How effective is health and safety legislation?

Keep yourself and your employees safe by thinking about H&S

How effective is health and safety legislation?

The short answer is, it is only effective when individuals and companies apply it. AFI member QAB systems have offered some advice on effective Health and Safety considerations.

We will never truly know how effective health and safety legislation is, due to the fact that sole traders, smaller companies and even multi nationals “sometimes” do not comply with legislation. You will regularly see roofers working on roofs with no fall prevention or even safety equipment. I have even had small construction companies admit to me that they don’t bother reporting incidents that should be classed as RIDDORs.

For those that correctly apply health and safety legislation, they are more likely to avoid accidents, incidents and prosecution. In the case of a fall from height, a fall is obviously far more survivable if the worker is connected to a rated anchor point, with a shock absorbing system, attached to the correct point on their harness, wearing the correct PPE (personal protective equipment) and has received relevant training.

Safety does have a cost but failing to allow your staff to work safely has a worse cost and not only in financial terms. In the aftermath of a serious incident or death on site the fallout will be far reaching, not only for the victims family, but co-workers who may have witnessed the incident may be permanently affected, supervisors will be placed under a spotlight and ultimately Directors may even receive custodial sentences.

Failure to train staff in the use of work equipment will land you in trouble too. The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER) are in place to ensure staff are provided with suitable equipment and training to perform their task. Even ladder training should be provided to employees using ladders. I know 2 people who have fallen from ladders with completely different outcomes, Jason Anker fell from about 10 feet and ended up permanently paralysed and in a wheelchair.

A decorator friend of Gary Wood at QAB Systems fell 25 feet and broke his left leg, right knee with multiple other injuries, leading to 12 months off work and several reconstruction operations. The latter is back at work but wont work from ladders anymore. Jason Anker tours the country educating workers and employers on how the fall affected his life in an attempt to change people’s thinking about safety.

A pragmatic approach to health and safety will always be preferable to no health and safety.

For more information contact QAB Systems.