Engineering a safe working environment
The HSE has issued over £9.4m in fines to businesses in the past year under its
Fee For Intervention (FFI) scheme. These fines come as a result of businesses failing to manage health and safety effectively.
In examining figures published by HSE, it was revealed that the highest proportions of fines were issued to manufacturing (38 per cent), construction (26 per cent) and the service industries (25 per cent).
These results show that there are a number of key health and safety issues that even large companies within the engineering and manufacturing industries are continuing to overlook. This begs several questions. Why is the manufacturing sector so susceptible to accidents? And what else can be done to address such issues?
Whilst it is clear that work within these industries is inherently dangerous, it is also undeniable that there remains among some organisations a relaxed approach to health and safety that should be unacceptable in the modern workplace.
Just one example of this is that many organisations do not have sufficient or suitable safe systems of work (S.S.O.W.) in place when it comes to operating and maintaining machinery; this would be a means of ensuring that employees are provided with step-by-step procedures for the safe use and maintenance of machinery and equipment. Some other health and safety issues that are common to the industry include:
Not providing sufficient risk assessments or the necessary training and personal protective equipment Not maintaining or replacing equipment / machinery often enough, or not having the correct guarding necessary to protect those operating it Employees potentially being exposed to airborne contamination, which can include vapour, odour, dust, fumes, gases and many chemicals, including acids, alkalis, oils, acetone, paints and cleaning substances Employees potentially being exposed to health risks such as noise and vibration, which can this could lead to damaged hearing
The above highlights, some of the dangers faced by those employed in this industry, but as the first step towards prevention is typically awareness, with it being the responsibility of employers to recognise potential issues and train staff appropriately.
The HSE is expecting revenue generated from fining businesses through its Fee For Intervention (FFI) scheme is expected to dramatically increase to £23m this financial year. This demonstrates the nature of HSE’s planned enforcement and should serve as a warning to businesses within the industry to ensure that they have a perfectly engineered health and safety strategy in place.