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23 July 2010

UK's top engineers set international health and safety standards

Mott MacDonald has joined up with some of the UK’s other engineering firms, Atkins, Arup and Halcrow to launch an industry leading health and safety assessment to the international construction community. With construction workers three to four times more likely than other workers to suffer from fatal accidents at work, the main driver of this initiative is to reduce health and safety risks on international construction sites.

The four companies set up the Consultants H&S Forum with an objective to improve health and safety across the sector and to share good practice.

The Forum has worked with ConstructionSkills to develop an assessment which is a software programme suitable for international application. The computer-based health and safety assessment is to be conducted on location in company offices under local invigilation. A certificate will be awarded upon the successful completion of 50 questions randomly selected from a bank of 500.

Keith Clarke, chief executive at Atkins said: “Health and safety should have no boundaries. This is why is it is important that we work together through the Consultants H&S Forum to lead on and work with other stakeholders within the industry to improve health and safety standards globally. Design and engineering organisations can make significant contributions because of our client involvement and ability to reduce safety risk through design.”

Commenting from Mott MacDonald, chairman Peter Wickens said:” The industry's major players have come together because the importance of health and safety in their businesses and on every project is paramount. They believe that 360,000 fatalities on construction sites worldwide is 360,000 too many. Accidents at work can be avoided using proactive health and safety management. We hope that this test will help train project managers and designers within our global operations and contribute to avoiding the terrible loss and waste caused by accidents in the construction industry."

John Miles, Arup Group Board, Health and Safety director, said: “For any engineering firm, not only are people our most important asset, they are our only asset. It is therefore vital that we look after the safety of our staff in particular those working in countries where potentially standards of occupational health and safety are challenging. With this international assessment as part of our health and safety toolkit, we can establish a competency based approach to our General Site Safety training which will ensure that we encourage best practice across the industry.”

Peter Gammie, Halcrow’s chief executive, comments: “The application and approach to health and safety varies from region to region. The introduction of the international health and safety test across our business means that we have a real opportunity to save lives and reduce accidents on construction sites across the world. By establishing the test as a basic requirement we hope that other organisations will adopt this system – and in turn help raise international health and safety standards.”

Braden Connolly, Head of Testing and Card Services at ConstructionSkills, said: “CITB-ConstructionSkills has worked with the Consultants Forum over a number of years, to the benefit of all five organisations. When we needed to come together to recreate the progress made in UK Health & Safety Awareness Testing it was natural that all of our organisations should collaborate, and it is this shared knowledge, along with CITB-ConstructionSkills existing has helped to make this product a reality.”

The Consultants H&S Forum will be co-ordinating the international implementation of the assessment with ConstructionSkills with initial focus on the Middle East, followed by India, Asia Pacific, Africa, Europe and North America. The international health and safety assessment forms part of a suite of products on offer from ConstructionSkills including UK assessments, training and awards. As the UK has the ConstructionSkills health and safety test that is a requirement of many card schemes in the UK including the CPCS and CSCS cards, this new assessment does not apply to the UK.


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