John CRAWFORD He’s old school and we’re proud of it

Shooting from the lip is much better than some PR guru who talks guff

I’M OLD enough to remember a working life before the Health & Safety at Work Act (1974), when all we had was the Factories Act (1961) and the Offi ces, Shops and Railway Premises Act (1963).

The new Health & Safety legislation promised ‘an end to prescribed standards in the workplace,’ and the future will see ‘employers and workers come together to agree procedures and working practices to make the workplace far safer’.

When I look at the pile of Regulations, Codes of Practice, Guidance etc that relates to waste recycling industry alone – I often wonder if those who promulgated the H&S legislation ever thought it would come to this?

My early training included inspecting factory premises. The biggest nightmare I had was a local knitwear factory where most of the employees were women, whose catcalls and comments meant me sticking as close to their Manager as possible during a visit!

And latterly in the private and public sector, I had to comply with the complexities and expectations of HSE.

I have a lot of sympathy for organisations and businesses who fi nd themselves on the wrong end of a prosecution, because an employee has tried to cut corners or simply been careless.

Our councils have to inspect their allocated HSE premises regularly and

comply with Statutory Performance Indicators, but this doesn’t seem to apply to HSE.

Yet if anybody is seriously hurt in HSE- regulated premises, the company/ council is invariably prosecuted, with no consideration of when HSE last inspected the premises.

Staff were supportive

I once fell foul of our council’s chief executive (a former maths teacher), who became extremely angry after reading a letter I’d posted in our gents toilet.

My useful suggestion was done in relation to something which created the real possibility of a serious hygiene issue.

Although staff were supportive, the chief executive sent a personnel offi cer along to tell me to remove my letter on the basis it ‘wasn’t appropriate’.

So, I removed the letter and as usual

complained loudly to anybody prepared to listen.

But how do you really get messages across? At management courses you’re told that the Coca-Cola logo is probably the best-known in the world, followed closely by McDonalds.

Billions spent on nothing

Millions, if not billions of pounds are spent by international organisations trying to fi nd something that captures their product and ethos.

Then, of course there’s the media

coverage whenever our councils announce cutbacks. They always use a clip of refuse collectors loading a RCV.

Don’t the producers understand refuse collection is both a statutory and public health function, and would probably be the last council service to be withdrawn?

Another favourite is when there’s talk of a new waste treatment plant being planned, and they show a landfi ll with acres of exposed waste and a compactor surrounded with seagulls.

Has nobody told the TV bods these sites haven’t been managed like that for decades now?

Or that vermin, smells and fi res are the least of the worries for those who run today’s modern waste treatment plants?

No wonder the cynics think PR is all smoke and mirrors!

JOHN trained at Saltcoats Burgh in the late 60s. After a decade he moved to PD Beatwaste Ltd/ Wimpey Waste Management Ltd. He then joined the Civil Engineering Dept at Strathclyde University before posts at Renfrew, Hamilton, Inverness and East Ayrshire Councils.

A Fellow of CIWM, he served on their Scottish Centre Council from 1988- 2009. He is a Fellow of the Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland and was their President between 1991-92.


SHWM July, 2018


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