Connect 19 June 2008
Welcome to the second issue of
I’ll start by saying thanks to the many members who
emailed messages of support for Connect. It’s always good
to have feedback – and even better when it’s positive! That said,
we need to mention a few hiccups as well – one or two network
events didn’t get mentioned, so our apologies for that.
What’s in this week’s issue?
To kick off our regular Good Practice series, we talk to Glenn
Pinsent, health, safety and environment manager for helicopter
giant Bristow, about behavioural safety and how evolution, not
revolution is the key.
Petrol heads and fans of Formula 1 will no doubt be eagerly
anticipating the British Grand Prix in July, so we travelled to the
Silverstone race circuit for a chat with Lesley Cox, health and
safety manager for the track, as part of another regular feature
We also talk to Christopher Jerman, safety manager for John
Lewis, who had the unenviable task of answering seven questions in
a minute in our 60 Second Interview.
As well as all that, we have industry news, your individual
branch and group information, the latest on IOSH in the media, and
links to what’s making people hot under the collar in our
discussion forums. You’ll also find that the jobs link in MyCareer
now takes you direct to the roles being advertised in your
Keep your comments
60 second interview
Christopher Jerman, safety manager for John Lewis, talks to
What’s the hot issue in your sector right
What’s the most challenging problem you’ve had to
"Getting health and safety on to the board
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever had about
working in health and safety?
"Seeing yourself as a manager first and a
What advice would you give to someone starting their
career in health and safety?
"I would say, try to see it from other
If you could ban the use of one piece of jargon, what
would it be?
"elf ‘n’ safety!"
If you weren’t a health and safety practitioner what
would you be?
"I would be a millionaire with no job at all!
But on a realistic level I’d work within forestry."
The Tories say they would change the law to ensure that
the police are not stopped from doing their jobs properly by strict
rules. Political opportunism, or a genuine need for
"I see it as a genuine need for change."
Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act – will it really
make a difference?
"In all honesty, no."
Do you want to be considered for a 60 Second Interview?
Contact the e-Editor.
Good practice: behavioural safety - "versatility is the
One of the great things about the health and safety
profession is that people are happy to share success – and failure.
And learning from other people’s work, not having to ‘reinvent the
wheel’, can be incredibly valuable. That’s why we’re running
Behavioural safety systems can often be described as
confrontational, but with a focus on evolution and not revolution,
Bristow Group Inc. – the world’s largest provider of helicopter
services to the oil and gas industries – halved its accident rates
in 12 months. Glenn Pinsent talks to Connect about how companies
need to look for a system that’s versatile.
Glenn is a relatively happy man. And so he should be. Slashing
recordable accident rates by 50 per cent in twelve months using
information from a behavioural safety system seems to contradict
the ‘evolution, not revolution’ principle but, one year on, Glenn
believes workforce buy-in from the start was crucial in getting the
system off the ground (if you pardon the pun) so quickly and
"The system was anonymous,” said Glenn “and
based purely on observation. The Industrial Safety Manager from our
western hemisphere and Health, Safety and Environmental Manager of
the eastern hemisphere of the business were involved in developing
the behavioural safety system, and when the first set of results
came back for the western hemisphere, we immediately saw the
benefits to rolling the system out across the whole business.
However, what we didn’t have when the system was introduced was
intervention, which we are just starting to introduce now.”
Introducing intervention was a challenge to Bristow, which
operates bases in countries as far-flung as Alaska and Australia.
“We couldn’t have an intervention,” said Glenn plainly.
"“What happened if an intervention occurred,
say, with a refueller? The flight might have to be delayed. There
were a lot of concerns over intervention.”
The observational aspect of the system was refined further to
accommodate the potential problems of intervention, and one of the
solutions was to produce pocket-sized cards with “areas of
activity” printed on them.
How does the overall system work?
- Observers identify work activities which can generate
- Observers participate in work activity
- Observers carry cards with work activity subdivided into
- Observers record ‘safe’ and ‘at risk’ behaviours for
expectations identified on cards
- Card forwarded for data processing weekly
“On the cards are expectations,” explains
Glenn. “We introduced the cards to many areas of work – for
instance, moving through height, towing aircraft, jacking aircraft,
driving and PPE as well as many others. There were a maximum of 10
expectations with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ option, and observers would carry
four cards or less.”
With the results, Bristow has formed a
central database at its hemisphere headquarters in Louisiana and
Surrey which are then fed back to the relevant bases and discussed
at safety meetings.
“The general idea was for the bases to devise
their own cards and we put the information in to a central data
How is it recorded?
- Each time an expectation is observed, the card is marked
- Each subsequent time an observation is made, the card is
- Cards record the behaviour but can be several observations of
different work groups
- Totals entered into Excel spreadsheet
How is the information used?
- Reviewed by the health, safety and environment team
- ‘At risk’ high scores evaluated against procedures
- Feedback generated for location of observations
- Feedback discussed at health, safety and environment
- Number of observations equated to accident statistics
Looking back on the first 12 months, Glenn said:
“We didn’t want a system that was erroneous,
and we didn’t want systems that would breed suspicion and
confrontation among the workforce. A company we visited had
abandoned a similar system due to the very issue of
Glenn was quick to point out that this is where workforce buy-in
to the system was fundamental to Bristow’s success.
“My advice to anyone is make clear the
process. I would also say start with just observation to begin with
and introduce intervention gradually. Also, look for a system that
is versatile and that suits your particular circumstances. The main
thing to have in the back of your mind is evolution, to introduce
the system progressively.”
“Another key aspect of a successful system is
support from a senior level right down the chain. We have made the
system simple, with results easily recorded and fed back to the
So what’s next for Bristow? Well, Glenn says he is determined
that every employee will become an observer over the next year.
Also, in a move away from pen and paper, the company has invested
in electronic card readers, making the gathering of data more
- Glenn is the HSE Manager for Bristow Helicopters, Eastern
- He has been an IOSH member for 10 years, and is vice-chairman
of the IOSH Aviation and Aerospace Group
- His CV includes roles as private consultant and university
- Bristow was formed 56 years ago
IOSH in the media...
Construction Group chair John Lacey spoke to Construction News
about on site safety. He told them that leadership was all
"It’s about the attitude of the person in
charge. If the boss isn’t passionate about safety, it ain’t going
Engagement is also key:
“Get the lie of the land before you start and
instead of generic induction training, go for a site-specific one.
People say you have to cover all eventualities. You can’t, so focus
on the issues that matter.”
IOSH president Ray Hurst was out helping promote National Men’s
Health Week, telling Building magazine:
“Good work is good for people's health and
well-being, but bad work and working environments aren't. So, as an
employer, you need to ensure you're managing work risks properly,
getting good health and safety advice, and that your managers are
all well trained.
“But, in addition to preventing illness – why
not also use your workplace as a convenient place for male staff to
actively improve their health, by offering awareness raising and
BBC Radio Essex
Ray defended the profession against claims it was responsible
for banning mortar board throwing at a university and lightweight
bunting in an Essex village.
“My personal feeling is that this is managers
who don’t take professional health and safety advice, who get a
little worried about the possibility of being prosecuted or sued
and make a decision based on a gut reaction and say ‘no we can’t do
this; health and safety’.
“I hope that people will start to ask for
sensible, professional health and safety advice. Let’s come up with
practical solutions. Health and safety advisers, certainly members
of our Institution, are about giving sensible advice which allows
people to do things that are fun. Wouldn’t life be really boring
with no risk at all?”
Belfast News Letter
Ray also told the Belfast News Letter about the reasons for some
of the “less sensible” health and safety stories that crop up in
the media. He said:
“The blame lies with ‘bureaucratic bunglers’
and ‘well-meaning amateurs’ who are taking decisions without a clue
about the consequences.
“So let’s stop the blame game. We are the
voice of common sense and reason, so let us remind anyone willing
to use health and safety as an excuse to stop something
unnecessarily that we are here to help people live their lives as
healthily and safely as possible.”
Occupational Safety and Health Online
Ray has also been at the American Society of Safety Engineers
Conference, in Las Vegas, and his comments have been reported in
the US safety media, including Occupational Safety and Health
Online: “One thing that binds us together is the passion we all
have that individuals go home alive and well at the end of the
workday, he said.
"Here we are in what many see as the gambling
capital of the world, but one thing we won’t do is gamble with the
lives of our workforces.”
Find out more
Spotlight: life in the fast lane
Health and safety is very diverse, and most
professionals face significant challenges at work. But some roles
are that bit more challenging. In our Spotlight slot, we hear from
members who work at high profile sites or in high pressure
Fast cars, world class drivers and a job that most car lovers
would envy. With the British Grand Prix coming up next month,
Connect talks to Lesley Cox, health and safety manager for
This year, the home of British motorsport celebrates its diamond
anniversary, marking 60 years since Silverstone held its first
Grand Prix in 1948. From a time when the cars were designed purely
for speed, it was an experience without medical back-up or the
safety features that are available to today’s racing driver.
Before starting her five-year stint at Silverstone, Lesley
worked for the BBC. Working on live events meant thinking fast and
constantly considering ways to improve the next one.
“There was always a real buzz in events and
the culture, personalities and egos of the people in the business
are very different to that of, say, a manufacturing company.”
After spotting a job opportunity at Silverstone that would again
involve working on live events, Lesley took on the role of health
and safety manager. Having once been a trackside marshal, she
already had an interest in cars.
“For petrol heads it’s one of the best health
and safety jobs in the country, and people I know are often envious
of me working here.”
One particular aspect of the job she enjoys is working during
the British Grand Prix – not because it’s the largest and most
famous event held here but because it means ‘all hands on deck’.
Health and safety can often take on a completely different role at
events like this as there are so many things going on. But Lesley
says the job isn’t for everyone:
“In events it’s extremely busy and you can’t
just look at the little things. You need to look at the bigger
Lesley recently worked on the Supercar Showdown event which
involved the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile),
however it isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. She’s working with
people with big egos who often don’t understand the language, let
alone the legislation. At least eight different nationalities took
part in the race weekend. Lesley says:
“People who push things to the limit and who
are used to just moving around to the different race meetings in
different countries very often don’t understand it when I ask for
their risk assessments, and with the language barrier it makes it
twice as hard.
“When it comes to advising people on health
and safety at events like this it can either be taken on board or
Lesley told a team mechanic to get off the back of a trailer
that was being pulled along by a quad bike as he was just ‘perched’
“I advised him to get off to protect him, but
there’s only so much you can do. You then just have to let them
take responsibility for themselves. It’s his risk, he was told
twice. In the end, you have to draw the line and move on to the
Encounters like this can often lead to confusion over what areas
fall under Silverstone’s jurisdiction, particularly when
contractors come on site.
“It gradually becomes easier as you get to
know them and they get to know you. They realise that you aren’t a
‘clipboard and leather patches’-style health and safety officer. If
I do have to tell someone to stop doing something, it’s purely for
their benefit. I’ll give them advice because I am knowledgeable
However, Lesley does advise that if you’re going to stop someone
from doing something, then it is always better if you can suggest a
safer way to do it.
“You ultimately have to make a lot of
judgment calls, so you have to be confident in what you’re telling
Another part of Lesley’s role, aside from managing health and
safety at race meetings, involves working closely with the chief
instructor for the Silverstone Drive Experience days, where members
of the public can drive supercars such as a Ferrari or a Lotus
Exige. When Lesley works with the instructor, they can have some
very interesting discussions about health and safety. But, after 40
years of horse riding, she understands that experience helps in
“You can use what you know with an additional
common sense approach. For example, I would never gallop across a
field I had never been on before as I am putting my horse and
myself in danger.”
Lesley understands that, although health and safety laws are
extremely important, if they’re used in a black and white way, they
can ultimately stop a lot of things from happening.
“In the job you are always mindful that the
law is open to interpretation, otherwise the race meetings and
track days simply wouldn’t happen.”
The managers of Silverstone are working to control the noise so
they can be better neighbours to the surrounding residents. Lesley
works closely with the local councils on noise monitoring and she
chairs a Parish Liaison Committee which involves the parish
council, the circuit bosses and the environmental health officers
from the Buckingham and South Northamptonshire Councils. By working
together they’re trying to manage the noise levels from the
circuit. Lesley said:
“Noise is all part of motorsport – people
enjoy watching it because of that, which is why we’re trying to get