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Book Review: Health & Safety at Work – An essential guide for managers

First 3 chapters cover the legal requirements of health and safety from the Health and Safety at Work act to reporting under RIDDOR. These consist of short introductory paragraphs with collection of extracts and bullet point information. There are some positive parts to this approach as it cuts down on the waffle and has just picked the relevant bits from the regulations, but the lack of explanation and real world examples reduces its usefulness. Perhaps it’s just the nature of the legal terminology in the relevant legislation, but those chapters are hard to follow.

Some points from these chapters are a little unclear and would benefit from further explanation.

For example the section on lone working lists “electronic monitoring incorporating non-body movement indication / panic alarm”; but does not explain what this is or what kind of products are available. I’ve used this kind of equipment before so I’m familiar with one type that is available, but others may not be.

For the record the one I’ve used was a system in a data centre in Paris where security issued lone workers with a 2-way radio which included fall detection. If the loan worker fell (which would include becoming unconscious) then it would alert security. The fact that this was built into a 2-way radio meant that the loan-worker could also use it to call for assistance, or the guard could use it to check on the loan-worker.

Another example would be on the explanation on RIDDOR which provides a single bullet list covering the high-level requirements and then further bullet lists to cover the different aspects of these. These could do with a little explanation.

Fortunately after these initial chapters the rest of the book is well written. It’s a shame that these are the first few chapters as it nearly put me off reading the rest of the book and it gets much better further on in. The rest of the book still has a lot of lists and bullets, but also includes good explanatory text which makes it much easier to read and understand.

The book is comprehensive and covers the health and safety needs for most workplaces including the common issues such as manual handling and work station ergonomics to more specialized areas such as dealing with violence and handling of radioactive substances.

The revised 8th edition published in 2008 is up-to-date with regard to most regulations including the regulations governing smoke free workplaces. The first aid guidance is however out-of-date. The changes to the resuscitation protocol happened prior to 2002 and there have been two new version of The First Aid Manual since then. In the case of the first aid guidelines then a dedicated first aid book should should be used instead of the guidelines in the Health and Safety at Work book. I recommend the First Aid Manual as the preferred book when looking for first aid guidance. At the time of writing the latest is The First Aid Manual 9th edition.

If you have health and safety at work responsibilities then you should consider this book. Although a little more explanation would have been useful in some areas it provides a wide coverage with just a few areas you may need to investigate further if they are relevant to your business. If you are looking to put together a presentation or need references relating to health and safety at work then the list approach could be a real bonus and would help in producing justification for approvals or to gain buy-in from employees.

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