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Author HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
derrickman

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 07:59:19
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just following one of the usual HSE rants over on ME, this one about a teacher bringing a miner's lamp into class and falling foul of the HSE jobsworth there.

well, quite so. This is what happens. If you think this is unecessary, you should see some of what comes over MY desk as a Client Rep in the offshore industry.

However, that said, this is an industry where you CAN, if things go sufficiently badly wrong, end up by incinerating several tens of millions of pounds'-worth of equipment and nearly 200 men in a few minutes, or more likely having a fairly dire accident within a small area. Railway work is like that and so is construction, up to a point at least. Tends to concentrate your thinking, especially the older blokes who have been in it since it was plain dangerous, and don't want to go back to that

but, but, but... it isn't hard to write a MS and RA for a safety lamp and I'd like to think that anyone fit to stand in loco parentis ( which is what teachers do, legally ) had the sense to work that out for themselves.

the whole system IS overblown and has an unhelpful number of people who tend to rely on being obstructive, on the basis that if you don't do anything you won't have any accidents; it HAS changed its focus, to a considerable extent, from risk management to blame deflection and litigation avoiodance; but it isn't as hard to deal with as some people tend to make out Blink

IP: 149.254.56.84 Edited: 18/06/2009 09:27:56 by derrickman
Vanoord

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 09:35:19
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Tweak: a couple of posts removed

It's a curious one, for sure.

I'm seeing things in the marine industry where current EU standards are being considered irrelevant by UK legislators who will not recognise EU testing for a hire boat code and wish to create their own system of testing - which is actually to a lower standard.

It's a little curious, to say the least.

SiminRL and I have had a little insight into the certification of mines by HM Inspectorate of Mines recently and that - thankfully - seems to demonstrate that a bit of common sense still applies.

It's all about recognising what the risks might be and mitigating the possibility of things going badly wrong - and not the identification of theoretical risk resulting in the eradication of the activity entirely.

How can an underground activity ever be considered to be risk-free?

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derrickman

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 10:33:31
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this is very much to the point.

The heavy engineering disciplines generally are places where specific targets are pursued, by people with a detailed knowledge of the subject, and it is still generally accepted that risks up to and including fatalities are an integral part of the process. Risk management therefore retains its original sense of being what the name implies, and ALARP is exactly what it says.

many branches of HSE have effectively become litigation avoidance functions ( the old concept of a "vexatious litigant" having apparently been quietly dropped by the judiciary ) operated by staff with little knowledge of the specific application, who attempt to apply highly detailed solutions defined at desks far away, for the purpose of eliminating risk entirely; often by preventing the activity taking place at all.




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SimonRL

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 10:36:46
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Off topic but it kind of illustrates normal thinking people are up against:

[web link]

A TV advert which showed pop singer Duffy cycling through a supermarket has been cleared by an advertising watchdog after health and safety complaints.

Eighteen viewers complained the singer, from Nefyn, Gwynedd, was not wearing reflective clothing and her bicycle had no lights in the Diet Coke commercial.


You couldn't make it up Laugh

Off Topic
IP: 83.148.135.213 Edited: 18/06/2009 10:37:06 by SimonRL
AR

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 11:16:57
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Slightly pedantic, but I think we should distinguish between the HSE and H&S - HSE refers specifically to the Health & Safety Executive who do generally try to be level-headed about risk and risk management, whereas H&S is the idiocy that results when a) someone in management goes off at half-cock after reading/hearing that something might be dangerous and not having a clue about the difference between a risk and a hazard b) Insurers decide that rather than doing what we pay them lots of money to do and assess and evaluate the likelihood of something hazardous causing an accident, they'll refuse to cover you unless you remove the hazard altogether c) money-grubbing lawyers bend and twist the wording of laws far beyond what they were ever meant to cover in order to get "compensation" for some Darwin-bait who's incapable of grasping that they do have a responsibility to look out for their own safety and wellbeing, with the knock on effect of more scenario a) and b) happening Guns

I suspect there's also a lot of use of H&S as an excuse, such as the Royal Mail stopping deliveries to places like Booze in Arkengarthdale on the grounds "they couldn't ensure the safety of their staff", nothing at all to do with the fact they lose money taking deliveries to such places. Cursing


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RJV

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 11:32:04
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The whole issue is possibly exaggerated somewhat by mouth-breathing Jeremy Clarkson alikes though who report stories without any degree of knowledge or thought.
The papers were full of a 'Health & Safety Gone Mad' type story last week about a pick-your-own-strawberries place having to stop people picking their own strawberries because the cost of their insurance renewal prohibited it. What any of the papers failed to make more than a passing mention of however was that the premium had increased due to an injury sustained on their premises the previous year.
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derrickman

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 12:29:37
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well, yes.. but the increasingly risk-averse insurance company attitudes, driven in large part by tv adverts for law practices promoting the idea that everything is someone's fault and they owe you money as a result, mean that injuries which would have been shrugged off 15 or 20 years ago now develop into management issues

it's also an offshoot of the vast expansion of middle-management types with no knowledge of their areas of responsiibility, produced by the spread of soft degrees as a result of the politically-driven increase in higher education.
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RJV

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 12:52:53
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Well ambulance chasing law firms and 'everything is everyone elses fault but my own' scroungers are certainly are a large factor however it must be remembered that insurance companies need your money as much as any other business. There is simply no business case for them purposefully pricing themselves out of the market where it can possibly be avoided.

Anyway, my defence of 'The Man' endeth here.
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toadstone

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 13:12:47
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The problem in my experience is that at some stage in dealing with H & S legislation on a day to day basis we can unwittingly add to problem by having to give in to a request because either it will lead to you loosing work or you are unsure of the actual legislation and it is easier to comply with the request. In either case you effectively compound the problem when it comes to someone else meeting the same request as usually if the new person challenges the request they will say, well so and so does it. Hey presto a precedent is set.
I can understand the need for H & S and the benefits but like anything taken to excess, its just a pain in the butt.

Peter.
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PeteJ

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 14:27:32
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Agree with all the rants....but just try running a tourist mine without insurance and you might discover that life can get very difficult indeed.

Pete
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derrickman

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 14:41:25
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I was trying NOT to rant... I am firmly of the opinion that the overall loss of management skills, caused to a significant extent by the over-promotion of 'soft' degree candidates who believe that 'management' is a skill and function in itself, is a serious contributing factor.

management IS a skill in itself, but not the way they think. The end result is a risk-averse process in which hazards are given inflated ratings because they don't have the necessary experience to assess them properly.

this is compounded by the general adoption of executive remuneration schemes which provide one-way bets based on share price rather than value
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PeteJ

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 15:01:19
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Quite agree - (the "rant" word comes from the topic title) no offence intended.

Big problem we have now is the limited pool of experience in certain areas. For example, managing a tourist mine or managing an extractive mine in the UK is a very rare occupation nowadays. I believe that some tourist mines have found it not possible to fill the statutory Manager with a person who wants such a role - hence the job might by default, go to an existing manager in the organisation.

This can result in more aversion to risk, and so on.....
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derrickman

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 15:36:33
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can't comment about tourist mines, except to say that in my experience the main problem is the low level of remuneration and lack of career progression and professional development, which makes it not worth someone's while to do it at all unless they are already local and unemployed, under-employed or partly retired.

I occasionally get enquiries of that sort via an agency I have used intermittently for years, from operations who need a suitable Mine Surveyor for a while. The tourist-based ones never come to anything, I don't pay them any heed any more

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AR

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 15:39:34
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derrickman wrote:

I was trying NOT to rant... I am firmly of the opinion that the overall loss of management skills, caused to a significant extent by the over-promotion of 'soft' degree candidates who believe that 'management' is a skill and function in itself, is a serious contributing factor.

management IS a skill in itself, but not the way they think. The end result is a risk-averse process in which hazards are given inflated ratings because they don't have the necessary experience to assess them properly.



Pretty much spot on - although there are certain universal skills required for managing, they are not in themselves sufficient to adequately manage many things. A wise manager who lacks the in-depth technical knowledge of their domain will make sure they have a deputy with that knowledge, and defer to the deputy's opinion where necessary. However, such wisdom is in short supply, and all too often we end up with pillocks full of whatever guff is being peddled by management theory consultants , or number-cruchers unable to see beyond share price or immediate profit. Likewise, possession of a degree should not be taken as any guarantee of ability - I clearly remember a former boss who couldn't be trusted to run a bath but was in the job because he had a management degree. However, given the way universities have been turned into a means of keeping the youth unemployment figures down, the worth of a degree is going down pretty fast too!

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stuey

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 16:15:31
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Big deep breath.........

I was the chap with the safety lamp, in a room which contained lots of sharp edges as well as clamp-stands. Imagine tripping over and falling on one of those!

Years ago, stuff was dangerous and people needed a kick to sort out the 3G volt bare wires and cleaning a working steam hammer between strokes, etc. This is all well and good.

The problem was, they didn't get to a sensible level of legislation and think, "right, all we need are a few enforcers" and be done with it, they carried on justifying their ever constricting red tape, driven by report spouting people on the gravy train, gradually making it more tricky for everyone to do their jobs. Why does France have a health and safety department which is in a small parisian flat? (rhetorical question).

This typifies what is wrong with this country.

My example would have not resulted in shorting a power station out with whole queues of people incinerated by a high voltage cable dancing about....it was a ******* oil lamp! The irony being the word "safety" in the title! This is not one step too far, this is several steps too far.

Let's put it into context, I am probably more experienced in risk assessing dangerous and I mean FERKING DANGEROUS chemicals and undertaking hazardous procedures than the flaky ferkwits who orchestrate this rubbish. Hence the gross overestimate of actual danger. These muppets confuse real and percieved.......GRRRRR

If we want to have risk assessments for oil lamps, I suggest we send everyone home as there are just far too many dangers to make anything worthwhile. LIFE IS DANGEROUS FOR CHRISTSAKE!!!!! GRRRR!!!!! Cursing

We need to get back to people being responsible for their own safety and the responsibility of the chief to hire a man with the right qualifications.

You do not make something safe by having a bit of paper. You protect your arse legally. This is not about personal care, this is about control and people justifying wages. Just how many people got zapped by a mega train cable or incinerated by an oil lamp this week? None.

Can we not apply a bit of common sense here?

I am well able to assess my own demonstrations and there is no way I would be doing anything where there is any probability of anything going wrong. If something did go wrong, it would be down to a freak accident like the ceiling falling in.........

Come the revolution, these wasters will be the first people on my machette cull. Guns

IP: 87.114.128.76 Edited: 18/06/2009 16:18:58 by stuey
carnkie

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 16:30:53
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AR wrote:


However, given the way universities have been turned into a means of keeping the youth unemployment figures down, the worth of a degree is going down pretty fast too!


Listening to a number of graduates interviewed on R4 a couple of days ago if that was their intention then this has failed as well. Just raised the age slightly.

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stuey

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 16:38:51
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http://www.cynicalbastards.com/ubs/index.html

University of bums on seats. Smile

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derrickman

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 16:55:47
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soooooo ............... did you notify the school in advance that you were going to bring a safety lamp in? Because I took my old Premier carbide into my son's school a while ago, did them a one-page RA a week in advance, had a firebucket handy so I could chuck it in there if necessary, and Robert was your father's brother....

'arse protection' is a necessary management skill at times, that plus cost control and proper programming are of course the downside of promoting peop[le off the tools as managers with no other training, I've seen THAT go wrong often enough; but my experience has tended to be that if you look as though you are ahead of the game you have no real problems.
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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 17:04:02
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Sorry to hear of your debacle with the H&S pleb at your school, Stuey. It beggars belief that you were stopped in your tracks whilst illustrating to the kids a safety device that has undoubtedly saved many lives in the mining industry over the years. The irony of it all, you couldn't make it up!

The obsession with H&S has caused the problems with underground access on the IoM. Not shades of thing to come I hope Glare

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HSE rants... good thing / bad thing?
Posted: 18/06/2009 17:06:33
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My big argument with a risk assesment is this: -

Managers seem to think that because a written risk assesment is in place a job is safe, that assumption is in itself dangerous.

All a written risk assement is is a piece of paper documenting the assesors thought track in identifying hazards and the risk posed and a means of mitigating/controlling those risks.

A favourite example on H&S courses is a tiger.

Say on my RA I put down the hazard of a tiger in the room, the fact that its on a RA makes it no safer, until adequate control measures are in place, managers seem to struggle with that, we have a risk assesment form at work that I refuse to fill out, as all it does is highlight hazards, it does not control risks. Instead I use my own form, which identiies the control measures.

I'm still struggling to think of a risk from the safety lamp other than burning.

What is more scary is with the kids in Stuey's school, here we all risk assess sub conciously, because stuey is having to spoon feed the kids in a completly risk averse sterile manner, there is no way that those kids are going to be able to risk assess anything for themselves unless the risks are highlighted in a text book, well taht isn't life!
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