Friday 21 February 2014

Drills And Hammers

Get used to seeing the new hazard symbols on the right

An interesting experience this week when I attended Hafal's one-day Health and Safety training course - compulsory for all staff so no wriggling out of this one. But it was actually very instructive and useful.

I was familiar with the information about our own policies and procedures - and so I should be obviously - but it was particularly valuable to hear staff talk about how they engage with health and safety day-to-day. I feel like we are doing reasonably well but it is a continuing journey and there is no end - it is just the nature of risk that there are always new ways to reduce it.

I was also interested to hear our H and S consultant Amanda Trimble talk about what she describes as her special obsession - asbestos.

Little wonder she is concerned about it. If I heard her right there are about 150 fatal accidents in work in the UK each year but about 8,000 deaths from work-related illnesses - and most of those are from asbestos.

If you don't know this already please don't bash about your house (or anybody else's) with drills and hammers etc (unless it was built after 1999) without establishing where the asbestos may be!


For a perspective on the UK's current rate of workplace fatalities consider the explosion in the Senghenydd Colliery on 14 October 1913 which killed 440 men and boys. The owner William Thomas Lewis, First Baron Merthyr, had failed to put a safety plan in place following an earlier disaster - and so was fined £10 (equivalent to fivepence halfpenny per death - about 2p in new money), not a lot even then.

The dead were in a way early casualties of the Great War which came the following year. The Royal Navy was desperate for Welsh steam coal to power their fleet in competition with Germany and the government saw mine safety as a distant second to productivity.