After attending a meeting with the HSE last week we have been asked to encourage clients to take a look at the new Health & Safety Toolbox on the HSE website http://www.hse.gov.uk/
The HSE has been encouraged by Government to provide what it hopes is an easy to use information source that businesses can use to help manage their health & safety. It was indicated that unless your business is in a high risk sector then this may be all the input you can hope to receive from the HSE; unless they have reason to visit and then the advice will come at a price (see our FFI blogs).
At first glance the information is definitely kept down to the basics and should provide a good reference platform to low risk businesses. However, what concerns us is what if your business is not in the high risk or low risk category; where are you going to turn?
The website does point businesses to a range of alternatives of where they might seek competent advice, and does suggest things to consider before determining who is best placed to assist your business. It also provides examples of good and bad advice – which we would recommend you take a look at.
We would highly recommend taking references of competence because not all consultants are necessarily qualified or experienced to deliver what you may need. Take for example a case prosecuted recently where a Hampshire based company and its consultant has been fined after two workers severed fingers inside a guillotine – in two separate incidents.
The HSE found the machine had not been properly guarded at the front and had no guards to the rear of the guillotine and the consultant had failed to point this out in the risk assessment he had done. Both parties pleaded guilty; the company was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £20,358 in costs and the consultant was fined £700 with £4,000 in costs.
As the inspector investigating the case commented it is important to get health and safety advice from someone with relevant competence, experience and expertise. So in future be wary of who you ask to help.