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Many Groups Have Health and Safety Responsibilities when Changes are Made


Introduction

Risks to worker safety and health will be present at all times, although these risks will be minimised to varying degrees depending upon a number of factors such as the quality of health and safety training provided to them or the attitude of management in terms of how seriously they take worker safety. We have already seen in articles like "Why a Health and Safety Policy is Likely to Soon Need Changes" that a workplace is a constantly changing environment and that policies and procedures need to be continuously updated as a result. Without such updates these safety features not only run the risk of being obsolete and effectively useless, but can in fact have the polar opposite of their intention and actually increase the potential for incidents due to the out-of-date information. If for example an emergency assembly area has been moved, workers who are not aware of the change could assemble at the original site, where they may be in harm's way.

When changes are made to the layout of the workspace or the introduction of new machinery for example, a number of different groups/people will have responsibilities for ensuring that there is as little danger posed by it as is reasonably practical to do so.



Design

The first group will be the designers. Whether it is a new piece of equipment, a modification of the site design or an alteration to the layout of employee's individual workspaces, the first opportunity for eliminating and reducing potential hazards comes in the design phase. When being designed, possible dangers can be identified and dealt with before they ever become a reality. The introduction of Computer Aided Design (CAD) has greatly increased the ability of designers and architects to test and identify potential flaws and dangers at the concept stage.



Quality Materials and Machinery

Once designed, the materials will need to be sourced or the equipment itself will need to be purchased. The quality of these respective items will play a big part in the avoidance and prevention of an accident. Purchased machinery, particularly second-hand equipment which has been poorly maintained, is defective, or is simply not suitable for the tasks intended for it will significantly increase the risks to those using it and possibly to others nearby as well. Similarly, machinery which is being constructed or is being fixed into place will require strong enough materials and fixings to prevent a risk to health from instability.



Testing

After installation the next phase will be a thorough testing of the new apparatus. This will ensure that not only does it work correctly and as anticipated, but more importantly that there are no unforeseen risks to health, safety and wellbeing which were not picked up during the design and planning stage and have only become apparent now that it is actually in place and operating in a test environment. Obviously the health and safety of the testers also needs to be considered and provisioned for.



Training

When all the checks and testing has been successfully completed and the machinery or equipment is ready to begin normal operation, those authorised to operate it will need to have been trained in how to use it correctly and safely, and what to do in the event of an emergency situation. This training needs to be performed and completed before the machinery is used, i.e. it should not be half complete when it is first operated as an emergency could arise at any time, and may be quite high for brand new equipment which has had very little running time. To avoid delays, the company should train future operatives whilst the machinery is being constructed or installed so that their training is complete when it is ready to run.



Monitoring

Monitoring is an often underappreciated but essential element of health and safety in the workplace. Comprehensive monitoring and regular checks can identify problems before they create an accident which causes ill-health or injury to a person or the surrounding environment. It is imperative therefore that enough resources are allocated for this function.



Maintenance

Performing regular maintenance on machinery and equipment not only prolongs its life and maintains its efficiency, but also reduces the probability of a malfunction which endangers health and safety (when this maintenance is performed by a suitably qualified technician of course).



Evaluation

Unfortunately some potential hazards may only become apparent after machinery has been operating for some time. For example, low-level but constant noise or vibrations may be causing health and wellbeing issues for staff members. There may also be slight amendments which can be enacted to further improve and refine efficiency. All of this makes evaluation a critical part of the change process.




Selected Courses

Please see below for a selection of health and safety courses and qualifications which you may be interested in:

NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH National Diploma in Occupational Health and Safety is the flagship NEBOSH qualification, and is the first UK vocational qualification to be developed specifically for health and safety professionals.

The NEBOSH National Diploma provides the core health and safety knowledge (transferable across industry, commerce and the public sector) which, combined with understanding and appropriate application, underpins the competent performance of an occupational health and safety practitioner.

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NEBOSH National General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety

The NEBOSH General Certificate is one of the most popular and widely-held health and safety qualifications in the UK. It is intended to be taken by managers, supervisors and any other employees who require an understanding of general health and safety issues.

The NEBOSH General Certificate covers the main legal requirements for health and safety in the UK, along with the identification and control of workplace hazards, and the practical application of this knowledge. The general content of the NEBOSH General Certificate syllabus means it is suitable and relevant for those working in virtually any industry, and is often used as a solid foundation for those going on to further study and specialising in a particular area such as construction site health and safety or fire safety.

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IOSH Managing Safely Course

The IOSH Managing Safely course is designed for managers and supervisors of organisations in virtually all industry sectors, in order to give them all they need to know to effectively manage health and safety in the workplace.

Recently updated, the new high impact programme covers key health and safety issues, and includes references to international case studies.

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CITB Site Management SMSTS Course

The Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) is one of the most popular health and safety training courses, and is intended for construction site managers, project managers and senior supervisors, as well as proprietors of smaller companies.

Client-based personnel would also benefit from attending the SMSTS course.

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CITB Health and Safety Awareness Course

This course is for those who have entered, or are about to enter, the construction and civil engineering industry as a member of the workforce to help them understand the potential hazards that they face at work on site. It aims to provide a practical summary of health and safety, welfare and environmental health and safety issues.

The course also allows delegates to identify their individual responsibilities for looking after themselves and others, what the employer's duties are and what should be done if they think anyone's health and safety is being put at risk.

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