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    INFLUENCING SMALLER SITES AND BUSINESSES

    HSE small firms research produces some unsurprising findings

       Research commmissioned by HSE to find out more about how the ‘Small Sites’ sector of construction operate has been published. The key findings are:

    • Context – most respondents believe that further H&S improvement on small sites is not an urgent matter as they are already safe enough;
    • Attidudes – the researchers identified three types of small site controller: “Duckers and Divers” – doing the bare minimum beyond providing PPE; “Confident Captains” – authoritative characters with a bigger budgets, more stable team and their own version of good working practice which they enforce; “Ex Big Site Conformists” – have worked on larger sites and transfer part of their working practices to smaller sites;
    • Risk Perception – respondents believe that construction sites cannot be risk free. Risk is assessed “by means of a context-specific informal synthesis of many criteria.”
    • Risk Control – risk  “is mitigated according to another synthesis of criteria including the time required, the cost, availability of PPE or other equipment, degree of inconvenience, visibility of the site and the closeness of the end of the job.”
    • Messages – researchers claim that the small site audience is not actively seeking H&S messages. They found that respondents interviewed:
    1. Believe gruesome visual illustrations would catch the attention;
    2. Listen to, and learn from, peers with years of experience in the industry;
    3. Are less willing to listen to HSE messages;
    4. Regard HSE as unrealistic and inflexible and;
    5. Believe that HSE is always saying ‘Make it safer!’ Most respondents believe that a safer message is ‘Remember, it’s dangerous’

    Comment: Not many of those involved in construction H&S will be surprised to learn that “risk assessment is a synthesis of many criteria” or that some small firms do the minimium, others a little more and some do as much as the larger firms. The most important need is for HSE to further develop and implement a more effective strategy for influencing smaller sites, builders and clients.

    Improved communicaton with smaller businesses is part of the solution and The Risk and Regulation Advisory Council (RRAC) short guide to the five essential principals in communicating risk are a good starting point.

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