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Health and safety – lost without hope?


How would your workforce respond if you provided them with working conditions like these:

  • locked inside the workplace for lengthy periods at a time,
  • team members required to be of the same sex (male),
  • no easy means of evacuation in the event of an accident,
  • no telephone contact with friends, relatives or colleagues,
  • limited regular workplace maintenance,
  • limited routine staff training
  • no emergency plan in existence because the management believes that the workplace could never experience an emergency
  • limited supplies of water, air, heat, light and power in the event of interruptions to the supply of mains services?

Your staff would be likely to walk away pretty quickly - and the unions would have something to say about it also. Yet this is the situation faced by around 100 submariners about the Russian vessel grounded on the bed of the Barents Sea. You can catch up on latest developments in this story.

But before you do, just revisit the checklist above. When was the last time you got out your health and safety policy and procedure? Can you write a list of events that you believe "will never happen"? And when did you last review the scope of the policy with you staff?

It's a salutory time to remind yourself to:

  • hold regular evacuation procedures,
  • regularly brief all staff about their responsibilities,
  • inspect the premises for obvious health and accident hazards,
  • pay particular attention to food preparation areas and all machine areas,
  • routinely check all electrical fittings.


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