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Graham Hurdle blog: 13 July - Has Health & Safety gone mad?

Date: 13 July 2015

Graham Hurdle is managing director of E-Training World

There have been lots of examples of illogical health and safety over the years. Just recently I was told about a vessel in wet dock for repair, scaffolding had to be erected around part of the boat overhanging the water.

Divers were employed to be in the water should any workmen fall off the scaffolding, which seems sensible, however these divers were near scaffolding and as such under Health and safety rules they had to wear hard hats! What this must have looked like made me smile!

There are numerous other health and safety horrors if you look back over time. Yet, in reality health and safety is no laughing matter and I wonder where the fleet sector would be without it? Would companies be voluntarily risk assessing their drivers, providing training and having robust policies and procedures if the law wasn't breathing down company directors' necks?

Call me a purist, however, but I don't want companies to only implement risk management procedures to simply protect themselves from the law. The good news is that many businesses I meet are going beyond the basic requirement of compliance in the true spirit of what health and safety laws are designed for - and that is to offer employees a safe place to work and drive.

Sadly though I still come across others who see it as an inconvenience; red tape they could well do without.

To give you an example, I was at a large company a few years ago that was fined £50,000 for a faulty warehouse door that seriously injured a member of staff. I asked when they would change all the doors across their many warehouses, to which they replied that it was cheaper to take no action and pay the fine if it was to happen again. Sadly I've heard similar comments by a very small number of fleet operators over the years - i.e. that they either don't believe they will be prosecuted in the event of a serious accident or will gamble on paying a fine if they are.

'Show me a company that has been prosecuted and then I may take some action', was a comment from one person who you'll be surprised to hear we never worked with!

The point is we need to promote health and safety as a positive aspect of everyone's work lives - not imply its ridiculous, intrusive or a barrier to doing business.

Sell the benefits, the positive impact it has on a company's brand, reputation as an employer, and how reducing accidents and injuries is great for increasing profitability and cutting costs.

That's what we do at E-Training World. And I believe the level of investment in safe driving at work will carry on growing if that positive message continues to be reinforced throughout the fleet sector.