Our MD was beaming like an idiot when he heard the facts from one of our sites in Leeds yesterday. “That is exactly what I’m talking about – great news” he said, when Surveyor Mike Duckett told him about what happened…. “Bloody marvelous”.
This was a result of a seemingly innocuous piece of news Bryan received. The facts were that two of our technicians (a sub contract technician and a direct employee) were working together on a commercial timber treatment and structural repair project in Leeds. The work involved repair and treatment to decayed timbers in a flat roof. When they arrived on site they noticed that there was an unprotected edge near where they would be working. This exposed them to a real risk of falling several meters onto exposed concrete. This was not mentioned in the risk assessment or method statement they signed onto, before arrival, because there was a fixed scaffold along that edge, when our surveyor originally surveyed the building – he assumed it would still be there.
This is a typical scenario for a serious accident – an apparently safe situation becomes potentially fatal, just by a change of circumstance. It’s why building a positive safety culture is essential and thankfully, our growing positive culture kicked in immediately.
The senior technicians on site used his point of work risk assessment (TASK card) to highlight the falls from height hazard, which wasn’t controlled. Work wasn’t started and he contacted our surveyor for advice. The main contractors’ site manager was immediately informed and he agreed to provide edge protection immediately. This was erected and work commenced safely.
A positive health and safety culture is when people act safely on their own initiative, even when working alone or when nobody is watching. It’s achieved by giving employees time and attention and leadership, so that they have the confidence and the knowledge to see danger and act on it without fear and with knowledge that their managers will always support them.
We have a weekly briefing every Friday morning. Health and safety is the first item on the agenda and Bryan was grinning like a cat as he relayed the situation to all the technicians. He dubbed Luke and Bob as health and safety heroes, and they were given a round of applause for their actions. A few quid was handed over too, as Bryan wanted to buy them a drink this weekend.
As Bryan said to the lads this morning “I’m really proud that you did yourselves and each other a favour by watching out for this kind of thing, it shows that the message is getting through and that we all know it’s not only acceptable to raise these issues, but encouraged and rewarded. Thank you – we are all laughing and happy, but what would our mood be like now, if one of us or another contractor had fallen over that edge?
Of course health and safety costs a company time and money – it is time and money well spent.