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HSE Passport Syllabus – Are passports still valid or past their sell by date?

Posted by Tracy Seward

Do employers, occupiers, landlords and duty holders really rely on contractors presenting a credit card size bit of plastic with their picture on as a passport to access all areas? If they are then they should watch out!

In 2003 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) produced a helpful leaflet “Passport schemes for health safety and the environment: a good practice guide” INDG381 which was developed in consultation and discussion with the Passport Forum. The document suggested a core syllabus which would be helpful for those running schemes and those looking to obtain a passport.
Timothy Walker, HSE Director General said at the time: “Passports are an industry initiative that helps trainees develop a positive health and safety culture – where safe and healthy can become second nature. They are not required by the HSE or by law but are very welcome as a simple but important way of improving health and safety”.

The problem is that the term passport associated with some health and safety awareness training can be rather misleading. It can be interpreted as giving some particular status to the holder of the passport. This is where employers, occupiers, landlords and duty holders need to reflect on their duties to those they invite into their undertaking. There is a plethora of case law associated with contractor control and the provision of relevant information such as those principles set out in the precedents and decisions in Regina vs Swanhunter and Regina vs Associated Octel for starters.
So are passports not worth the plastic they are produced on? Well, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater here. The nuclear industry and Sellafield, for example, set as a minimum requirement that all contractors working on site must have a level of health and safety awareness. They have chosen the IOSH Working Safely training course as their minimum requirement as the course syllabus, in whatever format it is delivered exactly fits the syllabus set out in INDG381. As you can imagine, the IOSH passport that the contractor turns up with doesn’t mean they can immediately operate on the site, but it does mean there are a basic health and safety awareness which can be built on with other relevant local procedures and information provided to the worker.

So in summary, health and safety passports have a part to play in an organisation’s contractor management and the IOSH Working Safely passport has some benefits over other schemes that are on offer. The important thing to remember is that the contract worker’s organisation should be competent and selected on that basis. The ongoing working relationship between the client and contractor, both co-operating and co-ordinating each other’s activities, is where the duty holders should apply their efforts.

For more information on the Praxis42 IOSH Working Safely course click here or call 0870 4464201

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