Spotlight on: ACE Health & Safety Group

Lorne Clarke WSP

Group chair and WSP head of health and safety Lorne Clarke looks back, and forward.

Health & Safety has come a long way over the last 150 years or so. 

The first HM Factory Inspectorate was formed in 1833, with the main duty to prevent injury and overworking in child textile workers. In 1893 the first women factory inspectors, May Abraham and Mary Patterson, were appointed with much of their early work involved in investigating women’s hours of employment and enforcing health and safety in the laundries. 

And in 1902, Adelaide Anderson, the Inspector of Factories in Britain, included asbestos in a list of harmful industrial substances, and incredibly it took another 97 years for asbestos to finally be banned from use in the UK. 

Last year we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Health & Safety at Work Act, which has arguably saved more lives than any other legislation. Before the Act more than 700 workers in Great Britain were being killed each year at work and hundreds of thousands were being injured. Last year the number of fatalities was down to 148 with non-fatal injuries having been reduced by 75%. By comparison there have been almost 1000 fatalities amongst migrants on the World Cup construction sites in Qatar since 2012.

So what is ACE doing regarding Health & Safety?

The aim of the ACE Health & Safety Group is to promote best practices to enable organisations ranging from SME’s to large corporates to receive the most up to date knowledge in this area and represents this ACE interest within bodies such as the Construction Industry Council (CIC).

Over the last four years the group has made some significant progress. Highlights include challenging the HSE regarding Fees for Intervention and routes for communication for health and safety advice, lobbying for better mutual recognition of Safety Schemes in Procurement (SSIP) member accreditations and submitting a formal response to the CDM 2015 public consultation. We have also given the ACE health & safety webpages an overhaul to ensure we are effectively communicating to the membership.

What will the next few years will bring for the ACE H&S Group? 

As we come out of recession there will be many opportunities and challenges for engineering consultancies, all of which will potentially have an impact on health and safety, whether it be increased liabilities for businesses, increased health risks for workers, increased safety risk transfer from clients, unusual safety and health risks from innovative technologies or increased legislative change from Government. 

The group plans to be at the forefront during this period, supporting our members through the lobbying of Government and major stakeholders, and supporting large and SME companies alike. Our major focus over the next few months will be to understand the requirements of the proposed CDM 2015 regulations and helping signpost ACE members to industry guidance and support. Underlying this will also be our ongoing support of SME’s in all matters of health and safety, an initiative which has developed recently with increased collaboration between the ACE H&S Group and the ACE SME Group.

If you would like to know more about the work of the ACE Health & Safety Group or would like to know more about becoming a member of the Group then please contact Hannah Paul at hpaul@acenet.co.uk.