Good health & safety management and vehicle maintenance should be easy

On Friday 27th January 2017, the owner of a haulage company and a mechanic were jailed after a 32-tonne truck with faulty brakes killed four people. The business owner and one of his staff with responsibility for vehicle maintenance were sentenced to a total of 12 years and 9 months in prison.

In his prosecution case, QC Adam Vaitilingam described the business as “a shambles from start to finish”.

Clearly there is no excuse for such poor business behavior. The fact that the two individuals were each found guilty of 4 counts of manslaughter highlights just how negligent their behavior was deemed to be. Arguably no amount of available support and advice would have kept the victims of this tragedy safe, such was the lack of care shown. But for most small to medium sized businesses there really is no excuse not to take the essential steps necessary to protect staff, members of the public and the reputation of the business itself.

With the development of web-based systems, there has been a significant development in the availability of simple, easy to access, online services and support when it comes to health and safety and vehicle/equipment maintenance. The Health & Safety Executive http://www.hse.gov.uk/ has heaps of information available to help business owners and managers. BusinessBlocs was created out of a desire to make such activities really straightforward for business owners. Find below links to 3 x essential tools:

  1. Method Statements and Health & Safety Risk Assessments
  2. Vehicle service reminder tool

For further reading on this topic check out:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-38774080

https://www.dwf.law/news-events/legal-updates/2014/09/case-studies-custodial-sentences-for-health-and-safety-breaches/

Oscars 2017 – PwC blunder

What a week it has been for Hollywood. Oscars 2017 will forever be remembered as the night that the film community went “La La” after accountants and management consultancy firm PwC managed to screw up the simple task of handing over an envelope to Warren Beatty.

But, tragic as this might have seemed, especially for the cast and crew of La La Land who having been announced winners had to hand over their golden statue to their colleagues from the film Moonlight, it’s really nothing compared to the poor people who worked on film sets in the post was era. Most people will remember The Wizard of Oz. Some may also remember the scene in which Dorothy an her companions, having been placed under a sleep spell by the Wicked Witch, began getting snowed on whilst lying unconscious. In another film of that era, Holiday Inn starring Bing Crosby ended with snow falling all around as Bing sang White Christmas.

Asbestos snow in popular use

The snow effects in both films were in fact created by showering the cast with chrysotile asbestos fibres, which resembles snow and was often used in those days not only on movie sets and in theatres but in department stores and even in private homes. From the mid 1930s through to the 1950s, asbestos was seen as a very versatile and harmless substance, it was also very cheap!

However as we now know, asbestos is far from harmless. The shocking truth of just how dangerous can be brought home by comparing fatalities from different causes.

UK deaths from asbestos

Traffic fatalities UK – 2015. There were 1,732 reported road deaths in 2015, a decrease of 2% compared with 2014. This is the second lowest annual total on record after 2013. There were 45 per cent fewer fatalities in 2015 than a decade earlier in 2006. Much of this decrease can be put down to the range of inovations made by policy makers and vehicle designers/manufacturers in the intervening years, as well as actions taken by drivers themselves to reduce risks.

Fatalities at work UK – 2015. The figure of 144 worker deaths in 2015/16 is 7% lower than the average for the past five years (155). The latest rate of fatal injury of 0.46 compares to the five-year average rate of 0.52. Again it is possible to argue that this is the result of a whole range of health and safety related actions having been taken.

However, and here is the real Hollywood style shocker, fatalities due to asbestos related diseases UK are expected to be greater than 4,500. This figure continues to rise each year with the peak expected in the next 5 – 10 years.

This is where asbestos awareness comes in. Every employer must make sure that anyone who is liable to disturb asbestos during their normal work, or who supervises those employees, gets the correct level of information, instruction and training so that they can work safely and competently without risk to themselves or others.

Don’t let your staff become the victims of an avoidable tragedy. Get asbestos aware. Use the BusinessBlocs Health and Safety and COSHH tools to help with your risk assessments and planning actions to avoid and/or mitigate risks.

Further reading

EM1 Asbestos Essentials: What to do if you uncover or damage materials that may contain asbestoshttp://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/guidance/em1.pdf

Face Fit Testing : Respiratory protective equipment at work http://www.hse.gov.uk/pUbns/priced/hsg53.pdf

5 tips for adding value to your construction business At BusinessBlocs we have studied many small and mid size firms working in the construction industry, from builders to electricians, plumbers to carpenters. We have discovered a number of features of businesses that manage to grow successfully and deliver more value for the owners:

Client communication Successful firms put their client at the centre of any project. They communicate their planned work clearly from the outset, throughout the work and importantly at the end of the project via a clear client ‘hand over’.

BusinessBlocs suite of branded client communications from start to finish in your project will keep your client informed and more importantly impressed.

Quality There is a clear difference between “cheap” and “value”. The successful firms separate themselves from “cheap” firms by delivering quality at every step of a project.

Project management In smaller growth firms, projects are too often run from one day to the next with insufficient planning.

The BusinessBlocs project tools help you to plan out projects as well as producing comprehensive briefing documents for staff, contractors and clients ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

Risks assessed and controlled With an ever enthusiastic Health & Safety Executive carrying out “spot checks” and clamping down on any H&S breaches (and of course issuing fines) there is a need to keep on top of risk assessment and management throughout projects. The best firms seem to make this seem easy, but in reality they are well organized.

BusinessBlocs project and risk assessment tools make these potentially onerous tasks easy to deliver, at the touch of a button, anytime and anywhere.

Staff excellence All the best firms have well trained, hard working, client friendly staff. They deliver what is expected when it is expected.

BusinessBlocs project and staff tools support everything from day to day management of the job to staff training and monitoring of any issues and incidents.

For further reading on subjects relating to quality management especially in relation to projects and health & safety check out the following:

HSE smaller firms case studies

http://www.hse.gov.uk/Construction/lwit/case-studies/index.htm

Who am I and where do I fit into the CDM 2015 Regulations?

The CDM 2015 Regulations place legal obligations on pretty much everyone involved in a construction project. These responsibilities essentially relate to ensuring that the health and safety of people involved in construction projects are well looked after.

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