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Slaying the Elf n Safety Monster
The words health and safety have become synonymous with paperwork and jobsworths making everyone’s commercial existence difficult. But, as ACT’s Mark Wheeldon explains, the cold hard truth is lost in misunderstandings, misconceptions, and myths: it is time to fight the Elf n Safety Monster


and the IMI, ACT has two sector-specific health and safety courses listed within the IMI’s CPD Partner Gateway: IOSH Managing Safely within Automotive Retail and IOSH Working Safely within Automotive Retail. Both courses are accredited by IOSH and hence are recognisable by interested third parties such as enforcing officers, insurance companies and motor manufacturers. They also have known CPD value for IMI members, see the featured courses below. They have been designed by the sector for the sector and examine sector-specific issues relating to the pragmatic management and control of risk within an automotive retail environment.


ften at the heart of this issue is a basic misunderstanding regarding the mantra of health and safety in the workplace and its subsequent requirements. There is no doubt that the ‘Elf n Safety Monster’ has grown in stature over the years, prompting the government to conduct two reviews: Lord Young’s review – Common sense, common safety, and Professor Löfstedt’s review – Reclaiming health and safety for all. Although both reviews examined slightly different areas (Lord Young’s review was a general examination of health and safety in the UK, while the Löfsted review concentrated on legislation) both agreed that in general health and safety legislation is fit for purpose and basically makes sense. The concern that both reviews raised centred upon the basic lack of understanding regarding the requirements of health and safety law in practice and the confusion which exists between criminal and civil litigation. Yes, there is too much criminal legislation currently and over the next few years at least 84% of this will be reviewed, edited and where appropriate removed. This process alone however will not necessarily destroy the dreaded Elf n Safety Monster. The rationale behind the development of effective health and safety management in the workplace is a relatively simple one. If developed correctly it will provide businesses with the following three ‘rewards’: • moral reward – property, assets and most importantly people, are looked after; • legal reward – you / your business complies with the law; 36 / MIM // OCTOBER 2012 /

• financial reward – good health and safety practice goes hand in hand with good commercial management.

If you’re on the IMI Professional Register, you can claim one CPD credit by reading this article, answering the ‘Reflect’ questions, and updating your CPD record on MyCPD

utomotive retail health and safety solutions provider ACT is working with motor manufacturers, franchised networks, retail groups, independent garages and accident repair centres, to provide real world advice and solutions within the workplace. Service provision is via a national team of competent advisors (registered on the Health and Safety Executive’s consultants register) and bespoke online management systems. At the heart of ACT’s philosophy is the provision of accredited automotive retail health and safety training. Working together with the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH)

As a Chartered Safety Practitioner I will always argue that the ‘moral reward’ is the important one. This is based around the concept of people having the basic right to go to work and come home at the end of the working day in the same condition they left in and without being too macabre about it, in some instances actually get to go home at all. Unfortunately this concept seems to get lost through lazy journalism, fear of civil litigation reprisal (being sued) and our old favourite – a basic lack of understanding. A question for you: Are you currently doing something in the name of health and safety which does not do one of the following? • • • • • stop people being killed stop people being injured stop people’s health being damaged protect property protect assets

If you answer yes to any of these, there is one more question to pose – why? Many would argue at this point it is because we have to. The truth is no, you probably don’t. It is often the case that the ‘bonkers conkers’ element of health and safety is fuelled by the fear of being sued. Not being sued is a byproduct of complying with criminal legislative instruments. Realistically, if organisations run their undertakings based upon a fear of being sued, would you ever open the front door in

the morning? The concern with the civil litigation system was highlighted in the Lord Young Review and is currently being tackled by the government. Moving forward, it is going to become harder to sue people and companies within the UK. Within the automotive retail industry there generally tends to be far too much reliance on health and safety consultants and / or a group health and safety manager when it comes to complying with criminal obligations. Often consultants (whose credentials are rarely checked against the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register) sit in room with no one on site understanding what they are doing. What happens when these people are not on site? The truth of the matter is that on a day-to-day basis health and safety is managed by line managers, general managers, owners, and directors etc. When are these people trained regarding their health and safety responsibilities? When do they learn about health and safety law and its requirements? When are they equipped to be able to tackle the Elf n Safety Monster? This training void is at the heart of the issue within our sector and is the singular largest contributory factor towards the sustention of the Elf N Safety Monster. This Monster is not founded in law, it is not part of effective/ commercially astute health and safety management and it has nothing to do with the moral reward of looking after people.

The cold hard truth is that the Elf n Safety Monster is the lack of understanding itself. This leads to the misconceptions, this leads to the myths and this leads to the misery faced by many all in the name of ‘Elf n Safety.’ It is time to fight the Monster. Knowledge and understanding are the key weapons. It is time to arm yourselves. Are you ready for the fight?

1. What are the names of the two recent reviews into health and safety within the UK? 2. What did each review focus upon? 3. What percentage of UK criminal legislation is going to be reviewed over the next few years? 4. What are the three rewards derived from effective health and safety management? 5. What is the true Elf n Safety Monster?

IOSH Accredited - Working Safely Within Automotive Retail ACT National Ltd Hertfordshire 5 February 2013 CPD Credit Value 21 PR £175 Full £199 IOSH Accredited - Managing Safely Within Automotive Retail ACT National Ltd CPD Credit Value 54 17-18 January 2013 and 29-30 January 2013 PR £695 Full £799

As a Professional Registrant, you can add up to six additional CPD credits if you demonstrate how this short piece of learning has had an impact on your behaviour and/or your working practice. // 37