HSE ‘Blue tape’​ initiative – Part 2

Having published Part 3 on my blog yesterday, I thought it only fair to reproduce the Part 1 and Part 2 that appeared on LinkedIn. I have not updated the text from that published in August 2019 and January 2020 respectively.

I’ve recently returned from a fascinating HSE roundtable discussing their report on ‘Blue tape’ that I reported on here. The LinkedIn article was a little critical as, in my opinion, the research was flawed and the conclusions, therefore, did not follow. My role at the meeting was representing the CQI and its interests, including that of our members and certificated auditors. Other representatives included IIRSMIOSH, small businesses through the FSB , the insurance industry as well as standards writers (BSI) industry and consultants.

HSE were facilitating the meeting and went through their main takeouts from the report and primarily the need for HSE and others to ensure that Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSMS) are designed and operated with the overall aim of ensuring UK workers are protected from accidents and ill health. They contrasted this with a perception (covered in the report) that many stakeholders perceive a disconnect between the documentation of the OHSMS and the overall aim for protecting workers.

The ‘Blue tape’ identified by HSE includes contractor accreditation schemes (such as CHAS, Constructionline, etc.), management system standard certification (such as to ISO 45001) and the role of consultants in taking regulatory requirements and translating these into an OHSMS that the organisation can present to customers and/or operate to. This was one of the first disconnects identified by the group: many organisations rely on external competence to develop safe systems when the internal expertise may provide more effective and efficient controls, tailored to the organisation’s needs. There were many examples available of systems that were perfectly documented but that weren’t effectively implemented; sometimes left on a shelf to gather dust. Other examples presented were of organisations who never saw ‘their’ consultant and were supposedly working to a generic OHSMS that they had never had explained to them and was not relevant to their ways of working or the risks they faced.

One of the issues identified at the roundtable was the need for procuring organisations to be more aware of the context of their activity. Far too many organisations (and the procurement professionals they employ) apply blanket supplier requirements that are inappropriate for the services they are looking to bring a supplier in to do. For example, does your ‘odd job’ person who comes in to cut the grass and tidy up the borders really need an ISO 45001 OHSMS certified by an accredited conformity assessment body as well as CHAS accreditation?

It was good to hear direct from the HSE their reasoning for the research and their interpretations of the results. I, the H & S professionals in the room and the other interested parties present now have a much better idea of how we can support the overall aim of ensuring guidance for and supplier approval requirements for SMEs, in particular, are fit for purpose.

There are a series of actions arising from the meeting. Expect further information as it becomes available.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.