Written by David Lummis CEO of the British Safety Industry Federation 2011/12David Lummis, CEO of the British Safety Industry Federation, reviews this key area and the challenges it faces over the coming year
The world of health and safety can be a bewildering area with a plethora of regulations and responsibilities to consider. The remit of the British Safety Industry Federation is to offer advice and guidance to organisations and individuals regarding the correct choice, implementation and use of safety equipment.
Formed in 1994, the BSIF is the leading trade body within the safety industry and a Health and Safety Executive-recognised competent authority. By working with key authorities in the health and safety industry, the BSIF is able to help shape and influence practices in this sector. The BSIF boasts over 160 members including manufacturers, distributors, test houses, certification bodies, safety professionals and service providers, all of whom are striving to make the workplace safer.
The Federation aims to represent and support suppliers of safety products and services across all aspects of safety legislation and standards, as well as other major occupational safety issues. The Federation also has active links with a number of government departments and more than 120 representative trade bodies.
Why is this work important?
The past year has seen a storm of activity in the health and safety industry, with a range of consultations and reports being published, all with the overarching aim to drive the industry forward. Over the coming year, the eyes and ears of the H&S industry will continue to fix on the Government as it firms up new plans and procedures to support the advancement of health and safety.
The FM industry will be affected directly or indirectly by all of the following:
Common Sense, Common Safety
In October 2010, the Lord Young review of health and safety, ‘Common Sense, Common Safety’, was published. This report, commissioned by the Prime Minister, made recommendations for improving the way health and safety is applied.
The report touched on many matters that needed to be addressed and the BSIF is confident its common sense approach will help to overcome some of the problems currently faced in the marketplace. However, with Lord Young’s exit as a Government adviser in November 2010, it was imperative that the Government continued to drive forward the recommendations in his report. This is of course vital to ensure that the sector’s reputation continues to improve year on year and those who are at risk are properly protected.
The Department for Work and Pensions’ Minister for Employment, the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, has now taken over the lead in coordinating the Government’s implementation of the Lord Young report and will be deciding further action to implement to help ‘reduce red tape’, as it was described. At the time of writing, many of the Lord Young recommendations are now either in final stages of implementation or are being developed. These include: refocusing the inspection regime, eliminating cowboys in the industry, simplifying health and safety for low risk organisations and carrying out an independent review of all current UK health and safety. Overall, the tone was based upon the Government wishing to ‘lighten the load’, reducing ‘red tape’ and refocusing Health and Safety Executive activities.
The Lofstedt review
As part of the Government’s plans to reform Britain’s H&S system, the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP commissioned an independent review of health and safety legislation to be chaired by Professor Ragnar Lofstedt. The results of the report are to be published in Autumn 2011.
The review will consider the opportunities for reducing the burden of H&S legislation on UK businesses whilst maintaining the progress made in improving health and safety outcomes. Throughout the consultation period of the review, Professor Lofstedt will be gathering feedback from a range of key stakeholders, and the Federation is involved in this process.
A big step in the right direction
In March 2011, the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register (OSHCR), www.oshcr.org, opened. The register has been set up by the professional bodies representing general safety and occupational health consultants across Britain, with support from the HSE. The BSIF, together with 11 other bodies, has been involved with the register’s development from the beginning and will continue its involvement during the scheme’s development. To date, we are delighted that the OSHCR has had such a good response with over 2,000 consultants already signed up. This register provides the perfect way to highlight good health and safety consultants and will allow the continuous flow of well balanced and sensible advice to be dispensed to businesses that need H&S guidance.
Taking a stand on fake personal protective equipment
A particular focus of the BSIF is to try to stamp out the selling of illegal and counterfeit personal protective equipment (PPE) that daily endangers lives in the workplace. The Federation is calling upon individuals working in the profession to ensure that quality CE approved PPE is used, thereby protecting lives.
The BSIF introduced the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme in 2009 which allows members to identify themselves as having made a formal declaration that they are selling only products which are genuine and legal. This declaration is, as a condition of the scheme, audited through special provisions set out within the company’s ISO9001 Certification. Under the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme, this independent audit is one of the key requirements to verify conformance. The BSIF actively promotes this scheme to its members and encourages end users to look for the shield to guarantee compliance, performance and quality. The Registered Safety Supplier Scheme acts as a signpost for people to ensure that they can buy from a reputable company which they can trust to supply genuine legal products and provide good advice.
Campaigning to make a better environment for the workforce
As well as supporting and representing its members, the BSIF is actively involved in a number of campaigns aimed at improving occupational safety. The Federation is, for example, working with the HSE and other leading safety organisations to raise awareness of specific issues among end users of safety products. The work being carried out in this area will be pivotal for facilities managers, as often the workforce in this sector are significant end users of safety products.
As one example of this in action, in May 2009, as part of the BSIF established relationship with the HSE, a joint initiative was launched entitled ‘Clean Air? Take Care!’. This respiratory campaign aims to help reduce occupational respiratory disease by raising awareness of the issues that surround it. Employees have a right to be aware of the potential dangers that they face in their workplace and to be given the opportunity to protect themselves adequately; employers have a legal obligation to ensure that their workforce is protected. The ‘Clean Air? Take Care!’ campaign is helping to increase awareness, highlight the problems and promote sensible solutions for respiratory protection. Through a range of national activities and educational seminars, Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) users, employers, fit testers and advisors have been targeted with simple information on the correct selection, deployment, use, maintenance and storage of RPE.
This campaign is run beside the ‘Fit2Fit RPE Fit Test Providers Accreditation Scheme’ that highlights the need for RPE to be fitted properly after it emerged that many worker’s RPE does not offer the correct level of protection. The goal of this accreditation scheme is to significantly reduce the incidence of occupational respiratory injury by providing a practical assessment of technical competence.
Here, and elsewhere, the world of health and safety is evolving – and with this change comes the need for adaptation and awareness. Facilities managers often have a responsibility for the health and safety of the workforce – and therefore know that being not only vigilant and aware but making progressive steps to ensure their welfare is vital.
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