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Workplace health & safety must be more than a tick box exercise

Posted: 15th May 2019

Health & Safety campaigner on a mission to reduce workplace fatalities following the death of her brother 

Health & safety campaigner Louise Taggart, whose brother was killed in a preventable work-related incident, is on a mission to reduce serious injuries and fatalities in the workplace.

Michael Adamson, who was 26 years old at the time of his death and engaged to be married, was an experienced electrician but died after being electrocuted when he cut through a cable that was marked as being out of use, but which had not been securely isolated.

Angered by the failings of his employer to protect Michael, Louise has dedicated her life to educating businesses on how to better protect employees and contractors on site.

She is set to lead a series of masterclasses with experienced health & safety, employment law and HR specialists, Law At Work (LAW) at locations across Scotland, including Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen where she will share Michael’s story and provide firms with a strategy to meet legal regulations.

Louise will be joined by former healthy & safety director for Babcock International Group’s Marine division Andy Forbes, head of health & safety at Law At Work Douglas Cameron, and  LAW’s Sarah Liversidge, a former HSE inspector.

Louise Taggart said: “I became a campaigner because I was looking for better justice and for lessons to be learnt. In Michael’s case, there were generic risk assessments in the site plan with no site-specific tailoring. They were also undertaken before he was a contractor and had not been updated, so it was a tick box exercise.

“Whether you are a blue-chip business, a manufacturer, or a retailer, if you have contractors on your site you need to be switched onto safety. You need to know that the appropriate training has taken place, that there have been communications between permanent staff and the contractor team and critically, that you have effective management and supervision in post”.

“Some businesses might question the cost, but what is the cost of the loss of a 26-year-old man who died when he was due to get married? Who lost the chance to become a much-loved uncle, husband and dad?

“Health and safety is still seen as a burden on business – red tape – when nothing could be further from the truth. It is a protective safety net for workers and for businesses alike.”

The three-hour long sessions will focus specifically on the safety of third-party contractors, and where responsibility for their safety lies. It will also look at common failings that may lead to businesses coming under investigation as well as what a safety culture means within an organisation.

In 2017/2018 there were 38 fatal injuries in the construction industry alone – a 27% increase from the previous year.

Sarah Liversidge from Law At Work added: “Workplace injuries continue at an unacceptable level, and in recent years there have been a number of high profile cases specifically involving contractors. While businesses have clear responsibility for the safety of their own staff, it is not always considered for third-party contractors.

“Our masterclasses have been designed for business owners, directors, procurement managers and senior managers with responsibility for health & safety. As well as hearing about Michael’s story, we will cover everything from dealing with inspectors to managing contractors and achieving compliance.”

Tickets to Law At Work’s ‘When Safety Fails’ cost just £25 per person.

Events will be held in Glasgow at The Grand Central Hotel on Tuesday 18 June 2019; in Edinburgh at the Edinburgh Hilton, Carlton on Tuesday 25 June 2019; and Aberdeen at The Chester Hotel on Friday 28 June 2019.

For more information, please visit www.lawatwork.co.uk/when-safety-fails


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Business Comment is the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce’s bi-monthly magazine. It provides insight on Edinburgh’s vibrant business community, with features on the city’s key sectors, interviews with leading figures and news on new business developments in the capital.
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