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Safety plan of attack

HEALTH & Safety Executive Inspector Trevor Allen has called on the ICE to help stamp out 'counterproductive bureaucracy' in the safety planning of building projects.

Allen's paper at BIET's annual conference, explained how the role of the planning supervisor - charged to produce a safety plan in line with the Construction (Design & Management) regulations of 1994 - was in some cases as merely a protection against litigation.

The paper 'If you dice with death someone's number could be up' states: 'Many pre-tender safety plans are generic, lack site specific detail and are so voluminous that important risk issues are often lost in a mass of irrelevant paperwork. This self inflicted bureaucracy may stem from the adversarial nature of the industry, where excessive documentation is seen as a defence against litigation.'

He is hopeful that the ICE will support HSE's 'Working well together' campaign, to encourage greater co-operation between parties, in the framing of safety plans. 'With the help of the Latham and Egan reports, we may yet see a cultural change which supports a less litigious approach, with the sort of co-operation which lies at the heart of CDM. We are looking to professional institutions like the ICE, whose members operate as planning supervisors, to help get this message across.'

The paper says that the Construction Industry Council is producing a video for designers and planning supervisors to educate their clients on safety issues.

Unable to attend the conference due to illness, Allen, whose paper was read out for delegates, also flagged up a five year HSE campaign to make roof platforms safer working surfaces, with the development of 'non-fragile' roof lights. 'The major cause of fatalities and major injuries are falls from height,' he said.

A best practice guide for teaching health and safety could further improve the downward trend of fatalities, standing at 76 for 1997-98.

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