5 October 2016 saw the Derbyshire branch return for the fifth annual health & safety conference at the Proact Stadium in Chesterfield. The event began with a welcome introduction from Chair of the Derbyshire Branch, John McGough, followed by a statistics/QNJAC update by Roy Bush.Roy Bush began with some good news. The industry saw an 86% reduction in accident rates between 2000 and 2010. That being said, in the last six years performance appears to have peaked, and when you take into account the 30% contraction the industry suffered in the recession, there is in fact a slight increase in accidents. Roy emphasised the importance of breaking through this plateau to move forward in our quest to zero harm, and encouraged the audience to utilise the new QNJAC guidance for 2016. Highlights include: a point of delivery check sheet for delivery drivers, this identifies site conditions and rates them red, amber or green. Also, new welfare facilities guidance for contractors and toolbox talks relating to blasting fumes and explosives handling. All of which can be found on the QNJAC smart phone app, so get downloading!
Next, Retired HSE inspector Richard Noble shared his experiences with the audience with his presentation ‘Reflections of my Employment with the HSE’. Richard’s career spans across five decades, and a wide range of roles including Road Supervisor in Manchester, Quarry Manager at various sites in the Midlands, Works Manager of Shelton Steelworks in Stoke, and Quarry Inspector.
During his time as a Quarry Inspector Richard took part in the first successful disqualification of a Chalk Quarry director who continuously defied HSE and court instruction. As well as arranging the first safety seminar between the quarry inspectorate and quarry owners, which became the foundation for the health & safety conferences we hold today.
Alan Millband of Howes Percival LLP followed with ‘Health and Safety Sentencing – the Definitive Guideline’, a review of the definitive sentencing guideline which came into practice February this year. The new regime is more structured and consistent, and is driven by the potential harm and risk of a case as opposed to the previous version which focused more on the outcome. In addition to this, there is now offence categories dependant on severity, and once determined, courts refer to tables to identify the range and starting point of the fine. These tables vary according to an organisations size and particular attention is paid to annual turnover. This account information must be disclosed, and failure to do so will push the courts to work off the table scale. Overall, fines will be higher with the new guidelines and will punish organisations a lot more.
After coffee, Steve Parfitt of Mentor Training Solutions demonstrated the ‘Holistic Approach’ to plant operator training and competency. Beginning with some eye-opening mobile plant MPA statistics from 2014 – 2015 which showed 203 lost days from LTI’s caused by improper operation of mobile plant. Steve then looked at operator selection, and asked the audience about the age limit for young people operating mobile plant. Everyone was surprised to know there is no legal limit, and selection criteria should take account of inexperience, degree of exposure to physical risk, and the type and size of plant being operated. Another fact ‘a large portion of mobile plant incidents are due to poor supervision’ stressed the importance of competent supervision as highlighted in regulation 9 of the quarry regulations. Lastly, for a safer, competent operator, employers should ensure correct operator selection, training, assessment, and supervision. This will create a safer workforce that benefits everyone.
Roy Bush returned to the stage for ‘Helping Great Britain Work Well’ which consisted of the HSE’s new 10 goal strategy and how they linked in with the quarrying industry. Fortunately, QNJAC has already tackled most of these, but we need to focus on the core aims: building competence, involving workforces, creating healthier workplaces, and effective leadership. Roy highlighted that leadership is not just about rebranding managers with leader, and went on to quote General Mark Walsh – a retired US air force officer – ‘leadership is a gift given by those who follow, but you have to be worthy of it.’ An effective leader accepts fault, is positive, sees and develops potential, doesn’t hold grudges, and most important of all, is a title that must be earned. Organisations should be wary of this when selecting managers for the future.
The afternoon session kicked off with an energetic session from Juice Learning who burst into the room on a stretcher with their theatrical piece about a quarry worker injured at work and taken to hospital. Scott Worsfold – Senior Facilitator – introduced the team and set out the themes for the session: don’t walk by, leading safety, personal responsibility, and mind set for a world class safety culture. Juice Learning delivered these themes through their unique blend of interactive and theatrical learning techniques. Scott started by getting each table to discuss their worst safety experience and then asked everyone to vote on whether or not they think there is room to improve on their workplace health and safety culture. This was then reinforced by ‘who creates the culture?’ another theatrical piece about an operative leading safety in the workplace instead of his supervisor.
Afterwards, Scott asked the audience to stand if they ever push the speed limits on the motorway, and then asked for reasons why. This led onto how attitude influences our decision to break rules, whether it is overconfidence, recklessness, or complacency. The final performance ‘picking up the pieces’ cast a harsh light on the effects our attitudes and decisions have in the workplace. In this last piece, the operative who led the safety culture at the beginning was severely injured after his attitude towards safety had been negatively influenced by his supervisor, causing him to take a silly risk and ignore the rules.
After a huge round of applause for Juice Learning, John McGough brought the event to a close and thanked the venue staff, organisers, and presenters for their hard work in making the conference another success!