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Stuart O'Brien

British Safety Council publishes Air Pollution Manifesto

The British Safety Council has launched its Air Pollution Manifesto, which calls on all candidates standing for election as a Metro Mayor on 6 May 2021 to commit to a Time to Breathe 7-Point Plan.

The industry body says air pollution is the UK’s largest environmental risk to health with 40,000 early deaths a year, including ‘deadly’ impacts on outdoor workers, and a £20 billion cost to the UK economy.

The 7-Point Plan comprises:-

  1. Appointing a Clean Air Czar with executive powers to ensure that levels of ambient air pollution are reduced to below legal/ WHO guideline limits for the most dangerous sources of air pollution in the shortest time possible.
  2. Running a publicity campaign to encourage drivers to stop engine idling.
  3. Permitting electric cars only in cities from 2030 at the latest
  4. Retrofitting diesel buses to be powered by electricity to improve urban air quality.
  5. Implementing a Clean Air Zone or an Ultra-Low Emissions Zone covering the metro area.
  6. Funding air pollution monitoring infrastructure to the same accuracy as London for emissions data.
  7. Investing in cleaner energy, cycling and walking.

Mike Robinson, Chief Executive at the British Safety Council, said: “The shocking reality for many outdoor workers in the UK is that they are breathing toxic air during their working day. For them, ambient air pollution has turned the simple, human act of breathing into a deadly occupational hazard. Action is long overdue. Now is the time to invest in clean air for outdoor workers.

“This forgotten army of outdoor workers are the people who deliver our letters and food, help our children to cross the road, empty our bins, and keep us safe from crime. They deserve better protection.”

“So, we are calling on those standing for election as a Metro Mayor this May to commit to ensuring clean air is our future. Outdoor workers deserve the same legal protections as those on the factory floor. No one should be made ill by the job that they do.”

You can read the full manifesto here.

CALL FOR SPEAKERS! Would you like to talk our Health & Safety industry events?

We’re looking for education industry thought-leaders to share their knowledge at the upcoming Occupational Safety & Health Forum, which is taking place as a live event on February 1st next year.

If you’re available on those dates, have an internet connection and would like to take part in this unmissable industry event, simply contact Charlotte Humphreys on 01992 374102 / c.humphreys@forumevents.co.uk.

Alternatively, health & safety professionals can now claim a delegate place for the next live Occupational Safety & Health Forum, which takes place on February 1st 2022.

The Forum allows you to connect with innovative and budget-saving suppliers, as well as learn about the latest insights within the health & safety industry.

Your pass is entirely free and includes access to live, insightful webinars.

We create your bespoke itinerary around your diary – Confirm your attendance here via our online form

5 Minutes With… the Fire Protection Association’s Melissa Harrison

In the latest instalment of our health & safety industry executive interview series, we spoke to Melissa Harrison, Events Manager at the Fire Protection Association, about the organisation’s work, the biggest health & safety challenges in the UK, future trends and the importance of maintaining perspective in life…

Q: Tell us about your company, products and services.

A: The Fire Protection Association is the UK’s national fire safety organisation. We largely exist to promote fire safety in the built environment so we work closely with those responsible for building safety including those in construction. Our membership offering provides guidance and resources for a variety of roles, from fire risk assessors, building owners and managers, to architects and facilities managers.

As a not for profit company of fire safety experts, we have an unrivalled reputation for quality and expertise in all aspects of fire protection including research, consultancy, training, publications, risk surveying, fire strategy and auditing. All our services are central to the reputation we’ve built amongst our membership and advocates who trust our independent expertise.

Q: What have been the biggest challenges the Health & Safety industry has faced over the past 12 months?  

A: With our fire hat on, the biggest changes for us have been 2 big new pieces of legislation that have been created as a result of the devastating Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.  The Building Safety Bill and the Fire Safety Bill. Of course COVID 19 has hindered many standard fire safety measures, such as fire alarm checks, extinguisher maintenance to fire risk assessments and sprinkler system reviews. Being forced to work from home for much of the past 12 months will have undoubtedly changed the way health and safety professionals work but we must not forget the importance of maintaining fire safety standards. To help the sector, we delivered a webinar in the first lockdown, aimed at educating those with fire systems on how to maintain them in this challenging period. 

Q: And what have been the biggest opportunities?  

A: The biggest opportunities are that never before have the worlds eyes been as open to the dangers of fire as they are at the moment.  We have for a long time been discussing the use of combustible materials in construction and this is now being considered as a priority alongside, for example, sustainability and cost. But most importantly, if there is anything to be learned from the last 12 months, its that we must be prepared for a crisis. We must ensure that our businesses and employees are prepared for the worst, should it happen, so that we can return to normal as quickly and safely as possible. Its something we are working to support building owners and managers via our Know Your Building campaign. 

Q: What is the biggest priority for the Health & Safety industry in 2021?  

A: I think competency is really relevant now more than ever – how can we ensure that people are operating within their own level of competency?  Looking at mandatory levels of training which is now commonplace in the health and safety world but not so much in fire.  Third party certification – again common for many parts of fire safety such as automatic detection systems but is also likely to become a requirement for fire risk assessors.  Then also looking at regulation and enforcement – the HSE as a body is much more of an authority than what exists for fire, we are almost in effect several years behind so moving forward to a more universal acceptance that fire safety needs to infiltrate all areas of a business and for the threat of not doing this to be a clear law breaker should be a priority. The FPA are supporting the sector by providing clear qualification pathways in fire risk assessment, to better equip H&S professionals with responsibility of undertaking risk assessments.  

Q: What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2021?  

A: I think there will again be a big focus on testing of materials, clearer accountability for fire safety and a renewed focus on educating. Third party accreditation is something that the market as a whole will need to embrace this coming year. Regardless of legislation changes, it is the FPA’s belief that this is the only way to ensure accountability and credibility. 

Q: What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this coming year?  

A: I would think we possibly would see more utilisation of smart systems so things like being able to monitor systems remotely, being able to operate systems via WIFI and the use of BIM technology to help plan intelligent buildings.

Q: In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?  

A: Ha ha I hope it will not be BREXIT, COVID or home schooling, as I have thoroughly had enough of these three topics.  That’s only 4 years away now and it would be nice to think from a sector point of view that all building material that needs replacing will have been done by then and that this will not have been at expense of the leaseholders who did not build the building in the first place.

Q: Which person in, or associated with, the Health & Safety industry would you most like to meet? 

A: For me Dame Judith Hackitt, we would love to have a chat with her at the FPA and from a personal perspective it would be nice to see how she feels as a female working in a male dominated industry.  I would like to ask her if she feels there is more widespread ethics problem in the construction industry or if it was a case of the government lack of management.

Q: What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Health & Safety sector? 

A: That it is not actually that large a world – I have only been working in this industry for 8 years but I feel I have met many of the key players in our sector now and that is not the case for many industries.  Also if I could have 2 things – the other is that once it is in your blood you do get a little bit hooked, everywhere you go you notice things and when your company lobbies for something that can make a change across the whole of the country effecting many people you feel like your day to day work has contributed to the bigger picture and not just earned the mortgage.

Q: You go to the bar at the Occupational Safety & Health – what’s your tipple of choice?

A: It would be a nice cold glass of something bubbly.

Q: What’s the most exciting thing about your job?  

A: Actually meeting so many people – I talk to nearly everyone in our organisation regularly and I have met many of our members and customers it is nice to have the fire community as colleagues.

Q: And what’s the most challenging?  

A: It’s a personal one but I am a part time worker (my choice) whilst my son is young to enable me to have the work life balance I would like.  This does pose certain issues but the FPA have been incredibly supportive and flexible.  You simply cannot do everything you want and sometimes you will miss out that is the nature of the game and once you have got your head around this you focus in on doing the best you can with the time you have.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?  

A: As much as I love my job and the fulfilment it brings to my life, my mum once said to me (during a particularly stressful time at a previous employer) you do not see on people’s gravestones “here lies Melissa Harrison she worked really hard for XX” which is a good reminder to never forget about the most important things in life.

The Crown or The Mandalorian?  

The Crown!

About Melissa Harrison

Melissa has over 20 years of experience in events. Presently she has served as the Events Manager at the UK’s national fire safety organisation for 7 years. Her role involves coordinating attendance at all external events and organising the FPA hosted events which includes:

• The annual FIRE conference
• Member networking events
• Quarterly industry update seminars
• Monthly webinars

In addition to this Melissa looks after the team of FPA consultants and manages speaker requests.

Previously to this role Melissa worked in education for 10 years organising exhibitions, conferences and training all over the UK. Melissa undertook a degree in hospitality and other employment has included agricultural events Showground Manager, Events Coordinator in a large stately house hotel and working in local government.

Do you specialise in Incident Reporting? We want to hear from you!

Each month on Health & Safety Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the security market – and in April we’ll be focussing on Incident Reporting.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help health & safety buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a supplier of Incident Reporting solutions and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Charlotte Humphreys on c.humphreys@forumevents.co.uk.

Here’s our full features list:

April – Incident Reporting

May – Contractor Management

June – Site Safety

July – Lone Worker Safety & Equipment

August – Fire Safety Management

SAVE THE DATE: Occupational Safety & Health Forum

The virtual Occupational Safety & Health Forum can help you build business connections with the latest innovative and budget-saving suppliers within your industry.

Date: February 1st, 2022
Time: 09:00 – 13:05
Location: Radisson Blu, London Stansted

We will handle everything for you, saving you time and money by arranging all of your meetings – condensing months of work into one day.

You can attend for either one or both mornings entirely for FREE. 


What does your free pass include?

We will create you a bespoke itinerary of 1-2-1 relaxed meetings with innovative and budget-saving suppliers that match your requirements.

You will also gain access to live webinars, focusing on the current issues and future challenges within the industry.

Secure your free pass via our short booking form here.

HSE announces Peter Baker as Chief Inspector of Buildings

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced the appointment of a Chief Inspector of Buildings to establish and lead the new Building Safety Regulator (BSR).

Peter Baker, HSE’s current Director of Building Safety and Construction, will take up the post with immediate effect. The move follows the government asking the HSE to establish a new building safety regulator in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster and following recommendations in the ‘Building a Safer Future’ report by Dame Judith Hackitt.

In his role as the Chief Inspector of Buildings, Baker will head up the Building Safety Regulator to deliver the new regime for high risk buildings, oversee work to increase competence of all professionals working on buildings and ensure effective oversight of the entire building safety environment.

Baker will also be the first head of the building control profession, and lead the work to provide independent, expert advice to industry, government, landlords and residents on building safety.

He has over 30 years’ experience with HSE as an Inspector and in a number of senior operational posts dealing with a wide range of industry sectors, including the role of HSE’s Chief Inspector of Construction. Since 2017 Peter has led HSE’s involvement in the Government’s Building Safety Programme.

Baker said: “I am honoured to be appointed as the first Chief Inspector of Buildings and for the opportunity to play a lead role in bringing about the biggest change in building safety for a generation. I look forward to working with government, industry, partner regulators and residents to shape and deliver a world-class risk-based regulatory system for the safety and standards of buildings that residents can have confidence in and that we can all be proud of.”

Sarah Newton, HSE’s Chair said: “I would like to congratulate Peter on his appointment as the new Chief Inspector of Buildings. Peter has a long track record of working in partnership with industry and other regulators to bring about behavioural and culture change that improves people’s safety.  His deep understanding of assessing and managing hazards and risk makes him ideally suited to shape and lead the implementation of the new building safety regime.” 

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Do you specialise in Health & Safety Training? We want to hear from you!

Each month on Health & Safety Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the security market – and in March we’ll be focussing on Healthy & Safety Training.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help health & safety buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a supplier of Healthy & Safety Training and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Charlotte Humphreys on c.humphreys@forumevents.co.uk.

Here’s our full features list:

March – Training Courses

April – Incident Reporting

May – Contractor Management

June – Site Safety

July – Lone Worker Safety & Equipment

August – Fire Safety Management

British Safety Council repeats call for Government to enforce COVID-19 workplace safety rules

Recent figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show higher COVID-19 deaths amongst health and social care workers – and the British Safety Council says government needs to more to help bring numbers down.

The body says it is ‘disturbing’ to see that the ‘forgotten’ people who also can’t work from home like machine operators and those working in construction and on production lines, or those employed as drivers and workers in customer-facing roles are also more likely to die.

The British Safety Council says it’s appalled by these figures and is strongly reinforcing its call for a Government health campaign urging employers to improve workplace controls and for enforcement of COVID-19 workplace safety rules, such as ensuring all employers are conducting a risk assessment. People clearly mix in workplaces which increases the potential to catch and transmit the virus.

Mike Robinson, Chief Executive at the British Safety Council, said: “These statistics are alarming and highlight the urgent need for greater Government action to reduce the spread of the virus in workplaces. Employers must follow the rules on making the workplace safe; this will have a greater impact on reducing both the spread of the virus and the number of deaths. While infection rates are coming down in the current national lockdown, they still remain high.”

“Everyone should be safe at work and employers owe a duty of care to their workers to take the steps necessary to remove them from harm’s way.

“More can also be done to protect workers, including more Government support for vulnerable workers as well as for lower paid workers so they can to afford to self-isolate.”

Coronavirus deaths by occupation revealed in ONS data

7,961 deaths involving the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the working age population (those aged 20 to 64 years) of England and Wales were registered between 9 March and 28 December 2020, according to the ONS.

Nearly two-thirds of these deaths were among men (5,128 deaths), with the age-standardised mortality rate of death involving COVID-19 being statistically significantly higher in men, at 31.4 deaths per 100,000 men aged 20 to 64 years compared with 16.8 deaths per 100,000 women (2,833 deaths).

When looking at broad groups of occupations, men who worked in elementary occupations (699 deaths) or caring, leisure and other service occupations (258 deaths) had the highest rates of death involving COVID-19, with 66.3 and 64.1 deaths per 100,000 males, respectively.

In women, process, plant and machine operatives (57 deaths) and caring, leisure and other service occupations (460 deaths) had the highest rates of death involving COVID-19 when looking at broad occupational groups, with 33.7 and 27.3 deaths per 100,000 females, respectively.

Men (79.0 deaths per 100,000 males; 150 deaths) and women (35.9 deaths per 100,000 females; 319 deaths) who worked in social care occupations had statistically significantly higher rates of death involving COVID-19 when compared with rates of death involving COVID-19 in the population among those of the same age and sex.

Almost three in four of the deaths involving COVID-19 in social care occupations (347 out of 469 deaths; 74.0%) were in care workers and home carers, with 109.9 deaths per 100,000 males (107 deaths) and 47.1 deaths per 100,000 females (240 deaths).

Men who worked in healthcare occupations had a statistically higher rate of death involving COVID-19 (44.9 deaths per 100,000 males; 190 deaths) when compared with the rate of COVID-19 among men of the same age in the population; the rate among women who worked in healthcare occupations (17.3 deaths per 100,000 females; 224 deaths) was statistically similar to the rate in the population.

Looking at specific healthcare occupations, nurses had statistically significantly higher rates of death involving COVID-19 when compared with the rate of COVID-19 among those of the same age and sex in the population, with 79.1 deaths per 100,000 males (47 deaths) and 24.5 deaths per 100,000 females (110 deaths); nursing auxiliaries and assistants also had elevated rates of death involving COVID-19.

Rates of death involving COVID-19 in men and women who worked as teaching and educational professionals, such as secondary school teachers, were not statistically significantly raised when compared with the rates seen in the population among those of the same age and sex.

The ONC says, however, that its analysis does not prove conclusively that the observed rates of death involving COVID-19 are necessarily caused by differences in occupational exposure; we adjusted for age, but not other factors such as ethnic group and place of residence.

“Today’s analysis shows that jobs with regular exposure to COVID-19 and those working in close proximity to others continue to have higher COVID-19 death rates when compared with the rest of the working age population. Men continue to have higher rates of death than women, making up nearly two thirds of these deaths,” said Ben Humberstone, Head of Health Analysis and Life Events at the ONS.

“As the pandemic has progressed, we have learnt more about the disease and the communities it impacts most. There are a complex combination of factors that influence the risk of death; from your age and your ethnicity, where you live and who you live with, to pre-existing health conditions. Our findings do not prove that the rates of death involving COVID-19 are caused by differences in occupational exposure.”