HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 26TH NOVEMBER 2015

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IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

New construction guidance to stop workers dying each week from occupational disease

Structural stability during excavations – drainage company fined for excavation collapse

Tyre removal, replacement and inflation – worker suffers loss of eye in explosion while inflating tyre

Introduction

Following the recent HSE construction inspection initiative, during which 200 health related enforcement notices were issued, the construction industry has last week launched new guidance to encourage better management of occupational health risks. We open this week’s update with more information about the guide and how to access it.

Continuing along the theme of construction health and safety, a Slough drainage company has been fined £60,000 plus £39,506 costs after a worker was seriously injured when an unsafe excavation collapsed during work to lay new pipes. So we’re also sharing HSE guidance on structural stability during excavations.

And finally, we share HSE guidance on tyre removal, replacement and inflation, after reports that an Essex-based company which sells and services agricultural machinery has been fined £750,000 following an incident which left a worker permanently blind in one eye.

We hope you find our news updates useful. If you know of anyone who may benefit from reading them, please encourage them to register at the bottom-left of our news page (http://www.eljay.co.uk/news/) and we’ll email them a link each time an update is published. If in the unlikely event any difficulties are experienced whilst registering we’ll be more than happy to help and can be contacted on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

New construction guidance to stop workers dying each week from occupational disease

The construction industry has launched new guidance to encourage better management of occupational health risks. HSE is urging the industry to put an end to the hundreds of construction workers that die of occupational diseases every month.

Inspectors issued more than 200 health related enforcement notices during the recent Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) construction inspection initiative.

This highlighted the widespread misunderstanding of what ‘occupational health’ means in the construction sector and the employers’ misguided perception that health is more difficult to manage than safety.

The new guide ‘Occupational health risk management in construction’ (http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/meetings/iacs/coniac/coniac-oh-guidance.pdf) has been written by the Construction Industry Advisory Committee (ConIAC) Health Risks Working Group and formatted with the assistance of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

It gives practical advice on what ‘health risk’ means for the construction industry, and the role of occupational health service provision in preventing or controlling those risks.

Ian Strudley, Chair of the ConIAC Health Risks Working Group and HSE Principal Specialist Inspector said: ““The misunderstanding of occupational health within the construction sector means that whilst the industry focus on managing the more familiar safety issues, serious health risks get ignored. We cannot let this continue.

“When figures show that construction workers are at least 100 times more likely to die from a disease caused or made worse by their work as they are from a fatal accident, the industry must take action.”

Shelley Frost, Executive Director – Policy at IOSH, said: “There have been huge advances in improving safety in the construction sector over the last 15 years but the industry has yet to generate such advances in improving the picture in occupational health.

“Every week, 100 people die from construction-related ill health in the UK. Less than half of construction workers also stay employed in the industry until they are 60.

“This new guide raises awareness of the occupational health issues in construction, demystifies how to best manage them and provides information as to where firms can get help and assistance.

“Ultimately, if the advice is followed, it could help to lower incidence rates of occupational ill-health and transform the perception of working in construction to that of an attractive and respectful industry with great career choices.”

The guidance is freely available on HSE’s and IOSH’s website (click on the links):

http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/meetings/iacs/coniac/coniac-oh-guidance.pdf

http://www.iosh.co.uk/techguide

Structural stability during excavations – drainage company fined for excavation collapse

A Slough drainage company has been fined after a worker was seriously injured when an unsafe excavation collapsed during work to lay new pipes outside a home near Canterbury. He sustained multiple fractures to his left leg and was unable to work for six weeks before later resigning because of recurring pain and psychological trauma.

His employer was prosecuted, and fined a total of £60,000 plus £39,506 costs, by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the excavation pit was missing vital shoring.

Folkestone Magistrates’ Court heard the injured worker was cutting and cleaning a pipe for rejoining at a depth in excess of two metres when a side of the pit suddenly gave way, creating a slip of soil and debris.

The lower half of his body was completely buried, with the weight of the material buckling his leg as it crashed down. He was dug out by a colleague and taken to hospital.

HSE established that there was nothing in place to support the excavation and prevent the collapse, despite this being a clear and common risk for this kind of work. There was also no evidence of suitable planning or supervision.

What you need to do

The law says you must prevent danger to workers in or near excavations. To maintain the required precautions, a competent person must inspect excavation supports or battering at the start of the working shift and at other specified times. No work should take place until the excavation is safe.

Commercial clients must provide certain information to contractors before work begins. This should include relevant information on:

  • Ground conditions
  • underground structures or water courses; and
  • the location of existing services.
  • This information should be used during the planning and preparation for excavation work.

Key issues are:

  • Collapse of excavations
  • Falling or dislodging material
  • Falling into excavations
  • Inspection

What you need to know

Every year people are killed or seriously injured by collapses and falling materials while working in excavations. They are at risk from:

  • Excavations collapsing and burying or injuring people working in them;
  • material falling from the sides into any excavation; and
  • people or plant falling into excavations.

Remember:

  • No ground can be relied upon to stand unsupported in all circumstances.
  • Depending on conditions, a cubic metre of soil can weigh in excess of 1.5 tonnnes.

Trenchless techniques should always be considered at the design stage as they replace the need for major excavations.

Underground and overhead services may also present a fire, explosion, electrical or other hazard and will need to be assessed and managed.

Collapse of excavations

Temporary support – Before digging any trench pit, tunnel, or other excavations, decide what temporary support will be required and plan the precautions to be taken.

Make sure the equipment and precautions needed (trench sheets, props, baulks etc) are available on site before work starts.

Battering the excavation sides – Battering the excavation sides to a safe angle of repose may also make the excavation safer.

In granular soils, the angle of slope should be less than the natural angle of repose of the material being excavated. In wet ground a considerably flatter slope will be required.

Falling or dislodging material

Loose materials – may fall from spoil heaps into the excavation. Edge protection should include toeboards or other means, such as projecting trench sheets or box sides to protect against falling materials. Head protection should be worn.

Undermining other structures – Check that excavations do not undermine scaffold footings, buried services or the foundations of nearby buildings or walls. Decide if extra support for the structure is needed before you start. Surveys of the foundations and the advice of a structural engineer may be required.

Effect of plant and vehicles – Do not park plant and vehicles close to the sides of excavations. The extra loadings can make the sides of excavations more likely to collapse.

Falling into excavations

Prevent people from falling – Edges of excavations should be protected with substantial barriers where people are liable to fall into them.

To achieve this, use:

  • Guard rails and toe boards inserted into the ground immediately next to the supported excavation side; or
  • fabricated guard rail assemblies that connect to the sides of the trench box
  • the support system itself, eg using trench box extensions or trench sheets longer than the trench depth.

Inspection

A competent person who fully understands the dangers and necessary precautions should inspect the excavation at the start of each shift.

Excavations should also be inspected after any event that may have affected their strength or stability, or after a fall of rock or earth.

A record of the inspections will be required and any faults that are found should be corrected immediately.

For more information visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/excavations.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

Tyre removal, replacement and inflation – worker suffers loss of eye in explosion while inflating tyre

An Essex-based company which sells and services agricultural machinery has been fined £750,000 after an incident which left a worker permanently blind in one eye.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard how the tyre technician was working with a colleague to re-fit and re-inflate the tyres of a customers’ 4-wheel-drive agricultural vehicle. During re-inflation, one of these tyres exploded, causing him to be blown across the workshop, and to sustain severe injuries to his head and to the right side of his face.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated this incident, and found that the company failed to ensure that adequate instruction, training and supervision were provided to its tyre technicians. The company also failed to identify and remedy unsafe working practices that had been allowed to become the norm at its tyre depot.

Speaking for HSE after the hearing, Principal Inspector Norman Macritchie said: “This type of regrettable incident was entirely foreseeable considering the evidently unsafe working practices undertaken at the depot. A worker sustained serious and life-changing injuries which could easily have proven fatal.

“While all tyre technicians require suitable training, those inflating the large, higher-pressure tyres fitted to many agricultural, commercial, and construction vehicles need to implement key additional precautions – such as using a suitable inflation cage or bag.

“Employers undertaking this type of activity have a duty to ensure that staff are competent to inflate larger higher-risk tyres, to use a system of work that is safe, and to implement effective management systems to supervise and monitor such activities.”

Tyre removal, replacement and inflation should only be tackled by competent staff. The main hazards which can arise include:

  • manual handling injuries, which account for nearly a half of all tyre-related incidents reported;
  • tool-related injuries (which make up a quarter of incidents), particularly from handtools such as tyre levers; and
  • compressed-air accidents eg from a ruptured or burst tyre or violent separation of the component parts of the wheel. These accidents tend to result in serious injuries, including fatalities.

Safety during tyre inflation

Inflated tyres contain a large amount of stored energy, which varies according to the inflation pressure and the surface area of the tyre (eg the sidewall of a typical commercial vehicle tyre has to withstand over 34 tonnes of force from compressed air before additional carriage weight is taken into account).

If the tyre fails, an explosive force can be released at an angle of up to 45 degrees from the rupture (which is often, but not always, the face of the sidewall). This has resulted in numerous fatalities over the years. It is crucial that the airline hose between the clip-on chuck and the pressure gauge/control is long enough to allow the operator to stand outside the likely trajectory of any explosion during inflation. This will vary depending on the size of the tyre and its positioning.

Car tyres generally contain less energy than truck tyres and their size and profile make them less likely to fail catastrophically. Sensible precautions are still required, but a restraining device such as a safety cage is not normally necessary.

Light commercial tyres are now commonly found with pressures around 70psi, which may be sufficient to cause serious injury. If so, use enhanced safety measures such as those required for conventional truck/bus tyres. When inflating above 15psi this will include using a restraint such as (click on the link for illustrations):

Airlines should have quick-release couplings at both ends to allow the tyre to be deflated from outside the likely explosion trajectory if a fault (eg a potential ‘zipper’ failure of the sidewall) is detected. The valve connector should not require the operator to hold it place.

The pressure gauge/control valve should never be jammed in the open position, nor should ‘unrestricted’ airlines (ie without a gauge or pressure control device) be used to inflate any tyre.

The following YouTube video demonstrates the power of a tyre explosion resulting from inflating a damaged tyre (click on the link): https://youtu.be/294Wu6O0uW0

(HSE disclaimer (click on the link): http://www.hse.gov.uk/disclaimer.htm)

Special cases

Very large tyres such as those found in agriculture, quarries etc may be too big to fit into a restraint. Safe systems of work will need to be devised to ensure:

  • the wheel is restrained;
  • the effects of any explosion are contained safely; and
  • everyone stays outside the likely explosion trajectory

More information on safety in tyre inflation and deflation, tyre and wheel removal, repair and replacement (click on the links)

For more information visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/mvr/mechanical-repair/tyreremoval.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence

 

 

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 19TH NOVEMBER 2015

REGISTER BELOW-LEFT TO RECEIVE OUR UPDATES BY EMAIL

IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

Chief Inspector challenges small construction sites to act now to manage workers health and safety

Crowd management – your duties as an event organiser

Managing risks from skin exposure at work

Introduction

This autumn saw the HSE’s 10th annual refurbishment inspection initiative, and after 46% of sites fell below standards, the Chief Inspector of Construction is challenging the refurbishment industry to act now and protect their workers. As well as serving 692 enforcement notices and 983 notifications of contravention, inspectors had to deal with immediate risks such as falls from height (the most common killer in the industry), and exposure to silica dust and asbestos. This week we open our update with HSE guidance on managing construction sites safely.

As the festive season rapidly approaches, we hear that this year’s Christmas lights switch-on in Solihull has been cancelled amid health and safety fears arising from the size of crowds expected to attend. In 2009 approximately 60 people were injured during a crowd-surge at such an event in Birmingham. So we’re also sharing HSE guidance this week on crowd management – specifically aimed at those responsible for organising events such as these.

And finally, we look at the risks from skin exposure at work – how many materials used can affect the skin or pass through the skin, causing diseases elsewhere in the body – and how these can be prevented.

We hope you find our news updates useful. If you know of anyone who may benefit from reading them, please encourage them to register at the bottom-left of our news page (http://www.eljay.co.uk/news/) and we’ll email them a link each time an update is published. If in the unlikely event any difficulties are experienced whilst registering we’ll be more than happy to help and can be contacted on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

Chief Inspector challenges small construction sites to act now to manage workers health and safety

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE’s) Chief Inspector of Construction is challenging the refurbishment industry to act now and protect their workers, after 46 per cent of sites fell below standards during a recent inspection initiative.

HSE targeted small refurbishment sites during the month long drive and 692 enforcement notices and 983 notifications of contravention had to be served where there was a material breach of health and/or safety. Inspectors had to deal with immediate risks, such as work at height, and also to deal with sites where workers were being exposed to silica dust and asbestos, which cause long term health problems.

Health and safety breaches were also followed up with clients and designers, reinforcing their duties under the Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM) 2015 and help them understand their responsibilities.

Despite the high rate of enforcement action, the inspectors found a number of examples of good practice.

Peter Baker, Health and Safety Executive’s Chief Inspector of Construction said: “It is disappointing that some small refurbishment sites are still cutting corners and not properly protecting their workers. Falls from height are the most common killer in the industry but we still found workers put at risk to save minutes on the job – believing it wouldn’t happen to them.

“The mis-conception that health issues cannot be controlled is simply not true and ruining people’s lives. Harmful dust, whether silica or wood, is a serious issue and can be managed effectively with the right design, equipment and training. Health effects may not be immediate but the ultimate impact on workers and their families can be devastating. Each week 100 construction workers die from occupational disease.”

“HSE inspectors found lots of good examples of small sites carrying out work safely, proving it can be done. Larger construction sites accepted the challenge a few years ago and have made big improvements, which all of the industry can learn from. My message to smaller businesses is don’t wait for an accident or visit from an inspector before you make the change, but act now and learn from your colleagues’ example.”

How to manage your site safely (click on the links)

For more guidance on health and safety in the construction industry, visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/ or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Crowd management – your duties as an event organiser

Solihull’s Christmas lights switch-on has been cancelled this year amid health and safety fears arising from the size of crowds expected to attend. In 2009 approximately 60 people were injured during a crowd-surge at such an event in Birmingham.

As an organiser you must as far as reasonably practicable ensure the safety of visiting crowds.

While certain aspects of crowd safety can be allocated to contractors, for example stewarding, you will retain overall responsibility for ensuring the safety of the public.

What you should know

Hazards presented by a crowd:

  • Crushing between people.
  • Crushing against fixed structures, such as barriers.
  • Trampling underfoot.
  • Surging, swaying or rushing.
  • Aggressive behaviour.
  • Dangerous behaviour, such as climbing on equipment or throwing objects.

Hazards presented by a venue:

  • Slipping or tripping due to inadequately lit areas or poorly maintained floors and the build-up of rubbish.
  • Moving vehicles sharing the same route as pedestrians.
  • Collapse of a structure, such as a fence or barrier, which falls onto the crowd.
  • People being pushed against objects, such as unguarded, hot cooking equipment on a food stall.
  • Objects, such as stalls, that obstruct movement and cause congestion during busy periods.
  • Crowd movements obstructed by people queuing at bars etc.
  • Cross flows as people cut through the crowd to get to other areas, such as toilets.
  • Failure of equipment, such as turnstiles.
  • Sources of fire, such as cooking equipment.

Assessing the risks and putting controls in place

Carry out an assessment of the risks arising from crowd movement and behaviour as they arrive, leave and move around the site.

Note: Whether health and safety law will apply on routes to and from the venue will largely depend on the circumstances (other legislation to do with Licensing and traffic law may take precedence). If health and safety law does apply, an organiser’s legal duty regarding crowd safety will depend on the extent of control they have, which should be judged on a case-by-case basis. These duties are likely to be shared with others, including the local authority, landowners and transport providers.

Find out more

To assist you in identifying measures to help keep people safe see Managing crowds safely: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg154.htm

Barriers

Barriers at events serve several purposes, eg:

  • as an aid to manage and influence the behaviour of the audience; to line routes; and to prevent the audience climbing on top of temporary structures and putting themselves at risk of falling
  • to relieve and prevent overcrowding and the build-up of audience pressure
  • to provide physical security, as in the case of a high-perimeter fence at an outdoor event
  • to shield hazards from people

If you decide to use barriers and fencing as a crowd management tool, then they should be risk assessed. Depending on the complexity of the risk and barrier/s, you may need a source of competent advice to help you.

The factors you should take into account include:

  • the planned use of barriers
  • layout
  • ground conditions and topography
  • the presence of underground services, eg water pipes, electric cables that could restrict the use of pins to secure barriers
  • weather
  • load on the barrier – wind and/or crowd pressure
  • audience numbers and behaviour

These and any other factors peculiar to the location will determine the type of barrier or fence you select. It is crucial that the type of barrier and fence does not present greater risks than those they are intended to control. In some cases, barriers have failed due to incorrect selection.

To install simple barriers like rope and posts is relatively straightforward. However, for more complex barrier arrangements like stage barriers you may need a competent contractor to do this for you.

Deploy barriers and fencing with proper crowd management procedures, eg use of stewards to help achieve an all-round effective management of the risk. If appropriate, consult with a crowd management director on the use of barriers.

Find out more (click on the links)

For clarification or more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Managing risks from skin exposure at work

Many materials used at work can affect the skin or can pass through the skin and cause diseases elsewhere in the body. If you are an employer, health and safety adviser, trainer or safety representative, this book (free to download by clicking on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg262.htm) provides guidance to help you prevent these disabling diseases.

It covers the protective role of the skin, ill health arising from skin exposure, recognising potential skin exposure in your workplace, and managing skin exposure to prevent disease.

There is guidance on assessing and managing risks, reducing contact with harmful materials, choosing the right protective equipment and skin care products, and checking for early signs of skin disease.

The document also contains a series of case studies drawn from a wide range of industries.

Related resources (click on the links)

See also

For clarification or more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence

 

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 12TH NOVEMBER 2015

REGISTER BELOW-LEFT TO RECEIVE OUR UPDATES BY EMAIL

IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 – landlords now required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties

Working safely with lead – roofing firm fined after workers are exposed

HSE and HMRC working together for you – growing your business

Introduction

Last month, as part of wider government moves to ensure that there are sufficient measures in place to protect public safety (while at the same time avoiding regulation which would push up rents and restrict the supply of homes – limiting choice for tenants), the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 took effect – requiring landlords to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties and, as a result, helping to prevent up to 26 deaths and 670 injuries a year.

Last week, a roofing company was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £893.95 in costs after workers were put at risk of significant levels of exposure to lead. The company was found to have not assessed the risks of exposure to working with lead or implemented suitable controls to prevent that exposure. So this week, we share HSE guidance on working with safely with lead, and action required by employers to reduce lead risk to workers.

Is your business growing, and are you taking on new employees? Then you’re likely to be facing new issues and concerns – particularly with regard to health and safety. Whilst we encourage readers to contact us with any queries, we welcome the move by the HSE and HMRC in working together to deliver a live webinar which looks at some of the questions you may have and guides you through the answers. Details of webinar dates – the first of which is next week – and how to register are provided below.

We hope you find our news updates useful. If you know of anyone who may benefit from reading them, please encourage them to register at the bottom-left of our news page (http://www.eljay.co.uk/news/) and we’ll email them a link each time an update is published. If in the unlikely event any difficulties are experienced whilst registering we’ll be more than happy to help and can be contacted on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 – landlords now required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties

Landlords are now required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties, under measures announced by Housing Minister Brandon Lewis earlier this year.

The move will help prevent up to 26 deaths and 670 injuries a year.

The measure took effect last month, and comes with strong support after a consultation on property condition in the private rented sector.

England’s 46 fire and rescue authorities are expected to support private landlords in their own areas to meet their new responsibilities with the provision of free alarms, with grant funding from government.

This is part of wider government moves to ensure there are sufficient measures in place to protect public safety, while at the same time avoiding regulation which would push up rents and restrict the supply of homes, limiting choice for tenants.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said:

In 1988 just 8% of homes had a smoke alarm installed – now it’s over 90%.

The vast majority of landlords offer a good service and have installed smoke alarms in their homes, but I’m changing the law to ensure every tenant can be given this important protection.

But with working smoke alarms providing the vital seconds needed to escape a fire, I urge all tenants to make sure they regularly test their alarms to ensure they work when it counts. Testing regularly remains the tenant’s responsibility.

Communities Minister Stephen Williams said:

We’re determined to create a bigger, better and safer private rented sector – a key part of that is to ensure the safety of tenants with fire prevention and carbon monoxide warning.

People are at least 4 times more likely to die in a fire in the home if there’s no working smoke alarm.

That’s why we are proposing changes to the law that would require landlords to install working smoke alarms in their properties so tenants can give their families and those they care about a better chance of escaping a fire.

Ensuring the safety of tenants

Other measures to support the private rented sector include investing £1 billion in building newly-built homes specifically for private rent, giving tenants support against rogue landlords and publishing a How to rent guide so tenants and landlords alike are aware of their rights and responsibilities.

The changes to the law require landlords to install smoke alarms on every floor of their property, and test them at the start of every tenancy.

Landlords also need to install carbon monoxide alarms in high risk rooms – such as those where a solid fuel heating system is installed.

Those who fail to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms will face sanctions and could face up to a £5,000 civil penalty.

This will bring private rented properties into line with existing building regulations that already require newly-built homes to have hard-wired smoke alarms installed.

And it’s in line with other measures the government has taken to improve standards in the private rented sector, without wrapping the industry up in red tape.

The Department for Communities and Local Government has published an explanatory booklet for landlords, ‘Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms’, free to download by clicking on the link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-alarms-explanatory-booklet-for-landlords. The booklet is designed to help landlords further understand and comply with the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.

For clarification or more information, please contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Working safely with lead – roofing firm fined after workers are exposed

A Gloucestershire roofing company has pleaded guilty to health and safety failings after workers were put at risk of significant levels of exposure to lead.

Last week, Worcester Magistrates’ Court was told that during a routine HSE inspection, the company was observed carrying out replacement lead work on a roof in Worcester.

The company was found to have not assessed the risks of exposure to working with lead or implemented suitable controls to prevent that exposure.

There were no known medical affects found in the two workers although significant levels of lead were found in their blood.

The roofing company pleaded guilty to Control of Lead at Work 6(1) and was fined £3,000 and ordered to pay £893.95 in costs.

Working safely with lead

Working with lead can put your health at risk, causing symptoms including headaches, stomach pains and anaemia. Other serious health effects include kidney damage, nerve and brain damage and infertility.

Health effects from exposure to lead

The Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002 (CLAW) place a duty on employers to prevent, or where this is not reasonably practicable, to control employee exposure to lead.

The occupational exposure limit for lead in air set out in the Regulations is 0.15 mg/m3, and blood lead suspension levels for males and females are 60 and 30ug/dl, respectively.  For young workers (under 18) the blood lead suspension limit is 50 μg/dl.  However there is growing scientific evidence that employees’ health is at risk, even where exposure to lead is below the levels in CLAW, for example, above levels of 40ug/dl, the following health effects have been observed:

  • changes in the blood which might lead to anaemia
  • effects on the nervous system
  • effects on the kidney
  • altered functioning of the testicles which could lead to infertility

At exposures around 30ug/dl, elevated blood pressure in middle-aged males has been reported.

HSE is therefore reminding employers of good practice for controlling workers’ exposures to lead.

The Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002 (CLAW) place a duty on employers to prevent, or where this is not reasonably practicable, to control employee exposure to lead.

When are you most at risk?

Work processes

When you work in industrial processes which create lead dust, fume or vapour. These include:

  • blast removal and burning of old lead paint
  • stripping of old lead paint from doors, windows etc
  • hot cutting in demolition and dismantling operations
  • recovering lead from scrap and waste
  • lead smelting, refining, alloying and casting
  • lead-acid battery manufacture and breaking and recycling
  • manufacturing lead compounds
  • manufacturing leaded-glass
  • manufacturing and using pigments, colours and ceramic glazes
  • working with metallic lead and alloys containing lead, for example soldering
  • some painting of buildings
  • some spraying of vehicles
  • recycling of televisions or computer monitors which contain Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT’s)

Your body absorbs lead when you:

  • breathe in lead dust fume or vapour
  • swallow any lead for example if you eat, drink, smoke or bite you nails without washing your hands and face.

What you should do to protect your health

  • make sure you have all of the information and training you need to work safely with lead
  • use all of the equipment provided by your employer and follow the instructions for use
  • make sure all protective equipment fits correctly and is in good condition
  • keep your immediate work area clean and tidy
  • clear up and get rid of any lead waste at the end of the day
  • do not take home any protective clothing or footwear for washing or cleaning
  • wear any necessary protective equipment or clothing and return it to the proper place provided by your employer
  • report any damaged or defective equipment to your employer
  • only eat and drink in designated areas that are free from lead contamination
  • keep any medical appointments with the doctor where you work
  • practice a high standard of personal hygiene:
  • wash your hands and face and scrub your nails before eating
  • wash and/or shower before you go home

Action required by employers

  • Review work processes and workplaces for opportunities to reduce workers’ exposure to lead by reducing the number of people exposed, the amount of lead to which they are exposed and the length of time each worker is exposed.
  • Ensure you are using the right controls – check with industry good practice
  • Ensure the controls are always used when needed
  • Keep all controls in good working order. This means mechanical controls (eg extraction, respiratory protection), administrative controls (eg supervision, medical surveillance) and operator behaviour (following instructions).
  • Show that control is being sustained – keep good records.
  • You should consult an appointed doctor about the medical surveillance which is appropriate for your work activities and workplace.
  • If you are in doubt, seek expert help.

Personal decontamination and skin care

  • Provide clean facilities for separate storage of clean and contaminated work clothing.
  • Provide warm water, mild skin cleansers, and soft paper or fabric towels for drying. Avoid abrasive cleansers.
  • Provide pre-work skin creams, which will make it easier to wash dirt from the skin, and after-work creams to replace skin oils.

Caution: ‘Barrier creams’ are not ‘liquid gloves’ and they do not provide a full barrier.

Training and supervision

Train and supervise workers to make sure they are doing the job in the right way and using controls properly to reduce their exposure. Include supervisors and managers in health and safety training. Make sure your workers understand:

  • the hazards associated with working with lead
  • how to use dust controls, and how to check that they are working
  • how to maintain and clean equipment safely
  • how to look after personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • what to do if something goes wrong

Check workers:

  • use the controls provided
  • follow the correct work method
  • turn up for medical surveillance;
  • follow the rules on personal hygiene

For clarification or more information, please visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/lead/ or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

HSE and HMRC working together for you – growing your business

Find answers to typical questions for growing businesses on health and safety and taking on new employees in this live webinar (seminar conducted over the internet).

Webinar overview

As your business starts to grow or you take on more employees you’ll face new issues and concerns. HMRC and the Health and Safety Executive are working together to deliver a live webinar about the typical situations you are likely to face. It looks at some of the questions you may have and guides you through the answers.

Webinar dates

  • 17 November 2015, 10am – 11am, register by clicking on the below link: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7646516601989812225
  • 15 December 2015, 10am – 11am, registration (TBA)
  • 12 January 2016, 10am – 11am, registration (TBA)
  • 9 February 2016, 10am – 11am, registration (TBA)
  • 8 March 2016, 10am – 11am, registration (TBA)

Once you have registered the webinar organizer will communicate with you regarding these events.

Alternatively, if you have any questions regarding any aspect of health and safety, contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Contains public sector information published by GOV.UK and the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence

 

 

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 5TH NOVEMBER 2015

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IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

New sentencing guidelines introduced for corporate manslaughter, health and safety and food safety

Dichloromethane (DCM) Restriction: firm sentenced after worker dies after inhaling paint stripper

Dumpers: construction firm sentenced after dumper truck topple

Introduction

Last week, we looked at the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, and the impact its introduction has had on companies and organisations. This week, new sentencing guidelines have been introduced for corporate manslaughter, as well as health and safety and food safety. Publication of the guidelines (by the Sentencing Council) ensures that for the first time, there will be comprehensive sentencing guidelines covering the most commonly sentenced health and safety offences and food safety offences in England and Wales.

Also, further to news last week of a motor vehicle repair company being fined £50,000 following the death of a worker after inhaling dichloromethane (DCM) fumes while cleaning a chemical paint stripping tank, we share HSE guidance on the safe working practices that should be followed where the use of paint stripper containing DCM is permitted, i.e. in industrial installations only.

And finally, we close with HSE guidance on the safe use of dumpers, following the recent sentencing of a construction firm after a worker was injured when a 10 tonne dumper truck he was driving overturned and landed in an open excavation.

We hope you find our news updates useful. If you know of anyone who may benefit from reading them, please encourage them to register at the bottom-left of our news page (http://www.eljay.co.uk/news/) and we’ll email them a link each time an update is published. If in the unlikely event any difficulties are experienced whilst registering we’ll be more than happy to help and can be contacted on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

New sentencing guidelines introduced for corporate manslaughter, health and safety and food safety

New sentencing guidelines have been published this week aiming to ensure a consistent, fair and proportionate approach to sentencing organisations or individuals convicted of corporate manslaughter, health and safety and food safety and hygiene offences.

Offences that come under the guidelines are very varied and could include a building firm that causes the death of an employee by not providing the proper equipment for working at height, a restaurant that causes an outbreak of e. coli poisoning through unsafe food preparation, a manufacturer that causes injury to a new worker by not providing training for operating machinery or a gas fitter whose sub-standard work leads to the risk of an explosion in someone’s home.

The publication of the guidelines ensures that for the first time, there will be comprehensive sentencing guidelines covering the most commonly sentenced health and safety offences and food safety offences in England and Wales. Until now, there has been limited guidance for judges and magistrates in dealing with what can be complex and serious offences that do not come before the courts as frequently as some other criminal offences.

The introduction of the guidelines means that in some cases, offenders will receive higher penalties, particularly large organisations committing serious offences – such as when an organisation is convicted of deliberately breaking the law and creating a high risk of death or serious injury. It is not anticipated that there will be higher fines across the board, or that they will be significantly higher in the majority of cases to those currently imposed.

The increase in penalties for serious offending has been introduced because in the past, some offenders did not receive fines that properly reflected the crimes they committed. The Council wants fines for these offences to be fair and proportionate to the seriousness of the offence and the means of offenders.

In order to achieve this, the guidelines set out sentencing ranges that reflect the very different levels of risk of harm that can result from these offences.

Corporate manslaughter always involves at least one death, but health and safety offences can vary hugely; they may pose the risk of minor harm or lead to multiple fatalities. Food offences are also wide-ranging. They could involve poor hygiene or preparation standards in a restaurant kitchen that put customers at risk of illness or that cause fatal food poisoning.

The sentencing ranges also take into account how culpable the offender was. This could range from minor failings in procedures to deliberately dangerous acts.

While prison sentences are available for individuals convicted of very serious offences, most offences are committed by organisations and therefore fines are the only sentence that can be given.

The guidelines use the turnover of the offender to identify the starting point of the fine. Turnover is used as this is a clear indicator that can be easily assessed.

However, turnover is never the only factor taken into account. The guidelines require the court to “step back”, review and adjust the initial fine if necessary. It must take into account any additional relevant financial information, such as the profit margin of the organisation, the potential impact on employees, or potential impact on the organisation’s ability to improve conditions or make restitution to victims. This means sentences will always be tailored to the offender’s specific circumstances. Fines may move up or down or outside the ranges entirely as a result of these additional mandatory steps.

Legislation requires that any fine imposed must reflect the seriousness of the offence and take into account the financial circumstances of the offender. All factors being equal, a similar level of fine given to a large, wealthy corporation on the one hand and a sole trader with a modest turnover on the other would be unfair, just as the same speeding fine given to a premiership footballer and someone on an average income would not achieve the same level of punishment or deterrence.

The UK’s record on worker fatalities is good, but where such offences are committed, the Council believes fines should be available which reflect the seriousness of the offence. As well as causing fatalities, health and safety offences may risk or cause a wide spectrum of injury and illness, including a life-changing disability or health condition for victims.

While addressing remedial action with offenders is the responsibility of the Health and Safety Executive rather than the courts, the guideline does provide for remedial orders to be made by the court in addition to or instead of punishment in cases where they may be appropriate. The guideline also includes a range of mitigating factors which allow for voluntary positive action to remedy a failure on the part of offenders to be reflected in sentences.

Sentencing Council member Michael Caplan QC said:

“These guidelines will introduce a consistent approach to sentencing, ensuring fair and proportionate sentences for those who cause death or injury to their employees and the public or put them at risk. These offences can have very serious consequences and it is important that sentences reflect these.”

Rod Ainsworth, Director of Regulatory and Legal Strategy at the FSA said:

“We welcome these guidelines. They will ensure that there is consistency in sentencing for food safety and food hygiene offences across the country. They will also ensure that offenders are sentenced fairly and proportionately in the interests of consumers.”

Following their publication this week, the guidelines will come into force in courts on 1 February 2016.

© Crown copyright: contains public sector information published by the Sentencing Council, and licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

Dichloromethane (DCM) Restriction: firm sentenced after worker dies after inhaling paint stripper

An employer has been fined £50,000 after a worker died after inhaling fumes while cleaning a chemical paint stripping tank at a motor vehicle repair company.

Dundee Sheriff Court heard how in August 2011, the worker was employed by the company to undertake general duties which included collections and deliveries, removing and replacing tyres, and moving alloy wheels into, and out of, the chemical stripping tank. He was overcome by dichloromethane vapour while attempting to remove stripping debris from within the chemical stripping tank and died as a result of his exposure to those vapours.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the worker was provided with no formal training in respect of the use of the chemical stripping tank and the chemical stripping agent used by the company. Instead he was given ‘on the job’ training.

For more information about chemicals at work visit the website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/chemicals/

Dichloromethane (DCM) Restriction

A new ban on some supply and use of paint strippers containing the hazardous substance ‘dichloromethane’ (DCM, and also known as methylene chloride) is coming into force.  For the purposes of this ban, the term ‘paint stripper’ is taken to mean DCM (or mixtures containing it) intended for stripping paint, varnish or lacquer.

Pure DCM (or mixtures containing it) sold and used for other purposes (e.g. degreasing) aren’t banned and can continue to be sold and used (although not for stripping paint).

The new ban makes a distinction between three types of use:

  • ‘Industrial’ use of paint strippers in ‘industrial installations’ (i.e. facilities where paint stripping takes place) – this is allowed to continue as long as certain safe working practices are followed.
  • ‘Professional’ use by workers where this takes place away from an industrial installation. This will be banned, but UK can choose to allow continued safe use by specifically trained professionals.
  • ‘Consumer’ use by the general public, such as DIY. Supply to consumers is banned.

Industrial use

Use of DCM-based paint strippers can continue in industrial installations so long as certain safe working practices are followed. Supply for these uses is also permitted. The required conditions for continued industrial use are listed in paragraph 4 of the restriction text:

(a) effective ventilation in all processing areas, in particular for the wet processing and the drying of stripped articles: local exhaust ventilation at strip tanks supplemented by forced ventilation in those areas, so as to minimise exposure and to ensure compliance, where technically feasible, with relevant occupational exposure limits;

(b) measures to minimise evaporation from strip tanks comprising: lids for covering strip tanks except during loading and unloading; suitable loading and unloading arrangements for strip tanks; and wash tanks with water or brine to remove excess solvent after unloading;

(c) measures for the safe handling of dichloromethane in strip tanks comprising: pumps and pipework for transferring paint stripper to and from strip tanks; and suitable arrangements for safe cleaning of tanks and removal of sludge;

(d) personal protective equipment that complies with Directive 89/686/EEC comprising: suitable protective gloves, safety goggles and protective clothing; and appropriate respiratory protective equipment where compliance with relevant occupational exposure limits cannot be otherwise achieved;

(e) adequate information, instruction and training for operators in the use of such equipment.

Paint strippers supplied for industrial use must be labelled in accordance with either the CHIP Regulations or CLP, and must also be ‘visibly, legibly and indelibly marked’ with the text ‘Restricted to industrial use and to professionals approved in certain EU Member States — verify where use is allowed.’ Suppliers will wish to satisfy themselves that mixtures are being supplied for legal uses, in order to explain such a due diligence approach if challenged.

Professional (mobile) use

The ban first took effect on 6 December 2010.  Since then formulators of DCM-based paint strippers have not been allowed to put their products into the supply chain for use outside industrial installations. Suppliers could however continue to sell existing stocks to professionals or the public for a further year, until 6 December 2011. On the 6 June 2012 all use of DCM-based paint strippers by professionals outside industrial installations had to cease.

For clarification or more information, please contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Dumpers: construction firm sentenced after dumper truck topple

A construction firm has been sentenced after a worker was injured when a 10 tonne dumper truck he was driving over turned and landed in an open excavation.

Peterborough Magistrates’ Court heard the construction firm failed to put in place measures such as stop blocks to prevent vehicles from falling into the excavation, failed to plan and implement a safe system of work, and inadequately trained the dumper truck driver.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuting said the incident could have easily been avoided by putting simple safety measures in place.

The driver of the truck sustained crush injuries to his wrist.

After the hearing, the HSE Inspector who investigated and prosecuted this case, said: “Accidents can be prevented by ensuring construction work is planned, managed and monitored in a way that ensures it is carried out safely from the start, including for example the use of stop blocks at the edge of excavations”.

Dumpers

What you need to do

The law says you must organise your site to segregate pedestrians and dumpers. The dumpers used must be carefully selected, maintained and operated by trained drivers. Key issues are:

  • Dumper hazards
  • Controlling the risk
  • Training and competence
  • Inspection and maintenance

What you need to know

A safe workplace for all vehicle operations must be established by separating pedestrians and vehicles and providing hazard-free traffic routes. See Traffic management (http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/vehiclestrafficmanagement.htm).

Dumper hazards

Most fatal injuries involving dumpers are caused by:

  • Overturning – over 60% of dumper deaths involve the driver when the vehicle overturns;
  • Collision – most other deaths occur when pedestrians are struck by the dumper when it is reversing or going forwards on site.

Controlling the risk

It is important to select the right dumper for the job. There are a number of key factors to consider when controlling the significant hazards arising from use of dumpers. These are:

  • Gradients: Plan the work so that dumpers are used on gradients that are within their safe working capacity. Check with the manufacturer.
  • Competence: Arrange for dumpers to be driven by trained and competent operators and implement a system for supervising safe driving practice.
  • Safety devices: Check that dumpers are provided with roll-over protection and that drivers use their seatbelts.
  • Loading: Make sure loads are distributed evenly and provide purpose-built platforms for regularly transported items, eg large drums.
  • Vision: Make sure that loads do not obscure driver vision.
  • Edges: Provide wheel stops at a safe distance from edges of excavations, pits and spoil heaps to prevent site dumpers falling when tipping.

Training and competence

There are two categories of worker who must be trained and competent regarding dumper hazards and precautions:

  • Drivers should be trained, competent and authorised to operate the specific dumper. Training certificates from recognised schemes help demonstrate competence, and certificates should be checked for validity;
  • Pedestrians: should be instructed in safe pedestrian routes on site and the procedure for making drivers aware of their presence.

Inspection and maintenance

A programme of daily visual checks, regular inspections and servicing schedules should be established in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and the risks associated with each vehicle.

Drivers should be encouraged to report defects or problems. Reported problems should be put right quickly and the dumper taken out of service if the item is safety critical.

For clarification or more information, please contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence