Published On: Mon, Nov 26th, 2018

Workplace safety about much more than PPE and safe manual handling

Bohle has held its first Glass Safety Day, aimed at driving improved standards of health and safety plus employee wellbeing. Coinciding with World Mental Health Day, mental well-being at work – and its potential pitfalls for employers – was explored by a series of expert speakers drawn from the fields of HR, employment law and training.  It was opened by John Bradshaw, from training provider MRG Services, who discussed the impact generational divisions were having in the workplace as workers stayed in post longer. 

He said that this meant that by 2024, 25% of the workforce would be aged 55 or over, while for the first time ever the labour market included five different generations, creating significant challenges in communication, retention and well-being. 

This included Millennials ,whom he said would make up 75% of workforce by 2020 who had very different expectations of the workplace from previous generations. 

Bradshaw said that studies had shown a quarter of Millennials were not following H&S Guidance in the workplace and putting themselves and others in danger. The use of mobile phones in the workplace was listed as another area of concern – picked up by users on average of 221 times a day. 

He added that Millennials had completely different expectations in the workplace requiring specific direction and expectations of increased support for mental as well as physical health from their employers. 

This was a theme later picked up by Bernadette Harrison, NatWest Mentor. She said that mental health in the workplace was as big an issue as physical health and safety and warned employers to be aware of their responsibilities.  

“As an employer you need to be asking yourself, is it reasonable or unreasonable to be asking someone to do what you’re asking them them to do in a 40 hour week? Because that’s the question a tribunal will be asking – and you need to be able to demonstrate it”, she said. 

She added that one in four of the workforce would experience mental health problems at some time and that employers had an obligation to provide a ‘mentally healthy workplace’.  

In addition to employment law the day also included an asbestos safety training course, provided by MRG. Philip Pinnington, Director of H&S GGF, said accidental exposure to asbestos was now more common in residential home improvement because of improved awareness of asbestos in commercial property maintenance. 

Giving his own presentation later in the day, Pinnington said that risk could be “managed but not avoided”.  He argued that effective risk assessment was key in doing this and that meant tapping into the expertise of employees. 

He said: “Tap into the knowledge of your people. Think about the lifetime knowledge that a single person has in your team and times that by two, three or four people. Listen to your staff to effect change.”

He highlighted how a disconnect often existed in health and safety between employer’s perception of provision and the reality on the ground.

He said: “I visit people with really great lifting equipment but it’s just sitting there and staff won’t use it. ‘Why’? ‘Because it’s impractical’, well ask the question again ‘why’? There are flexible products out there that will offer the right solution.  You have an obligation to provide it. Talk to Bohle, talk to the market and find the right equipment to do the job safely.” 

Suppling an extensive range of PPE and manual handling equipment, the Bohle Glass Safety Day also included profiles of Tornado’s new range of specialist hand protection for the glass industry and Veribor, Bohle’s market leading range of suction lifters.

At the forefront of manual handling technology Veribor Suction Lifters are tested to the ultra-stringent

German  TÜV GS mark – providing an independent guarantee of performance. It also means all Veribor products meet the stringent quality and safety requirements set out in the German Product Safety Act, which is recognised internationally as setting the benchmark in safety testing. 

Independently of this all Bohle suction lifters are also designed to have a minimum 2:1 safety margin to reflect real world usage. 

Closing the event, Dave Broxton, Managing Director, Bohle, said that employers today had a far wider health and safety remit than ever before. “There are clearly risks associated with handling glass and in manual handling. Those risks can, however, be managed effectively through the use of the right tools and most importantly the right organisational culture.”