It’s time for a joined up approach to safety bulletins
Author : Paul Gay
15 March 2010
British industry is being urged to play its part in sharing information to prevent accidents in the future. And to this end, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revamped its safety bulletin system which warns industry of problems with equipment, process, procedures and substances that may lead to injury. In future, bulletins will be available automatically by e-mail, text message or RSS feed, as well as the website.
Judith Hackitt OBE
British industry is being urged to play its part in sharing information to prevent accidents in the future. And to this end, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revamped its safety bulletin system which warns industry of problems with equipment, process, procedures and substances that may lead to injury. In future, bulletins will be available automatically by email, text message or RSS feed, as well as from the HSE website.
HSE Chair, Judith Hackitt commented: "With this new and updated way of issuing safety alerts, we are initiating a better, joined up approach to sharing information that will help towards reducing death and injury at work. HSE is keen to move with the times and take advantage of new ways of communicating.
"We are encouraged by the positive response we have already seen from a number of sectors, but we need to get all areas involved to maximise the benefits of this approach. I am confident that British industry will rise to the challenge of protecting workers through this new system."
The Executive is calling on industry to share such information more effectively. And to introduce the new approach HSE recently held a workshop, which demonstrated the benefits of the new approach and to encourage industry to do more to help improve the safety alert system as a whole. Participants at the seminar committed to actions including; reviewing the format and method of issuing alerts; sharing alert information with other industries; and setting up forums to share best practice. In return, HSE pledged ongoing support to industry to help organisations progress with their commitments.
Safety alerts are for major faults that would result in a serious or fatal injury and where immediate remedial action is required. They are issued when there is a specific safety issue that without immediate action being taken could result in a serious or fatal injury. When dangerous equipment, processes, procedures or substances are identified during or after an investigation or as the result of a notification from Europe or industry, HSE may need to notify users and other stakeholders of the danger. HSE may also need to notify other users of the steps that need to be taken to rectify the fault or protect people against it; a safety alert is one way of achieving this.
The aim of bulletin is to issue a document which is designed to facilitate a change in procedure or it requires an action to be undertaken to improve the level of protection or instruction in a potentially dangerous situation. It must be acted upon within a reasonable time, if a time period is not stated. It is not as immediate as a safety alert.
Safety notices are issued where, under certain circumstances, an unsafe situation could arise. For example, where instructions or labelling for use are not clear, additional guarding may be required, operating parameters or procedures need to be changed, where this could, in some cases, lead to an injury. Action should be taken although it may not need to be immediate.
When potentially dangerous equipment, process, procedures or substances have been identified, and depending on the probability of the incident reoccurring and the possible severity of the injuries, HSE may want to inform all users and other stakeholders of the situation and the steps that should be taken to rectify the fault via a safety notice. Safety notices will be issued after consultation with stakeholders and may result in industry-led notices being issued at the same time.
During its normal activities of inspection, investigation and dealing with complaints, HSE will come across information that needs to be passed on either to a wide audience or to a specific group or sector of industry. HSE will use the most appropriate means to do this and it could be in the form of an information notice or as part of communication via a range of media which will ensure the message is received by those who need to take action.