Expert training puts glass health and safety on a firm footing

British Glass members examine flooring types at HS lab training session.

British Glass has just taken glass manufacturing health and safety leads to the Health and Safety Laboratory for a training session – but the subject matter might be surprising.

Say health, safety and glass industry in the same sentence and most people’s first thoughts are around the risks of high temperatures, machinery or even broken glass. But the training session British Glass members attended at the HSL in Buxton was actually on slips, trips and falls.

Falls caused by slip or trip accidents contribute significantly to the risk of injury at work. Recent statistics for Great Britain show that 59% of major/specified injuries to employees were due to a slip, trip or fall from height and an estimated 2.1 million working days were lost due to slips, trips and handling injuries. Similarly British Glass’ own data from the industry has shown slips, trips and falls to be second most common cause of both reportable and non-reportable injuries over the last five years.

Often fall injuries are serious – even fatal. So fall prevention is rightly on the agenda for glass manufacturers when it comes to keeping their staff safe – hence the British Glass members’ H&S committee asked for this session.

Rob Shaw, technical team lead on Falls Prevention at the Health and Safety Laboratory, gave a soundly evidence-based and systematic overview of the how to examine – for any environment – the where, when, what and how often of falls. He explained:

“One of the key things is just how difficult it is to collect near-miss data. If someone missteps or has a minor slip they’ll probably think ‘That was close, silly me.’ and carry on – not realising the same thing’s happened to other people and there’s potential for a serious accident.

"Because of this, it’s especially important to be aware of how and why falls happen and take all possible steps to reduce the risks – as well as encouraging staff to speak up about near misses."

From flooring and footwear, to contamination and cleaning regimes – Rob used his extensive research and practice to help members question common, but not necessarily good, practice. Even the ubiquitous Caution: Wet Floor sign came in for careful consideration.

The members also got to see first-hand the HSL’s own robust system for assessing the slip resistance of flooring and footwear – and in understanding the science behind it appreciate why many standard product ratings can be misleading.

Everyone went back to their own sites armed with potentially life-saving improvements (many of which are simple and cheap to implement) as well as an expert contact at HSL.

British Glass Health and safety committee chair, Alistair Lowe of O-I said:

“The training session was excellent – and very valuable given this is the biggest cause of workplace injuries in the UK. It’s also a big help to know how the HSL can support us further on this – with things like context-specific testing of safety boots, flooring choice advice and on-site assessments.”

British Glass health and safety lead Jenni Richards, said:

“Health and safety officers in the glass industry – as in so many industries – have a huge remit covering an incredible range of workplace risks. So it’s been great to have a dedicated expert share their knowledge on preventing falls. The Health and Safety committee is already exploring how we can act on this learning together, as an industry, to most effectively protect employees.”


Members can see the slides from the training presentation in our publications section.

British Glass members’ H&S committee proactively tackles today’s and tomorrow’s health and safety challenges in the glass industry because the sector’s productivity rests on the skills and knowledge of its employees – making their well-being paramount. All British Glass members are invited to be part of this work.

British Glass’ H&S Forward delivery framework gives members practical opportunities to shape, measure and demonstrate glass industry practice and ensure work is aligned to the strategy.

Any British Glass member can be part of the committee.

For more about British Glass healthy and safety work email