Barnsley man John Rowe has been appointed as Head of Operations for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in Yorkshire and the Humber.
Dr Rowe will be leading a team of 29 inspectors, whose daily jobs focus on the safety of hundreds of thousands of workers throughout the region’s 15,500 square kilometres.
Dr Rowe, 44, from Penistone, steps into the role after 14 years with the HSE, the past five as a Principal Inspector based in Sheffield covering South Yorkshire and the Humber region.
His experience has included a huge variety of operational incidents, some with tragic consequences, with particular spells in general manufacturing in Leeds, for the railways inspectorate covering Yorkshire and the North East, and in construction – a sector that has one of the highest fatal and major injuries rates.
As Head of Operations in the region, he will oversee the work of an inspecting team and office staff dealing with a wide range of inspections and activities including manufacturing, engineering, agriculture, waste and recycling services, gas and utilities.
On his appointment, Dr Rowe said: “Although the trend for deaths and injuries in the workplace has declined over the years, there is still a stubborn number of preventable incidents largely within high-risk industries, and some companies that do not take the protection of their employees seriously.
“Fatal investigations always stand out as the devastating impact on family and friends is something you never get used to. Similarly, there are the injuries that turn a life upside down in an instant. I recall one 20 year-old, whose leg had to be amputated from the knee after a construction incident. He went from a happy-to-lucky young man with so much life to look forward to, to someone on the verge of suicide.
“Every working person has the right and expectation that they will return home safely from their day, or night’s, work. So, a focus on bringing that number down, along with enforcement action for firms breaching safety laws will be a priority.
“At the same time, we will continue to challenge those who create and inflate the myths surrounding so-called ‘elf ‘n’safety’ – often used as an excuse by jobsworths to avoid doing something or preventing something happening.
“HSE has done a lot to make health and safety simpler, to reduce red tape and remove unnecessary regulation to assist business. I want to make sure we continue to target the activities which present the greatest risks to workers.”
John, married with two children, is a keen cyclist and a ‘long-suffering’ supporter of Barnsley football club.
In Yorkshire and Humber in 2011/12, there were 14 deaths, nearly 2,300 major injuries and 8,300 over-three day injuries recorded. Inspectors from HSE Field Operations carried out nearly 1,300 inspections, undertook some 300 investigations and completed 30 prosecutions.