John Riddell has worked in the health and safety sector since the early 1980s, and has seen many changes over the years, he says, “When I began over thirty years ago, the health and safety landscape was very different. Many companies simply paid lip service to H&S, so if there was an incident book, you wouldn’t find any entries. The signing in log either on site or in the reception area at a company were never used, there were no records of who was coming and going. Training and safety wear were not mandatory, and looking back, you can see why there were a huge level of injuries and deaths in the workplace.”
Things have certainly changed now and John believes this has a lot to do with new legislation and regulations, he comments, “The 1992 Health & Safety Act was merely a box ticking exercise for many, but the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 has changed everything for the better. Those in charge of a building project have legal duties under s18 of the Health and Safety in Employment Act as a principal to take all practicable steps to ensure no contractor or subcontractor engaged to do work is hurt. Making people accountable will undoubtedly saves lives.”
Topline Roofing has always taken health and safety very seriously, and part of John’s role at the company is overseeing their Top Priority H&S programme. He is responsible for the health and safety training programme and ensuring accordance with the latest workplace safety guidelines. He is also in charge of making sure the firm is compliant with legislation, health and safety management systems and safety performance.
John is a great believer in ongoing training, either by senior team members or external resources, he says, “We recently had a Fall Arrest training afternoon where a huge truck pulled up at our offices with a crane and harnesses to demonstrate to the team how to be safe when working at heights. These type of sessions are attended by all, and the feedback is always positive from the group. They get to experience at first-hand how to work safely and how it’s their responsibility to look out for themselves and the rest of the crew.”
When it comes to safety, Topline Roofing has an impressive record, John talks about the latest accolade the company has achieved, he states, “We were awarded a 100% score following an audit by industry body SiteSafe for its SiteWise system.”
A prequalification system that grades a contractor’s health & safety capability, SiteWise publishes results from its audits for the benefit of main contractors and principal organisations. This allows for better contractor selection and a streamlined tendering process for everyone involved. John says, “This was a great result for us, and a testament to the investment we have placed on H&S.”
Less than one percent of SiteWise registered businesses have scored 100%, so John is understandably delighted. He concludes, “The industry as a whole is working hard to keep people safe. Through legislation and new technology, the future for those working in the trades is looking bright, as long as businesses continue to invest in health and safety training and programmes, we’ll see injury and death rates continue to drop.”