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Mobile Phones as Backup in a Health and Safety Incident


It will be virtually impossible to reduce the probability of an accident taking place all the way down to zero percent. Even with all of the health and safety training and safety procedures imaginable, in the vast majority of circumstances the likelihood will only be reduced rather than eliminated. This is because everything in life and a workplace has a potential for causing harm. Even those object/substances which are not considered hazardous to health at all could still kill in a high enough concentration or volume such as drinking too much water for example.

As a result, those companies which have rigorous safety controls, accident prevention systems in place and regularly provide thorough health and safety training to their employees still need to recognise the importance of having provisions in place should an accident or incident come to pass.

Telephoning the Emergency Services

One of the first things which needs to be done whenever an incident occurs that warrants it is to telephone the emergency services for an ambulance. A person's life or successful recovery may depend upon the time it takes for them to receive medical attention, so not only is it important to have qualified first aiders on site to provide assistance before the ambulance arrives to take the person to hospital, but it is crucial to call the emergency services as speedily as possible.

As part of the emergency plan, health and safety managers need to take into account how the emergency services will be alerted, and is usually considered when thinking about possible issues such as not having lone workers working in high risk areas/activities so that there is always somebody else to call for help should a person get into difficulties. In decades gone by, the only way to do this was through a landline telephone, and many emergency calls are still made on landlines. However, it should be considered that in an incident such as a serious fire or explosion, that either the telephone cable could be damaged - thus rendering the telephone out of action - or that people may not be able to get into the room where the telephone is situated.

To combat this threat, it would be a good idea for a company to have mobile phones available which could be used in the event of an emergency when an individual is unable to use or get to a landline phone. Although a lot of workers are allowed to have theirs with them at work, many organisations do not allow their employees to have their phones with them during working hours. This is either from a productivity point of view, to prevent time wasting through texting friends, playing games or browsing social media accounts on them, or because the phone itself can cause a danger in their particular working environment (more on this described below). Having mobile phones situated at various points around the site would provide an extra layer of security in terms of there being some way of calling the emergency services no matter what the situation.

Potential Issues with Mobile Phones

There are however a couple of issues regarding the use of mobile phones for contacting the emergency services. One is that, amazingly, network coverage and signal strength are still patchy in the United Kingdom despite the technology being around for about a quarter of a century, with many rural locations (and even some built-up areas) suffering from this problem. If a person cannot get a signal when they need to make the call, then the mobile phone will be useless.

Secondly, as alluded to earlier, there will be some places of work where mobile phones can interfere with equipment or cause a potential incident themselves, and so are banned from the workplace. Examples of these include hospitals where the signal could interfere with medical equipment, and places such as petrol stations or chemical plants where the electromagnetic signal could cause an explosion/fire.

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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