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CROSS survey results analysed

Question 1

To which organisations would you report structural safety hazards? Please list.

Nearly 30 organisations were mentioned as possible recipients of reports on safety hazards, although a surprisingly high percentage of respondents either failed to answer the question or entered a Don't Know. Most, however, listed at least one, usually two or even three.

The Health & Safety Executive topped the poll with more than 19% naming it as favourite. This was closely followed by the ICE with almost 16%, and the Institution of Structural Engineers at 13%. Local authorities were next with 11%.

Surprisingly, employers were named only in 7% of cases, while the Standing Committee on Structural Safety received just 5.4%.

Question 2

Do you know of the reports published by SCOSS (the Standing Committee on Structural Safety)?

Some 56% of respondents claimed to be aware of these. Some were honest enough to add comments such as: 'Through NCE stories only', or 'but wouldn't know where to get one'.

Question 3

Do you believe you receive enough information about safety hazards on a regular basis?

Nearly 80% of respondents said they did not. 'Too much repeating of old information' commented one respondent. 'NCE and The Structural Engineer could do more on this,' said another.

Question 4

Do you believe the balance between commercial interest and safety is about right, or biased either way?

Only 38% were convinced it was about right as opposed to 62% who believed it was biased. From the comments included on many forms, a clear view could be had of the way they thought the balance was tilted.

'Fines are too small,' said one respondent. Presumably, this meant that fines imposed for breaches of safety regulations were not high enough to deter unscrupulous employers. Another commented: 'There is a fear of reporting hazards in case one gets involved in legal actions.'

Question 5

Have you ever been discouraged from reporting a safety hazard to an outside body by someone within the organisation you worked with at the time? How many?

The replies showed that 24% of respondents have been discouraged from reporting safety hazards.

Their responses were surprising. The largest cited score was six, but others reported 'at least three', 'several', 'too many' and 'too many to count'. One respondent implied that they were discouraged from reporting hazards 'mostly by clients'.

Another, who answered 'No' to the question, added: 'But I have been discouraged from formally reporting a hazard to the organisation I worked for'.

Question 6

Do you know of any instances where warnings of inadequate structural safety have been ignored?

32% knew of such instances.

Question 7

Have you ever faced a conflict between your professional ethics and your loyalty to your employer over a safety-related issue?

29% had faced such a conflict.

Question 8

If yes, would you have used a confidential reporting service as described in the accompanying article?

This question should have been answered only if the answer to Question 7 was 'Yes'. However, most of those who answered 'Yes' had ticked the 'No' box of Question 7.

Question 9

Are you in favour of an independent confidential reporting system for civil and structural engineers?

Only 3% of respondents answered 'no' to this question showing an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the idea.

Comments attached to the question showed that engineers truly believed such a scheme would improve safety in the industry and help them do their jobs better.

There was one surprising exception. After answering 'Yes' to Questions 5, 6 and 7, one respondent replied in the negative to both questions 8 and 9. His comment by way of explanation was: 'Safety will not be improved by subversive activity.'

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