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A generation game


A couple of generations ago I worked in one of the safest steelworks in the country, with a payroll of 5,000, blast furnaces, coke ovens, melting shops and rolling mills. We had a first class accident record without the complication of HSE inspectors or safety departments.

This success was entirely due to the initiatives of the chief executive who insisted that although being a management responsibility, 'safety is everybody's business'.

The result was that the managing director chaired the safety committee, senior departmental managers attended each monthly meeting and the workforce was represented by a mix of trade union and elected delegates. The monthly accident statistics were reviewed, specific dangers highlighted and progress in rectifying risks monitored.

Meetings invariably resulted in action being taken against actual or potential hazards.

Of course, present day construction sites differ from the relatively stable environment of heavy industry but the basic argument is the same - without the input of high-level management no site safety scheme will be at its best. Mr Williams' 'near hits' (NCE 27 October) will go uncorrected and avoidable accidents will occur.

There is no substitute for close management control and while there may be 'more important matters to be dealt with', nothing is more important than the life or death of the individual on site.

Mike Rathbone (F), m. rathbone@btinternet. com

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