Importance of Backup Systems and Training in Health and Safety
Aside from health and safety training including courses such as the NEBOSH General Certificate which provides workers with knowledge pertaining to staying safe in a workplace, another key element of health and safety relies upon systems and controls. These can either take the form of automated systems which activate whenever they are called upon, relying on sensors and other inputs to recognise when parameters have changed to values outside of safe levels. When such detection occurs, safety features automatically activate and take appropriate action to either correct the levels back to acceptable amounts, or to take an action such as an auto shut down of a machine or process and then triggering an alarm for people to evacuate the area. The specific action which is taken will depend upon many factors including:
- Which value has been exceeded, as different circumstances will require a different response. For example, is the machine overheating? Losing power? Running out of fuel? Vibrating excessively?
- The potential danger of an incident. Will the machine simply stop working and can be restarted easily? Or could it explode and be a potential risk to life or cause serious injury?
- The substances or materials used. Would an incident simply cause a non-hazardous mess which just needs a quick sweeping up with a brush, or would it cause the release of highly toxic gases or chemicals which could not only have a devastating impact upon the health and wellbeing of all living creatures in the vicinity, but would also require complicated and expensive clean-up operations to make the area safe again.
- Proximity to certain areas. The location of the hypothetical incident may have some bearing on the potential severity of it, and the robustness of the control measures which need to be in place. For instance, is the site located near to a heavily populated area? Or next to land which has been designated as a highly-sensitive wildlife zone which can be strongly affected by any incident like a fire or accidental contamination of the land/water? Do workers need to acquire a NEBOSH Environmental Certificate or similar to be aware of how their actions in the workplace can affect the environment?
What About Back-up Systems?
For companies which depend upon automated systems to prevent incidents that can have major health and safety implications for both people and the environment, it will be highly beneficial to have back-up systems if possible which will take effect should the primary system fail for some reason. Although in many cases it will not be feasible or possible to have two safety systems in place for a process or piece of equipment, if it can be done then it should be so that the probability of an incident actually taking place is significantly reduced, as the likelihood of two safety mechanisms failing is far lower than just one.
Having back-up systems to complement the primary safety features, along with comprehensive health and safety training and courses for staff members to give them a high level of knowledge regarding working safely, can be a highly successful combination for preventing an accident or incident.