Construction Health and Safety Consultancy and CDM Adviser Services

Health and Safety – Everyone has a part to play
Posted by David Cant on March 18, 2014

health-and-safety-servicesAlthough the ultimate responsibility for site safety lies with the employer, every employee has their part to play in raising standards. Businesses committed to improving safety engage and involve employees at all levels, helping to share the burden of spotting and reporting issues.

The value of consulting your employees

Employers that encourage open dialogue with their employees are less likely to run into health and safety problems in the future. Your onsite health and safety representative can issue employees with best practice information and ensure that everyone has the relevant equipment and training to stay safe in their job.

At the same time your staff will be able to feed back their experiences and observations allowing you to take action wherever required. This could include the purchase of new protective equipment, carrying out risk assessments or providing guidance to other staff to help keep them safe.

Empowering your employees to report their observations as soon as possible reduces the risk of injury and accident.

Don’t forget your competent person

Even if you do involve all your staff in health and safety issues, your business is still legally obliged to nominate a “competent person”. The competent person manages your health and safety policy, providing guidance to management and employees alike.

Many smaller businesses may find that a third party competent person service like that offered by Veritas Consulting provides better value and cover than a full-time employee.

A practical example

The HSE prosecutes dozens of cases each month involving employers with poorly trained staff who do not properly understand the risks to which they are being exposed, and who have no way to report their concerns. Often the dangers are only exposed when a worker is injured, often seriously.

John Watson Leggate, a builder from Strathaven, was fined for safety failings after one of his contractors was injured falling through a roof. Leggate had in fact warned his employees that the roof was fragile, but had provided inadequate precautions to mitigate the risk of injury.

Leggate’s employees were also expected to access the roof using a silage cutter fitted to a telehandler, rather than a ladder or any form of scaffolding, placing employees at even greater risk of injury. As the designated competent person for his company, Leggate was not only unable (or unwilling) to  properly protect his staff, but his employees could not report concerns to him for action. Whether this was because they feared for their jobs or because Mr Leggate was often absent has not been disclosed.

Fortunately the man injured in the fall made a full recovery. Leggate himself was fined £750 for breaching Regulation 4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

By encouraging employees to report concerns, and by taking the time to conduct a proper risk assessment, Leggate’s team could have been properly protected from injury. Leggate could also have increased his own level of personal protection by outsourcing his competent person duties to a skilled third party who could have helped him safeguard his employees.

How does your business encourage employees to report their concerns? Do you hold regular consultations with your team?


David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Construction Health and Safety

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