Fantastic! The job was mine. It was my third interview at a Derbyshire manufacturer of chrome alloyed steel components for aircraft engines. This last interview was a formality and the talk was about “when I work there” as opposed to ‘if I was to get the position’. Then it happened. The Engineering Director looked at me with a really stern face and said in all grimness. “Of course you do realise, if there is a serious accident here, you could go to prison!” I couldn’t hold it any longer as my face cracked into a beaming smile while I un-diplomatically informed the misinformed gentleman that although there was a slight chance I could be held accountable if I underperformed , but in all likelihood, if anyone one was in the firing line, it would be him!
I wanted to say to him that I had the same duties as anyone else in the factory, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and that Regulation 7 under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 put a duty on him to appoint a competent person to help him make the right decisions based on their advice. I wanted to let him know that Section 37 of the Act would allow the HSE to make a critical examination of his performance in the way he provided the right support and resources for the factory to stay safe. But I didn’t. I left for my Chesterfield home soon after with my ears ringing to the sound of “We will let you know.” Due to their embarrassment, I knew I would never hear from them again and I never contacted them to see how I had done as this was one authoritarian leader I was disinclined to go into battle for. I had already decided I was going to start a training company to try and fight against this kind of naivety I had encountered in any case and try and support every Health and safety Manager in the land along the way.
Since that date I have been responsible for turning out 22 what I consider top class material for the task, thanks to the NEBOSH certificate course which is the flagship course now for Train to Safety. Check out the next one starting on September 4th.
I came into my house horrified a few months ago. I had been to my local filling station to fuel the car ready for the next day. The location is only a mile away. As I came off the forecourt and moved into the traffic, as I had done so on many occasions, there was no choice. I had to go left with the one way system. So why then after about three seconds did I realise I was going the wrong way – against the flow of possible traffic? Fortunately the roads were really quiet on this occasion and after only 20 meters did the road once more become 2 way traffic.
The BBC Horizon programme spent a whole hour last year convincing us that we are not in control of our conscious thought process and that for each rational conscious decision we make, the brain makes 250 unconscious decisions. But surely, if my brain was on remote control then I would have gone with the flow without thinking? It’s this kind of aberration in the work place as well as the roads which could cost lives. As my humble brain has to process safety issues for on average 10 hours per day then the bad news for you is…. You have no chance!
The human brain is an amazing thing which we have hardly scratched the surface of understanding. But it is so easily tricked. Derren Brown makes a living out of tricking us. Then there are risk perception problems. Did you know that we mostly rate ourselves better than average at anything we do? Er… so how can that be then? Ultimately this leads to an over optimistic outlook when faced with judging the size of a risk.
Were you aware we actually only see a small proportion of what we look at? Because the eye actually sees only a small patch at any one time it has to constantly scan an area by moving about three times per second. Is it any wonder that football referees are constantly in the headlines for getting it wrong? Then the information reaching the brain has to be put into some kind of order and context before a correct response is generated.
Mr Bean and I have something in common. And although you won’t care to admit it I’m afraid that you do too. That’s why we all like to laugh at such clowns (including that sick show Game for a laugh) as we identify that it’s not just us but others who are even more misfortunate as ourselves. I am talking about what is known as skill based errors or more often slips and lapses. Yes we all make them, many times per day if you sit and think. It may be tipping slightly too much milk into the tea or even putting coffee granules into the tea pot. It could be clipping the kerb edge while driving or accidently putting petrol into the diesel tank when filling up.
An aviation safety source states ‘In the case of slips and lapses, the person’s intentions were correct, but the execution of the action was flawed – done incorrectly, or not done at all. When the appropriate action is carried out incorrectly, the error is classified as a slip. When the action is simply omitted or not carried out, the error is termed a lapse. “Slips and lapses are errors which result from some failure in the execution and/or storage stage of an action sequence.” Reason refers to these errors as failures in the modality of action control: at this level, errors happen because we do not perform the appropriate attentional control over the action and therefore a wrong routine is activated’ 61% of all errors we make are skill based (as opposed to rule and knowledge based errors)
We often argue, sorry; debate about the difference between the two types of skill based errors during our NEBOSH certificate courses. The Hughes and Ferret study books examples are slightly misleading. Skill based behaviour (and therefore mistakes) are mainly limited to highly routinized and automated activities. The advantage of this type of activity allows for greater planning ahead while requiring the brain to only monitor the progress of the routine on a periodic basis. For example, have you ever gone upstairs to do a task only to arrive in the wrong room and do a different action or even more frustrating arrive in the room and discover you can’t remember why you went upstairs in the first place. (reduced intentionality slips) Maybe this explains my poor driving or even why the majority of car accidents actually happen within a few miles of your house. Be truthful. Can you actually remember driving up your home street to go home yesterday? I bet you can’t
Sub divisions of slips and examples for instance using a cash machine could be: Double Capture slips – Inserting the wrong card or entering the PIN from another card. Reduced intentionality – Operator does not enter the PIN. Perceptual confusion – pressing the wrong keys or unaware the PIN entry is not required therefore sequence is timed out. Interference errors resulting in wrong PIN input. Reversal, mis-ordering, mistiming fit in here somewhere too.
Slips and lapse played an important part in many disasters such as Long mile Island to the Kegworth air disaster. At a local level we were debating a reported accident on one of my courses last week, in relation to a power tool user who somehow lost control of his equipment which sadly resulted in a fatality. Maybe after delving slightly deeper into the cognitive mind can we start to shine a small amount of light on situations like this or on my own situation of driving the car the wrong way.
It’s a shame then knowing what we do that many employers react to human error as though intentional violation of the rules and react by implementing disciplinary action. Or is this the action of an employer tired of having to fend off a civil action. It’s up for debate.
Just finished a manual handling course at Precision Products Ltd in Chesterfield. (This company belong to the category of companies highlighted in the last blog about Performance and Safety. They are good, in all respects). When enquiring about my movements, the day before, a fellow trainer wanted to know if the manual handling course I was running was the version an environmental health awarding body. Yuk, I recoiled in horror. The thought of me dragging my way through these formal, stiff, two dimensional and condescending Power-point’s sent a shiver down my spine. It’s no wonder health and safety training receives such bad press. Some of these awarding bodies’ courses have very little to be desired. Question: Does knowing about a specific regulation, which is the concern of the employer, have anything to do with an employee keeping themselves safe while working? Answer: No, hardly at all. Question: Does knowing how to lift something safely help to keep someone from damaging their spine? Answer: Yes it probably would help. So why don’t awarding bodies include something substantial in their courses about this instead of just a token gesture. Does having a go at a manual handling MAC assessment for a real live situation give a worker a better understanding of how the risk to back injury is based not only upon the total weight but on a whole accumulation of points to do with the lift (or action)? Answer yes. absolutely. But start explaining about TILE instead to your group (as in the EH course) and the room soon becomes very lonely and full of echo. Er.. hello, is anyone out there?
Yes I know that these packaged courses are standardised and scrutinised to ensure that they achieve a tick in the box. However, I can remember a shop called Netto which also supplied a standard product, which was the same across all its shops in the country, but at the end of the day it was standard crap! Netto are no longer here now because their product was rubbish. Some of these awarding bodies products are also NETTO products and should be consigned to the bin too.
After delivering an estimated 1,400 days of training, I reckon I can judge pretty well how a course is going down. Today’s course was full of to the brim with enthusiasm and meaningful questions by everyone in the room. They all took part and discussed their situational manual handling risk assessment. We played with models and saw some bizarre and interesting film footage. They laughed and joked – but in the right way, as they each had a go at practising a safe lift and then seeing it being played back in slow motion and freeze frame over the big screen. We discussed each individual’s quirks, weaknesses and strengths. There was fun and there was meaningful learning, and I reckon that the course scored 9 out of 10, in comparison to a package course which might reach a 4 at best. The common sense approach being pushed by the government, the authorities and society as a whole, is in evidence here. A training course designed by someone with a real teaching qualification, based around sound principles of engagement and learning has got to be in the premier league. Just like the company who received it today.
For more information about wholesome and effectively designed training courses contact www.traintosafety.co.uk. They are running an open manual handling course in Chesterfield on 23rd May.
When collecting a promotional banner for the training business this week, I had the misfortune to have to walk through a dungeon to collect it. It was as noisy as hell its self. It was freezing cold; dark, dingy and filthy. Workers stood operating large production equipment cutting up pieces of rock. They wore jeans and trainers and had no eye protection. For a moment I thought I was in a third world country and was overcome with dismay. I wondered how long this stone cutting business could cling on. I wondered how long this stone cutting business should be allowed to cling on.
I have been lucky to have worked and partnered a number of great companies around the Derbyshire and South Yorkshire region which as you may detect, I am immensely proud of. However, there was a rather gloomy comment made in my recent NEBOSH course by one of my students that “manufacturing in the region was finished!” . “Its all gone now” they said. I was a bit taken aback and didn’t know what to say. When the said named person left the course later that day they will inevitably queued for about 15 minutes just to get out of the Sheepbridge Industrial Estate due to the volume of traffic leaving the hive of manufacturing activity which goes on there.
Some of the companies I would like to have pointed out to him are the likes of Techman Engineering: A company which makes clever radio controlled drill rods for the oil and gas industry to allow directional drilling. This company have doubled their staff levels over the last two years, despite the recession! Truly amazing. Then there are the likes of companies such as Therco heat exchangers, now looking to expand to a further production unit to cope with their demand. RD Leverage make moulds for the plastic bottle industry and like Therco and Techman, have expanded into new premises. Their factories, by-the way, are spotless, bright, airy, quiet and warm, a joy to work in. Power System Services are of the same ilk, with repeated and increased business, year on year especially with their amazing Laser steel cutting equipment. We have Marriott drilling, leading the way and securing our natural gas reserves for the future by discovering and piloting techniques to release the vast quantity of shale gas from under the Lancashire limestone layer. What about some of the others we have in the region. Toyota, pumps out 160,000 cars every year in an industry sector which has been the power house of UK manufacturing during the recession. ITM Power in Sheffield have to be one of the cleverest industries in the UK, leading the world in Clean energy – hydrogen fuel cells. We have some fantastic success stories yet no one seems to be singing their praise. We all just seem to lament the decline of the coal or the steel industries. (We still have a steel industry by the way, we just do more clever and value added things in smaller quantities now).
It is easy to see what all these companies have in common. Investment in research and development – number one. They are well led and organised by visionary people. They are open minded and willing to embrace new methods and ideas (like the M-files data management tool). They are proud of and invest heavily in ensuring their quality is faultless. And finally, for me, they all value people! They keep them safe to the best they possibly can. Hats off to everyone.
Come and meet some of these remarkable people from the above mentioned companies at our next forum for manufacturers and processors on the evening of 10th April. We have a great time.
Just found this advert in one of the monthly safety magazines. Makes you want to balk.(OK you guessed it, I edited some of their sales pitch!) For certain, this is NOT Train to Safety.
Train to Safety are often seen only as a specialist training provider. That’s not a bad thing as it is the core of our business. We have however been completing more and more health and safety consultancy. However, the consultancy side has recently taken on a whole new dimension with the addition of the provision of Environmental Management and Quality Management. From internal auditing to waste management training, systems implementation to legal and client compliance, we now have the facility to do it all. The integrated management systems of ISO9001, ISO14001 and HSAS18001 are all within reach of companies based in the Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire areas. For more information contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Severe example of Environmental, quality and safety failure – all in one go