Informa Markets

Author Bio ▼

Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
June 21, 2009

Get the SHP newsletter

Daily health and safety news, job alerts and resources

SME trial planned as “successor” to Worker Safety Advisory Scheme

The HSE has pledged to carry out some pilot projects that will look at improving training for safety representatives among smaller businesses and encourage workforce members and first-line managers to work together on solving health and safety problems.

Quizzed by the Work and Pensions Select Committee on 10 June, HSE chair Judith Hackitt and chief executive Geoffrey Podger effectively ruled out a resurrection of the Worker Safety Advisory Scheme, but argued that the planned training exercise could be described as “part of the inheritance” of the Scheme and showed that it was serious about promoting worker involvement in health and safety.

Ms Hackitt told the committee that it would be running the training exercise as pilots and was already in discussion with EEF — the manufacturers’ organisation and the Federation of Small Businesses to find small businesses to act as guinea pigs for the process. The initiative, which is planned for 2010, is expected to cost £4m over two years. Businesses involved in the project are likely to be used as case studies, which would then be circulated to other businesses.

When asked specifically about whether the Executive had plans to resurrect the Worker Safety Advisory Scheme, which operated from 2004 to 2007, Podger admitted that it had only ever been intended as a “pump-priming” project that was not going to “run in perpetuity”. He added: “I think what we are doing now about worker involvement is certainly legitimately seen as a successor to that exercise.”

Committee chair, Terry Rooney continued to press on this issue, suggesting that worker involvement is very low in most workplaces. Referring to the blacklisting scandal in the construction industry, uncovered in March by the Information Commissioner’s Office, Rooney questioned: “How can you promote, develop, encourage, whatever, that greater worker involvement where, as your own strategy says, ‘the greater the worker involvement, the safer the workplace’, when we have the incident that came out a couple of months ago about major blacklisting? So, when workers do get involved and engaged in the health and safety agenda, they are blacklisted from employment.”

Stressing the HSE’s extreme opposition to such activity, Podger was swift to point out “the variety of ways of intervening in this area”, such as the way inspectors on individual sites always seek out the workers’ representative and raise issues with management of apparent failures to consult with workers.

Related Topics

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments