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Under the influence


Mr Cooper (NCE 16 September) is to be applauded for his forthright remarks.

Engineers can have an influence - and many could do much more - but this is not the same as saying that the designer is to blame for 40% of all accidents. The former is true and the latter is nonsense.

However, it is my belief that the subject of safety is more important to the practise of construction design and management than, for instance, contract law and procedure. The chartered civil engineer must know enough about both subjects to practice his profession.

But the difference between compliance and noncompliance with the law is stated in the regulations and ACoP using subjective and undefined terms and is only tested with hindsight. A close study of the implications of the law is therefore vital.

If there is anything to criticise it might perhaps be the restricted objectives of the ICE Health & Safety Board. It should not be concerned in my view so much with 'policy' but should be closely involved with correcting ill-informed and misleading pronouncements. It should counter misconceptions espoused by MPs and inform and advise the HSE about the art of the possible and the practice of the practicable.

It should be afforded the prominence, budget, and support from Council which is appropriate to this vital subject, and should energetically foster and promote its study. Above all it should be working hand in hand with the HSE on its current project of re-drafting the Regulations.

Andrew Allan, Allan Consulting Engineers, allan@allan.

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