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Louise Ward

Mental health

OSH champions

Siemens Mobility’s health, safety and environment director

Dutch research project explores the value of work

Winners at the Food & Drink Health and Safety Awards 2019

Safety, health and wellbeing in the world of work

January 2020

TRIGGER POINT Exposure to harmful material is taking a psychological toll on online content moderators

00 Front Cover_January 2020_IOSH Cov1

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Less haste more safety

The consequences of rushing health and safety training can be fatal. So Managing Safely takes exactly the right amount of time to get participants up to speed. That’s why our three day health and safety course is the most popular for line managers, in any sector, worldwide.

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Comment Louise Ward Siemens Mobility’s health, safety and environment director

Mental health

OSH champions

Dutch research project explores the value of work

Winners at the Food & Drink Health and Safety Awards 2019

Safety, health and wellbeing in the world of work

January 2020

TRIGGER POINT Exposure to harmful material is taking a psychological toll on online content moderators

Official magazine of

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is the world’s leading professional body for people responsible for safety and health in the workplace.

Published by Redactive Publishing Ltd Level 5, 78 Chamber Street, London E1 8BL +44 (0) 20 7880 6200 Acting editor


hen you pick up this issue of IOSH Magazine in the first week of January, it will not only be the start of a brand new year but also the dawning of a new decade. I wonder what the future holds in store.

Nick Warburton +44 (0) 20 7324 2725 Deputy Editor Kellie Mundell Senior Designer Joe McAllister Sub Editor Rhiannon White Advertising Display sales +44 (0) 20 7880 7613 Recruitment sales +44 (0) 20 7880 7662 Advertisement production Rachel Young +44 (0) 20 7880 6209 Publishing director Aaron Nicholls Redactive aims to provide authoritative and accurate information at all times. Its publications are, however, for guidance only and are not an official information source. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical or otherwise, without the prior written consent of the publisher and editor. For changes to your address, please contact IOSH membership team on or 0116 257 3198. ISSN 2396-7447

© IOSH 2020

IOSH Magazine is printed by ISO 14001 certified printers and despatched in oxo-degradable polywrap. Printed by Warners Midlands plc, The Maltings, Manor Lane, Bourne, PE10 9PH

Looking back, it is interesting to see how much the world of work has changed over the past ten years. The continued and rapid growth in globalisation over this time has certainly left its mark on the modern workplace, shaping not only employment patterns and rights but also driving (as well as being driven by) astounding technological advances. It was Klaus Schwab, executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, who used the phrase the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ in 2015 to describe the dramatic rise in a new wave of transformative technologies, which includes robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), nanotechnology, the internet of things and fully autonomous vehicles. As these advances become embedded in our everyday lives, the world as we know it will vanish in the rear view mirror. The huge potential for these technologies to enhance our lives should not be underestimated but nor should their capacity to potentially cause significant disruption. Like the industrial revolution in the 1800s, there will understandably be concerned voices over the direction of travel, with fears about the negative impact on jobs and insecure employment. For future OSH leaders, one of the challenges will be how to effectively manage the risks associated with these advances and try to ensure they have a largely positive influence on the world of work. In December’s issue, Bridget Leathley, health and safety consultant and a regular IOSH Magazine contributor, illustrated how this could happen in practice with her presentation on robots at the inaugural future leaders conference. Drawing on examples where robots had been used

to carry out essential tasks in hazardous environments, she showed how robotic technology could remove humans from exposure to the related risks, thereby freeing them up for other important tasks and improving productivity. The potential for technology to remove humans from some hazardous environments covers not only safety but also extends to health, including mental health. As our cover feature on online content moderation explains (see p 18), although companies do use their own algorithms to identify and remove ‘inappropriate’ content automatically, AI is not sophisticated enough to make judgements about whether this content is suitable for public consumption. This means a growing number of human content moderators are being employed to review and assess online content, which includes exposure to graphic violence, hate speech and disturbing sexual imagery. This in turn raises serious questions about the training and psychological support that companies offer to these individuals to safeguard their physical and mental health. As the November issue’s cover feature on modern slavery underlined, all of us need to be vigilant about possible labour exploitation, whatever form it takes. Unless we take firm action to stamp out poor practices, we risk ending the next decade where we started.

Nick Warburton Acting editor

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Contents January 2020 In focus

p4 pXX


News 4

Highways sector falling XXX short on mental health XXX

A third of highways sector not tackling mental ill health, report reveals Derbyshire County Council’s £500,000 fine follows death of care home resident

31% of respondents to the Safer Highways’ mental health survey report said they did not have a mental health strategy in place



Hampshire County Council must pay £1.4m over child’s bollard injury


Halfords ‘misled council’ over unsafe stock levels



Halfords in court for pXX misleading council XXX

Bike retailer must pay more than £200,000 XXX after a set of heavy boxes fell on a staff member, pinning him against a wall

Skip hire firm boss banned after second safety conviction



pXX p24 XXX

Tideway incident lands Thames Water with £300,000 fine


Leader interview


Louise Ward explains how individual small-scale participation can bring about revolutionary change in OSH standards


Value of work Encouraging employees to rediscover and focus on what motivates them at work can help reduce the risk of mental ill health

IOSH News 10 IOSH urges new government to provide health and safety assurance for the 2020s


Case study: how safety and health training is helping Samworth Brothers enhance careers

Swiss Network sees inner workings of International Labour Organization

New mentoring platform to help OSH professionals give and receive support

IOSH at 75

SAF€RA call for research proposals

‘Shining the light’ on the future of OSH in West Africa

IOSH-funded research wins award


12 No Time to Lose presented at the World Health Organization NTTL Asbestos at industry conferences New Research Advisory Group EU-OSHA’s next campaign: musculoskeletal disorders

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Features 18 Behind the screen

Employers can take proactive steps to safeguard online content moderators from the risks associated with viewing harmful material

24 Straight talking

Siemens’ OSH head Louise Ward explains how its Talk to Me programme has transformed safety at the transport engineering company

32 The power of conversation

Supporting staff with poor mental health helps keep those employees in work, an IOSH-funded research study reveals


36 Recipes for success

What the winner and two runners-up at last year’s food & drink health and safety awards did to impress the judges

47 Close calls

How organisations that focus on high potential events can significantly improve their safety performance

Regulars 7




Chris Burrow Tech IOSH

15 Events 16 Reviews

7 Insights into Safety Leadership

51 Lexicon

V is for violation

52 Off duty

Mark Pavey, process safety development manager, Cameron/Schlumberger and paramotor pilot

53 Recruitment

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For the latest IOSH news and views, visit

A third of highways sector not tackling mental ill health, report reveals Results from the first industry benchmarking exercise against the Thriving at Work Report standards have found that less than two-thirds of businesses in the highways sector are routinely monitoring their workforce’s mental health and wellbeing. process; and ensure provision of tailored in-house mental health support and signposting to clinical help.

31% of respondents do not have a mental health strategy

awareness among employees; encourage open conversations about mental health and available support; provide good working conditions and ensure employees have a healthy work-life balance; promote effective people

management through line managers and supervisors and monitor employee mental health and wellbeing; increase transparency and accountability through internal and external reporting; demonstrate accountability; improve the disclosure

£500,000 fine follows death of care home resident Derbyshire County Council has appeared in court after a pensioner died following multiple falls. Audrey Allen, 80, died in hospital a month after repeatedly falling at the Grange Care Home in Eckington in March 2016. At Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court, Derbyshire County Council admitted failing to provide safe care and treatment. Ms Allen, a former nurse, fell while in a communal area at the home and the staff moved her to her bed. Though she reported pain in her left side, no medical advice was sought. She had sustained rib fractures, which lacerated

one of her lungs, leading to a haemorrhage. No assessment of the pensioner’s needs had been carried out by staff and no measures had been put in place to protect her, despite her being a high-risk resident. There was also a shortage of senior staff due to restructuring by the council. Judge Jonathan Taaffe said the fine would have been higher had the authority not entered an early guilty plea, and questioned how it could have been allowed to happen at a care

The survey also found that 31% of respondents do not have a mental health strategy in place, while almost a fifth admitted to not providing employees with good working conditions to ensure they have a healthy work-life balance. A third of participants said their organisation does not have a health and wellbeing lead at board or senior leadership level. Collectively the highways sector, through principal and tertiary contractors, employs almost a quarter of a million people - most of whom are men. Statistically, one-in-four men will suffer some form of mental illness in their lives. To read the full story:

home rated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) as ‘good’. The prosecution is the first the CQC has brought against a local authority since it was given powers to prosecute health and social care providers for failing to provide safe care and treatment back in 2015. A spokesperson for the council said it had reviewed and revised its falls policy.

Audrey Allen repeatedly fell at the care home

Images: iStock/Family photo

The Thriving at Work Mental Health Survey Report, published last month by Safer Highways, has revealed that just five of the 100 organisations that have completed its benchmarking exercise since the survey’s launch in June 2019 are working towards meeting any of the ten standards set out in the Thriving at Work Report. Only four are meeting one. The independent review, published in 2017 and led by Lord Dennis Stevenson and Paul Farmer, chair of the National Health Service (NHS) Mental Health Taskforce, found that poor mental health costs employers up to £42bn a year with an annual cost to the UK economy of £99bn. The review set out a framework for all UK employers, regardless of their size or industry, to improve workplace mental health. These ‘core standards’ are: implement a mental health at work plan; develop mental health

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In Short

Hillsborough police chief cleared of manslaughter Match commander David Duckenfield has been found not guilty of gross negligence manslaughter over the 1989 Hillsborough disaster. The former South Yorkshire police chief superintendent, 75, was cleared after a seven-week retrial at Preston Crown Court. The defence said that Duckenfield, who was brought in as match day commander three weeks before the FA Cup semi-final, should not be judged by 2019 standards of policing at football events.

NZ worker paralysed A New Zealand construction company has been prosecuted after a worker who was installing attic trusses in a residential property was left permanently paralysed from the chest down after falling 2 m and landing on his head. WorkSafe’s chief inspector Hayden Mander said Build Northland, which had been employed to install roof trusses in the property’s garage, had identified the hazard and risk of working at height, but did not provide the equipment required to safely carry out the installation.

Council must pay £1.4m over child’s bollard injury Hampshire County Council has been sentenced after a six-year-old girl was injured while playing on a street bollard that had been secured with cable ties. Bournemouth Crown Court was told that the victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was attempting to leapfrog the 0.9 m bollard at the bottom of Quay Hill in Lymington, Dorset on 28 December 2015 when it collapsed. She hit her head in the fall and sustained a fractured skull. The youngster, who was on holiday with her family, was rushed to Southampton General Hospital and spent six months undergoing surgery and rehabilitation. She still requires care and the extent of her brain injury will not be fully known until her brain has matured. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found reports showing that road chiefs at Hampshire County Council had been warned about the bollard’s safety on 15 December, less than two weeks before the incident. Though Quay Hill is a cobbled street, the route is accessed by vehicles. Hampshire County Council manages it as the highways authority. Highways engineer Colin Hibberd visited the site six days later and reported that, although he found the bollard to be damaged, he did not think the work was urgent enough to warrant

immediate repair, and did not class it as a “safety defect”. The court was told how inspectors determine the seriousness of issues using their training and aptitude, and check their process against a Hampshire County Council handbook they carry. Hibberd had reported the bollard had two plastic ties on it when he attended the scene and carried out his inspection. He also told the court that he pushed against the bollard to check its resistance to movement and “it was clear it was stable”. Hibberd concluded that it was not a safety issue and logged it on the council’s system as a job that needed “further inquiry”. The highways engineer told the court that he then raised the bollard to its normal height because leaving it on the ground would have created a potential trip hazard. However, experts in the trial agreed the “main lump” of the bollard weighed around 63 kg and that using cable ties to secure it was an “inadequate control”. Hampshire County Council was found guilty of breaching s 3(1) of Health and Safety at Work Act and was fined £1.4m plus costs of £130,632. HSE inspector Angela Sirianni said: “Councils have a duty to adequately assess and control risks to members of the public from street furniture. A child has been left with lifechanging injuries as a result of what was an easily preventable incident. Council inspections failed to identify this risk over a long period of time and then, when alerted to the damage to the bollard, failed to take the urgent action required to prevent injury.”

Images: PA/HSE

£150k fine for unsafe stacks The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has prosecuted plastic packaging manufacturer Sirap UK over the unsafe stacking of flexible intermediate bulk containers after a worker was injured at the firm’s County Durham site. A reversing forklift truck hit a bulk bag – which weighed about a tonne – causing it to fall on an employee, who was left with several fractures to their pelvis and legs.

The cobbled street is accessed by vehicles

The bollard was not secure

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Bike retailer Halfords has been ordered to pay more than £200,000 after a set of heavy boxes collapsed onto a staff member, pinning him against a wall and leaving him with a suspected cracked rib. Blackburn Magistrates’ Court was told that, on 11 December 2016, an employee working at the Mariners Way, Preston branch was asked by the store manager to start moving a variety of sizes of boxed bikes from the ‘goods in’ area to another location upstairs so they could be assembled. There were 72 boxes and each one weighed between 10 and 20 kg, and had been stacked two or three boxes high on their narrow ends. While removing a boxed bike from the stack, some of the boxes toppled forwards onto other boxes causing a domino effect. The worker was trapped before he managed to call a colleague who helped free him. Preston City Council revealed that there was a number of breaches, including failing to undertake a risk assessment for

CCTV shows stacks of bikes

The injured man pinned against the wall

stacking boxed bikes; failing to provide employees with appropriate training in relation to boxed bikes; and failing to adequately control and manage the stock of boxed bikes. The council also found that the store was overstocked by 91 bikes and the bike storage areas were overcrowded. The council told the court that its inspectors were misled by Halfords – the retailer told them that this was an isolated incident, but further enquiries found it had failed to learn lessons from previous similar

Skip hire firm boss banned after second safety conviction The boss of a skip hire firm who was prosecuted after an employee was crushed to death by a skid steer loader has been banned from being a company director after more safety breaches were discovered at a new business that he set up in the unit next door. Zafir Mohammed was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for a second time after HSE inspector Stephen Boyd visited 1First Choice Skip Hire in Blackburn in October 2017. No welfare facilities had been provided for staff, who were found working in a fire-damaged portion of the main building where they

ran the risk of being hit by falling materials. Boyd also found a telehandler with no wing mirrors, faulty brake lights and signs of crash damage. The court was told that in August 2010, one of Mohammed’s employees, 21-year-old Amin Qabil, from Afghanistan, was crushed to death by a skid steer loader as he moved rubbish around the site. The company was fined £60,000. The HSE found the firm had bought the second-hand skid steer loader at an auction, but did not ensure its safety features were working correctly. The restraint bar had been disabled, so the controls could still be operated when no

incidents at its Hemel Hempstead, Letchworth Garden City and Blackburn stores and had failed to implement recommended control measures. The retailer – which has more than 460 stores employing about 8,000 staff – was fined £200,000 for breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. Speaking on behalf of Preston City Council, Craig Sharp, chief environmental health officer, said the council was pleased that the high fine reflected the seriousness of the case. “Undertaking risk assessments and implementing robust training measures for staff should be priorities for all businesses,” he added. “It is particularly important that retailers carefully control their stock levels during this busy festive period and ensure back-of-house storage areas are not over-stocked and hazardous.”

To read the full story:

one was sitting in the cab. The minimum engine speed had been increased, and a fault meant the vehicle could reverse unexpectedly. The HSE had to take further enforcement action in 2017 after Mohammed allowed the continued use of the same seriously damaged machine on the waste transfer site. According to the Lancashire Telegraph, judge Robert Altham disqualified him from being a company director for five years in light of the latest HSE probe. Mohammed and 1First Choice, of which he was sole director, pleaded guilty under s 37 to breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. He was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to carry out 190 hours community service with six rehabilitation activity days.

In Short Bosses ignored consultants’ advice over Legionella risk Two men who ran a plastics manufacturing firm in Birmingham have been sentenced to serve 12 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, for exposing employees and local hospital patients to Legionella bacteria. Kulwant Singh Chatha and partner Satpaul Kaur Chatha of Isher Hangers ignored concerns raised by their own water treatment consultant over the Legionella risks in a cooling tower at their business premises, which was near two hospitals.

Director sentenced after brother’s fatal fall The director of a solar panel company has been sentenced to a 12-month community order to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work after his brother’s fatal fall from height. Worcester Crown Court heard that, on 9 December 2015 during installation of solar panels on the roof of a barn in Hereford, Stephen Webb fell about 7 m through a fragile roof ridge panel to the ground below, sustaining fatal injuries. The company was fined £80,000.

Community service for painter and decorator The boss of a painting and decorating firm has been handed a 12-month community order after a worker was paralysed when he fell from height. Ian Ramsay’s employee was installing a roof ladder on the pitched roof to paint dormer windows when he fell, but HSE investigators said the work should have been done using appropriate work platforms.

Images: Preston City Council/HSE

Halfords ‘misled council’ over unsafe stock levels

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Chris Burrow Tech IOSH OSH content developer, IOSH Human beings are the only species that make a conscious decision to miss out on sleep because we don’t see it as being a productive use of our time. If something has to be sacrificed in our hectic lives, it tends to be a good night’s sleep. Yet getting the right amount of sleep is fundamentally important for our general wellbeing, our psychological and physiological health and consequently our safety. OSH professionals should take note because our attitudes towards sleep and how our employers approach this essential activity requires us to change our thinking.

Tideway incident lands Thames Water with £300,000 fine Thames Water Utilities has been prosecuted after three workers were carried along a sewer when a 150-year-old sewer gate collapsed. On 29 August 2017 three workers were carrying out preparatory work in a sewer for the Thames Tideway Tunnel at east Greenwich. A 150-year-old cast iron penstock failed, engulfing the workers and carrying them along the sewer. Westminster Magistrates’ Court was told that the three workers who sustained minor physical injuries have been mentally affected. One worker has been treated for long-term traumatic stress because of the incident, which has prevented him from continuing work in his specialised career. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that Thames Water Utilities had planned individual work activities but failed to properly coordinate these as the permission and authorisation system was fragmented. The company had no effective means of collating, comparing and adapting to the impact of multiple work activities.

Due to an unrelated planned power outage, sewage pumps vital to the control of sewage levels for the work being undertaken at east Greenwich were not available for use, which resulted in the failure. Thames Water Utilities admitted breaching reg 3(1)(b) of the Confined Spaces Regulations and was fined £300,000 plus costs of £16,419. “This serious incident endangered the lives of three workers and caused lasting adverse mental health effects; the workers narrowly avoided death by drowning in sewage,” said HSE inspector James Goldfinch, speaking after the hearing. “It should serve as a warning and a reminder to all those that work in confined spaces that work in these challenging environments must be properly planned, coordinated and managed.” To read the full story:

Sleep loss can have catastrophic effects on our bodies. Take the impact on the cardiovascular system. In the US, when clocks go forward during springtime and people have one less hour of sleep, there is a 24% increase in heart attacks (plus a spike in road traffic accidents and suicide rates) the next day ( There is also a 21% decrease in heart Our bodies are ‘paying attacks (and other healththe price’ from a lack of related incidents) when clocks go back, and an extra sleep and the effects are reflected in the workplace hour of sleep is gained during the autumn. The impact of these changes on our bodies demonstrates how important sleep is for our health and how effectively we complete tasks. The immune system is also affected by fluctuations in sleep patterns. Lymphocytes (white blood cells) identify unwanted and harmful intruders in the body such as cancerous tumours and destroy them. When sleep is deprived, the number of these cells decrease. In fact, studies show that if you only manage four hours’ sleep at night the cell activity falls by an alarming 70% ( This illustrates the link between sleep deprivation and the risk of developing cancers. Sleep deprivation distorts genes within human deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). It impacts on gene activity, which shapes the immune system and leads to poorer health. Surprisingly, some genes become more active, but these are associated with the advancement of tumours, chronic bodily inflammation, cardiovascular disease and stress ( Disrupted sleep patterns can also lead to (or make worse) mental ill-health symptoms such as depression or anxiety. Poor sleep is also linked with the development of Alzheimer’s, obesity and diabetes ( To put it bluntly: the shorter your sleep, the shorter your life expectancy is likely to be. Sleep is also crucial for learning and memory consolidation. When we manage to gain a ‘full’ night’s sleep, our brain is able to process and retain new information more successfully. This essential activity is disrupted when people are deprived of sleep. As a result, anything new that has been learned is less likely to be committed to memory. Humans also need enough sleep to help prepare the brain so it can process effectively. The level of sleep deprivation in society is unprecedented. Our bodies are ‘paying the price’ from a lack of sleep and the effects are reflected in the workplace. Employers could do a lot more to raise awareness. With employers emphasising the importance of getting enough sleep among staff, employees will improve their concentration and attention levels, which in turn will lead to better decisions and, in turn, improved production. We should all remember that sleep is a nonnegotiable and fundamental biological necessity.

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This sponsored content has been provided by Cedrec Information Systems, available at

Largest fine: Valero Energy pays out £5m after four killed in oil explosion In what amounted to the largest overall fine in 2019, Valero Energy UK and B&A Contracts were prosecuted after an explosion killed four workers and seriously injured another at an oil refinery in Pembrokeshire, Wales in 2011. On 2 June 2011 five workers were emptying a tank in the Amine Recovery Unit using a vacuum tanker when the explosion and subsequent fire occurred. The blast resulted in a fireball, which severed the 5-tonne tank roof and projected it 55 m where it hit a nearby butane storage sphere. The roof narrowly missed a pipe track where a range of flammable materials were transported. B&A Contracts, a long-term contractor at the refinery, was carrying out the work with support from Hertel, another contractor. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the explosion was most likely to have been caused by the ignition of a highly flammable atmosphere in the tank. The incident took place during what should have been a routine emptying operation in preparation for further cleaning and maintenance.

The HSE also found that there had been longstanding failures in the refinery safety management systems. As a result, risks posed by flammable atmospheres within the unit were not controlled or understood. At the time of the incident, the refinery

was operated by Chevron, but ownership changed in August 2011 upon completion of the sale to Valero. Valero Energy UK pleaded guilty at Swansea Crown Court on 6 June 2019. It was fined £5m and ordered to pay £1m in costs. B&A Contracts also entered a guilty plea, and was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay £40,000 in costs. In applying the sentencing guidelines Mr Justice Lewis ruled that the culpability was high and the resulting harm category was the most serious at level 1. The difficulties came in categorising the size of the organisation. At the time of the incident, Chevron fell under the category of a very large organisation, but the sale of the refinery to Valero UK meant the refinery now belonged to a medium-sized organisation. Despite this, the judge decided to sentence based on a very large organisation as on the sale of the refinery by Chevron, the company agreed it would indemnify Valero UK for fines imposed in this case. The judge remarked that to treat Valero as a medium-sized company for the purposes of this prosecution would be “artificial and inappropriate”.

Sentencing round up: major fines issued in 2019 13 March 2019 £2.7m fine for DB Cargo (UK) A 13-year-old boy sustained life-changing injuries after receiving an electric shock from 25,000-volt overhead line equipment at Tyne Yard in Gateshead. Another child sustained minor burns. The Office of Rail and Road said DB Cargo (UK) failed to ensure non-employees were not exposed to risks to their health and safety through its activities.


22 March 2019 Karro Foods’ £1.86m fine The food manufacturer was prosecuted after two workers fell more than 4 m through a non-visible rooflight and sustained serious injuries. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the company had failed to make employees aware of the rooflights, which were not visible due to the build-up of moss and dirt. It also failed to provide adequate work at height controls.

29 March 2019

20 May 2019

£1.4m fine for 2 Sisters Food Group

£1.16m fine for Marathon Oil UK LLC

A worker sustained multiple injuries, including several fractured ribs and a punctured lung while attempting to unblock a conveyor system on a poultry slaughter line. The HSE found there were deficiencies in machinery guarding and blockages on the machine were usually cleared while the machine was operational.

A catastrophic rupture of pipework on the Brae Alpha offshore platform caused an instantaneous highpressure gas blast. No one was injured but the HSE found that Marathon had failed to undertake suitable and sufficient inspections on the pipework, which would have identified the risk and prevented the hazard from materialising.

£1.86m £1.4m


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In focus: DHL handed £2.6m fine after serious failures led to fatality On 2 February 2016, employee Robert Baynham was working with three colleagues in an internal office when a stack of tyre stillages fell through the roof, fatally crushing him. A pile of eight metal ‘cross-stocked’ tyre stillages had been placed next to the office. They contained various tyre sizes ranging from small car tyres up to extra-large agricultural ones. It is believed the stack fell when it was knocked by a second one placed next to it. Each stack weighed 578 kg. Coventry City Council investigated (see IOSH Magazine, November 2019, p 5) and found there was no guidance noting that different stillages should not be mixed. However, tyre manufacturer Bridgestone, whose tyres were being distributed from the warehouse, had indicated that where mixed tyres were being stacked, the

17 July 2019

heaviest should always be placed at the bottom. The council also found the tyres had been stacked too high and were too close to the office. This practice was described as dangerous and found to be commonplace on site. Staff had never been told not to do this. DHL had taken over the site in 2015 but had failed to complete a comprehensive health and safety audit, which would have identified poor practice. Similar incidents had previously occurred, so DHL was well aware of the risk. Sentencing at Warwick Crown Court on 22 October 2019, Mr Justice Baker said: “The defendant bore a high degree of culpability for these offences. There was a serious corporate failure to ensure suitable assessments had been made prior to this incident.” The judge added that DHL, which he said had a £1.4bn

24 July 2019

annual turnover, had previous criminal health and safety convictions in 2017 and 2018, both relating to crush incidents. Councillor Abdul Khan, Cabinet Member for Policing and Equalities, said: “Colleagues in our food and safety team worked closely with DHL staff and managers and the Health and Safety Executive during the course of their investigative work, lasting three and a half years, and identified a list of concerns and failings. “DHL has received a significant fine and probably the largest following a health and safety prosecution by [Coventry City Council]. Most importantly, lessons have been learned by DHL and safety management at the warehouse has improved.”

16 October 2019

£1m fine for Govia Thameslink Railway

Delphi Diesel Systems handed £1m fine

£1.27m fine for Mid-UK Recycling

Simon Brown died when a trackside gantry struck his head as a London Victoriabound train travelling at around 97 kph passed close to Balham station. He had been able to access a droplight window and lowered it so he could stick his head out. Steps have been taken to restrict the opening so passengers can only reach the external door handle.

Two employees sustained serious burns when chemical vapour ignited and exploded in a distillation tank they were cleaning. One of the employees was so badly injured that they could not return to work for over two months. The HSE found no risk assessment had been undertaken for the cleaning procedure and no safe system of work was in place.

An employee lost part of his arm after trying to clear a blockage on a conveyor belt at a material recovery facility. The HSE found the waste firm had failed to prevent access to dangerous parts of the conveyors. Also, the castell key system had been bypassed so staff could step inside the enclosure when machinery was operational in automatic mode.





Decline in HSE prosecutions likely to continue in 2020

The trend for fewer Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecutions shows no signs of changing. For the third year running, HSE enforcement statistics have revealed a reduction in the number of cases brought to prosecution. In 2018/19 the HSE and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in Scotland prosecuted 394 health and safety cases, down 23% from the previous year. The conviction rates for these cases were 92%, up ever so slightly on the 91% recorded for 2017/18. HSE prosecution policy has not changed in recent years, so does not explain the reduction. The HSE is looking into the falling rates and has considered the possible influencing factors. These include a large number of HSE inspectors who are undergoing training and an increase in Newton hearings, where firms plead guilty but argue the case over the details. Perhaps most significant, is the time spent on defence solicitor’s challenges to the sentencing guidelines. Previously a company would often go along with the HSE investigation and pay the relatively small fine. Now with fines in excess of £1m no longer unusual, it can be argued that it is in their interest to challenge them. There was also a reduction in the fines total for offences; £54.5m compared to £71.6m in 2017/18. This is attributed to a drop in the overall prosecution rates as the average fine per case was slightly up on 2018/19 at £150,000.

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IOSH News IOSH urges new government to provide health and safety assurance for the 2020s

Figures released by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) last year highlight the urgent need for ongoing action. These put the annual costs of failure in safety and health in Great Britain at around £15bn, plus an additional £12bn for new cases of occupational cancer. IOSH urges the new government to: reskill the UK for a safer, healthier, sustainable future radically improve the nation’s occupational health system design good work into all public investment and infrastructure programmes

tackle exploitation of vulnerable workers and poor working conditions urgently implement national building and fire safety reforms. Richard Jones, Head of Policy and Regulatory Engagement at IOSH, said: “With an ageing workforce, technological changes, more insecure and ‘gig’ working, higher numbers of small-to-medium-sized enterprises and self-employed – as well as increased overall employment figures – the need for better workplace health management in the UK is fast-reaching a crescendo. “It’s vital that public policy focus on health at work is properly prioritised. We need to tackle the record numbers of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety – in 2018 reaching 602,000 cases – and the 300,000 people with long-term

Swiss Network sees inner workings of ILO In December, IOSH’s Swiss Network was privileged to be invited to spend the day at the International Labour Organization (ILO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, during its centenary year. The ILO is the only UN agency that brings together governments, employers and workers across 187 member states. It sets standards and develops policies in occupational health. IOSH Swiss Network Chair Alison Hinde said: “The focus of the day was global occupational

The International Labour Organization in Geneva, Switzerland

health covering a good mix of events. ILO representatives discussed high-level strategy combined with a more practical approach shown in [IOSH Vice-President] Dr David Gold’s ‘No time to Lose’ (NTTL) presentation on diesel engine exhaust emissions (DEEEs). “Our tour included the vast debating rooms where we could imagine representatives sitting through the night debating key areas of importance around the world. The day covered the role of ILO through history, at the centre of world events, and throughout it there were opportunities to network with other OSH professionals.” Gold described the NTTL campaign as a “powerful advocacy programme”. He said the DEEE presentation provided participants with information on a “very important carcinogen that can cause lung cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease”.

mental health problems losing their jobs each year. Good health and safety is good for business and effective regulation helps ensure many millions of lives and livelihoods are protected each and every day.” IOSH advocates more government action to encourage organisations to go beyond compliance for safety and health and performance reporting, as part of valuing human capital and sustainability. This can provide the supply-chain transparency that stakeholders demand and drive good governance, protection of vulnerable workers and higher standards.

IOSH at 75 Our history began as World War II ended and the UN came into being. It was a time of rebuilding; striving for a better future. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) hosted an inaugural meeting of

the ‘Industrial Safety Officers Section’ in London on 21 April 1945. IOSH grew from that meeting to become the global body we are today. Join events and activities throughout this 75th year, celebrating our progress as a profession.

West Africa: the OSH future IOSH’s first conference in West Africa takes place on 22 January at the Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria. ‘Shaping the Future of Occupational Safety and Health in Africa’ also celebrates the launch of IOSH’s Level 3 Health and Safety for Business qualification across Africa, and the No Time to Lose campaign tackling occupational cancer will be presented too. This free event aims to “shine a light” on risks such as asbestos which are prominent across working environments in Africa. Business leaders will hear from IOSH chief executive

Bev Messinger and VicePresident Kayode Fowode, as well as Director-General of Lagos State Safety Commission, Mr Lanre Mojola. The African OSH community is taking to social media, harnessing the event as a spotlight to raise awareness of poor working conditions. This signals desire for change and improvements to safety and health at work. Places are being snapped up quickly, but there are still some available via Eventbrite. Follow the event as it happens @IOSH_tweets #IOSHWestAfricaConference

Images: Alamy, IOSH Swiss Network Chair, Alison Hinde

IOSH is calling on the government to prioritise workplace health and safety and to support publicly the economic case and social value of the UK’s world-leading health and safety system and regulatory regime.

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Case study: how safety and health training is helping Samworth Brothers enhance careers IOSH visited British food manufacturer Samworth Brothers to learn how safety and health training is upskilling workers to meet the needs of the modern workplace. With well-known brands including Ginsters and Soreen, Samworth Brothers focuses on delivering quality food, but is equally focused on looking after its people. That is why they invested in the NCFE IOSH Level 3 Certificate in Safety and Health for Business. The qualification provides an understanding of safety and health in a business context, ensuring learners have the ability to apply their

technical knowledge in the workplace. “I’m taking the qualification as a form of upskilling and trying to better the foundation I have as a health and safety professional. The qualification is helping me to realise my ambition by furthering my knowledge, which will allow me to utilise a practical application within the business,” said John Pardbuck, health and safety co-ordinator at Melton Foods. Alison Wright, head of health, safety and environment at Samworth Brothers, said: “The Level 3 Qualification is perfect for us. It’s incredibly important that our safety and health professionals have

Translating learning into practice on the production line

technical skills and an understanding of business. Their day-to-day role involves going to bakeries, liaising with people on the shopfloor and senior management, so they must understand how the business works, to be able to put a business case together to get their message across.” The qualification ensures that learners are able to put

New mentoring platform to help OSH professionals give and receive support IOSH has launched a new platform to help occupational safety and health professionals share expertise, knowledge and development opportunities. IOSH Mentoring has been designed to create a collaborative community that can help members in their careers and enhance their technical OSH knowledge and business skills. The platform has been developed in line with IOSH’s new competency framework, which helps members identify gaps in their knowledge and areas where they could benefit from additional support. Users can sign up as either mentors, mentees or both and create a profile where they can list areas of expertise, interests and learning requirements. The platform will help to ‘pair up’ like-minded individuals, who can then reach out to one another. The mentoring platform will allow mentors to improve their leadership and communication skills by supporting mentees with their career development. Mentees will be able to identify gaps in their knowledge and learn from their mentors. The platform encourages reverse

mentoring, with both parties benefiting from shared expertise and insights. The platform also allows users to record advice, guidance and progress, helping members to set realistic and achievable goals and work towards them. This can be especially useful when logging activity as part of members’ CPD. IOSH Mentoring complements the existing mentoring work being conducted by members and provides a structured platform through which individuals can communicate and support one another. Matt Rockley, head of customer service and experience at IOSH, said: “IOSH Mentoring is an important step in expanding and enhancing how we support the professional development needs of our members. The platform will allow members across the globe to communicate and learn from one another, helping to enhance the profession through shared knowledge and expertise and supporting IOSH in our goal to make a healthier and safer world of work for everyone.” Read more at:

together a business case for safety and health, know how to influence a safety and health culture within their organisation and have a strategic, business-focused approach to safety and health. A video with Samworth Brothers about the NCFE IOSH Level 3 Certificate in Safety and Health for Business is available here:

SAF€RA call for research proposals SAF€RA, a partnership between research funding organisations across Europe, has opened its fifth call for research proposals with a focus on industrial safety and new technologies in energy production and storage. IOSH is a member of SAF€RA and encourages members to consider submitting a proposal. The deadline is 30 January. Read more:

IOSH-funded research wins award An IOSH-funded research project scooped the ‘Best Research Project 2019’ award from the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (UK Chapter). The project, Construction site evacuation safety: evacuation strategies for tall construction sites, into how construction sites are evacuated in an emergency, was conducted by the University of Greenwich and launched in September.

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NTTL presented at the World Health Organization IOSH was recently invited to take part in an important all-day round-table discussion hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) at its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Entitled Towards Healthier and Safer Workplaces for all: Delivering as one, it mapped global efforts by the WHO and the International Labour Organization (ILO) on achieving healthier and safer workplaces. This included OSH, workplace health promotion, health coverage of workers, as well as non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their modifiable risk factors, plus violence and injuries and mental health in the workplace. Participants from the WHO, ILO, International Social Security Organization (ISSA), IOSH and other key global bodies shared their experiences of encouraging healthier, safer workplaces through comprehensive programmes on health, safety and wellbeing in the workplace. They discussed the key roles workplaces have in promoting good health and short-term global actions to promote

New Research Advisory Group IOSH has a new Research Advisory Group, comprising global experts on occupational safety and health. It will advise IOSH on forthcoming research projects to advance the safety and health profession, reinforcing IOSH as a research centre of excellence. At the group’s first meeting in December IOSH briefed the group members on its corporate and research strategy, as well as its research programme. Workshops introduced the group to IOSH’s assessment tools to review proposals and discussed collaboration and partnership opportunities. Read more:

healthier workplaces. International partners outlined actions they are taking to prevent accidents and ill-health in workplaces. Duncan Spencer, IOSH Head of Advice and Practice, presented IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign and its free practical resources ( which are helping businesses worldwide to tackle occupational cancer. He explained how IOSH has established a global network of supporter organisations ( and ‘pledge signatories’ (bit. ly/2LRQo9e) tackling occupational cancer through its campaign.

He gave an OSH-practitioner perspective to complement contributions from international researchers and policymakers present, making the point that IOSH can reach into businesses via our professional base. ISSA also credited No Time to Lose in part with helping to inform the design and implementation of its Vision Zero campaign programme. Duncan explained IOSH’s research and development of advice on mental health, including return-to-work and holistic prevention-focused health and wellbeing programmes. The meeting heard presentations from delegates representing India, Brazil, Italy, Nepal and Chile. All described the varying degrees of progress each had achieved in getting OSH into their countries’ regulatory and policy frameworks. The round-table findings will contribute to a collaborative WHO programme designed to promote health and wellbeing at work.

NTTL Asbestos at industry conferences IOSH also recently presented the asbestos phase of the No Time to Lose campaign at two important conferences. At the 4th International Conference of the European Asbestos Forum in Amsterdam on 15 November,

IOSH showed how No Time to Lose reaches employers and at-risk workers through awareness-raising and education, free resources and pledges that change policies and practices throughout supply chains

worldwide. The campaign was also exhibited during the British Occupational Hygiene Society’s Faculty of Asbestos Assessment and Management Conference in Nottingham, UK.

EU-OSHA’s next campaign: musculoskeletal disorders The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) has announced its 2020–22 campaign, ‘Healthy Workplaces Lighten the Load’, which aims to raise awareness of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and promote its management and prevention. MSDs affect the nerves, tendons, muscles and supporting structures and are some of the most common work-related ailments. They affect millions of workers and cost employers in lost productivity. EU-OSHA has been planning this campaign for two years and will cover several priority areas, including an ergonomic work environment, early intervention on MSDs, staying physically

active and how MSDs can be influenced by psychosocial risks. Last November EU-OSHA held its Healthy Workplaces Summit in Bilbao, Spain, where it concluded its 2018–19 campaign, ‘Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances’. Campaign partners, including IOSH, gathered to reflect on lessons learned and share good practice for managing dangerous substances in the workplace. The ‘Healthy Workplaces Manage Dangerous Substances’ campaign was closely aligned with IOSH’s No Time to Lose (NTTL) to raise awareness of occupational cancer globally and help businesses take action by providing free practical resources. IOSH has collaborated with EU-OSHA on a range of

initiatives to promote the campaign, from sharing resources at events and online to participating in workshops. Bev Messinger, IOSH Chief Executive, said: “Over the last two years, our NTTL ambassadors have presented slides on the EU-OSHA campaign at more than 40 events organised by IOSH branches, groups and NTTL supporters. Our campaign webpage and articles have been viewed over 2,000 times and social media posts have reached an audience of 480,000. “By working together we have achieved great results to help highlight the importance of managing dangerous substances in the workplace to prevent ill-health.”

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Line managers

Actively encouraging positive wellbeing reduces potential costs of mental-health-related sickness

lack support and training

57% ÂŁ42bn estimated maximum cost to employers per year in sick pay and lost productivity

Research undertaken by Management Today and IOSH revealed some key insights.

For safer and healthier working environments

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of respondents say their organisations offer no mental health and wellbeing training and/or support for managerial staff

Turn insight into action and book the Managing Occupational Health and Wellbeing course to shape safer, healthier, more productive workplaces. www.iosh.coM/ww

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Events For IOSH group and branch events visit February 5

Occupational Safety and Health Forum


Leicester Conferences, Leicester Early-bird member: £125 exc VAT; Early-bird non-member: £145 exc VAT The RoSPA Road Safety Event will return in 2020 to cover a range of fleet and road safety topics, plus case studies and practical advice from road safety experts, including Transport for London’s Pauline Reeves and Professor Gary Burnett from the University of Nottingham.

Radisson Blu Hotel, London Stansted Booking required Networking event that specialises in arranging one-to-one business meetings between OSH professionals and product suppliers. Seminars include a case study on the impact of building design on employee wellness, and building personal and organisational resilience.


Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) – Extracting the Best Practices 2020 Hilton East Midlands Airport, Derby BOHS/ILEVE member rate: £150 exc VAT; non-member rate: £210 exc VAT Now in its 5th year, this event is for those with an active involvement in the local exhaust ventilation (LEV) industry. Speakers include Adrian Parris (Sellafield) and Chris Steel (Health and Safety Executive).

RoSPA Fleet & Road Safety Event 2020

March 10-11 Health and Wellbeing at Work NEC Birmingham From £45 The conference will profile national developments, service innovations, best practice and the latest research. Presentations will consider the state of positive psychology coaching and its value to organisations, and autistic

women in the workplace as part of the neurodiversity programme. The legal programme will consider data protection from an employment law perspective, whistle-blowing and public interest, and staff surveillance.

25-26 Future of Gas III: part of the safety excellence in energy series IET Austin Court, Birmingham Early-bird rate: £495 exc VAT Hosted by the Health and Safety Executive, this conference will take place over 1.5 days and will look at how decarbonisation can happen in the UK, and the importance of the future of the gas system to achieve this. Keynote speakers will share knowledge, insight and current thinking to overcome the health and safety challenge of innovating and regulating this growing area of new technology, plus views on the future of gas on a global level.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

RoSPA Fleet & Road Safety Event 2020 February 27, 2020 Leicester Conferences, Leicester --)2-"72-j,"-32&-5 #&4'-30*!&,%#A13..-02#" by enforcement and targeted educational interventions, can reduce road casualties. The event will also include: • Case studies and practical advice from road safety experts • The opportunity to put forward your ideas and questions • Chance to meet with suppliers • Unmissable networking opportunities

Book before January 31 and

Save ! +44 (0)121 248 2090 |

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Reviews 7 Insights into Safety Leadership Thomas R Krause and Kristen J Bell, Safety Leadership Institute Krause Bell Group ( £26.35 e-book (on Amazon)

About 25 years ago American consultancy Behavioral Science Technology (BST) arrived in the UK. At the time its work was cutting-edge and consequently its services have helped to save many lives. However, over that same period the world of safety has changed significantly and arguably it is now the UK and Australia that are at the forefront of innovations in safety leadership. Many commentators, myself included, have suggested that safety in the US has gone round in circles for decades and this book I feel illustrates that perception well. On the one hand, there’s little to disagree with Thomas Krause, BST’s founder, and co-writer Kristen Bell’s narrative. 7 Insights into Safety Leadership is concise and well-written. Particularly for smallto-medium-sized enterprises, it’s a good place to start if those organisations are not aware of the key safety leadership messages. These include that safety leadership and business leadership are generally synonymous and that leadership and culture are key. But are these really ‘insights’ in 2020? Behavioural safety leaders Sidney Dekker, James Reason, Eric Hollnagel and Dominic

Health & Safety NVQ specialist provider

Cooper have all been saying the same things with great clarity – and considerable global influence – for many years and none are referenced in this book. Chapters on applying the principles of Heinrich’s triangle; the importance of focusing specifically on the causes of fatalities; the role behavioural safety still has to play; and how cognitive biases negatively influence safety thinking are well worth a read. However, although the authors claim to have taken a holistic and integrated approach, there is no mention of fatigue, mental health or wellbeing. This is really out of touch with contemporary thinking. I recently attended a SHE conference in the Middle East where these issues were the main focus of discussions. Excellent safety leadership in 2020 really needs to be confronting these issues. The science of ‘behavioural economics’ or nudge theory is about achieving significant changes in behaviour for little input. Associated with this is the concept of fast and slow thinking and its practical use in influencing skills and leadership. Again, they barely get a mention. In many ways 7 Insights into Safety Leadership is a useful resource. However, a significant drawback is its failure to reference other important and influential thinkers as well as its failure to mention that mental health and wellbeing are the great challenges currently confronting organisations. TIM MARSH CFIOSH, CHARTERED PSYCHOLOGIST

With a CFIOSH pilot to help you navigate through to completion, you won’t have to bail out. Tel: +44 (0) 1482 228942 Email:

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Photo Courtesy of Alisha Clarke

Health and Safety

Here are all the books we’ve reviewed to date

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Employment patterns

Behind the screen

Individuals who work as online content moderators are often exposed to violent, distressing and exploitative material. We look at how employers can minimise the OSH risks and improve working conditions Words: IVà N WILLIAMS JIMÉNEZ

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Employment patterns

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rom graphic violence and sexual imagery to hate speech and self-harm, the diverse range of online content that needs to be looked through and evaluated before the public can consume it safely is mindboggling. Although Internet users may assume that algorithms have been written to remove the content automatically, the reality is that artificial intelligence (AI) lacks the sophistication to make judgements about the suitability of content, so humans will continue to be gatekeepers/ quality controllers for the foreseeable future. As a result, there has been a spike in the number of people who are working as online moderators, reviewing content and determining how appropriate it is. Repeated exposure to harmful material, however, has significant implications for those undertaking this role. As well as often being employed in poor working environments, the nature of the work means content moderators can risk damage to their longterm health. Mental health conditions such as anxiety are not uncommon and there have even been cases of individuals reporting PTSD-like symptoms.

Screen time The demand for content moderators has grown substantially in recent years to reflect the massive surge in new content flooding digital platforms. The latest figures for social media giant Facebook reveal that an incredible 4,000 images are uploaded every second ( while video-sharing platform YouTube sees more than 500 hours of content uploaded every minute ( Estimates suggest that digital platforms including Facebook, Google and YouTube employ tens of

thousands of people who operate globally to assess the suitability of content. Other digital firms such as Instagram, Reddit, Tumblr, and Twitter tend to subcontract these services through companies like TaskUs, Accenture, Genpact, and Cognizant, further distorting the geographical profile of online content moderation. Outside of Silicon Valley in California, a growing band of content moderators operate from lower-tomiddle income countries, where wages are lower and working conditions are less regulated. Temporary contracts, excessive working hours and poor welfare facilities are common themes. Another emerging trend is the use of freelancers or those who are paid a fee for providing the service. This model oers even less worker protection. In many ways the working conditions faced by content moderators diers little from more traditional functions such as those undertaken by workers in contact centres. There are parallels in that both reflect a complex workplace culture. The contact centre sector has also undergone a rapid structural change in recent years shaped by similarly dramatic growth over a somewhat short time frame. Most employees have relatively low levels of education and very little job security. Managers also closely monitor performance. Both sectors are also similar in the way that workers’ wellbeing is managed and prioritised.

Job complexity In recent years, digital firms have come under pressure from regulators and Internet users who have challenged them on their policies covering online content and criticised them for what they see as a

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Employment patterns

lack of robustness in the safeguards. Some have come under fire over how they have monitored, managed and removed certain types of content from their platforms, particularly material that is user-generated. ‘The human side of online content moderation’, an article from asset management brand Aberdeen Standard Investments, notes how most of the digital giants have set up community standards that they expect their users to uphold and how they exercise the right to remove any content that falls short of these standards ( However, as the article goes on to explain, the trouble is that there are no clear-cut, industry-recognised standards for what constitutes appropriate online content. Indeed, some of the content is highly subjective. As a result, many of these companies are making their own decisions on what is and is not appropriate.

further reinforced due to high staff turnover, which discourages sustainable working relationships.

500hrs of content is uploaded every minute to video-sharing platform YouTube

Effective line managers

Images: Getty Picture Library

The growing volume in, often harmful, material that content moderators are exposed to will inevitably impact on their mental health and wellbeing. To safeguard these employees, businesses should provide effective training and strong psychological support. Also, managers operating in these challenging work environments should be equipped with the skills to identify stressful situations and be aware of the potential consequences that could arise from intensive control measures and rigid monitoring practices. The IOSH-funded study, Out of Sight, Out of Mind? Research into the Occupational Safety and Health of Distributed Workers (see box below right) provides a wealth of materials to help companies develop more effective line management behaviours ( The lack of effective line management is particularly prevalent in less well-defined workforces like online content moderators. However, there’s still a general assumption that jobs materialising from the digital economy are ‘different’ to more traditional jobs. This outdated view needs to change. Nothing indicates that these workers should receive fewer protections for their health and wellbeing. On the contrary, barriers should be removed for these workers to enjoy the same standards of OSH and wellbeing that a workforce employed in more traditional sectors does. Like some other forms of employment that fall under the gig economy umbrella, the role of content moderators and the fragmented nature of their work breaks from the traditional employer-employee relationship. The following are common themes that are reflected in this and similar types of work: ● Demands and relationships: stringent performance and productivity metrics generate excessive pressure on the worker and poor management practices by the supervisors, including micro-management and bullying ( This impacts on working patterns and hours, with workers discouraged from taking breaks – even to go to the toilet. ● Support: there is a lack of transparency with regard to the way the work is undertaken, which is reinforced with strict non-disclosure agreements. This means that workers operate in a vacuum where they are unable to discuss their work and, more importantly, the impact it is having on them with colleagues, friends or family. This isolation is

4,000 images are uploaded every second to Facebook

● High turnover rates: the rotation levels of the workforce are a concern and employees don’t tend to engage in long-term working relationships. This work environment is known to be highly demanding and requires high levels of desensitisation. ● Change and role: as the public debate on what is appropriate content continues to rage (eg harmful content versus free speech), and regulatory frameworks attempt to keep pace, the industry will continue to be fragmented. The system relies on the use and availability of internal codes of conduct and internal policies but it is nearly impossible to ensure that these are up to date. Furthermore, these policies, guidelines and community standards have many exceptions and grey areas meaning that there is a lack of clarity in the employee’s role. ● Relationships: an insecure workforce, cheap labour, high staff turnover and a lack of scrutiny from regulators and investors means the industry has not invested in its employees’ health and wellbeing. Primary controls such as risk assessment, job rotation, and audit programmes have not been implemented. Secondary controls such as (mental) health surveillance, return to work and rehabilitation policies do not exist. In some cases, tertiary measures such as employee assistance programmes are available but have limited impact as standalone measures. ● Rights: while workers’ rights in a subcontracting culture can be easily undermined, we need to be mindful that this culture might come to an end. Some tech companies have faced lawsuits and are increasingly being held accountable for the working conditions of their contractors and temp

Effective line management The IOSH-funded and University of East Anglia-commissioned report, Out of Sight, Out of Mind? Research into the Occupational Safety and Health of Distributed Workers, defines distributed (or remote) workers as “those workers who spend at least part of their working day working away from a main location”. Examples include public service workers, transportation workers, and utilities, energy and telecoms workers; while hazards they face include “chemicals, power (gas, electricity), slips, trips, […] risks presented through interaction with the public, such as verbal and physical abuse…”. The research’s main aim was to “develop our understanding of how OSH practitioners can ensure employee health and safety among distributed workers”.  The project examined whether current OSH leadership frameworks were applicable in the context of distributed working, whether other frameworks may be more appropriate, and whether OSH practitioners can deploy appropriate frameworks to ensure the cascade of effective OSH leadership via line managers to distributed workers. The research team generated a toolkit for OSH practitioners. This resource includes the skills and abilities that underpin effective OSH leadership behaviours that facilitate good OSH practices among distributed workers. For more information:

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Employment patterns

Rather than take preventative action to support employees, there has been a tendency for tech firms to replace individuals who leave rather than investigate the reasons for high staff turnover. As the multinational professional services firm Ernst & Young noted in its publication The Plus Side of Mental Health, organisations should prioritise the work environment and its design by building on the principle that “a psychologically healthy workplace is an organisation where the psychological health of employees are valued and support is provided for those with psychological health problems”. Digital firms can do much more to minimise poor working conditions that impact on psychological health. So how can they bring about change? Some good starting points are: 1

2 Organisations should be more open and collaborate with key stakeholders (insurers, regulators, occupational health, public health, employee assistance programmes). They also need to improve the integration of their organisational functions that have responsibility for this area of work, including human resources and occupational safety and health.

agencies ( Some commentators have advocated for an extension to the duty of care under which third parties can be considered responsible for harmful acts they did not cause but did not do enough to prevent known as collective responsibility and/or secondary liability ( This can also be applicable for those workers who allege to have sustained psychological damage as a result of their work and are successful in proving that the hirer of the independent contractor has failed in their duty to exercise reasonable care with regard to the employee’s health and safety.

3 Standard employee assistance programmes or mental health services to help employees like content moderators cope with their work environment should be part of a more holistic approach to mental health and wellbeing such as wellness initiatives, making counsellors available and offering 24-hour assistance lines. 4 Training and awareness needs to be much more tailored to reflect the complexities of the work tasks. Interventions need to take into account the importance of the worker’s health and wellbeing, including how to identify early symptoms or spot the signs of work-related mental ill-health.

Mental ill-health burden The psychological impact of viewing harmful material is unquestionable, to the extent that it’s not uncommon for workers to consume drugs in the workplace as a coping mechanism ( Content moderators’ work is repetitive and there are limited opportunities to take breaks and to mentally switch off. The work environment can also contribute to a sense of isolation and anxiety. There are reports of individuals who have suffered from burnout, stress, depression and also post-traumatic stress disorders.

There’s a lack of diligence from firms to hold outsourced companies accountable for their contracted or subcontracted workers’ physical and psychological wellbeing. Their duty of care should cover not only the protection of workers while they are employed, but also include those that continue to have mental health problems after they have left.

Iván Williams Jiménez is an OSH research adviser at IOSH

5 Although organisations need to manage these risks in the same way that they do for the governance systems they have in place for safety risks, sometimes the initiatives adopted have not been robust enough. Preventative measures such as distributing the work among more workers or limiting the amount of time people spend viewing extreme content are easy to implement. 6 The integration and adoption of automated systems and AI technologies to support content moderation.

Content moderators’ work is repetitive and there are limited opportunities to take breaks and to mentally switch off

Although the use of AI as triage systems to help remove harmful content is an important step forward, humans will not be entirely removed from online tasks. As a result, everyone has a collective responsibility to protect and enhance the working conditions for those individuals who undertake this challenging work. ● The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of IOSH and/or this magazine.

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. B s i Chr

Chris Browning has been welding and fabricating FRPSRQHQWVIRU(YDF&KDLUVIRU\HDUVLQRXU %LUPLQJKDPEDVHGIDFWRU\ Senior Welder - 6 years


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Leader interview

Straight talking The transport engineering company’s OSH head is testing the transformative potential of two-way communication Words: LOUIS WUSTEMANN Pictures: ANDREW FIRTH


ouise Ward had an epiphany soon after starting work at Siemens in 2018. “I realised that I had been in health and safety 20 years and it had only just occurred to me that conversations have two sides.” That might seem a late awakening, but the conversations she is talking about are not the casual kind, rather those between managers and subordinates and between peers that are encouraged in corporate OSH programmes. “For two decades I had been involved in safety conversation initiatives that only dealt with the transmit, and not with the other side,” she says. Ward is not alone; many practitioners will be familiar with programmes that encourage people

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Leader interview

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Leader interview

to challenge each other if they see unsafe behaviour. But these schemes can create an adversarial atmosphere between colleagues and seldom draw on either party’s problem-solving abilities. Ward and her team decided to try a more constructive approach. She had moved to the top safety job in the rolling stock arm of Siemens Mobility UK – the German engineering group’s standalone transport business, which supplies and services trains for train-operating companies on long-term contracts – after a fatality had prompted the company to refresh safety and health management. “They had lots of good things in place already but were looking to take a different approach,” she says. The difference she believed she could bring was to push beyond a compliance-led safety culture to something more inspiring. She reflects on Herbert Heinrich’s accident triangle, refined by Frank Bird, which proposed a relationship between large numbers of near-misses at the base of the triangle and a small number of serious accidents at the apex. OSH practitioners initially have to concentrate on the serious accidents “because that’s all you know about, the stuff that people can’t hide”. It is possible in many cases to eliminate the worst accidents, cutting the top off the triangle and leaving a trapezoid shape of lost-time incidents and first aid injuries and near-misses. “Whatever you do you can be stuck with that,” Ward says. “And that’s as far as you can get with compliance. If you want to aspire to excellence, you have to engage with people because you have to inspire people to move with you towards excellence.” Her view aligns with the Safety II arguments of Eric Hollnagel or the ‘safety differently’ philosophy promulgated first in the UK by John Green. “All of that new thinking is about being people-focused,” she says.

We talked about thinking about each other and stepping in when something doesn’t look right

Below As part of the ‘forum theatre’ technique staff were free to change the course of the action on the second performance

Starting with the business’ train-care facilities, the staff went through sessions using actors employing elements of the ‘forum theatre’ technique. Conceived in Brazil in the 1970s, a scene is enacted twice and on the second performance members of the audience can stop the action and put themselves in the place of an actor to change the course of the events. Ward and her safety team helped to devise the scenarios with the Twickenham, London-based Dramanon theatre company, which specialises in learning through drama. “We had a few key principles,” she says. “We said it had to be rooted in the everyday.” Many drama-based programmes focus on major accidents, she adds, “but I think a lot of people disengage from that because fortunately those dreadful things don’t happen that often”. The vignettes they devised with the actors included someone working at height without a harness, or working on an unsecured ladder, or using the wrong tool. For office-based staff they depicted an employee suffering

First steps Before Ward arrived at the rolling stock business unit in June 2018 she liaised with her future colleagues to ensure she could hit the ground running. “In my very first week I spoke to the top 200 [managers] in the company,” she says. She talked about the importance of leadership by example. “I asked all of our leaders to go away and think about what zero harm meant to them and then think about how people would know that from watching what they do.” She emphasised that leaders should not set themselves impossible targets. “Safety isn’t our number-one priority and we need to put it in its place. Safety isn’t what we do, it’s how we do things.” Making safety a realistic rather than an absolute objective makes it easier for managers to focus on “because they have been saying for years safety is their number-one priority and not believing it in their hearts”. In her second week the business had a safety standdown on the anniversary of the fatality. “We talked about thinking about each other and stepping in when something doesn’t look right,” she explains. “We made a video of our people talking about the impact the incident had had on them; not the business impact, but the personal impact and we talked about what we were going to do to change and how it felt to be involved in zero harm.” Soon after the stand-down the safety team launched the new safety conversations initiative, Talk to Me, which Ward describes as “our game-changer programme”.

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Leader interview

fatigue from excessive hours finalising a contract bid. “They were almost mundane, regular situations that everyone would recognise and associate with,” says Ward. A core team of actors from Dramanon took employees through the scenarios at the train-care facilities and offices. Before each session, members of Ward’s team would meet the site managers and encourage them to choose the scenarios that were most suited to their depot or office. “We said ‘what are the things you would like to tease out during the programme?’.”

Talking cure

Louise Ward, career file 2018-present Health, safety and environment director, Siemens Mobility

Image: Siemens Mobility

The slogan accompanying Talk to Me was ‘Courage to step in, character to accept’, emphasising not only individual responsibility to intervene to stop unsafe acts and conditions, but also the willingness to accept a challenge from somebody else who believes what you are doing puts you or others at risk. “As we were doing it we realised it isn’t just about zero harm,” Ward says. “It is about our culture as an organisation. It’s about people having a voice and their opinions mattering and us wanting them to step in whenever they see something that isn’t right and whenever they have an idea to say so, and to know they will be heard.” This was the programme she believed could promote the kind of engagement that would push the organisation towards a generative safety culture. And it did, she says: “It was transformational. It drove some amazing conversations and a level of engagement that we had not seen previously.” There was no preset performance indicator to judge the success of Talk to Me, but the level of near-miss reporting in the rolling stock business more than doubled in the months after the sessions. (Ward notes that the number of reports is usually less important to the company than tracking how many reports have resulted in prompt control of the hazard. “Anything [reported] staying open longer than 30 days needs a business case.”) “More importantly, the nature of the reporting changed. We were seeing [employees taking] ownership. So rather than [reports stating] ‘I saw this last Sunday and someone needs to do something about it’, we had people saying ‘I saw so-and-so working unsafely, I spoke to him about it and as a result we changed the method of work’.” The increase in reports was aided by a parallel initiative to move to electronic reporting, so workers now use smartphone apps to log near-misses.


Policy and standards and communications director, British Safety Council


Head of health, safety and wellbeing, Thames Water


Head of passenger and public safety, then head of health, safety and welfare, Network Rail


Head of health and safety, Civil Service


Head of health and safety policy, EEF


Health and safety manager, JP Morgan Chase


Health, safety and environment manager, News International


Assistant health and safety officer, BNFL

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Leader interview

The absence of a fixed target for the initiative was important, Ward says, “because it never became a numbers game”, with set levels of reporting expected. But the level of OSH awareness the conversations reflect should eventually be reflected in lower injury figures. “The change will be when we see the near-miss reporting staying high but the accidents reducing, because that means we are acting on the near-misses and plugging the holes in the Swiss cheese,” she says, referring to Professor James Reason’s theory

The change will be when we see the near-miss reporting staying high but the accidents reducing

of how risks eventuate as a result of aligned holes in control barriers. The forum theatre-style sessions are now built into the induction training for new apprentices and graduates joining the business unit. The practicalities of scaling up the drama sessions for the whole of Siemens Mobility will probably involve trying other methods. “I think video is a great medium that strikes a balance,” she says.

A week in September Ward had already used video to bolster the Talk to Me campaign during Zero Harm Conversations Week, a safety event in September for the rolling stock business. She first thought of a safety equivalent of the TED (technology, education and design) broadcast talks, which started in 1984 in the US. Using a virtual events platform, the safety team streamed daily presentations by the chief executive, Ward and external consultants to the sites before shifts. They lasted no more than eight minutes and were followed by team discussions. “We did ones on accountability, health, wellbeing, resilience, exercise, nutrition, shiftwork,” she says.

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“There was one on the menopause, which is quite forward-thinking for a very male-dominated business.” The videos were supplemented across the business by dial-in seminars on the same topics as the presentations, using Circuit, Siemens’ equivalent of the Skype voice-over-internet-protocol platform. Ward says she had been sceptical that the seminars would attract participants “but people were coming together in big groups at the sites to join the calls”. “Most importantly, we had local content,” she adds. Each train-care facility and office chose a local champion to curate its own contributions to the week’s activities. The sites were tasked by the central team with producing at least three initiatives. Most of these were health-related or community activities, including walk-to-work challenges, cycling events, a badminton tournament, litter picking and garden building. The champions had to ensure that the rest of the business was kept informed on progress through posts on the Yammer social media platform. “Yammer postings increased 2,000% for the week,” says Ward, “and we had 700 people join who had never ‘Yammered’ before.” An estimated 85% of rolling stock employees took part in the week’s activities. “People are still watching the videos,” she says. The engagement of so many people is important because individual small-scale participation can bring about revolutionary change in standards, she says. Indeed, one of the themes of the safety week was ‘Small things make a difference’. “Revolution doesn’t need to be about one person with one big idea,” she says. “It can be about getting off the bus one stop earlier to have a walk in the morning or walking around the depot picking up the nuts and washers someone else could slip on … or changing the way you use plastic at home.”

Above An estimated 85% of rolling stock employees took part in the week’s activities

Since her promotion from rolling stock to head of health, safety, environment and quality for the whole of Siemens Mobility, Ward has been working on spreading the Talk to Me programme across the other business units. Following the success of the Zero Harm Conversations Week, this too will be scaled up for 2020. She notes that the programmes will have to be adapted for the different businesses. Many of the employees in the intelligent traffic systems arm work alone, for instance, maintaining traffic lights and cameras, so an emphasis on conversation will not resonate with them and the message will be more about taking pride in their personal safety.

In the scheme of things Louise Ward is health, safety and environment director at Siemens Mobility in the UK and Ireland, responsible for 5,000 employees in the company’s three divisions: rolling stock and customer service, rail infrastructure and intelligent traffic systems. She reports to the division’s chief executive and heads a team of 100 OSH professionals in the business. She is a member of the company’s core leadership team. “I ensure the board are hearing the things they need [in order to] make the right decisions from a health, safety, environment and quality point of view when they are running the business.” She oversees audits in her functions and is the link between them for the UK and Irish business and Siemens’ head office in Munich. Asked what the organisation would lack if she disappeared suddenly, she says: “If I’m doing my job properly, then it should all seamlessly work without me. But what would be missing is the bit that joins the operational businesses with the leadership team. A voice on the leadership team holding them to account and being their conscience a little bit.”

Ward is a career OSH professional. A degree in safety and health from Greenwich University was followed in the mid-1990s by a junior post in nuclear operator BNFL, followed by a smooth progression up to leadership posts in the Civil Service, Thames Water and Network Rail. She has had two spells working on policy for industry bodies, first the EEF manufacturers’ organisation in the early 2000s and latterly at the British Safety Council, the post she left to join Siemens. I ask whether these periods looking at OSH on a national level have given her a valuable perspective. “I love policy work,” she says. “I’ve come back into an operational role because I didn’t want to lose touch. But it gives you a fantastic opportunity to look at what a lot of organisations are doing and cherry pick [good practice].” Working with the regulators in those roles gave her a better perspective on enforcers’ priorities, she says. “When I was at EEF we formed a stakeholder partnership with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). It was the first time the HSE had engaged in a structured way of working with a sector. I was really proud of that.” In common with some other OSH leaders interviewed by this magazine, her ambition is to be so successful in making safety and health business as usual in an organisation that she finds herself surplus to requirements. “That might not be great from a financial point of view, but I’d like to do myself out of a job.” ●

Image: Siemens Mobility

Time served

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Mental health

The power of conversation Empowering and supporting staff that have poor mental health can be a valuable facilitator in keeping them in work, as recent IOSH-funded research revealed Words: JOCELYN DORRELL


usinesses large and small are becoming increasingly alert to the toll that mental health illnesses take, both on individuals and on organisations. It’s widely accepted that line managers have a crucial role to play in supporting employees with problems such as stress, anxiety and depression to return to work after sickness absence. But there is a growing weight of research that suggests line managers also have an important role in preventing mental health problems. “We know that when a worker goes on sickness absence due to a mental health problem, their manager and colleagues have very often seen it coming,” says Dr Margot Joosen, senior researcher in work and health in the Department of Human Resource Studies/Tranzo (the Scientific Center for Care and Wellbeing) at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. “They will say, ‘I knew they would call in sick’ because they had seen the signs of a problem.” So while training managers to offer support to employees with mental health problems is important, it’s also reactive. If employers can play a role in preventing the onset of mental ill-health by a creating a culture where the individual’s job satisfaction and sense of fulfilment are at the core of the organisation’s philosophy, so much the better. Researchers from Tilburg University have conducted a pilot project on such an approach. Focused on the healthcare sector, the pilot involved helping managers create ‘value of work’ for individual healthcare workers by training team leaders to have regular conversations with employees about what they value in their work, what is important to them – and how the organisation can help them realise these things. The idea is a simple one, which will have wide resonance: that by encouraging, supporting and facilitating individuals to rediscover and focus on what motivates and matters to them, employers can help employees to insulate themselves against the

possibility of developing a mental health problem. “In our daily work, we don’t talk about why we are at work,” points out Dr Joosen. “We talk about problems and targets, but not ‘Why am I here?’ or ‘Why do I find this work important?’”

Job satisfaction One of the inspirations for the pilot project was the University of Tilburg’s 2017 IOSH-sponsored research into barriers to, and facilitators of, return to work following sickness absence due to mental health problems (Return to work after common mental disorders: This research confirmed line managers have a key role to play, with employees citing supportive and understanding managers as a major motivator in a successful return-to-work process. Individuals coming back from long-term sickness absence also talked about not feeling satisfied with the content of their work, due to either a heavy workload or one that was unchallenging or not as described. “People talked about not feeling connected to their work,” explains Dr Joosen. “So we wanted to look at what happens when an organisation pays more attention to the value of work [a ‘capabilities approach’], which means creating value for both the organisation and its people – not just paying attention when people fall sick.” The healthcare sector provided an ideal test bed for the pilot project: it records high sickness absence levels and high staff turnover while struggling with recruitment (the World Health Organization has warned of a shortage of 13 million healthcare workers by 2035 and has urged employers to focus on staff retention), so there’s a clear need to consider ways to improve the sustainability of employment within the sector. “Healthcare is also a profession that people enter with a high degree of personal motivation,” Dr Joosen points out.

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Mental health

“They want to help, they want to care for people, and they have a high level of responsibility. But they often find they struggle to realise their goals because of work pressure, the weight of admin tasks and – in nursing – modest salaries.” So the researchers set out to evaluate the effects of a ‘work values’ intervention to see if it could work in daily practice by providing nursing teams with opportunities to realise the values of most importance to them – a process facilitated by training team leaders to provide these opportunities.

Opportunities and goals The pilot was carried out in the neurosurgery unit of a large non-university hospital in the south of the Netherlands. The unit consists of a head of department, two team leaders and around 50 nursing staff. The research team started with training sessions for the head of department, team leaders and an HR representative. The sessions were delivered by a psychologist and began with examining what the supervisors themselves valued at work using a questionnaire that contained seven work values (see box below). For each value, team leaders had to answer three questions: How important is this work value? Are you facilitated by your work organisation to realise this value? And do you realise this work value? “It was important that the team leaders went first,” explains Dr Joosen, “to create awareness by making it personal: ‘What do I value? What do I need? Am I enabled to achieve these values?’ If you find only one work value important and you can achieve that one, then that’s okay.” The next step was to train the team leaders on how to have conversations with the nursing teams about what they, as individuals and as teams, value and what they need to realise their aspirations: “We taught them to have positive conversations – not about problems, but

Seven work values In the questionnaire, the seven work values covered: ● use of knowledge and skills ● development of knowledge and skills ● their involvement in important decisions ● building and maintaining meaningful contacts at work ● setting their own goals ● having a good income ● contributing to something valuable. For each one, workers were asked: a whether they thought this work value was important to them (to assess whether this work aspect was considered valuable); b whether their work offered them sufficient opportunities to achieve these values (to assess if they had a resourceful work environment); and c whether they were successful in achieving it (to assess if they had the capacity and competencies). Source:

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about opportunities and goals. We also taught them to use the questionnaire we’d developed to identify important values.” A significant element of the training was about justice, and how for the intervention to work, managers needed to look at justice in a different way from the traditional HR thinking that leads to every employee at a certain level in an organisation being given the same amount of resource. “Every individual is different: they have different views about what’s important and need different things to achieve their aims,” argues Dr Joosen. “So it isn’t just to give everyone the same resources. According to the capabilities approach, you look at the individual and what the individual needs; people should have real opportunities to do and be what they have reason to value. It’s quite radical, so training is needed to give team leaders the courage to give people equal opportunities rather than equal resources.” The conversations with the nursing staff then began. They were held in small groups of four to six and focused on identifying what was important to individuals and the team and what they needed to achieve these things. The process was received very positively. “The team leaders were enthusiastic because they felt empowered by learning the method, while the nurses responded positively because they really appreciated having the time to discuss what mattered to them. It sounds so simple, but we don’t do it often in our working lives!” The groups created action plans for how they would realise their aims. Some of the actions required management input, but the individual or teams themselves could facilitate others. “We tried to stimulate individual responsibility and agency,” Dr Joosen confirms. So, for example, some nurses wanted to develop their knowledge of a particular condition, and they realised they could organise themselves into a group and arrange for a doctor to come and talk to them.

It’s quite radical, so training is needed to give team leaders the courage to give people equal opportunities

A transferable approach The conversations are now complete and the next step is for the neurosurgery department to come up with an action plan. The hospital is looking at how it can develop the communication style and incorporate the values approach into its appraisal system. “This is not something you do once and then move

Dr Margot Joosen, senior researcher at Tilburg University in the Netherlands

on,” says Dr Joosen. “It’s an intervention you can repeat and develop.” Meanwhile, the research team is planning further projects in other departments and in different hospitals. There is the question of how the approach might work outside the healthcare sector: at first glance, it might seem that work values would be easier to explore and realise in a caring profession where people are often motivated by very clear personal ethics than in a sector where the work is less personally satisfying. But Dr Joosen is confident that the method is easily translatable to different sectors and workplaces. “The training and the questionnaire are not tied to healthcare; the seven values are universal. The strength of the approach is that it can be applied to any individual in any sector. The values and actions that emerge might be different in other sectors, but the approach can be implemented anywhere. “The approach is also low-cost: after all, the real intervention is actually the conversation!” She sounds one note of caution to employers thinking about adopting a similar intervention, and that is to be open to the consequences. “If a worker or group of workers say they want to try something new – design their own shift pattern, for example – your response shouldn’t be, ‘Oh no, that’s not possible’. You need to be open to a serious conversation about why this is important to them and how you can help them achieve their objective. Yes, there must be boundaries, but you need to listen first and be supportive – because we know from earlier research that people who do work that is of value to them feel mentally healthier, are more productive, take less sick leave and have less intention to leave their job.” ●

In the pipeline Researchers from Tranzo, Tilburg University in the Netherlands are working on three other projects aimed at supporting workers with mental health disorders to stay in, or return to, employment. 1 i-STEP: this IOSH-sponsored project takes a quantitative approach to examining gradual return to work among employees with mental health problems. It examines the speed of return to work versus the chance of relapse to help develop trajectories and personalised, tailored interventions.

2 Managers’ attitudes: the original IOSH research identified that managers often lack the necessary skills and experience to support workers with mental health disorders. The researchers have investigated this on a larger scale with a representative panel of Dutch managers. Initial results confirm that a significant minority (40%) of managers feel ill-equipped to cope with employees with mental health problems, and about 60% want to increase their knowledge on how to support these workers.

3 The disclosure dilemma: the researchers have developed a tool to help workers decide whether and how to disclose their mental health condition. Acknowledging the sensitivity of such a move, the research identifies factors influencing the decision (to whom and when to disclose, the individual’s level of responsibility, the economic climate, and individual factors such as diagnosis, symptoms and self-esteem). An infographic is available at:

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Food & Drink Awards

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Food & Drink Awards

Recipes for success AB Sugar won last year’s food & drink health and safety awards, with Allied Bakeries Belfast and 2018’s winner Finlays coming second and third. We take a look at what they did to impress the judges Words: TINA WEADICK

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Data Source: Allainz & Klein Insurance Brokers

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Food & Drink Awards


n OSH discourse, leading versus lagging indicators as measurements of performance is a perennial theme. These days, the general consensus is that, although both are required to provide an overall picture of OSH performance, the emphasis should be on leading indicators. Which is all well and good, but how do you measure such ‘intangibles’ as leadership, involvement, ownership and accountability? This was the conundrum faced by the winner of IOSH’s 2019 food & drink health and safety awards, AB Azucarera Iberia – a Spanish manufacturer of sugar and related products (see box below) that is part of the Associated British Foods-owned AB Sugar Group, based in Peterborough. Around four years ago, the company – despite having had a sustained and strong focus on risk identification and mitigation – realised its health and safety performance had plateaued. Although robust systems and procedures were in place, it had primarily been reacting to the failure of these systems and not looking at how effective the implementation had been. As a result, Azucarera’s director of occupationalhazard prevention, Esther Fernandez Gila, decided that, rather than measuring the absence of safety, her focus would henceforth be on the presence of safety. She explains: “The first, and one of the most important, things we did was analyse the level of maturity of our safety culture. We conducted a repeat safety culture survey with our people and held workshops at all of our sites in Spain, which provided more evidence of the issues we needed to address. “We used the [preventive] Nordic Occupational Safety Climate Questionnaire (NOSACQ-50), which revealed significant opportunities for improvement. Although the results were generally positive, 37% of our people still felt we were being reactive rather than proactive.”

Temperature check Steve Williams, head of business process improvement for AB Sugar, takes up the story: “Climate surveys are quite often used to confirm that all is OK, but the purpose of Esther’s survey was to find the next opportunities, however small, to improve. The average result is less important. If there is one person who doesn’t believe that everything we are doing is absolutely right, then that is an opportunity for us to improve. “Climate surveys can be a wonderful thing but, regardless of what your people tell you, you do not have a wonderful factory! The information they are giving you is the most valuable you will ever be given, so look at it carefully and find the key areas where you know you can be better.” Armed with this information, plus detailed analysis of the root causes of accidents and outputs from the safety conversations programme (see p40), both of which Azucarera had been conducting for some time, Fernandez Gila determined the main behaviours that needed to be looked at: unsafe acts (not following systems and procedures), individual factors (bad habits, over-confidence) and leadership factors (inadequate supervision, inappropriate planning and organisation of tasks and excessive pressure). “Next, we analysed the overall business KPIs,” she says. “We were clear from the outset that we wanted what we were doing to be part of those, not additional to them. Then, we set up sub-indicators relating to leadership and ownership in each key health and safety area. For example, regarding contractors, we measured failures relating to entry documentation, we looked at

Above Azucarera’s director of occupational-hazard prevention, Esther Fernandez Gila Previous page Azucarera’s factory takes sugar beet grown by farmers across Spain to create a range of products

whether we were holding regular meetings and who was attending them and leading them, and we looked at who was giving safety inductions to contractors when they arrived on site.” In fact, contractors are the first KPI in the new system of seven – six leading, one lagging – devised by Fernandez Gila and her team to develop the Azucarera health and safety global index. Owing to the seasonality of the sugar-beet crop, the company’s factories are fully operational for only four or five months of the year. The rest of the time is devoted mainly to engineering and maintenance tasks, which involve a large number of contractors. In addition, contracted haulage companies carry out some 180,000 vehicle movements a year. The other six KPIs in the system are actions management, engagement and participation, safety culture, task procedures, safety conversations and accidents. A further 22 sub-indicators were added across all seven KPIs relating to the aforementioned leadership, management, engagement and participation. According to Williams, with these, the Azucarera team managed to “turn the intangible into something tangible”. He continues: “Things like leadership and ownership are not easy to measure but, where possible, they created tangible KPIs that are reflective of those inputs.”

FIRST PLACE AB Azucarera Iberia Azucarera manufactures sugar from sugar beet grown by some 4,800 farmers around Spain. The company also imports raw cane sugar for refining in its factories. From sugar beet it creates food products for human and animal consumption, fertilisers and other agricultural and industrial products, which it sells to businesses all over Iberia. Azucarera is one of six operating businesses of AB Sugar, which has a network of 24 plants in ten countries, employing around 32,000 people.

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The thinking was that if ten key behaviours could be corrected, a root cause of all accidents would be eliminated The sub-indicators change every year – Fernandez Gila calls them “living indicators”, explaining that she uses them “to implement our long-term strategy but also to achieve what we want to achieve on a year-by-year basis”. Actions management is based on comprehensive action plans drawn up by Fernandez Gila and the health and safety team, using the information gleaned from risk assessments, meetings with employee representatives, etc. The plans can encompass more than 1,000 actions per site, so they are prioritised according to a priority matrix that takes into account the level of risk and resources required to implement the action. Azucarera admits that none of this is particularly innovative but where it does set itself apart is in terms of the importance it places on getting the actions done. Williams says: “The team structure at Azucarera is very beautiful. It’s non-functional, so each area of the factory has its own autonomous team managing a factory within a factory. Within each team, they have all of the resources they need to do everything they need to do to manage that part of the factory. In addition to the support of the health and safety team, they have all of the skills, financial budgets and the authority to make decisions. “You cannot give teams the responsibility to do something if they do not have the resources to do it. So, if an action is allocated to be completed by a particular date, there are no excuses.” It is all part of the approach to focus on the presence of safety and praising the positive rather than reacting to the absence of it and focusing on failure. Positive reinforcement of correct behaviour encourages more correct behaviour – people want to be recognised for good work and therefore take pride in doing a job safely and well. Williams tells the story of the time one of the company’s directors asked one of its factory managers what happens if an action is not completed. “The manager looked at the director in confusion,” Williams laughs, “and said: ‘I don’t understand the question. All of the actions are completed on time!’”

Leading the way Another innovative approach adopted by Azucarera is the rotating safety promoter role. This gives every person responsibility for key safety tasks for a two-week period. They receive a list of simple tasks they

are required to do during their stint and, at the end of their two weeks, they have a meeting with the factory manager to discuss what they observed and come up with suggestions for corrective actions. “It’s not a voluntary role,” Fernandez Gila clarifies. “The objective of the programme is to increase awareness, so everybody should get involved. Originally, it was operated on a voluntary basis but as those doing it clearly enjoyed it, it was decided to ensure that everybody had the same experience. It means we can honestly say that every employee is actively involved in health and safety.” The company also took a different tack with its safety conversations programme. It began by looking historically at the root causes of accidents from a behavioural perspective; as a result it identified ten behaviours that were behind one or more of all of its previous accidents. The thinking was that if ten key behaviours could be corrected, a root cause of all accidents would be eliminated. “We did a huge analysis exercise with all of the factory managers to establish these behaviours and then implemented a huge communication plan to raise awareness of them,” says Fernandez Gila. Traditionally, safety conversation programmes have involved observing and intervening to talk about safe and unsafe behaviours, but such an approach is very personal and targeted at an individual or group of people at that particular moment. According to Williams, the Azucarera approach of focusing on ten key safe behaviours is “very non-personal and easy to understand. It is very easy to start a conversation with people about their awareness of the behaviours and which of them are relevant to the task they are doing.” Since the company changed its approach and started focusing on the presence of safety and involving everyone, it has seen a significant and continuous improvement in health and safety performance. Between 2016 and 2019, Azucarera factories recorded a 30% reduction in all accidents, three had no lost-time incidents (LTIs) at all in 2017 and one completed two years without an LTI in 2018. Risk notifications soared by 54% and the action completion rate stands at 85%. Ultimately, the company is striving for 100% safe factories and Fernandez Gila believes that this will soon be achieved. “But it depends on what you mean by it,” she clarifies. “To me, it means that the only way we want to work is safely. We don’t say it’s impossible to have injuries. We understand that there will be risks we cannot eliminate and that human error will occur, so we have to do our best with the resources we have and the environment in which we are working to mitigate the consequences.” Williams agrees: “The concept of 100% safe does not mean risk-free. We talk openly about the fact that it is not possible to create a risk-free environment in a sugar factory. It will always be inherently dangerous and we all have to recognise this. That is why knowledge, awareness and the behavioural side all have to be focused on with equal intensity as risk elimination.”

Images: iStock

Food & Drink Awards

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Food & Drink Awards

Allied Bakeries Belfast came second at the awards with Finlays in third place. Like AB Sugar, both impressed judges


hen it comes to baking, generally the main objective is to make things rise – bread, cakes, muffins, etc. As long as these are going in an upward direction, all is well. But when health and safety performance figures start doing the same, it’s time to modify the ingredients and rewrite the recipe. This is exactly what Allied Bakeries in Belfast (see box below) did in late 2018, when it noticed that engagement and progress in health and safety had stalled and that accidents had started to go up in certain departments. Operations manager Alan Browne explains: “Over a journey of eight years, health and safety has been devolved to departmental heads. Safety meetings look at leading and lagging indicators, and each senior and front-line manager has safety objectives. “Our number of incidents did drop by 50% but there was a bit of a blip in 2018, when first-aid incidents went up from 16 to 20 and we had two lost-time incidents (LTIs). Were we taking our eye off the ball, we wondered? What could we do differently around engagement, we asked ourselves.” Around 90% of the company’s accidents had a strong behavioural element – a fact determined from its behavioural audit programme and as a result of safety conversations with team members. These “walk and talks”, as Browne calls them, were mainly conducted by front-line managers, so, in order to renew and drive engagement in health and safety, it was decided to expand that group to encompass ‘safety champions’. Browne explains: “The hierarchical structure at Allied Bakeries is quite flat and we don’t have a lot of staff turnover, either. We recognised that people were hungry to do something, so we ran a poster campaign inviting them to apply to become safety champions. In addition, we appointed others who we knew were interested in health and safety. We wanted to make

Below Flexible barriers were installed as part of a project to reduce the risk to employees working around forklift truck movements

sure we had a strong team, so that the approach would work. The safety champions are a mix of people – some who’ve worked with us for just a few years, others that have been with us for 15 years – and they have a range of experience.”

Championing safety There are two groups of safety champions – one covering the manufacturing side of the business and led by Browne, the other covering the logistics side, led by logistics manager, Clive Kerrigan. The champions were trained in core safety skills via IOSH’s Working Safely programme, as well as root-cause analysis and risk assessment. But it wasn’t all just theory. Browne says: “What keeps me awake at night are things that we should be doing that we’re not yet aware of, so we made the safety champions actionoriented. We send them out to look for issues that haven’t been addressed and then develop solutions.” A good example of a project is one that considered the unforeseen consequences of a change in shift pattern. One plant changed from daytime working to night shifts but the impact of that change on a nearby plant, in which a lot of loading by forklift truck took place, was not considered. Consequently, the loading was being done in and around people. Browne describes the solution: “Flexible barriers were installed, redundant equipment was removed to make more space for forklift truck manoeuvres and floor markings were put down. It cost virtually nothing but the potential win, in terms of preventing serious injury – or worse – to team members, was huge. The safety champion, who had detected the problem, devised the solution with the support of their manager.” In fact, front-line managerial support is key to the success of the safety champions project.

SECOND PLACE Allied Bakeries Belfast Allied Bakeries Belfast is part of the Allied Milling & Baking Group, which comprises eight bakeries and three mills. The Belfast site manufactures products mainly for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland but also for the wider British market. Its main products include tinned and batch bread, plus pancakes, soda bread and potato bread – of which it produces 3.2 million a week. The main health and safety focus at the site is improving manual handling, reducing dust and work at height.

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Food & Drink Awards

“They must be involved from the start,” Browne emphasises. “If you develop training for employees without getting their line managers on board, it will stutter and fail. In our case, we hold meetings quarterly, which gives the champions time to develop their projects and us time to prepare for the next session. These meetings are scheduled well in advance, with the front-line managers. In that way, we can make sure we arrange cover for people in good time and that not too many people are off the job at the one time.”

Poor visibility The decision was taken early on not to have too many champions, so that the programme was easier to manage and ensure that those fulfilling the role remain motivated. But there was an issue with this. Browne explains: “Having fewer people affects their visibility, so we had the idea of getting the champions to take somebody else from their team or department with them on their risk assessments. As a result, we have more people engaging with health and safety, because they have seen first-hand what the champions are doing, and they like it. We call this the ripple effect.” The teams of champions have expanded slightly since the programme started, in October 2018, and they are currently working to a tactical plan derived from objectives set by the Allied Milling & Baking Group board. “This is not prescriptive,” Browne is keen to emphasise. “We can look at how we do things as a site and then address that based on the company plan. For example, of the various issues prioritised in the plan for next year, our safety champions have opted to focus on dust and work at height.” Browne says Allied Bakeries Belfast’s ‘programme of doing things differently’ has been an easy sell to the board. “Obviously, senior managers still want to see improvements in lagging indicators, but the main thing has been to show them how engaging employees is helping us achieve incident-reduction targets as well,” he says. “The board comes to the site twice a year specifically to look at health and safety issues. They are introduced to the safety champions and get to talk to them about their projects. In turn, the employees note that visibility and get to share their enthusiasm for health and safety with senior management.”

THIRD PLACE Finlays Finlays is a business-to-business beverages company with a history that stretches back 250 years. With more than 25,000 employees, more than half are employed across its tea plantations in Kenya, Sri Lanka and Argentina where tea is harvested and processed in 24 large tea factories in what is a vertically integrated operation aimed at bringing the best from bush to cup. Finlays also processes coffee and botanicals and have extracts, blending, decaffeinating, packaging and research and development facilities in North America and the UK, along with a growing presence in China.

Above Allied Bakeries Belfast produces more than 2.5 million pancakes every week

Before the safety champions programme was launched, Allied Bakeries Belfast was at the ‘independent’ stage of the Dupont Bradley Curve. Browne elaborates: “We weren’t having to force people to report hazards. They were reported naturally and the people on the shop floor were talked to a lot. Individuals were good at taking care of themselves but were not necessarily looking out for their buddies. They didn’t feel like they had permission to say something to someone who they felt was doing something wrong. They didn’t have the confidence to challenge colleagues. The safety champions programme is about empowering them to be able to do so.” He concludes: “We are aiming for but not yet at the ‘interdependent’ stage. We are only a year into the programme and while we haven’t got everyone looking after each other yet, we are certainly a few steps closer to it.”

Finlays third Global Beverage producer and winner of the 2018 food and drink awards (, Finlays, were awarded third place at last year’s event. As the Fourth Industrial Revolution brings with it increasing physical and mental wellbeing challenges, Finlays (see box bottom left) introduced a ‘Healthy is Wealthy’ initiative into its Zero Harm strategy that took in both employees and their families. As well as recognising that visible senior management commitment was crucial to success, physical activity, medical interventions and community involvement were among the six opportunities it identified for improvement across the business. The results have shown a significant decrease in the number of cases of children reporting nutritional disorders in Kenya following their educational campaign, while attendance at mental health workshops has reached 100%. In addition, there has been an 11% increase in employees being referred to GPs as a result of increased medical interventions, and an uptake of more than 90% for physical exercise opportunities during work time. ●

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Safety management

Close calls Organisations that focus on high potential events can significantly improve their safety performance Words: JAMES POMEROY


hen organisations celebrate accident-free periods, I’m pleased for them but also curious – are they focusing on the many incidents that have the potential for serious harm? Every organisation experiences them and they happen more frequently than many realise. As Andrew Hale noted in his 2002 research paper ‘Conditions of occurrence of major and minor incidents: urban myths, deviations and accident scenarios’, studies of major accidents have found that high potential incidents are often preceded by precursor events ( Organisations that focus on the potential within an incident rather than the actual outcome can get a fresh perspective on managing safety. For those

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Safety management

operating in high-risk sectors, prioritising high potential events or incidents can significantly improve performance. Learning from the potential of incidents provides organisations with a good indicator of their inherent risk and shifts the focus from low consequence injuries to understanding major injury risk. So what can we learn from such an approach and what are the considerations when applying a high potential incident strategy?

Defining them One of the reasons why high potential events don’t tend to be commonly adopted is that, unlike lagging indicators, no standardised definition exists. The most common definition is an event that, under different circumstances, might easily have resulted in a fatality ( In other words, if one factor had been different, someone would have died as a result of this incident. Some organisations, however, apply a lower threshold and include potential incidents that could have resulted in life-changing injuries. External reporting is also patchy and organisations that do disclose how they manage high potential incidents use different methodologies so it is harder to make comparisons. This may however change with the inclusion of high potential incidents in the updated GRI 403: Occupational Health and Safety 2018, the reporting criteria for corporate sustainability (

Identifying incidents A prerequisite for any organisation that wants to learn from its high potential incidents is to establish a method to identify them. Given that most do not result in harm, a good starting point is exploring the near miss, observations and safety reporting systems to identify the incidents that, in slightly different circumstances, could have resulted in very different outcomes. There are a number of methodologies which are used to identify the potential harm of an incident. Some involve an informal judgement, while others use formalised methodologies, including a risk matrix, severity scales, decision trees and algorithms. Whatever methodology is used, it is good practice to agree on measurement values so that everyone involved in conducting the reviews reaches similar conclusions.

PEOPLE Arising from behavioural and taskbased activities through incident reports, nearmiss and observations

PRODUCTS Errors in safetycritical products and services identified in quality processes and customer feedback

Investigating them Not all incidents are equal in outcome, and some have greater potential for learning and improvement. In a world of finite resources, it’s important to prioritise incidents so that investigations are proportionate to the potential, not solely the actual outcome. The ‘scale and scope’ of a high potential incident should

A mature organisational culture means employees trust the process and believe that reporting will be welcomed

HiPo INCIDENT Common definition, process and reporting

PLANT Asset integrity and latent defects identified in plant maintenance, inspection and reporting regimes

PROCESSES Arising from major hazard events, such as SPADs in rail, Never Events in healthcare and PSEs in Petrochem

be greater and have more resources dedicated to it than a minor lost-time incident. A risk-based approach to investigations, categorising them by potential consequences, is the most common method to ensure resources are proportionately applied. Although employees who experience high potential incidents while at work will identify many of these events, they will also arise when assets fail. Incidents often lie dormant until identified through inspections or failures. Establishing a strong link between the inspection regimes of safety-critical assets and processes, and the incident reporting system is essential. High-risk organisations also experience them in their operations, as will providers of safety-critical services and products. OSH professionals will find that establishing a common methodology for reporting all high potential events can be advantageous and will provide an invaluable metric for the organisational-wide management of risk (see the ‘HiPo incident’ diagram above).

Cultural enablers The importance of organisational culture is often underplayed in high potential incident strategies. Given

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that many high-risk events will only be apparent to those performing the work, dedicated programmes focusing on these incidents tend to be bottom-up and rely on the participation of frontline personnel to share their experiences. This requires a system that encourages open and accurate reporting without fear of any recriminations. Training and communication will help to establish the necessary trust, providing a forum to discuss concerns around reporting and explaining why detailed investigations are being undertaken into incidents where nobody was hurt. Training will also deal with a common factor associated with these incidents – risk normalisation. This describes the process in which individuals gradually become accustomed to high-risk situations and no longer recognise the dangers. Workplace transportation provides a good example. Often individuals don’t recognise the dangers of interacting near moving vehicles because their risk perception depreciates, and yet it remains the second highest cause of occupational fatalities. OSH practitioners who are new to high potential incident reporting should be aware of how the information gleaned from reporting them will be received by leadership teams – and prepare the ground. This is important because how managers respond to mistakes, lapses and deviations that investigations reveal will shape the culture and determine workers’ future engagement. If OSH reporting has been historically focused on low consequence injuries and reducing rates of accidents, managers may be under the impression that all is well and good. They may feel they have sound control over risk. It’s not unusual for managers to be surprised and even fearful when introducing high potential incident reporting, because they realise how close the organisation has come to major incidents on a regular basis. Organisational factors, such as workplace set-up, scheduling and task planning often underlie many of these incidents. Management needs to be ready to acknowledge this and respond accordingly. These challenges are worth acting on, however, because high potential incidents help leaders maintain ‘chronic unease’ and appreciate the fallibility of their current controls. Emphasising the importance of focusing on high potential incidents throughout the organisation also helps challenge the myth that serious accidents are freak events and reinforces the importance of critical safety controls.

FIVE FACTORS contributing to a significant number of confined space incidents 1 Inadequate testing of the atmosphere 2 Inadequate ventilation of the space 3 Inadequate isolation of hazards 4 Inadequate supervision 5 Inadequate rescue plan

Images: Getty Picture Library

Fixing them The term ‘one barrier from a catastrophe’ is often used in connection with high potential incidents and succinctly describes those that could have been much worse but for one factor. This single factor is often luck, such as an individual’s actions or location, an item of equipment, the time of day or even the weather. Investigations into high potential incidents often identify the fallibility of controls for high risks, many of which are reliant on controls at the bottom of the hierarchy, or single barriers that represent a single point of failure. Corrective action provides the opportunity to combat this by establishing more effective controls. The following tests provide a healthy challenge to any corrective action: ● Proportionality: is the corrective action proportionate to the risk and does it improve control by removing, replacing or isolating the hazard? Behavioural controls, such as re-training do little to prevent reoccurrence, while procedural controls may add complexity and potentially increase the risk of a repeat incident. ● Singularity: does the change improve the overall strength of the system by resolving single points of failure and add additional layers of defence? This could involve introducing additional measures to prevent or detect variance, or recovery barriers that increase the capacity to fail safely. ● Fallibility: when we accept that human error will occur and recognise that control measures are never 100% effective and will deteriorate, our perception on the assurance process changes. Accepting the fallibility of controls helps challenge the assumptions we make when developing corrective actions.

Precursors When organisations improve their reporting and understanding of these incidents they often find that most of the serious incidents involve a small number of high-risk activities. At Lloyd’s Register, for example, four activities account for more than 70% of all its high potential incidents: driving, working over water, confined space entry and work at height. In-depth studies of these four activities will often reveal a Pareto distribution whereby three-to-four precursors account for 80% of the incidents. There are various definitions of precursors. My preference is “a high-risk situation in which controls are either absent, ineffective or not complied with, and would result in a serious or fatal injury if allowed to continue”. Studies of confined space-related high potential incidents provide a good

example of this, with five factors contributing to a significant number of incidents (see box left). This level of analysis is invaluable. It can engage frontline workers and reveal the gaps between the procedure and practice, while also targeting supervision, training and monitoring activities. Precursor analysis also enables more. This is particularly important when changes in organisational factors such as scheduling and technology need to be made.

James Pomeroy is group health, safety, environment and security director at Lloyd’s Register

Many organisations establish incident review panels to peer review investigations and review the strength and appropriateness of the corrective actions. As behaviour-based safety pioneer Dominic Cooper notes, focusing on high potential incidents requires organisations to change their focus from a reactive view of responding to incidents, towards a proactive examination of the conditions that lead to major accidents ( It also requires organisations to reassess what they view as success and focus on how effective their controls are. A mature organisational culture means employees trust the process and believe that reporting will be welcomed. Organisations that can navigate these challenges will, however, ensure that their efforts are focused on reducing their significant risks, and that must be the primary obligation of every OSH practitioner. ●

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Lexicon is for

Recap our A to Z of core safety and health terms

violation Words: BRIDGET LEATHLEY


n J is for Just Culture, the definition for the term was given as “a culture in which frontline operators and others are not punished for actions, omissions or decisions taken by them which are commensurate with their experience and training, but where gross negligence, wilful violations and destructive acts are not tolerated” (see IOSH Magazine, January 2019: What then is a violation, and when is it wilful? The idea that unsafe acts could be considered as culpable and non-culpable was popularised by James Reason’s 1990 book Human Error. Errors could be slips, lapses, mistakes, or deliberate deviations from a procedure, that is, violations. But are all violations the same? As Steve Mason, at the time a member of the industry forum Human Factors in Reliability Group, explains in his chapter on violations in the 1997 book Human Factors in Safety-critical Systems, violations were previously “dealt with in a highly simplistic manner, such as by the allocation of individual blame.” Mason explains that violations are “seldom wilful acts of sabotage or vandalism”. In most cases, even if someone knowingly breaks a rule, they do not intend a negative outcome. Understanding which type of violation you are dealing with can help to manage it, and Mason presents four types. Reason covers the same four in A Life in Error (2013), although the HSE publication HSG48 Reducing error and influencing behaviour (1999) includes only the first three (

In most cases, even if someone knowingly breaks a rule, they do not intend a negative outcome

Routine violations have become the normal way for people to behave in a workplace. The violation is often to save time or reduce effort (see E is for ETTO) and persists if there are no ill effects. In some cases, workers are unaware that they are violating the rules, as they have learnt the behaviour from their peers and think this is the correct way to work (see IOSH Magazine, August 2018: Explaining to a worker that they might get hurt if they cut corners won’t work if their own experience has been positive and they have received praise for working quickly. Removing the rewards for cutting corners, and increasing praise for taking time to follow procedures are likely to be more effective.

Situational violations occur when it is difficult, or impossible, to comply with the rules and meet the job requirements. Reason calls these ‘necessary’ violations, emphasising lack of choice. To reduce these, the reason for the violation needs to be removed through workplace design. If a delivery driver’s schedule is planned well, they won’t need to speed; if the right means of access are available for heights, people won’t have to improvise. Exceptional violations occur only in emergencies, when existing rules and procedures aren’t working. People feel they have no choice but to break a rule. For example, when a firefighter returns to a burning building in breathing apparatus without the required rest period. Better emergency planning will reduce the extent to which people have to make ‘do or die’ decisions when there isn’t time to assess the consequences. If there is an emergency that couldn’t be planned for, a better understanding of different modes of operation, for example through simulations, would give people better knowledge to avoid dangerous exceptional violations. Optimising violations, Mason explains, are motivated by “a need for excitement in jobs which are considered repetitive, unchallenging or boring,” Reason describing them as “thrill-seeking.” As we saw in R is for Risk homeostasis, if the gap between people’s capability and the task is too great, people will find extra things to do – like sending text messages while driving. If jobs are boring, consider whether job rotation or improved task design could increase the engagement of the work (see IOSH Magazine, September 2019: Although these definitions are useful, it is not possible to categorise every violation uniquely. Rules broken in an emergency (exceptional) or because of circumstances (situational) can become the norm (routine) if the individual feels rewarded as a result. HSG48 presents violations as universally bad, concluding “you feel you need to break a rule... You believe, falsely, that the benefits outweigh the risks.” However, Reason points out that “violations do not always have bad outcomes” and conversely “there are some instances when strict compliance has led to disaster.” Reason gives Piper Alpha as an example. Those who had correctly assembled by the accommodation platform died. Some who broke the rules by jumping into the sea, survived. For them, the benefits of the violation outweighed the risk. ●

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Off duty Mark Pavey

Read about other safety professionals’ pastimes


Process safety development manager, Cameron/Schlumberger


I have never had such pinsharp focus as when my main canopy failed on my 79th jump

y first career was in the British Army, where I was able to realise my love for all things adventurous. My early desire to throw myself out of aircraft at Aston University continued through Sandhurst. I didn’t realise it then, but this pastime combined with my experience of looking after people and managing risk at the sharp end would set me up for a career in safety. A reliance on risk control was – and is – the link between my day job and my pastime. People have often questioned how a safety manager can ride motorbikes and jump out of aircraft. Risk control is the common denominator. Safety hasn’t prevented me doing anything I’ve wanted to do; it has enabled me to do it again the next week. This is a philosophy I have maintained throughout my life. There was always something about jumping out of an aircraft at 3,600 m that enthralled me. The times when nothing matters except what you’re doing in the moment are special, and I have never had such pin-sharp focus as when my main canopy failed on my 79th jump. The emergency drill I had rehearsed before I left the aircraft came to me with absolute clarity. I landed, picked up another canopy, packed it and jumped on the next available flight. When I left the army in the late 1990s, family responsibilities, new careers and all manner of other influences meant my skydiving days were numbered. But after several years, the withdrawal symptoms proved too much and I looked for a pastime that would give me a similar buzz. I recalled seeing a strange canopy many years earlier and the majestic way the pilot flew above

the German Alps using the wind and thermals for lift. I investigated and discovered the fantastic world of paragliding. Paragliding on the continent is very different from in the UK, because cable cars and the several thousand metres between launch point and landing area afford fantastic flights over magnificent scenery. My heart was in these long flights but my skill level was too reliant on cable cars. I became an expert in the UK sport of ‘para-waiting’: sitting on the side of a hill, waiting for the right conditions to appear. So I needed another solution. My desire to have a canopy above my head and my feet a long way from the ground was fulfilled when I saw a paramotor pilot flying around the sky with a propeller strapped to his back. This was what I had been looking for. I was keen to ensure that safety was at the forefront so I completed a paramotor conversion course with the British Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (BHPA). I achieved what is jokingly considered to be the lowest form of pilot’s licence available. The course, at Darley Moor in the Peak District, was progressive, covering the stages of engine and canopy control, launching, turns, landing and short confirmatory flights around Ashbourne and Alton Towers. Air law is important, so that you know where you can and can’t fly and how to fly safely with others. Getting signed off entitled me to take off from a flat, open field rather than having to travel to a hill or find a cable car. That was more than eight years ago. A friendly farmer lets me take off from his field and, although my paraglider hasn’t much seen the light of day, I still get the odd flight when my holidays take me to the right location. I am restricted to flying my paramotor to 1,370 m beneath the approaches to Birmingham Airport, but 8 km to the south there is more freedom. I have achieved 3,000 m a few times, but 900 m or buzzing the hedgerows is the norm. Flying in the late evening, turning to face the setting sun and switching off the engine have been some of my most precious moments. Safety remains close. The secret to achieving a safe flight record and continued flying is to ensure my kit is serviced and in good condition, the weather is good, and that I fly within my ability. Most importantly, I don’t mind packing up my kit and going home if flying doesn’t feel right. Anyone thinking of having a go should first look at videos on YouTube. Paragliding is a good place to start; you can do taster lessons and tandem flights at BHPA-registered clubs to see if it’s for you. ●

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To advertise your vacancy, contact

Ask a recruiter I’m a young professional who doesn’t have a wealth of employment experience. How can I put my best foot forward at interview to move up the career ladder? Taking the second step up the career ladder can be tricky. In your first health and safety role it would have been clear to the interviewer that you had little or no experience. The role responsibilities, expectations and salary would likely have reflected this. Moving on from here in your career, the role responsibilities increase as does the salary, expectations of a candidate’s experience and competition for the roles. There is no magic bullet that will ensure you will be successful at interview. However, there are a number of small steps which if all lined up ensure at the very least you give yourself a platform to put your best foot forward. Below I have outlined those I believe are the most critical. Timing and presentation. These might sound like the most basic of interview tips. However, it is amazing how many good candidates don’t get either of these two points right. The train will break down on the way to an interview, it is a fact of

life! I always advise candidates to get to the building 30 minutes before. However, don’t arrive too early. This can be just as bad as turning up late. Going into reception ten minutes prior to your interview is perfect. We are in 2020 and it is no longer essential to wear a business suit to every interview. Even so, for most interviews it still is. Always err on the side of formality and you can’t go too far wrong – if in doubt your recruiter should be able to give you some pointers on this. Next is research. You can never do too much research into an organisation prior to interview. The points you get across in the interview will be gold dust. A great tip is to check the news feed of the company – if there is a major press release this will be the main talking point internally. If you can find a health and safety angle which relates to this and your background, even better. Finally, make sure you have clear, concise examples prepared from your background

which relate to the role. Again, it sounds simple, however, I find most good candidates don’t get roles because they fail to do this at interview. Use facts and figures to back up examples you give and wherever possible talk about achievements. How many sites were you responsible for? How many employees on each site? What was the percentage reduction in lost-time injuries? The role specification will give you a very good steer of what examples to talk about. If you get the points above right, you will be in a good position to nail the interview and secure your next role. Finally, I would also say look for some way you can go the extra mile. I had a candidate who visited three stores of a major high street retailer prior to an interview as a health and safety adviser. Technically, the person wasn’t the best fit yet the client really liked the fact they had gone over and above what was required. They were offered the role and five years later they are still with the company.

James Irwin is a director at Irwin & Colton. E: T: +44 (0)1923 43 2632 W:

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To advertise your vacancy, contact

To view all of these vacancies and many more please visit

Safety Advisor Location: London Salary: £40-48,000

HSE Manager Location: Birmingham Salary: £50-55,000

Safety, Health and Environment Advisor Location: Bristol Salary: £35-45,000

Lead CDM Consultant Location: Birmingham Salary: £45-55,000

Health Safety and Environmental Oʯcer – Manufacturing Location: Kent Salary: £30-35,000

Health and Safety Manager Location: Bristol Salary: £35,202 FTE

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To advertise your vacancy, contact


Health and Safety Advisor Grade & Salary: Grade I (£28,353 - £34,614) Hours: Full time Department or Division: Corporate Services Location: Force Headquarters, Ripley, Derbyshire Working closely with the Head of Corporate Risk and a dedicated health and safety team, you will be involved in the provision of a comprehensive health and safety support service ensuring that the force maintains compliance with all its obligations. Balancing the operational priorities in its response role whilst minimising the risks to our police officers and police staff means managers have to make some difficult judgement calls, some of which you will assist them with by building effective working relationships and looking for safety solutions in this diverse and challenging work environment. You will be involved in a wide range of activities including: general health and safety advice, workplace inspections, development of risk assessments, preparation of policy, procedures and guidance documents, accident investigations and contractor monitoring. You must have strong IT and communication skills with a keen eye for detail as you will be responsible for collating and delivering statistical information to various forums You will be Qualified to NEBOSH General Certificate in Occupational Health and Safety or an equivalent qualification, hold technician Membership (Tech IOSH) or higher of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) and have previous health and safety experience within a large multi-sited organisation. Application forms and other information in respect of this post are available on the Derbyshire Constabulary website Careers page or by accessing the following link:




London, £70,000-£75,000

Midlands/South West, up to £38,000

Burnley, £35,000 + car allowance

A HSE manager is required to lead EMEA operations for a renewable energy JV. Managing construction and corporate elements to HSE, this role is London based with some travel in EMEA. Managing a small team, the key priorities are designing and implementing a HSE management system and provide strategic direction to teams including construction and asset management. You will have electrical safety experience, a NEBOSH Certificate and OHSAS 18001 Lead Auditor Qualification. Ref: 3730019

A top-tier H&S consultancy is looking for a food safety consultant. This organisation has been recently awarded as one of the top 50 employers across the UK and won several RoSPA awards. This is a home-based role with national travel. You will be responsible for undertaking site audits, risk assessments and food inspections. You need to hold at least a Level 3 Food Safety Hygiene qualification and a NEBOSH certificate or equivalent. Ref: 3718315

A wonderful opportunity has arisen to join a construction and regeneration company as a health and safety advisor in the Lancashire area. You will provide an effective service for the business that is focused on compliance with the statutory health and safety framework, other relevant safety legislation and best practice. You will ideally hold a NEBOSH certificate and have worked in a safety role in the construction industry. Ref: 3705570

Tiago Sousa T: 020 7259 8724 E:

Ciara Hamilton T: 01244 322857 E:

Nicole Smith T: 020 7259 8724 E:

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To advertise your vacancy, contact

(more than just) Recruitment



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Partnered with: RoSPA, NEBOSH, IOSH, IIRSM, Pinsent Masons

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Established in 2002, The HSE Recruitment Network is the most recognised and trusted brand in the UK Health & Safety recruitment sector. Our recruitment consultants are proud and passionate advocates of the Health & Safety industry, and equally of the diverse range of individuals who specialise in Health, Safety, Wellbeing, Environmental and Risk Management. 2XUNQRZOHGJHH[WHQGVEH\RQGWKHLGHQWLČ´FDWLRQDWWUDFWLRQDQGDVVHVVPHQWRI+6(WDOHQWWR genuine subject matter expertise, developed through an ongoing commitment to thoughtleadership events across the HSE sector.

CONTACT US: 0121 454 5000

56 JANUARY 2020

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New Year, New Career? Contact us today to begin your search


To advertise your vacancy, contact

Featured Job

Head of HSSE | London | £Competitive We’re pleased to be working with an energy-related organisation to appoint a Head of HSSE. This is an exciting opportunity where the successful individual can look forward to joining a successful organisation to develop their career in the HSSE space. Attracting a competitive salary, the role is based in London, working across several high-risk sites. As Head of HSSE, you’ll be driving, developing and maintaining the HSSE culture across the multisite business, helping stakeholders to understand their role in HSSE management, working closely with the senior management team to achieve this. You’ll be a driving force for proactive HSSE performance, developing and embedding robust processes, systems and programmes to enable this. To be successful, you’ll need a solid background in the energy, chemical or process manufacturing sector, along with previous COMAH experience. Given the need to drive and develop a positive HSSE culture, your ability to engage and influence others, throughout the organisation, is key, and you’ll need to actively demonstrate this throughout the selection process. You’ll ideally hold the NEBOSH Diploma, or be working toward this (or an equivalent qualification). FOR A CONFIDENTIAL DISCUSSION CONTACT LIAM TIDDY LIAM.TIDDY@SHIRLEYPARSONS.COM 01296 611302 REF: LT 14430

Liam Tiddy Head of Executive Search at Shirley Parsons UK




HSE Officer

H&S Advisor

H&S Consultant

Home Counties £45,000

North West £35,000 - £40,000

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A specialist manufacturing organisation are seeking a hands-on HSE Officer to lead on EHS issues and help achieve site-wide compliance. You’ll need to hold a relevant safety and environmental qualification and have excellent communication skills, with a background in the manufacturing sector.

We’re working with a market-leading construction company to recruit a H&S Advisor to join their expanding business. You’ll be responsible for effective H&S delivery within the region. Along with a construction background, previous civil engineering or demolition experience would be considered.

A highly regarded food retailer is seeking a H&S Consultant for an immediate start, initially for a 3 month contract. The role will provide strategic HSE support across their London-based retail stores. The NEBOSH Diploma plus CMIOSH status are highly desirable plus previous retail or corporate property experience.

To apply, please quote RJ 14466

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Visit for our latest vacancies GLOBAL LEADERS IN HSEQ RECRUITMENT 01296 611 300 | @ShirleyParsons

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10-11 March 2020 NEC Birmingham, UK Register today for the UK’s leading event for improving the health, wellbeing and performance of work-aged people

Changing Culture and Behaviour

20 CPD conference programmes to choose from including: • Emotional wellbeing and stress management • Mental health • Employment law • New this year: Health, safety and wellbeing of distributed, flexible and lone workers

P fo D r a an al pp d l p rov at or e d on ten tfo a ly d lio nd £4 bo s. ce 5 th Bo r t + d ok ifi ca VA ay T s f ear te or ly s

• Safety behaviour and culture • Creating a healthy working environment • Health surveillance and protection • Occupational psychology and organisational behaviour

and use registration activation code: IOSHAD

Supported by

@HWatWork Health and Wellbeing@Work

Organised by Sterling Events 60 JANUARY 2020

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IOSH Magazine - Jan 2020  

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