Common Sense Safety

Fatal ladder fall prompts safety warning

The death of a Devon man after falling just seven feet,

click on the link to read the full article


12 months of HSE myth busting campaign.

This is another of Judith Hackitt’s blog articles. I truly believe the message must start to get through soon. Well done HSE!

12 months of myth busting

It’s 12 months now since the launch of the Myth Busters Challenge Panel, which has been a real success. It has probably done more than any other initiative to get behind the headlines and set the record straight about health and safety. It’s far from job done but we are making good progress.

We’ve uncovered and exposed abuses and misuses of health and safety right across Britain, and seen ‘health and safety’ trotted out to justify all sorts of ridiculous decisions.

The first case we dealt with involved an allotment owner being wrongly told to remove a children’s swing on health and safety grounds. But for much of the year it has felt like we were on a roundabout – the same underlying issues coming back into focus, time and again.

We analysed the first 100 cases, and found that 38 were poor customer service or people simply making an excuse for an unpopular decision. Fear of civil litigation and the need to do things to get insurance coverage crop up regularly too. Almost a quarter involved disproportionate, over the top interpretation of the regulations. It’s also clear that there is a good deal of confusion between health and safety and other legislation such as food, hygiene and fire regulations.

Basic communication failures when explaining the reasons for a decision often lead to confusion – is it really too much to expect people to explain the reasons for their decision rather than just saying “elf’n’safety innit, guv”?

I suppose it’s easy to understand why poor customer service keeps cropping up – if the real motives were properly explained many more of us would be likely to take our custom elsewhere. I love the fact that a friend of the chap who was refused a toothpick in a restaurant on elf n safety grounds bought the place – there’s one restaurant where he won’t be getting dodgy excuses in future!

Over interpretation of regulations regularly appears – sometimes because it is easier to impose a blanket rule across a whole site rather than apply a risk based approach. But at the core of proper health and safety is reasonableness and a sense of proportion, driven by a need to protect people from serious threats to their wellbeing at work. Regular readers of my blog will know my views on hi-viz in this context.

If we are ever going to restore the reputation of health and safety, myth busting will need to become a popular cause rather than being HSE led. We’ll continue to play our part, and work to tackle the root causes. But we need many more members of the health and safety community in particular to champion sensible, proportionate decision making and to be willing to speak up when things are good enough rather than chasing ever decreasing levels of risk. That would be something to celebrate.


Adequate and appropriate supervision?

It has now become the most common complaint that I get from operatives on training courses;  poor supervision being conducted by a person that simply does not know about the equipment being used and is quite literally incompetent. These operators and users are resigned to never pointing out that the policy is wrong and even … Continue reading

Why Ladder Association training is the only worthwhile ladder training.

The work at height regulations require that all persons that manage, supervise or actually undertake work at height must be competent. The preferred definition used by the HSE for competency is- ‘A competent person is a person who can demonstrate that they have sufficient professional or technical training, knowledge, actual experience, and authority to enable … Continue reading

On that bombshell…

The astonishing thing about the below is how much it sounds like me. It was written however by Judith Hackitt, Current Chair of the Health and Safety Executive! It seems that we sing from the very same song sheet so to speak and with further astonishment it seems that Jeremy Clarkson is too. Read on…. … Continue reading

Record take up for Ladder Association Training

Excellent News? I personally think this is good news but not excellent. I still find it hard to believe how few people are being trained on Ladders and Stepladders. I have put the story of the growth in take up below these comments and it is well worth a read. If we consider the legalities … Continue reading

people who care about others care about themselves

people who care about others care about themselves

Following on from the last post this was a truly brilliant method for getting people to actually wear the harnesses that they needed. I asked permission from Peter to share this and he kindly agreed. Take note, its not all about enforcement, its about motivators.


Is this person competent? If we look at what is happening we can uncover motivations and move on to preventing this sort of thing happening again. The person is either doing DIY or they are there purely to repair the chimney. If DIY then no Health and Safety at Work Act to worry about you … Continue reading

MEWP death statistics

As a senior instructor for IPAF I have long awaited useful statistical data to allow me to ensure that the most important elements are focussed on. After a long wait the figures are out and I feel that they paint an extremely positive picture of the MEWP industry as a whole and how wonderfully safe these machines are.

Considering that there are huge quantities of machines in use daily all over the world so few deaths is testament to quality, training and common sense. Clearly we cannot be truly happy until the number of deaths is zero and that is what I work toward every day along with many others in my field.

Below is the report direct from IPAF

IPAF accident database reports 31 fatalities involving aerial platforms worldwide in 2012

The main causes of fatalities and the machine type involved

There were 31 fatalities worldwide involving mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs), also known as aerial work platforms (AWPs), in 2012, according topreliminary results of IPAF’s accident database.

The main causes of these fatalities were: fall from platform (9), electrocution (8), overturn (6), entrapment (4) and mechanical/technical related (4).

Almost half of the number of reported fatalities (16) involved booms (3b). Eleven fatalities involved vehicle mounts (1b) and four involved scissor lifts (3a).

About two-thirds of the fatalities (20) occurred in the USA, the largest single market for powered access equipment in the world. Three fatalities were reported in the Netherlands, two in the UK, and one each in Australia, Austria, Canada, Singapore, Spain and Switzerland.

The data presented is based on accidents reported directly to IPAF and through information collated from various news media. The accuracy of the data cannot be guaranteed, but where appropriate, action is taken to verify the facts and the data is amended should relevant information become available.

“The first year of the accident reporting project is producing significant results and is allowing us to both improve our training programmes and focus our safety campaigns to make this safe industry even safer,” said IPAF CEO Tim Whiteman. “There are over 1.5 million MEWPs/AWPs in use around the world, and while every death is a tragedy, powered access is still a very safe way to work at height.”

IPAF launched its accident reporting project in January 2012 with the aim of building up a comprehensive record of known accidents, in one location and in one common format. Data gathered enables IPAF to analyse and look for common trends, and propose possible actions to further improve and promote the safe use of powered access worldwide. Data collected is kept confidential and used solely for the purposes of analysis and making recommendations to improve safety.

“The accident database has been enhanced with new functions,” said IPAF technical officer Chris Wraith. “A dashboard facility has been added which allows companies who report monthly to track and monitor accidents related to their staff, and from 2013, accident data will also be collected on mast climbing work platforms (MCWPs).”

IPAF rental company members in the UK have voluntarily committed to report any known MEWP accidents involving their staff at the IPAF accident database. All manufacturers, rental companies, contractors and users are encouraged to report any known fatal and serious accidents involving MEWPs and MCWPs worldwide at the IPAF Accident Database.

Harnesses and MEWP’s

Should people wear a harness in a scissor lift? No, not under normal operating circumstances. If a person absolutely had to lean out of the machine to undertake a task then it would be reasonable to use a restraint system to prevent the person actually over reaching and falling over the guardrails. That’s it, completely  straightforward. You … Continue reading