HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 26TH MAY 2016

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

Coupling and uncoupling vehicles – death of road worker prompts HSE warning to HGV drivers

HGV drivers are frequently putting lives at risk by not following basic safety procedures when coupling and uncoupling vehicles, the Health and Safety Executive warned this week.

The workplace health and safety regulator urged drivers to apply parking brakes and use (or retrofit) warning alarms to avoid a repeat of an incident in January 2015 when a 20-year-old man died.

A road worker was crushed by an HGV tractor unit which unexpectedly rolled backwards as the driver was in the process delivering materials for repairs to the A21 in Kent.

This week, at Sevenoaks Magistrates’ Court, the driver was given a suspended prison sentence. He pleaded guilty to causing death by careless driving and a breach of section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The court heard he was an experienced HGV driver and was in the process of connecting his tractor unit to another parked trailer when it rolled backwards.

Two men working with the road worker were able to jump out of its way but he was unable to do so and was trapped between the two vehicles. He sustained major head injuries and died at the scene.

A joint investigation by Kent Police and HSE found that the driver failed to apply the parking brake of the tractor unit before he left it. He also failed to follow recognised industry coupling procedures.

He was sentenced to 12 weeks’ imprisonment (suspended for 12 months) and disqualified from driving for 12 months.

HSE inspector Melvyn Stancliffe, speaking after the hearing brought by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: “These coupling / uncoupling incidents – known as ‘runaways’ or ‘rollaways’ – are all too common.

“Many vehicles are fitted with visual and audible parking brake warning alarms, and if they are not fitted, hauliers should consider retrofitting them to their tractor units as HSE considers it reasonably practicable to do so. These alarms must never be ignored. Drivers must ensure they correctly apply the tractor unit parking brake before exiting the cab and then follow safe decoupling and coupling procedures.”

Coupling & uncoupling

What’s the problem?

Accidents and dangerous situations occur all too often when drivers of large goods vehicles (LGVs) fail to follow safe coupling and parking procedures. Unsafe practices often lead to vehicle runaway or trailer rollaway situations. They can result in serious and fatal injury to the driver or others, and costly damage to both vehicles and property.

Guidance

A risk assessment should be made of each type of vehicle the driver will use to decide if one of the generic procedures provided below can be used or if it must be adapted to suit a specific situation.

The driver should be trained in the safe system of work and simple monitoring systems should be set up to check that safe systems are followed at all times – a careless driver can be a danger to others as well as themselves.

Before parking hauliers and site operators should ensure that the area is level and firm enough to support both the trailer landing legs. Additional lighting may be necessary if operations are being carried out during hours of darkness to make sure the procedure is carried out safely and to reduce other risks such as falling from the vehicle.

Coupling procedure for standard semi – trailers (where there is room to operate safely between the rear of the tractor cab and the front of the semi trailer):

  • Slowly reverse the tractor unit in a straight line towards the front of the trailer.
  • Apply the tractor unit parking brake, stop the engine and remove the keys.
  • Check the trailer parking brake is applied.
  • Make any necessary adjustments to the trailer coupling height and slowly reverse the tractor unit under the trailer until the 5th wheel jaws engage.
  • Apply the tractor unit parking brake, stop the engine and remove the keys.
  • Carry out a visual check that the 5th wheel jaws have engaged correctly and fit the security “dog clip” or other safety device.
  • Carry out a second test that the 5th wheel jaws have engaged by selecting a low forward gear and with the trailer brakes still applied slowly pulling forward.
  • Apply the tractor unit parking brake, stop the engine and remove the keys.
  • Connect the service airline (yellow) and electrical connections.
  • Connect the emergency airline (red) and watch for any unexpected movement. (If the trailer moves, immediately disconnect the emergency airline (red) and check that the trailer parking brake has been applied.
  • Wind up the landing legs and secure the handle.
  • Fit the number plates and check that the lights work.
  • Carry out visual and functional vehicle checks, and release the trailer handbrake before setting off.

Uncoupling procedure for standard semi trailers (where there is room to operate safely between the rear of the tractor cab and the front of the semi trailer):

  • Park the combination in a straight line.
  • Apply the tractor unit parking brake, stop the engine and remove the keys.
  • Apply the trailer parking brake.
  • Remove and stow the trailer number plate and lower the landing legs.
  • Disconnect all of the air and electrical services and stow safely.
  • Remove the security “dog clip” and pull the release handle to disengage the 5th wheel jaws.
  • Slowly draw the tractor unit away from the trailer. If the tractor unit has mechanical suspension stop when the trailer is clear of the fifth wheel.
  • Apply the tractor unit parking brake, stop the engine and remove the keys.
  • Before leaving the trailer, walk round it to check that it is in a safe condition.

For close coupled semi trailers alternative procedures will need to be followed, for example using the “split coupling” or “cranked coupling” method. A risk assessment will be needed to find a suitable method. In these cases it is essential that the drivers understand the potential dangers to themselves or others if they do not follow the safe system.

Equipment such as central axle draw bar trailers and turntable draw bar trailers will need their own coupling procedure.

Examples of safe systems of work for all these vehicles can be found in the booklet “Code of practice: Coupling or Uncoupling & Parking of Large Goods Vehicle Trailers” which was published by the Institute of Road Traffic Engineers (IRTE) and HSE in March 2006. It is aimed at managers, supervisors and trainers, but has practical advice for everyone who has responsibility for the safety of large goods vehicles and drivers. Free copies of the document are available from the SOE IRTE website: http://www.soe.org.uk/resources/technical-guides/

For more information, visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/information/coupling.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 MAY 2016

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

Separating pedestrians and vehicles – body manufacturing firm fined after workers crushed between vehicles

A vehicle body manufacturing company in Stoke on Trent has been fined £20,000 after two workers were seriously injured when they were crushed between a moving vehicle and stationary vehicles.

North Staffordshire Magistrates’ Court heard that a colleague of the two men was attempting to manoeuvre an 18 tonne vehicle in the company’s workshop in January 2015 when two employees were pinned and crushed between the manoeuvring vehicle and two other stationary vehicles. One other employee jumped out of the way.

One worker suffered several fractures to his pelvis and ribs as well as internal bladder and kidney lacerations. The other worker suffered crush injuries to his legs.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found that the company had failed to identify and assess workplace transport risks and had failed to put in place protective measures, safe systems of work and proper instruction and training to ensure employee pedestrian safety during vehicle movement.

Separating pedestrians and vehicles

Key messages

  • By law, pedestrians or vehicles must be able to use a traffic route without causing danger to the health or safety of people working near it.
  • Roadways and footpaths should be separate whenever possible.
  • You need to consider protection for people who work near vehicle routes.
  • By law, traffic routes must also keep vehicle routes far enough away from doors or gates that pedestrians use, or from pedestrian routes that lead on to them, so the safety of pedestrians is not threatened.

Questions to ask

Your risk assessment should include answers to these questions:

–              How are pedestrians and cyclists kept away from vehicles?

–              How do you mark out and sign vehicle and pedestrian areas?

–              Where do vehicles and pedestrians have to use the same route?

–              How do you mark out and sign crossing points

–              for drivers?

–              for pedestrians?

–              How do you tell drivers and pedestrians about the routes and the layout? For example:

–              staff who work on site (training)

–              new staff (induction)

–              visitors

–              Apart from collisions, what else presents a health and safety risk? For example:

–              materials falling from vehicles

–              noise

–              fumes

–              How can you manage these risks?

Pedestrians and cyclists

A driver, pedestrian or cyclist needs enough time to react successfully if they meet one another (for example, where there is limited visibility or where other noise might mask the approach of a vehicle).

Wherever it is reasonable to do so, you should provide separate routes or pavements for pedestrians to keep them away from vehicles. The most effective way to do this is to separate pedestrian from vehicle activity, by making routes entirely separate. Where possible, pedestrian traffic routes should represent the paths people would naturally follow (often known as ‘desire lines’), to encourage people to stay on them.

Footbridges and subways

Footbridges and subways are good examples of complete segregation. However, make sure that routes over traffic cannot dislodge high loads. You may also need to consider access for disabled people.

Limited access

Pedestrians should be kept away from areas where vehicles are working unless they need to be there. A good example of this is quarry working, where drivers are usually not allowed out of their vehicles beyond a certain point to make sure they are safe where large surface mining vehicles are operating.

Barriers and markings

Effective ways to keep vehicles away from pedestrian areas include:

  • protective barriers;
  • clear markings to set apart vehicle and pedestrians routes; and
  • raised kerbs to mark vehicle and pedestrian areas.

Where needed, provide suitable barriers or guard rails:

  • at entrances and exits to buildings;
  • at the corners of buildings; and
  • to prevent pedestrians from walking straight on to roads.

Crossing points

Where pedestrian and vehicle routes cross, provide appropriate crossing points for people to use. Pedestrians, cyclists and drivers should be able to see clearly in all directions. Crossing points should be suitably marked and signposted, and should include dropped kerbs where the walkway is raised from the driving surface. Find out more in Signs, signals and markings: http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/signs.htm

Where necessary, provide barriers or rails to prevent pedestrians from crossing at dangerous points and to direct them to the crossing places. Similarly, you can use deterrent paving to guide pedestrians to the crossing points.

At busy crossing places, consider traffic lights, zebra crossings (or other types of crossing), or suitable bridges or subways as a way of segregating pedestrians from moving vehicles.

Where vehicle roadways are particularly wide, you may need to consider ‘island’ refuges to allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross the road in stages. In some cases, subways or footbridges could be necessary.

Where the number of vehicles, pedestrians or cyclists using a route is likely to change at regular times, consider preventing pedestrians or vehicles from using the routes at these times, to keep them apart. An example might be limiting the use of vehicles on a roadway during a shift changeover, when many pedestrians are likely to be crossing.

Segregation

Provide separate vehicle and pedestrian doors wherever possible (segregation). Windows on doors can help drivers and pedestrians see whether it is safe for them to approach a door.

If vehicles use routes inside buildings, use signs and markings on the floor to tell both drivers and pedestrians.

On routes used by both pedestrians and automatic (driverless) vehicles, make sure that vehicles do not trap pedestrians. The vehicles should be fitted with safeguards to keep the risk of injury low if a vehicle hits someone.

Provide enough clearance between the vehicles and pedestrians, and take care to make sure that fixtures along the route do not create trapping hazards.

Training and induction

Visitors

Make sure that visiting pedestrians report to the site office, if this is appropriate. Tell visitors about site safety policies and procedures before they are allowed into areas where vehicles work. Sometimes you may need to make sure that pedestrians, including any visitors, wear high-visibility clothing.

For more information about vehicles at work, visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/index.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 – 12TH MAY 2016

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

Structural stability during excavations – company fined after worker is fatally crushed in trench

A company has been fined £2.6 million after an employee was killed when the trench he was working in collapsed on him in Lancashire.

The 32-year-old worker was a sub-contractor working on behalf of a major utility solutions provider. In April 2010, he was working in a trench, laying ducting for new cable for an offshore windfarm that was being built off the coast in Lancashire. The trench was dug to a depth of 2.4 metres, without any shoring. He was killed when he became trapped in the trench after it collapsed on him.

The company pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court last week after an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

The Court heard that they failed to adequately risk assess the works or control the way in which the excavation took place.

Only last month a self employed contractor was given a six month custodial sentence after an employee was also killed when the trench he was working in collapsed on him.

Structural stability during excavations

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 to 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.

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

 

 

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 5TH MAY 2016

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

Safe use of bedrails (health services) – foundation trust fined over bedrail failures

A North West NHS Foundation Trust has been fined £100,000 over its inappropriate management of the use of bedrails at its hospitals.

Following a guilty plea in Carlisle Magistrates’ Court the District Judge referred the case to Carlisle Crown Court for sentencing.

HSE told the court that the Trust failed to ensure that they managed the risk of bedrails, which is a fundamental element of patient safety for which extensive and comprehensive guidance on risk, management and policies existed.

An initial HSE visit to the Trust in February 2012 identified issues with bedrail management, and a second visit in May 2012 resulted in the service of an Improvement Notice (IN) on bedrail management and a letter with recommendations.

The Trust identified actions to improve bedrail management, but failed to implement them. When the Trust was inspected in July 2013, inappropriate bedrails were found to still be in use and management systems were not appropriate to manage the risk. A further IN on identification and maintenance of third party bedrails was served.

The Court was told that the Trust had a policy on bedrail management but did not have the systems or procedures to underpin the implementation of the policy.

Elements of the failure were the lack of a system to identify and inspect third party bedrails; the lack of planned preventative maintenance on manual beds and bedrails; a lack of an effective system to rectify faults with inappropriate bedrails; lack of provision of appropriate training, and a lack of procedures to audit and monitor the effectiveness of the bedrail management system.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Carol Forster said: “The need for adequate risk assessment and management of third party bedrails has been recognised in the healthcare sector for a number of years and guidance and advice has been published by the relevant bodies to this effect.

“Bedrails are used to protect vulnerable people from falling out of bed but the risks from inappropriate use of bedrails include the risk of entrapment by the head or neck, potentially leading to injury or asphyxiation.

“In this case there was a lack of management systems to recognise the risk of bedrails, apply standards and safety alert information, and a corporate failure to prioritise the need to manage bedrails effectively.

“The Trust failed to comply with the expected standards and I hope this case will send a strong message to others with responsibilities for bedrail management.”

Safe use of bed rails

What is the risk?

Bed rails, also known as side rails or cot sides, are widely used to reduce the risk of falls.  Although not suitable for everyone, they can be very effective when used with the right bed, in the right way, for the right person.

However, accident data shows that bed rails sometimes don’t prevent falls and can introduce other risks.

Poorly fitting bed rails have caused deaths where a person’s neck, chest or limbs become trapped in gaps between the bed rails or between the bed rail and the bed, headboard, or mattress.

Other risks are:

  • rolling over the top of the rail
  • climbing over the rail
  • climbing over the footboard
  • violently shaking and dislodging rails
  • violent contact with bedrail parts

Bed rails are ‘medical devices’, which fall under the authority of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). MHRA enforces the Medical Devices Regulations and the General Product Safety Regulations to ensure medical devices are acceptably safe. MHRA guidance on the ‘Safe Use of Bed Rails’ (Device Bulletin DB 2006(06)) and details of when and how to contact them can be found on the MHRA website (https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/medicines-and-healthcare-products-regulatory-agency).

What do you need to do?

When bed rails are used during the course of a work activity, such as in a care home or hospital, the employer or self-employed person providing them must ensure that they are safe

Risks identified during inspection include:

  • trapping between poorly fitting mattresses and bedrails
  • rolling over the top of the bedrails when overlay mattresses reduce their effective height
  • trapping between the bedrail and mattress, headboard or other parts because of poor bedrail positioning.

Bed rails need careful management. Users should ensure:

  • they are only provided when they are the right solution to prevent falls
  • a risk assessment is carried out by a competent person taking into account the bed occupant, the bed, mattresses, bed rails and all associated equipment
  • the rail is suitable for the bed and mattress
  • the mattress fits snugly between the rails
  • the rail is correctly fitted, secure, regularly inspected and maintained
  • gaps that could cause entrapment of neck, head and chest are eliminated
  • staff are trained in the risks and safe use of bed rails

HSE advises users to take into account the dimensions in British standard BS EN 1970:2000 (to be withdrawn on 1st April 2013) and BS EN 60601-2-52:2010 when assessing risk and ensuring correct fitting. Manufacturers and suppliers of bedrails also have a duty to ensure that equipment is safe for use and you should refer to their instructions.

For more information, visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/healthservices/bed-rails.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