‘If you don’t want to work safely, don’t come and work here,’ says Mark Carne.
Network Rail’s chief executive was speaking at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s 10th annual conference at the Congress Centre in central London on 27 November.
With five workforce fatalities so far this year, it’s a message rail chiefs are keen to ram home as the level of work on the infrastructure ramped up over the Christmas break.
Ian Prosser, director, ORR, urged greater attention to worker safety, the theme of the conference.
‘The rail sector has made some real progress in the last 10 years,’ he said but also stressed, ‘Leaders I have talked to believe it [worker safety] can improve.’
Prosser added the pragmatic opinion that, ‘Safety and business go hand in hand.’ As the industry continues to expand so should the emphasis on safety.
Delivering a stark warning of the cost to the industry of health and safety offences contained in the sentencing guidelines consultation which ends in February 2015, lawyer Sean Elson of Pinsent Masons said, ‘I think it’s inevitable the guidelines will come in, and I think fines will be much higher than they are at present.’
He predicted breaches could cost millions of pounds, based on the size and turnover of the offending companies.
A workforce that works safely with attention to detail and assumption of personal responsibility is the precursor of a good stable and prosperous business. Adds Carne, ‘there is not a single business that I have worked in where it wasn’t true that great safety performance goes with great business performance.’
The keynote address was delivered by Derby South MP Dame Margaret Beckett. She said, ‘The job of a safety practitioner is one of the greatest responsibilities. There can be no doubt as a result of efforts, countless lives have been saved and serious injury prevented.
‘It’s quite gratifying that safety is being dealt with by top management as well as those among the workforce.’
See Mark Carne at the Rail Safety Summit.