Additional memorandum submitted by Federation
of Master Builders
During the oral evidence session of 23rd January
2008, I made a commitment to provide you with further information
on the Worker Safety Advisor project. This letter is intended
to discharge that undertaking.
The Workers' Safety Adviser (WSA) Challenge
Fund was launched on 26 March 2004 with the purpose of providing
financial support for partnerships created to get more workers
involved in occupational health and safety. The scheme focused
on small businesses and organisations that lack such arrangements
and sponsored projects operating in an wide range of industries,
The fund, was a ring fenced £3 million
funding stream to be spent equally over the three financial years
2004-05, 2005-06, and 2006-07. Partnerships would form each year
and submit a joint project bid through a nominated lead partner,
for funds up to £100,000 per application from the total funding
of £1 million available in that financial year.
The FMB formed a partnership with the Transport
and General Workers Union (T&GWU), now part of Unite, and
the Union of Construction Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT).
As the lead partner the FMB submitted a successful bid for a construction
project in each of the three years of the WSA challenge fund.
The first two projects were based in the South West of England,
the third in Glasgow and the surrounding area.
The project funds were used to support three
Worker Safety Advisors (WSAs) who would visit volunteer FMB firms,
and advise on health and safety matters. The method used had two
key advantages. Firstly, as union trained safety representatives
with considerable practical industry experience, the advisors
had great credibility with workers and employers alike. Secondly,
as the WSAs were employed by FMB, on secondment from their respective
unions, and had no statutory powers of enforcement, they were
able to gain the trust of the employers. This allowed all involved
to raise any concerns without fear of negative repercussions.
In terms of the budget break down, the majority
of the grant awards for each of the three FMB/T&GWU/UCATT
projects were spent on the personnel costs for the three WSAs,
such as wages employers' costs, and expenses. Management costs,
administration, equipment and office accommodation were provided
as an in kind contribution by the various project partners.
The project ceased with the end of Challenge
Fund support, despite its popularity due to lack of funds. The
partners, as nonprofit making organisation, were not able to replace
the near £100,000 of government funding needed to support
the provision of a WSA service in a single region, thus completely
ruling out the possibility of the partnership independently running
a full national programme. It became apparent towards the end
of the Challenge Fund, that it was unlikely that HSE would be
able to find the necessary funds to continue Challenge Fund levels
of support, and this was the eventual outcome. As a result the
FMB/Unite/UCATT WSA scheme in the construction industry closed
on 31 March 2007.
As I mentioned in my evidence I raised the benefits
of the scheme, and FMB's concerns that it had ceased, at the Construction
Industry Health and Safety Summit convened by the-then Secretary
of State Peter Hain. Mr Hain said he would make enquiries about
the ending of the funding, but I have heard nothing about the
outcome of his enquiries.
I hope that this has proved of interest.
23 January 2008