Once again, the world watched in horror as fire engulfed a large building, killing dozens, mainly children. The fire and smoke at the Kemerovo shopping mall in Russia spread with ferocious speed and our thoughts are with the families, rescuers and everyone who has been touched by this awful tragedy.

Reports are arising that fire alarms and sprinklers had been switched off, and that fire exits were either locked, or access was blocked. One of the most heart-breaking reports is that children were phoning their parents begging for help, but the calls became final farewells.

Away from these awful scenes, in our calm, regulated day-to-day existence, it may seem impossible that such a terrible thing could happen to us. It may be easy to be complacent. Fire safety regulations have been put together for good reason; to save lives.

So, take a moment – check your own space.

· Check the fire exits are clear and working

· Check that fire doors are not being propped open to stop them banging

· Check the fire alarm and sprinklers are switched on and working

· Check the batteries in smoke detectors

· Check you know how to get out in case of a fire, and where to go

· If you haven’t done one recently, organise a fire drill

· Check the expiry date on fire extinguishers, and know which to use and when

These simple measures could save lives. And yes, the chances are that it probably will never happen – but is it worth taking the risk?

That’s the power of using a safety management system. If you don’t have a good one already, it’s after an incident happens that you’ll wish you did.

With AssessNET, you can be reminded of when those fire checks should take place, as well as be provided with a question set prompting you to think methodically to pinpoint the exact fire risks. Many more lives could possibly have been saved if the Kemerovo shopping centre had implemented a system to remind them of the required checks to safely operate the facility.

If you’re not sure what you should do, ask for advice. Our expert team at Riskex are here to help – just give us a call.

+44 (0)1525 290109

The images of the Miami Sweetwater University City Bridge collapse on Thursday 15th March have been truly shocking, and our thoughts are with the families and friends of everyone affected.

It’s also quite surprising to learn that the 950-ton bridge was put into position the previous Saturday, just 4 days earlier. This was a “milestone” process that lasted around 6 hours. Experts have been quoted to say that the bridge would have been unstable until it was fully completed.

“Accelerated bridge construction” allows large pieces of the bridge to be made away from traffic, rather than assembling smaller parts over a busy road. Temporary supports would have been created to hold the large single section installed on Saturday, to hold it until it was connected permanently to the structure’s columns and foundations.

According to Amjad Aref, a professor at the University of Buffalo’s Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, “In layman’s terms, it’s actually flimsy before it’s complete.” The bridge was due to open in 2019, so the forensic investigation will focus on why the structure was apparently allowed to remain disconnected and unstable, and therefore at risk of collapse.

Other commentators have queried the bridge section’s design, pointing out that there appears to be no steel reinforcement within the concrete, and that concrete is strong under compression but weak under tension.

This tragic incident surely focusses our attention on the vital role of risk management, and the importance of following proven, tested and agreed health and safety procedures. From media reports, it seems corners may have been cut, leading to tragic consequences.

There is also a worrying future looming in the USA, with President Trump’s regulatory rollback, cutting away hard-won safeguards for employees.

The Trump administration plans to invest heavily in infrastructure, which is sorely needed and will lead to an increase in construction activity. However, they also plan to curtail regulations, reducing the amount of “red tape”, to save money. About 67 regulations have been repealed so far, and 3 have been implemented, generating an estimated saving of $8.1 billion in regulatory costs for businesses.

However, as safety regulations are cut, organisations will be able to spend less on employee training and safety, allowing them to hire more people with less training, potentially leading to longer, harder shifts, and a greater risk of injury and ill health.

Although the Miami bridge collapse may not be directly related to the current US Government’s regulatory rollback, it is a salutary lesson. Any organisation cannot afford to take risks with employee – or public – safety.

At Riskex, our Sales Team speak with dozens of potential customers, and at times it is surprising – even shocking – the level of complacency that exists around risk management. Our passion is to help organisations see the benefits of changing that complacency.

Clearly, there are varying degrees of potential disaster, and the Miami bridge incident is tragically almost off the scale. However, every employer has a duty to ensure that individuals’ safety and health are protected, as much as possible. The surest way to achieve this is through assessment, analysis, adhering to process, using corrective actions and regular reviews.

Building a culture of mutual care for everyone’s safety and well-being is key to achieving this – not regulatory rollback, and erosion of decades of progress and education.

On Friday 12th May 2017 we saw global coordinated ransomware attacks on thousands of private and public sector organisations across dozens of countries. The Riskex senior technical operations team have been closely monitoring all Riskex systems throughout the weekend, and have deployed even more strict data security controls than usual. We can reassure everyone that we will continue to monitor the […]

To date in 2017, in Ireland there have been six farm-related deaths, four of which involved tractors or machinery. This has led Ireland’s Health and Safety Authority (HSA) to launch an intensive campaign of inspections, with an expected 2,000 farms being covered, 1,400 of which will be during 3, three-week long periods.

Farmers will be encouraged to develop work plans and strategies to minimise risk, particularly in potential crush zones.

Pat Griffin, senior HSA inspector, told IOSH, “The movement of machinery, whether in the yard or in a field, can be hazardous and farmers need to be aware of the risks. Incidents of crushing someone against a building, a wall, a gate, or of farmers themselves being caught in crush zones are all too common.”

HSA hopes farm inspection campaign will reduce accidents