We all travel for work; be it walking, cycling, driving or relying on public transport. Naturally each type of journey carries an element of risk but for people commuting into the City, there are so many that we rarely stop to consider them.
If you think about it, in one way or another, each and every day, we interact with some form of machinery and work equipment that could harm us if it malfunctioned. Despite this, we understandably take for granted that the escalator we use will operate safely, the boiler that makes our morning cappuccino won’t explode and the passenger lift taking us from reception to the office will get there without incident. But how it is that we can be so relaxed about using such potentially dangerous things?
A downward trend is a good thing
You may have noticed that in the UK we take risk management very seriously and the good news is that over the last twenty years there has been a downward trend in the rate of fatalities and serious injuries. However, making sure that this trend continues is a neverending task.
The law requires that “every employer shall ensure that work equipment exposed to conditions causing deterioration which is liable to result in dangerous situations is inspected at suitable intervals”.
Employers are therefore busy working hard to make us safe but in 2014/15 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) still recorded 142 fatal injuries in the workplace. In addition, 166,000 injuries occurred at work of which 152,000 led to individuals taking more than seven days off.
A snapshot from Allianz Engineering reveals the size of the challenge for businesses. During 2016, Allianz’s 570 engineer surveyors inspected 141,477 passenger and goods lifts, 6,237 escalators and 818 moving walkways. In addition 19,865 café boilers were also inspected, showing that we really are a nation fuelled by caffeine.
When you add into the mix the inspecting equipment at airports, construction sites, sports centres, theatres, hotels and factories, to name but a few, the scale and importance of modern health and safety becomes clear.
The HSE said in its annual report for 2014/5; “Overall, UK performance is better than many other European countries [...] in health and safety management. The UK performs consistently well compared to other large economies such as Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Poland, as well as compared to the EU average."
It’s important to know that as a country we’re on the right track but clearly it’s difficult to completely eliminate risks, so if you think a health and safety law is being broken or a minimum standard is being ignored you should speak to your employer straight away. Many employees don’t realise that they have the power to do this but raising the issue should solve the problem. If it’s not resolved there’s even the option of contacting the relevant enforcing authority.
‘Its health and safety gone mad’ is a common phrase but if the law is applied sensibly, the safer we are. So the next time you are making your way to work, spare a thought for engineer surveyors who are running diagnostics, inspecting equipment and offering safety improvements to your employer - they are helping to make you safer in the City.