Health and Safety Training with BBC Video

Health and safety training is a responsibility that all employers must take very seriously, though it is all too often viewed as an onerous and unprofitable task. However, UK health and safety legislation exists to protect both employees and employers and it is something that neither can afford to ignore if needless risks and unnecessary injuries are to be avoided. HSE statistics show that millions of working days are lost every year through work-related illnesses and injuries. Adequate health and safety training can help to reduce the incidence of these workplace accidents as well as the potential compensation claims which they may generate. In conjunction with appropriate on-the-job instruction, health and safety training videos can play a key role in helping to reveal the very serious consequences which can arise when either employer or employee fails to recognise risks or to follow the safety procedures which have been put in place for their protection.

health and safety training video picture of boat

The BBC series Disaster focuses on some of the worst industrial catastrophes to have ever taken place. It combines original BBC footage with hard-hitting reconstructions and interviews with decision makers and survivors who stood witness as the horrific events unfolded. The series makes for compelling, if at times harrowing, viewing from which we are able to learn from the mistakes of the past. These powerful insights teach us how each appalling tragedy might have been avoided or, at the very least, loss of life significantly reduced. Series 1, first broadcast in 1997, examines six major disasters which took place in the 1980s. Series 2, broadcast in 1998, takes a look at five international incidents, including the Channel Tunnel fire of 1996, and asks whether they might have been prevented with adequate planning and risk assessment. Series 3 (1999) reveals the truth behind some of the worst disasters of the last 50 years, whilst Series 4 (2002) uses the examples of two terrible tragedies - The Kings Cross underground fire of 1987 and the Hyatt Regency hotel walkway collapse in Kansas City in 1981 - to provide health and safety training which no viewer can fail to heed.

Spiral for Disater VideoThe opening episode of Series 1, Spiral to Disaster, looks at the catalogue of health and safety shortcomings which led to the worst offshore oil rig accident ever to have occurred - the Piper Alpha disaster of 1988, in which 167 people tragically lost their lives. The inquiry which followed uncovered fundamental weaknesses at almost every level in the safety protocols in place on the oil rig. Lord Cullen, who chaired the inquiry, severely criticised Piper Alpha’s poor training, monitoring and shift handover procedures; he found risk assessments and evacuation drills to be inadequate and, perhaps most shockingly of all, that lessons from a previous similar incident had not been sufficiently followed up.

The inquiry found that the risk of a high-pressure gas fire on the platform and the effect such a fire would have on the structural integrity of the oil rig had not been properly evaluated. Furthermore, the lax approach to evacuation procedures in such an event meant that significant loss of life was virtually inevitable when the worst did happen. The programme gives us a stark insight into how a series of basic safety lapses can result in a single catastrophic event with a devastating cost to human life. In short, it delivers unforgettable health and safety training which cannot fail to affect any viewer and which is still applicable over 25 years after the disaster took place; indeed it remains the main case study for engineering failure in the oil and gas industry today.

Health and safety matters are further examined in other BBC series available via BBC Active Video for Learning. One such series, Collision Course, details two major travel disasters - the Southall rail crash of 1997 in which a high-speed passenger train collided with a cargo train in West London, and the Kegworth air disaster of 1989 in which a British Midland flight crashed onto the embankment of the M1 in Leicestershire, killing 47 people and seriously injuring a further 74. Lack of pilot training was found to be one of the key factors in the disaster. The subsequent official report made 31 separate safety recommendations which led to the improved passenger safety instructions and brace position which are familiar to air travellers today. In both cases examined in this series, it becomes clear that better health and safety training and proper use of the precautionary systems which were available would have dramatically reduced the risk of either accident taking place.

Video is a highly effective tool for health and safety training, bringing events to life and engaging the viewer in a way that no other medium can match. It’s a sobering statistic that one UK worker is fatally injured almost every day as a result of their working environment or poor working practices. If that number is to be reduced, health and safety must be at the forefront of every business’ ethos, not only those involved in inherently dangerous activities, and comprehensive training is at the heart of that improved awareness.

Take a look at our Health and Safety Law article.