HSfB Blog

Visitor Signing In Requirements

Back in the day when I something of a technical type I had occassion to visit lots of offices, warehouses, cash and carries and factories to fix various pieces of broken equipment.

Now I had ten calls to do a day, and I often covered 300 miles in the process, so I didn't have time to hang around at the customer's premesis, and I was well aquainted with the work I was to do and the environment I would have to do it in, since I did this sort of work all the time, so a broken till meant out on the retail floor, a dodgy photocopier was generally in an office, I'm sure you get the idea.

So one day I turn up with a replacement printer for a till in one of the larger cash and carries in Hillington near Glasgow. I get the printer onto my trolley (keeping manual handling to a minimum... it was one of those huge laser printers) and nip into customer service to find out which till needs fixing.

"Oh it's this one, but you need to go and sign in at the desk at the employee's entrance"

This entrance turned out to be at the back of the building, so I drove round, went up the stairs and went to the desk... which had no-one at it... so I signed the visitor's book, helped myself to a visitor's badge and was just heading toward the stairs when I heard an assistant say... you can't go back out that way, you need to stay inside the store.... so I asked for directions, counting my blessings that the printer wasn't still in the van at the bottom of the stairs, and was handed a map, very efficient. I was then handed the visitor's health and safety briefing and told I had to sign every page to confirm I had read it. The book (it was no booklet) was A4 and the page number on the last page was 67. It covered how to clean up spills, how to report injuries, what to do if you come accross someone being electrocuted, avoiding forklifts, which chemicals to use to clean the toilets... everything.. the entire H&S handbook was in there and I was expected to read it and sign every page.... I politely declined, said that I had to go now as I didn't have time and that customer services printer wouldn't be fixed until I could arrange a full day appointment. The assistant just shrugged and went back to whatever she normally does when she's not assisting people.

I popped back downstairs, drove back round to the customer entrance, swapped over the printers (I still had my visitor badge on so no-one asked any questions) and logged the call as completed, because I'm not the kind of person who leaves the job undone.

So what is the point of this rant ?

If you want visitors and contractors to comply with your health and safety system's requirements, make sure they are not OTT and can be completed in a couple of minutes. If it's going to take longer than that, you should have made whatever arrangements are necessary beforehand (eg if a site induction is required, or a method statement is to be agreed, etc)

If you make your H&S system difficult to operate, or time consuming, or you insist on reams of paper being read and filled in for simple everyday tasks, people will either refuse, or pay lip service to the system and work around it. I still have my visitor badge for that cash and carry, just in case I ever need to go back to fix a printer.