Government initiatives to help the long term unemployed into work are obviously to be welcomed, but it is worrying how little attention is paid in some instances to the health and safety standards of those organisations offering experience and placements to job seekers.
A local job placement office asked if we could offer an unemployed person some time in our company so they could gain experience, and we happily agreed. However, when the placement officer came to visit us, I was shocked at their lack of health and safety knowledge, training or experience, and the approach they took to checking our safety credentials. The officer simply asked if we had a health and safety policy and insurance, ticked the yes boxes on a check sheet and said ‘we will send someone to you on Monday’. He never asked to see our relevant health and safety documents or even looked around our site to see if it was safe for the client.
When pressed about his health and safety training, the placement officer merely said he had done the job for a year and knew what he was doing, and had a checklist to guide him.
I think all work placement officers should have appropriate health and safety training, up to IOSH or CIEH level. Employers are understandably keen to help the unemployed through schemes like this but it seems the work placement environment is not being adequately monitored.
Ian Driver, director, Ian Driver Associates Ltd