Teesside Firm Leads Safety CampaignSeptember 28, 2015
A Teesside-based shop-fitting company is spearheading a national campaign urging the construction industry to learn from their own mistakes and help reduce the number of serious accidents.
A director of Newman Scott Limited, of Teesside Industrial Estate, Thornaby, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive in 2013.
Now the company, whose work can be seen in luxury department store Harrods, Heathrow Airport, Chelsea Football Club and Middlesbrough’s mima art gallery, is backing the regulator’s annual drive to reduce unsafe practices that make construction one of the UK’s most dangerous industries.
Joint-managing director John Graham said: “I would urge everyone in the construction industry to take action now in protecting the health and safety of your workers. Don’t let a prosecution or worse, the death or injury of a colleague, be the catalyst for change.”
Inspectors are visiting sites across the country looking for poor standards that put employees’ health and safety at risk.
Newman Scott was visited as part of a previous campaign and a sub-contractor was seen using a badly erected mobile scaffold on an escalator. Fortunately, nobody was hurt in the incident.
Mr Graham said: “We were mortified at the thought of being prosecuted, because we had a good safety record and thought we were pretty good at health and safety.
“We had a choice, we could consider ourselves lucky there were no injuries, or we could hold a full and frank internal investigation, understand what had gone wrong and make sure our sites were safe for our workers.”
Newman Scott already had procedures in place but they were not being strictly followed. But the HSE praised the firms rigorous response to their prosecution.
A series of measures were introduced to galvanise the company’s culture of safety, including better communication and more training and competency checks.
“Most importantly, our employees knew they could say no, without fear of retribution, to any request from a client or director if they felt it could not be carried out without risking their health or their safety,” Mr Graham added.
The HSE’s Jo Anderson said: “We are grateful to Newman Scott for sharing their experience and for how they have responded to the prosecution.
“We hope everyone can learn from their lessons and realise it is vital when carrying out construction work that the right management systems are in place so risks to workers’ health are controlled just as effectively as safety. “Workers within construction are paying too high a toll on their health and safety when it is completely avoidable by planning the work, providing the right kit and making sure it is used properly.” Although only five per cent of all workers are employed in construction, the industry accounts for almost a third of all deaths at work. Last year there were 42 fatalities and 76,000 reported cases of ill-health.
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