A Case of Management-ITIS
Years ago, there was a TV advert in the UK for a telephone company, in which a morose young lad was telling his gran over the phone that he hadn’t passed any of his exams – “except sociology”. On hearing this, granny exclaims: “You got an ‘ology?!” and almost bursts with pride.
I am reminded of this every time I introduce to the students I teach the health and safety ‘term’ ITIS. It stands for (sorry for shuffling the original order): Information, Training, Instruction and Supervision. So, not “an ITIS” – just ITIS.
ITIS pops up in many locations in our wander through health and safety management systems, but how much do you know about it? Lets’ take it one item at a time.
I = Information
Section 2(2)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974 requires that “information” is given to employees about the hazards involved in the work they do. Information must also be given regarding the precautions they must take to be safe. So ‘information’ looks like a ‘pass-it-on’ process, as in: “Here is the information you need”. And, in many cases, the employer must give this information and not wait for employees to ask for it. Of course, all information provided must be correct (accurate) and meaningful. You shouldn’t be given it if you can’t understand it.
Regulation 10 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR) stipulates list of quite clear (‘comprehensible and relevant’) information that is needed for employees.
So, this is your homework: look up the MHSWR, go to Regulation 10 and see what is says. I will test you on it later!
T = Training
I get the idea that this is just a bit more than ‘pass it on’, like information. Training requires the employees actually to take part in something. Being ‘trained’ to use work equipment, for instance, would involve being shown and then being allowed to use, under supervision (later), that work equipment. But as well as being trained how to use it, should we not also be trained to recognise what we can and can’t do with it? How to appreciate not only how to work it but also how to know when it’s broken?
I = Instruction
Again, this is a bit further down the track than information, as it actively involves the employee by requiring them at least to listen. Employees must be provided with clear and correct instructions on what is to be done and not done – particularly where routine tasks are carried out by employees who might be so used to doing them they forget (or ignore) safety issues. Young works, in particular, must be given specific and very clear instructions.
S = Supervision
It is important that supervision is provided by properly trained and competent supervisors, not just someone left in charge of workers. Supervisors must have the authority to oversee activities and to make sure all safety measures are in place and being followed.
Right – back to that homework I set earlier. What did you discover from Regulation 10 MHSWR? You should have found information on:
- Risks to employees’ health and safety (identified via risk assessment);
- Preventive and protective measures needed;
- Procedures for dealing with serious or imminent dangers, danger areas and fire-fighting measures;
- The identity of persons appointed by the employer to implement evacuation procedures and fire-fighting measures;
- The risks that other employers sharing the workplace have indentified; and
- Providing information regarding risks to children (young persons) to the parents of those children.
Consider carefully, then, your application of ITIS!
Roger Passey Dip2OSH MIOSH (retired)
Occupational health and safety consultant
Roger has been working in health and safety since 1988 and as a consultant since 2004. Formerly a chartered IOSH member, he now enjoys retired status.