We have had very little contact with the HSE in the last couple of years, in marked contrast to the close relationship with them over many years through, first, the Rubber Industry Advisory Committee (RUBIAC) and, after that, the Tyre and Rubber Industry Advisory Group (TRISAG). This has not been the fault of either side, simply a result of circumstance. Over the last two years the Lead Inspector with whom we liaise – Judith Botwood – had been on long term sick leave, with only intermittent periods when she was in the office. Sadly we learned in January she had had to take early retirement. No replacement has to our knowledge yet been appointed. At the same time we learned that her reporting officer, with whom we had occasional contact in her absence, had also moved, though his successor is now in place.
This hiatus is unfortunate, especially since we have always prided ourselves in being able to provide a service on health and safety which takes full account of the current concerns of HSE. We intend to try to set up a meeting with Ms Botwood’s successor as soon as is practicable. Realistically it is unlikely to be possible to have a substantive session with him or her before summer at the earliest.
In the meantime it appeared that the inspection programme for the sector started in the spring 2018 was continuing. We do not have much details of the findings but it is gratifying that over the course of the programme so far we have not had drawn to our attention any issues specifically relating to rubber manufacturing.