Is it really necessary for someone to die before the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigates unsafe practices? My recent experiences of the HSE suggest that it lacks the skill or ability to carry out its function and seems obsessed with rules and regulations.
To illustrate my point I point to two examples.
The first was a scaffolding collapse on to a public highway during some demolition works.
The contractor in this instance immediately reported the incident to the HSE. The HSE investigated and the contractor identied the problems and carried out further training.
The second happened during some highway works.
A container yard adjacent to the site was stacking shipping containers three units high on the highway boundary with no twistlocks inserted between containers.
One of the units was knocked and fell more then 5.2m onto the highway.
To date, the owner of the freight yard has not reported the matter to the HSE or taken measures to prevent recurrence. And despite this matter being reported independently to the HSE hotline, the HSE has not investigated the matter.
Both accidents involved the same sort of hazard, yet one was investigated and one wasn't. It seems that individuals who operate honestly are subject to scrutiny by the HSE.
Those who operate outside these rules seem immune to scrutiny, even when the HSE is informed of their activities.
Tim Haines, timhaines1@tiscali. co. uk