Appeal for more health and safety experts in Fenland

FENLAND risks becoming a blackspot for workplace accidents if employers do not train more health and safety experts.

Dozens of people have been killed or seriously injured because there is a chronic shortage of trained workplace officers in the Fens, medics say.

St John Ambulance is so concerned about the problem it is holding training courses to give small business owners greater awareness about the dangers of slips, trips and falls on their watch.

Emergency medical staff are also concerned that the large number of factories and farms in the Fens could result in greater numbers of industrial accidents.

David Cunningham, training co-ordinator for St John Ambulance, said: “Most employers in Fenland are small and medium size enterprises. These organisations often do not have the budget to employ a full time health and safety officer.

“In these situations, the owners of the company need to have a basic knowledge about the minefield that is health and safety.”

Latest statistics from the Health and Safety Executive show there were 61 fatal or major injuries in Fenland workplaces in 2008/9.

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That has risen from 43 in 2005/6, 53 in 2006/7 and 58 the following year.

Mr Cunningham admitted: “It’s more than you’d want.

“You tend to get more accidents and fatalities in areas where you have a high level of agricultural and construction businesses.

“They are the most dangerous industries and there are a lot of them in Fenland.”

He said Fenland caused more concern than places like Cambridge or London, where big businesses tend to employ full-time health and safety staff.

The two-day training course is being held at the St John Ambulance headquarters in Plough Road, Whittlesey on Monday, August 9 and Tuesday, August 10.

At the end, employers get a qualification accredited by the British Safety Council - provided they pass a test to show what they have learned.

For more information, call St John Ambulance on 08700 10 49 50.

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