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New source for health and safety help

BCSA has launched a new subsidiary company designed to help members cope with growing health and safety regulatory requirements. A national network of advisers is already in place, as Nick Barrett explains.

A new health and safety service has been launched by the BCSA to provide members with broader and more in depth help with safety related matters. The service is available through a new BCSA subsidiary company – Safety in Steel Construction (S!SC) – and is aimed primarily at companies without a full time health and safety manager, providing them with the ‘competent person’ demanded by health and safety legislation.

A trial involving three BCSA member companies was successfully run in 2005 to provide the necessary in depth information needed to design the S!SC service.  ‘We wanted to be certain what the key issues would be for providing health and safety support above and beyond the level of support we ordinarily offer members,’ explains BCSA Health and Safety Manager Peter Walker. ‘We are normally only able to offer a relatively limited health and safety support to members but several had asked if more could be done, particularly to ensure that a competent person was available as required under legislation. Some also wanted practical help with implementing health and safety within workplaces.’

It is a requirement of the Health & Safety at Work Act that every employer appoints one or more competent persons to assist with the statutory requirements. Subscribing companies will be able to quote S!SC as their ‘Competent Safety Advisor’. Companies with their own existing in-house safety professional may also benefit from SiSC’s assistance and support. Subscribing companies may use the SiSC logo on their stationery and literature.

The BCSA has found that some companies need help with ensuring that all the relevant paperwork statutorily required is in place and that adequate monitoring and measuring of safety performance is carried out. The BCSA fears that there is a danger that companies could find themselves being prosecuted for technicalities, even though they are fully committed to health and safety. ‘A classic example of that would be not having a nominated competent person with the relevant education, experience or training,’ says Mr Walker,  ‘or using an external health and safety consultancy that does not fully understand the implications of some of the regulations as they apply to construction.’

The new service is available throughout the UK via a network of 24 regionally placed providers. The BCSA keeps them updated with background information on what is currently specifically affecting the industry, and on the latest good and bad practice issues.

Mr Walker said: ’The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) are currently working with the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) on a joint statement on ‘obtaining competent health & safety assistance’. The BCSA believes S!SC will ensure that the “competence” element of the service is provided and maintained. This issue of competence will also be re-emphasised in the requirements of the revised CDM Regulations to be released in April 2007.’

The existing health and safety service available to BCSA members through Mr Walker will continue, but much of his time is taken up on developing national policies for the industry in liaison with the Health and Safety Executive, and monitoring and advising members about regulatory and clients’ changing requirements.’

BCSA Director General Dr Tordoff said: ’This new service is not an intrusive external audit, but is a positive promotion of health & safety that can be used to the benefit of the whole of a company’s workforce. Further services are available from S!SC at additional charge, such as senior input to management meetings or liaison with clients, fast response to serious accidents, correspondence with HSE, contingency planning, training, etc.’

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