NEBOSH General Certificate outstanding

The NEBOSH Certificate in Health and safety is the default course for would be Health and Safety Managers and others with high levels of responsibility for high hazards such as engineers. There is no doubt that the course is a tough nut to crack. Nationally the pass rate for all the modules taken (including people who have a second bite of the cherry with a re-sit) is 72%. We can only guess that the first time pass rate will be at the lower level of about 65% for all modules. From our last course, the results for first time takers , just released, is a whopping 95%.

This result, for the NEBOSH General Certificate is outstanding.

We must be good as we are the only company who openly publish our pass rates and allow the results to be scrutinised. That says it all.  Consistently high results are returned which group us into one of the highest performing Safety Training companies in the UK. How can this be?

People not trivia.

During the last four weeks we have received three applications from experienced health and safety trainers wanting to join us. Their CV’s were bristling with health and safety qualifications, however, they were all seriously deficient in one respect…… They all lacked a decent training qualification (No, I do not mean a PTTLS certificate!). One of the applicants I responded to about this, informing him it didn’t meet our standards was perplexed and reinforcing their strengths in health and safety qualifications, the point being I suspect completely lost on him. An old Joe Strummer folk song came to mind; What’s the use of wings if you can’t fly!

They say that business is about people. Governing is about people. Selling is about people. Managing is about people. If that’s the case then I suspect that training is also mainly, just about people.

We use tried and tested, heavily experienced tutors. And guess what, they know how to engage, get their point across and have a bit of fun along the way! Their dedication and passion, help to secure the commitment of the students. Yes, it’s a team effort and includes the learners. Just as health and safety in the real world is all about engagement, so it is in the training room.

So well done to the team of learners and tutors alike for this awesome effort.

Speaking of wings to fly, one of the guys on the course uses drones to inspect the results of their maintenance work. I can’t show you their work as its too sensitive but take a look at the type of thing achievable in reductions in cost and levels of risk.

Training: The Brewdog way

We set up Train to Safety five and a half years ago now. It was the middle of the deepest recession we had witnessed for decades. We must have been suicidal. Even in good times, 80 percent of all business fail within the first 18 months. We succeeded though returning 27% growth to the business year on year since our first year. I wasn’t sure how we had managed this until I read the book by James Watt; Business for Punks, the story of how the Brewdog Brewery had become massively successful. After reading the book, I pretty much realised that their story could also have been about us (although we still have some way to go though). We became successful because we didn’t set out to be profit driven, but that we believe passionately about what we are doing is morally right, makes a real difference and adds real value to companies business. In short, we are on a mission at Train to Safety. For example. 48 hours after a Brexit vote we had researched and published a blog of what the impact would be on health and safety legislation, to help organisations cope with the confusion. We believe we were the first in the UK to provide this free information.

When I first started in training they gave me acetates to present with, and then later everyone was blown away by the use of powerpoints. I realised quite quickly that most of these training techniques are at best counterproductive and at worst extremely destructive. I wanted to change all that. Yep, revolution was on my mind and it still is. The care for people is at the core of my values but the need to drive other influential individuals to take on board the safety message is the fuel in my tank. We consider we have failed if people don’t come off my courses having at least enjoyed themselves or better still have received that wow factor so that they can’t wait to get back to their own workplace to start making a difference. You can’t achieve this by being a presenter of powerpoints (alone).

This process is no more apparent than in our NEBOSH National certificate course which we run with our partners TUV Nord. We have one of the highest pass rates in the country for this difficult qualification, aimed primarily at safety managers in the making. Many companies hold back on this qualification and don’t take the risk with their staff. It is quite an investment, not just in cash outlay terms but in the valuable resource of time when no one can truthfully guarantee a first time success. Most people come away from the course though feeling happy, inspired, confident competent and having made new friends. For their organisation the return in value terms is about 10 times their investment. The reason is, that the NEBOSH course is a management qualification. It’s all about thinking how people make mistakes, how to control people to help prevent mistakes. How to be systematic in the way health and safety is implemented and how to improve the organisation of a company. The enrichment benefits for the company are huge and ongoing.

We do everything possible to engage people during this particular course to try and maximise the effect. We achieve this by using exercises developed over the years which both work and are enjoyed by our students. We even go out onto different sites if possible to see the overall context of what we are training.

In times when companies may be thinking of holding back on their training budget, I would like to remind them that the most successful companies, even in times of hardship, are those that actually invest in the whole range of business support systems. We can provide plenty of examples of this. Make the difference in your company, enrol onto our September NEBOSH course now.  More information.

See how much fun Brewdog have.

Safety and Health relating to a European exit

Many company Directors and health and safety managers will be wondering exactly where they stand regarding the legality of the rules and regulations governing health and safety in the wake of our European exit. To hopefully help everyone, here is my summary, including sources where required.

Everything changes and yet nothing currently changes at all.  Not much is likely to in the future either. Why? Read on.

Some background:

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 is the prime UK legislation and doesn’t change, as with any regulations made under it.

Past recent commissions into the UK’s HS systems have indicated that it is not the great burden that some ministers would have us believe.

EU legislation in the form of Directives have either been applied directly for example the REACH regulations relating to Chemicals, their testing and Authorisation. These ‘pure’ directives would not apply once we have initiated Article 50 and finally withdrawn from Europe after an exit deal was finally negotiated and implemented in two years’ time. We would need to decide what we would need to do to replace these odd few ‘pure’ Directives.

EU legislation in the form of Directives and jointly passed through our judicial system in the form of Regulations would be very complex and difficult to unpick such as the Control of Asbestos. The majority, 41 out of 65 regulations imposed since 1990 have been in this form. These would need to be reviewed by committee and be subject to court law as to the overall impact on the Regulation by the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the European Communities Act 1972. According to Michael Ford QC of the TUC, “this would take a long time to achieve, would be so difficult and therefore highly unlikely to be repealed. Neither would it be in the national interests”

A new trading agreement will obviously need to be negotiated (and hopefully implemented as we finally withdraw in two years’ time). 44% of our exports go to Europe and 12 % of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is linked to these exports. A trading agreement would require European Standards as part of a pre-requisite to any trade deal with Europe. Adopting ‘their’ standards of safety would reduce the chance of a long and protracted negotiation for trade.

How we trade with Europe depends on what actual trade deal we end up negotiating (or some would argue, we are given). According to Derrick Wyatt QC, professor of law at Oxford University, this could take much longer than the two years.

We could try to set up a deal like Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein have under the European Economic Area (EEA) or take it one step further like the Swiss have under the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Both these sort of deals would still mean that we have to comply with European laws on safety, however, just one of the down sides to this is that we would no longer be able to have a say of what those laws actually comprise or how they may affect our operation. In effect we would be dictated to instead of being able to influence them.

We could of course completely write off our trade with Europe, significant as it is. However, it is worth pausing for thought as to where Europe take their lead from. European decisions are made in mind and in consultation with the International Labour Organisation, (The ILO). Therefore in effect, to trade with India, China etc. etc. we would be still have to operate under pretty much the same exact standards globally as the EU are forced to adopt! Greater emphasis on achieving this minimum compliance will no doubt be based on the application of companies demonstrating they are operating within the frame work of the International Safety Standard ISO45001.

Brave old world

Tonight Iain Duncan Smith (once leader of our current party in power) bestowed the virtues of leaving the European Union, claiming it “favours the haves over the have nots”. What a remarkable turn around from someone who has personally clung to this particular ideology for as long as I know. This person would like to strip away every worker and most other human rights given half the chance. Leaving the European Union will actually provide IDS and his cronies with such a chance. Its all gone very quiet since the Government scientific think tank in 2011 quietly advised IDS that downgrading asbestos (so that we could all use it again) was not really a very bright idea.  Approximately 5,000 peoples lives each year end prematurely and in abject misery thanks to this disgusting substance. Who amongst us from the sane world could ever come up with such a bright idea? If IDS believes that by leaving Europe, business will be better by having access to a re-instated use of asbestos, then every other human benefit must surely also be under threat. Gradually we will all slowly slip backwards into the 19th century. How can some people be so narrow minded and lacking in any sort of progressive vision for the future. (Actually, if you look at his career path, he has hardly been a shooting star). This is a man who would remove all layers of worker protection. Compare and contrast against  a forward thinking organisation such as NEBOSH.  This organisation credited with developing one of the main national standards for health and safety training  have witnessed an explosion in growth by cashing in and selling the vision of British safety standards across the globe, to a world thirsty to slaked with our tried and trusted methods and organisational skills at controlling workplace risks.

Next on the list? We could bring back stocks on the village green so we can publicly torture people, workhouses and asylums. We could send our 8 year old children to pick the leeks out of the fields for 12 hours a day. We could even duck witches in the local pond. Oh, it’s all so nostalgic.

Just as a reminder, check out this link to The Government Office for Science from Sir John Beddington to Mr Duncan Smith.

Back to the bad old days? We shall all soon find out.

A Queensferry Road Bridge too far?


Chaos had broken out. Workers were running about the deck of the new, replacement Queensferry Forth Road bridge like headless chickens. A fire had broken out at the base of the North tower and the flames were building, starting to exceed the height of the nearby steel storage container. The smoke was thick and black, indicating that a component was either plastic or rubber. Access for the lift to the huge Giraffe crane and upper tower in the near vicinity, were in danger of being engulfed, endangering the safety of those working above and potentially damaging equipment and bridge structure its-self. The fire was dealt with and appeared to be under control after about three minutes, when it suddenly flared up again. Some workers sprinted to the far reach of the North span, some 80 meters to reach fresh fire extinguishers and sprinted back to put the fire out. Finally the fire was dealt with and normal conditions were restored.

On this lazy, sleepy, sunny, spring morning, all I wanted to do was view the new bridge, photograph it and write positive things about it. I marvel at its design (if not the Chinese steel it is made of) and the physical challenges both design and construction pose. The comparison of all three crossings, all within about 200 meters of each other is amazing. You can chart the progress of time, not just in construction methods and materials but in health and safety terms too. The old iconic Rail bridge on the other side of the current road bridge and which has become a world heritage site was completed in 1890. 67 workers lost their lives and a further possible 14 workers who would have been casual labour are unverified and unaccounted for. The current road bridge by comparison, completed in 1964 accounted for seven loss of life. Fabulous progress but not for the seven involved you may think.

Fast forward to today where we are proud of our ability to control major construction projects such as the building of the Olympic stadium where we managed a clean sheet (no fatalities although a number of serious injury – RIDDOR reports were posted). I wanted to be able to proudly claim that this new bridge, I had taken a fascination for and had been monitoring over time, would be able to fall into the brave new world of zero fatalities. Maybe my expectations were too high, especially in view the symptomatic loss of control demonstrated by the recent fire I described. I felt at the time, as I filmed the fire, that lack of organisational control invariably would lead to greater suffering further on.

I was gutted when a friend sent me details of a problem noted in the news last Thursday. Fatality number one. My heart goes out to the family and friends of the 60 year old guy. I didn’t know the victim and yet I felt as though I did or could have as I’ve studied this work site enough plus I have worked on major construction projects and therefore have an instinctive feel for them.



Training fraud criminality

BBC Newsnight exploded onto my TV Screen a few months ago now about training fraud. I became so angry. How can training organisations behave like this and get away with it? Greed and money I guess. The last I heard is the HSE are gathering evidence against the individuals in the film with a view to prosecute. Good look to the HSE as these people are the scourge of our industry. How can Peter Minto or Train to Safety not be tarred with the same brush? It’s difficult to justify following this. There will always be that suspicion just as there will always be the suspicion over Bradley Wiggins being fuelled by drugs when he won the Tour de France (yes, I know he is the last person on the planet to take banned substances, but still). My two points of argument are this: Over the last few years, We have been audited 12 times by the ECITB, including 5 teaching observations (one of which was a secret shopper). IOSH have completed four teaching observations on us and NEBOSH cave completed two audits. We also complete a range of internal audits and teaching observations which are documented.

However, far better than this is my second point. What most people don’t realise is that I,  like my colleagues I work along side, are on a mission. For example; one of my trainers lost his father to Mesothelioma. Its not nice and the psychological stain is indelible. One of my training colleagues, when in the early days in his role of junior health and safety officer, was ordered by his boss, the health and safety manager, to go to reception.  His task was to meet the family of the bereaved employee, who was killed at work, and hand over his personal possessions left on site to his wife. As for me? Well the haunting that drives me, amongst many things is; I lost very close family to workplace lack of care due to lack of foresight and lack of resources. (Maybe this will explain why I hate the term reasonably practicable!) I know what it feels like,  its never very far away and it casts a long shadow. . Imagine the insult I took when I saw that film. Take a look for yourself.


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