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Good engineering design can cut work-related deaths in Britain

2 January 2014

Steps to promote good engineering design to help cut the death, injury and disease toll in Britain’s workplaces, and enhance public safety, are outlined in a new policy paper launched by an influential group of safety and industry bodies.

Parliamentarians, industry leaders, academics, health and safety professionals and senior engineers gathered at the Palace of Westminster to launch The business case for engineering in health and safety, a paper produced by the Inter-Institutional Group on Health and Safety (IIG).

In 2012-13, nearly 150 people were killed at work in Great Britain, and an estimated 175,000 were seriously injured. This is the sad human cost of avoidable health and safety failures. Good engineering can make a significant contribution to preventing this, by designing in health and safety at the conception stage of engineering and construction projects, says the IIG.

High profile projects cited in the policy paper, such as the London Olympics Velodrome, are exemplars of safely designed engineering.

The IIG wants the UK to do more to embrace good engineering and design as the foundation of all major industrial projects. It needs to be at the heart of socially responsible business and government, and a solution to health and safety risk management challenges, the IIG says.

The business case for engineering in health and safety outlines key steps for engineers, managers and Government. They include:

-   Engineers are encouraged to research the health and safety risk implications of the project proposed, tendered for or worked on

-   Managers are urged to embed ‘risk intelligence’ in procurement standards and apply the hierarchy of risk controls

-   Government is urged to ensure all publicly-funded projects use suitable engineering solutions and design to reduce occupational health and safety risks and the societal costs of failure

Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) head of policy and public affairs Richard Jones chaired the IIG working group behind the policy paper. He said: “The impact of failures in health and safety across all sectors in the UK are very considerable, in both human and financial terms.

“But engineering can deliver many of the solutions for keeping work safe, healthy, profitable and sustainable. There needs to be a greater appreciation of the business case for the early adoption of engineering solutions in occupational safety and health and the huge potential benefits to the economy and society.

“Designing-in health and safety saves lives, supports growth and sustains the economy.”

Around 70 people gathered in The Churchill Room, including a cross-party representation of parliamentarians, for launch of the policy paper. Among the speakers were Shadow Employment Minister Stephen Timms MP and Sir John Parker GBE FREng, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Sir John said: “It is an essential purpose of engineering to avert failures and to make continuous improvements that protect the safety and welfare of all of our employees and the wider public. The business case for health and safety is well articulated in the paper that the Inter-Institutional Group on Health and Safety has published today and I welcome it.

“Every day, engineering is making a cost-effective and tangible difference to people’s lives; improving their quality of life and allowing them to live and work in clean, safe environments. As the global population increases, engineering will continue to create and reinforce the infrastructure that provides vital services to society – including energy, transport, water and communications.”

To read The business case for engineering in health and safety in full, please visit www.theiet.org/policy/collaboration/iig .

For more information, please contact:

IOSH (InstitutionOfOccupational Safety and Health)
The Grange
Highfield Drive
Wigston
Leicestershire
LE18 1NN

Tel: +44 (0)116 2573100
Fax: +44 (0)116 2573101
Web: www.iosh.co.uk
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