Week Commencing 26/06/2023 – In The News

Hot spots: fire hazards multiply to threaten construction sites

Site safety signWhile UK construction output witnessed a decline in the year of and following the Covid pandemic, construction fires in the latest ONS figures show an increase in incidents compared to previous years. Despite calls for greater professional competency and better technology available, fire hazards are only increasing with the likes of new construction materials, hot works and the presence of lithium-ion batteries. Hunter Seymour addresses the issue.

This year, two key announcements on construction site fire hazards have been published that point to heightened concerns for safeguarding best practice in fire prevention when protecting buildings under construction or undergoing refurbishment.

The latest UK Home Office figures, reported in May, reveal that “Primary Fires on Construction Sites” in England show an increase in incidents compared with the last recorded year surveyed in the previous 2019 report. This is despite a devastating 40% decline in UK construction output early in the first year of the Covid pandemic (2020).

Read more on the SHP website.

Deregulation plans could hinder road safety

The government’s plans for increased deregulation of driver licensing risk undoing years of hard work in improving road safety, claims RED Corporate Driver Training.

Current proposals to introduce longer articulated trailers to the UK’s roads, coupled with plans to allow car drivers instant access to 7.5-tonne lorries, would create a double-pronged threat to road safety because both schemes do away with essential training.

Seb Goldin, CEO of RED Corporate Driver Training said, “We understand the need to address the commercial vehicle driver shortage in the UK, but the Government’s approach of simply de-regulating licensing requirements is not the right approach.

“These vehicles require extensive training to operate in a safe manner – we can’t simply do away with the need for training because it goes hand-in-hand with improving road safety for all users.”

Currently, a category B (car) licence entitles holders to drive vehicles up to 3.5 tonnes (and up to 4.25 tonnes for alternatively-fuelled vehicles). To drive vehicles from 3.5 to 7 tonnes requires the driver to pass a C1 licence test.

To qualify for a C1 licence, applicants must currently: have passed their car test, had a medical assessment, attained a provisional C licence, passed a theory test and, finally, passed a practical C1 test.

For more on the issue, visit the HSM website.

Study shows issues around women’s PPE in engineering sector

A survey of women working in construction, mining and quarrying reveals that 80% of respondents have been given ill-fitting PPE at work.

The study canvassed 130 women from the Bold as Brass LinkedIn group, a network for women working across the above sectors. It found that 32% have felt unsafe due to ill-fitting PPE and 28% have even been on sites where there is no PPE provision at all. 

The findings, published in Ground Engineering, were revealed on International Women in Engineering Day (23 June) which has the theme “make safety seen”.  

Speaking to Ground Engineering, Tarmac Geotechnical Manager, Katherine Evans, founder of the Bold as Brass group, said inadequate PPE could put off women considering a career in engineering. “PPE might just be the last bit of safety, but it’s the thing that’s going to stop so many people from actually entering the industry if it doesn’t fit.” 

Learn more on the SHP website.

‘Want to keep your HSEQ staff? Ensure you have the right management style’

One of the main reasons HSEQ employers are leaving their jobs is because of poor management styles in their workplace, research has revealed.

Other reasons people are unhappy in their safety role are a lack of bonus schemes and progression routes.

The Salary and Insights Survey for 2023 by Shirley Parsons also showed more than half of those surveyed are looking for a new role in the next year.
Shona Paterson, Director of Talent at Shirley Parsons, said: “This year’s report shows 51% of HSEQ professionals are looking for a new role in the next 12 months, with over 21% looking to leave immediately.

“This is a slight drop from 2022, perhaps as a reflection of economic uncertainty, but still highlights the needs for employers to understand their employees’ motivations.
“This is something we are increasingly involved with through our Talent Consultancy, running projects to improve satisfaction and retention amongst HSEQ and sustainability teams.

“The survey showed HSEQ directors are more likely to look outside of HSEQ for their next role.
“I believe this trend will continue as HSEQ begins to open up more opportunities for directors to wider roles but it should trigger consideration of succession planning for this in terms of identifying your future leaders and creating opportunities for your directors internally.”

Visit the SHP website to learn more about the survey.

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