Trustee invited to join the Scott Johnson Working Group

No Falls Foundation

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Trustee invited to join the Scott Johnson Working Group
Ken Johnson
Ken Johnson

On 16 June 2012, Scott Johnson – the only son of the Foundation’s Ken Johnson – died during the construction of a temporary stage for a Radiohead concert at Downsview Park in Toronto. Following the coroner’s inquest on 10 April 2019 into his death as a result of the structure collapsing, the jury recommended that the Government of Ontario should:

“…establish a permanent working group in conjunction with representatives of the live entertainment industry and labour working in the industry, as well as Professional Engineers Ontario.  The working group should be funded by Ontario and develop and maintain a fully integrated and consistent approach to the processes involved in the live performance industry, including the construction and use of demountable event structures (also known as temporary performance stages).”

As a result of this recommendation, The Scott Johnson Working Group was established on 22 June 2021 and Ken Johnson – a former safety advisor to the NASC – has been invited to become a member of this working group.

Ken hopes that he can contribute to, and learn from, the work of the group over the next two years. The work is specific to temporary stages in the entertainment industry, but is still ‘temporary works’ where regulations, guidance and training will dominate.

Comments Ken: “The work of this important group will undoubtedly highlight issues that will help inform our own work at height industry. A number of significant errors were made – overloading, delays in submitting drawings, missing components, inadequate or no training, etc – all of which will be taken into account in the drafting of the final document.”

“We must literally get wise before the event, not after it, if we are to keep people safe and avoid similar tragedies in the future.”

Copyright 2021 No Falls Foundation l All rights reserved l Registered Charity Number 1177494

APPG report: July 2021

APPG on Working at Height

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APPG report: July 2021

The No Falls Foundation was delighted to share our plans to develop, launch and promote a new industry charter championing safety and best practice when working at height with attendees at the July meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Working at Height.

This article was written by the APPG’s secretariat, Connect.

At the July meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Working at Height, attendees were delighted to hear from the No Falls Foundation to learn more about the No Falls Charter.

The speakers were Peter Bennett OBE, Chair of the No Falls Foundation; Ray Cooke, Health and Safety Advisor and Hannah Williams, Charity Manager. Chaired by Glasgow Central MP, Alison Thewliss, the meeting received excellent attendance with over 80 participants from across the sector and Parliament.

The presentation focused on the key aims and objectives of the No Falls Charter and the importance of every organisation and individual reporting near misses. Near miss data can be used to proactively address safety issues not otherwise known and, if left unresolved, can and often does lead to a life-changing fall from height. The intention of the No Falls Charter is to set out best practise in relation to standards, regulations, policies and guidance, collecting and utilising expertise from a wide range of industry partners whose collaboration demonstrates a transparent commitment to improved height safety. The successful implementation of the No Falls Charter will strengthen the case to Government for improved safety regulations for workers who operate at height and the APPG encouraged industry partners to support it. Full minutes of the meeting will be available on the APPG’s website shortly.

The next meeting of the Group will be held in October, following the summer recess and party conference season. The focus of the meeting will be considering the power of technology to prevent serious injuries and fatalities while working at height and discuss ways that technology is already used to improve safety, but also at how we can encourage greater use of new technology for businesses of all sizes to go even further. 

If you’d like to find out more or sign-up to the mailing list, please email appg@workingatheight.info.

APPG on Working at Height

APPG on Working at Height

This article was written by Connect, the secretariat for the APPG on Working at Height's secretariat.

Copyright 2021 No Falls Foundation l All rights reserved l Registered Charity Number 1177494

What is competence?

What is competence?

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What is competence?

Our health & safety advisor and ex-HSE inspector, Ray Cooke, examines the role of competence in keeping people safe when working at height. But what does it mean and how can it be achieved – as required by the Work at Height Regulations 2005?

Written by Ray Cooke, Health & Safety Advisor at No Falls Foundation

What is competence? It gets mentioned frequently where work at height is concerned. Indeed, the Work at Height Regulations 2005 have a specific requirement that anyone involved in work at height, whether organising or planning such work, supervising (or managing, whether directly or indirectly) needs to be competent in whatever aspect it is they are doing.

Clearly if someone is undergoing training, they are not yet competent, but the Regulations allow for that by saying the person under training needs to be supervised by someone who is competent.

Although the Regulations do not go into detail on what is meant by competence, there is helpful guidance on the HSE website that expands on general requirements around this. This sets out competence as being the ability to undertake responsibilities and perform activities to a recognised standard on a regular basis.

It goes on to say that competence can be described as the combination of training (I will cover training in my next article), skills, experience and knowledge that a person has and their ability to apply them to manage and/or perform a task safely. Other factors, such as attitude and physical ability, can also affect someone’s competence.

While this is useful, what the HSE guidance doesn’t really go into detail on is what are the skills, knowledge and experience necessary to demonstrate competence in particular situations. It can’t really do so as there is such a wide range of situations and industries.

What it does do though is say that someone’s level of competence only needs to be proportionate to their job and place of work, so you have some judgements to make in deciding how to approach this. You would not need, for example the same competence to work in an office as you would on a construction site, so it makes sense then that the skills, knowledge and experience also need to be proportionate to the task and place of work.

Someone who only ever works with MEWPs (mobile elevating work platforms) will not need to have knowledge and skills in scaffolding techniques (other than to know that if they are ever asked to perform work using such equipment then they should not do so – part of anyone’s competence is the ability to recognise when they need to bring in someone else). And even within the MEWPs area of work, having undertaken the relevant training (and been tested on their knowledge and skills) to operate a particular class of MEWP a newly qualified operator will then be faced with a range of makes and models and need to build up their skills and experience on whichever they need to use.  

So where can you go to find guidance on what is needed with respect to competence for work at height. Recognised industry bodies such as the Access Industry Forum (AIF) and its member organisations provide plenty of information that will help you determine what recognised standards exist and what is needed. It really is a case of looking for specific information. AIF members also provide good training courses, including ones specifically for managers.

HSE also suggest that information on the competence required for different industries and work activities might be found at the National Occupational Standards website or at the Federation for Industry Sector Skills and Standards (previously known as the Alliance of Sector Skills Councils) which is the designated Certifying Authority for Apprenticeships in England.

Let’s just quickly consider the additional factor of attitude/behaviour and why that is important.  An example – someone learns to drive a car. That will likely involve some form of training and when the driver is considered ready, they undertake the theory and then practical elements of the driving test. If they pass, then they are considered to have demonstrated competence (ok we can argue about how much experience they have at this stage).

However, if they then go out on the road and drive like a maniac, with no thought for the safety of themselves or other road users, are they really competent? Some would say yes, but that their attitude or behaviours are the issues in question. Others would say no as they believe demonstrating proper attitude/behaviour must be a necessary part of whether you are deemed competent or not.

Personally, I don’t really care at what stage in the competence question you deal with this, as long as it gets managed properly, and this is very much a management issue.

It really is important that you make sure you are competent or use competent workers to plan, manage and undertake work at height. Getting it wrong can be very unforgiving.

Ray Cooke

Ray Cooke

Ray recently retired after 35 years with the Health and Safety Executive, finishing his career as Principal Inspector in charge of the construction division’s sector safety team. He's now Health & Safety Advisor for No Falls Foundation.

Copyright 2021 No Falls Foundation l All rights reserved l Registered Charity Number 1177494