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Health and safety needs co-operation

LETTERS - PRIZE

Sir, I read with interest your report about health and safety reps having a positive benefit on construction sites (News, July 7).

The article highlighted very clearly the need for health and safety staff to be more responsible in their approach and many safety professionals clearly need a step change in their attitude.

Finding fault in the work of others is the easiest thing for anyone to do and safety is no exception. Previously, our safety legislation has been prescriptive and therefore a lot more black and white than it is now. If you were not doing it the right way, this was easy to identify and the 'policeman'style safety professional could pull out his black book and penalise as appropriate.

This often left site managers feeling beaten up after the visit of the safety off icer, rather than motivated to address the issues raised.

With legislation now based much more on risk assessment, all involved are required to think harder about how they work and the methods they employ. This clearly means that safety professionals must take on the weighty responsibility not just for finding faults but for also sticking their necks out at times to provide responsible, practical advice and assistance that is also commercially realistic.

Rather than sitting on the sidelines and simply highlighting errors, safety managers, representatives and consultants should be getting stuck in with the management and the contractors to make a difference to the way people work.

I am pleased to see some evidence of these professionals making a difference in the industry and hope the old-style policemen are now a thing of the past.

Kevin Clarke, Director, 4 See Risk Management Milton Keynes Buckinghamshire