so the same situation doesn’t happen again, or the easier, cheaper, more negative option, ban the activity all together. 

Whatever the solution is, its a negative one. It would be easy to turn around and say it was an accident, kiss it better and its fine, buts its not as easy as that. 

180 people die a year in an accident at work, 1.1 million are suffering from work related illness, 111,000 other injuries are reported to RIDDOR, 212,000 over 3 day absentees, 27 million working days lost due to work related illness which amounted to £13.4 billion in overall costs to business and the government.

Health and safety is still a major issue in our society. A number of questions can come from this:

Are people taking health and safety seriously?

Do people follow there health and safety regulations that have been put in place?

Are people taking advantage of the system?

Are workers aware of there health and safety needs?

Yes documents need to be in place to certain standards such as the ISO 9001 or 18001, machinery checks need to be completed, entering a building needs to be monitored for a number of reason: fire registers, competency of people walking round the building etc. Inductions need to be done to make sure new staff know these fire procedures, who the first aiders are, and what to do when there is an accident, PPE needs to be worn depending on your companies policies. 

But again we get this negative and fearful attitude about it all: it all seems a bit much, or, I've been working here for 20 years without checks, PPE, or supervision, and never had an accident, whats the point. The point is when something crushes them they'll have no time to think about the machinery check they should of done before it. 

Health and safety needs to be done and put in place to reduce the statistics above, but it changes with our attitude and our work culture. 

Simplify it, make it easy for everyone. It should never be seen as something that gets in the way of your business productivity, it should be a procedure thats out in place to make your company more productive, safe, efficient, quality based, environmental and as a result enjoyable. 

Let us know what your opinion on health and safety in your sector, we would love to solve any issues and make your job as easy and safe as possible. 

Author - Alex McHugh RIS Group Text

Changes in CDM Regulation

Jim Bentley - Thursday, August 22, 2013
Previous CDM Regulation CDM regulations (Construction Design and Management) have been through 4 changes since their introduction in 1994. These regulations were put in place to reduce deaths, injuries and ill health in construction areas and help manage health and safety responsibilities and procedures through the construction phase for main candidates such as principal contractor, clients, designers etc. However, in May 2012 HSE announced the change to the current CDM regs and be implemented by 2014, but why another change? 

The 2011 LOFSTEDT Report was released, concerned about how the current CDM 2007 regs worked in practice. The HSE also believe that a 2 tier industry has emerged between larger and smaller companies. Factors that have created this split are centred on money. It has led to inadequately trained staffs which have resulted in basic health and safety practice has been missed. HSE also believe that the smaller construction companies have little understanding of the current CDM regs because for smaller jobs little CDM regs apply. But when these smaller companies get used for bigger contracts, a confusion of responsibility and health and safety procedures is created. Another reason for the change is due to the implementation of the EU Temporary Mobile Construction Sites directive (TMCS) who believe there is poor health and safety coordination within organisations and procedures are not being followed. 

What They’re Changing To Changes are being made to: 

  • Reduce red tape
  • Create a better understanding of responsibility and procedures 
  • And clear Health and Safety rules 

No changes are definite until the release in 2014 however speculation is saying a 140 page ACoP will be removed and replaced with a 20 page directive of regulations. By definition of the word ‘client’, current CDM regulations under implement the Directive by excluding owner occupiers, or domestic clients who are planning to carry out construction work. Full implementation of this Directive will see the inclusion of this audience.

How it Effects Construction Firms Because of the split of construction companies the new “simpler” regulation will aim to help smaller firms understand their responsibilities so I would recommend speaking to a health and safety adviser or consultant to get a step ahead of the competition and be able to have a system in place ready for the new regs in 2014. 

Other changes include a possible renewal of roles and responsibilities for the CDM coordinator. In the past a client would nominate a person or persons to be CDM coordinator who would take care of health and safety issues on the planning and pre construction phase, however, this role was mainly taken by an independent body. Changes made will include the lead designer (architect) co-ordinating health and safety at the pre-construction phase then the principal contractor taking over on site. 

Topics of Discussion 

First off all do construction firms believe they need simpler regulations, will they help smaller firms become more health and safety responsible? Do architects or designers have the competency or knowledge to take over health and safety needs? 

Will a new set of CDM regulations really make construction processes simpler, or will it simply annoy business owners who will have to make legal changes to a topic they already dislike? 

Author: Alex McHugh – RIS Group Health and Safety Consultancy