HR is vital to reduce health and safety disasters warns work and pensions secretary

Work and pensions secretary James Purnell has warned chief executives that good people management is vital to avoid disasters such as the Buncefield oil explosion.

Purnell told high level delegates at a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) conference in Westminster yesterday that they had to be confident in their staff’s ability to stop major incidents happening.

“Having a well trained, fully committed workforce is vital,” he said. “They will know how to spot the warning signs, and how to prevent them becoming major incidents.”

Purnell added that high health and safety standards depended on strong leadership from the top of an organisation.

More than 200 people are killed at work in the UK each year, according to the HSE.

The explosions at the Buncefield Oil Storage Depot in Hertfordshire on Sunday 11 December 2005 injured more than 40 people and the smoke covered much of the South of England for days.

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