What common sense? - Health and safety education is still as important as ever!

Vicki Filson

Vicki Filby-Filson
Senior Consultant, Assurity Consulting
7th January 2021

Now I would not claim to be a construction specialist, but understand the legal requirements, recognise the hazards and know what he expected good practice and controls required to minimise risk look like. 

At the end of the first day whilst saying goodbye, the sub-contracted ground works team asked me what work I did. As you can imagine my response resulted in a nervous snigger; this is usually because people mistake me with an inspector who has enforcement powers. They then asked how I thought they had been doing. Well they did ask…!

Whilst I won’t list their misdemeanours here, I thought consideration for personal long term health was overwhelmingly ‘relaxed’. Unfortunately, whilst ‘PPE’ was one of the most frequently used words in 2020, those who should have understood and used it for years, cannot see the value or be bothered to use it.

“Don’t you think this health and safety has gone a bit far now?”, the older chap asked. My partner sighed as he witnessed this ‘red rag to a bull’ laid down before me and realised we could be standing at our door for longer than anticipated. Furthermore, when it was followed up with “well it’s all just common sense”.

Ironically, the contractor then proceeded to reel out a long line of serious and life changing accidents he had witnessed over the years, all in addition to his obvious hearing damage. All avoidable if things had been done properly and they had some “common sense”, I thought.

After they had gone, my overall feeling was of disappointment, that individuals consider health issues such as hearing damage to be inevitable and due to age, rather than a preventable workplace injury. Unfortunately, this attitude and subsequent lack of control is still being passed down to younger colleagues starting out in the construction industry.

So this brings me round to the value of training. If you don’t know, you don’t know. Training (along with suitable supervision) will therefore fill that gap. Training is not just the information and instruction on how to do things, but it makes sure you understand the consequences and that these can be prevented. Never assume that everyone knows this, common sense is less common than you think.