Clearview Midlands July 2013 - Issue 140 - Page 58

HEALTH&SAFETY CLEARVIEW EXCLUSIVE Health & Safety Training is a top priority The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) and its member firms clearly see health and safety training as a top priority, it tells Clearview… There is no doubt that the construction industry and its workers bear a high cost in terms of ill-health and accidents, due to the high risk nature of the work they do, so anything that we can do collectively to help to minimise risks through effective training should take priority. As one FMB member, Rob Gutteridge of Positive Building Services in Cornwall recently said; “None of us can afford to take chances with health and safety, no matter how big or small our business is. In one split second a life can change, so I believe training is critical for you, for your employees, their families and not least for your business.” However, it doesn’t have to be very costly and time-consuming to keep on top of health and safety - taking just one or two days out each year to keep yourself up to date can make a big difference. With the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) now charging fees for intervention, if they find a non-compliance on your site, it can be cheaper to attend a one-day course than to leave it to chance. These are important points, which no one would argue with. But if you are thinking that health and safety is really just common sense, and doesn’t require training, then beware of being too complacent: if an accident should ever occur on your site and be investigated, then ignorance of the law and the regulations is no defence – you need to be able to prove that you are keeping on top of these issues, in order to protect yourself from any claims, which as anyone who has been involved in such a case will testify, can be a real nightmare. The UK scored a construction industry ‘First in the World’ with the Olympics Site in 2012 – this was the first Olympic construction project ever where no workers were killed or seriously injured during the construction of the various venues: something of which UK Construction Industry can be proud. The HSE produced a report on the reasons behind this success, so that they can be learned from and implemented on other sites. (HSE Report RR955). Some of the report’s key recommendations for building contractors are: • Take time before starting work, to plan, identify future risks and decide how to manage them. • Communicate expectations to the workforce early and clearly, so they are fully aware of the standards of health and safety expected (and the same goes for subcontractors) • Recognise the significant role of construction supervisors and develop and harness the skills of effective supervisors to engage the workforce and represent their views, to provide l eadership, build trust and empower action, particularly on matters of health and safety. Clearly then, having well trained supervisors on site is a great asset, and will help to maintain a great track record for your business. FMB’s member surveys consistently show that almost half of FMB Members plan to undertake some health and safety training over the coming year, and even in the current economic climate when training budgets have been cut hard, health and safety still come top of the list of courses to book. FMB’s members are generally small and medium sized firms, who face specific challenges in terms of sourcing relevant, good value training; they rarely have a dedicated health and safety professional, nor are they likely to have a specialist training manager to organise the courses for them. Time out of work for training is also costly and difficult at critical phases on a building project. However, firms who are tendering for public sector contracts particularly need to be able to demonstrate competence and have the right certificates in place, or they won’t even be considered for the work. That’s where a Trade Association like the FMB can be a great help to small firms, in terms of highlighting the key priority areas for training, and using the buying power of their membership, to provide good value courses, which get the essentials across in a concisely timed, interactive workshop environment. This is an important point, as the aim is to build competence and confidence in the workforce, as well as keeping building firms up to date with changes to regulation as they occur. Many of FMB’s courses are open to nonmembers, with discounts for multiple bookings for some courses and in-house courses for groups of 10 or more workers. 58 JUL 2013 To read more, visit