Young people at work – company fined after young worker injured

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Please note that the next update will be on Thursday 5th January. If you have any queries in the meantime, please contact our office on 01782 751516 or at mail@eljay.co.uk

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A waste management company has been prosecuted after a worker was left with life changing injuries.

Chippenham Magistrates Court heard how the 19-year-old worker and his colleagues had cleared a blockage from the waste picking line, when his gloved hand got caught in the conveyor belt. The roller fractured his right hand, dislocated his wrist and radius and he had to spend two weeks in hospital following the incident.

The investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that there was no effective guarding around the conveyor belt to prevent workers hands being caught up in the mechanism.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 11(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and were fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,549.53 and a victim surcharge of £170.

HSE Inspector Tania Nickson, said “A young workers life was changed forever because a company failed to ensure there was the correct guarding in place on a conveyor belt. A year after the incident he still requires medical treatment and is unlikely to gain full use of his right hand. All companies that work with dangerous machinery can learn from this case – straightforward precautions protect workers safety.”

Young people at work

When employing a young person under the age of 18, whether for work, work experience, or as an apprentice, employers have the same responsibilities for their health, safety and welfare as they do for other employees.

FAQs

Does an employer have to carry out a separate risk assessment for a young person?

While there is no requirement for an employer to carry out a separate risk assessment specifically for a young person, if they haven’t previously employed a young person they should review their risk assessment and take into account the specific factors for young people, before a young person starts with them.

What if a young person doesn’t feel confident about raising a health and safety concern with their employer?

Many workplaces should have an appointed safety representative. This will be an employee who should be able to provide advice and information about health and safety matters. This might include identifying any health and safety problems and/or developing suitable solutions.

Does an employer need to have Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance (ELCI) in place before they employ a young person?

Most employers are required by law to insure against liability for injury or disease to their employees. Those who are currently exempt include:

  • family businesses, where all employees are closely related to the employer, unless the business is incorporated as a limited company
  • sole traders

However, if a family business takes on an employee who is not closely related to the employer, or if a sole trader takes on an employee, then there is a requirement for them to have ELCI.

Find out more about getting insurance for your business: http://www.hse.gov.uk/simple-health-safety/get.htm

How does an employer avoid putting a young person at risk due to their physical limitations?

Young people may be more at risk as their muscle strength may not be fully developed and they may be less skilled in handling techniques or in pacing the work according to their ability. When assessing a young person’s physical capability, it could be as simple as asking yourself the question ‘can a still developing young person be expected to lift the weights my older, more experienced employees can?’

How do I assess a young person’s psychological capability?

This doesn’t have to be a complicated process. It could be as straightforward as making sure a young person understands what is expected of them, checking they understand and are able to remember and follow instructions. It is important that young people are given the necessary training and supervision.

What constitutes harmful exposure?

Harmful exposure means exposure that has long-term health effects on a still-developing young body. An employer should be aware of the substances a young person might come into contact with in their business and will need to consider exposure levels and ensure legal limits are met.

Find out more about workplace exposure limits: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/basics/exposurelimits.htm

Can a young person be employed to work with ionising radiation?

There is no regulatory requirement that prevents young people, including those below the age of 16, from working with ionising radiation as long as their exposure is restricted so far as reasonably practicable and does not exceed the dose limit of 1 mSv in any calendar year.

Find out more about radiation and information on dose limits: http://www.hse.gov.uk/radiation/index.htm

How do I take account of a young person’s lack of maturity, lack of risk awareness, insufficient attention to safety and their lack of experience or training?

For many young people the workplace will be a new environment and they will be unfamiliar with ‘obvious’ risks and the behaviour expected of them in response.

Young people might need additional support to allow them to carry out their work without putting themselves and others at risk, and this might mean more tailored training and/or closer supervision.  Regularly checking a young person’s progress will help identify where any additional adjustments may be needed.  This is also why it’s often appropriate to put age limits on the use of some equipment and machinery, as is the case for  forklift trucks and some woodworking machinery.

Find out more about training and supervision: http://www.hse.gov.uk/youngpeople/training.htm

Find out more about how to protect workers who are new to the job: http://www.hse.gov.uk/vulnerable-workers/new-to-the-job.htm

Are young people at more risk of exposure to extreme temperature, noise or vibration?

Exposure to extremes of any of these hazards carry risks for workers of all ages and could lead to health issues.

To avoid risks to young people from all these factors, employers need to comply with relevant legislation and consider a risk control programme which might include:

  • limiting time/level of exposure
  • providing information training and supervision
  • provision of protective equipment
  • health surveillance

For workplaces that include these hazards an employer should already have the necessary control measures in place

Further information can be found on the HSE website for temperature, noise and vibration.

I understand there has been a change to the official statutory school leaving age, rising to age 17 in 2013, with a further rise to 18 from 2015. Is this correct and does this mean that the definition of a child has changed?

No changes are being made to the statutory school leaving age. The change is to the participation age. Young people are now required to participate in some form of education or training (which could be full-time education, an apprenticeship or full-time employment with training alongside) for longer.

Pupils who left year 11 in summer 2013 need to continue in education or training for at least a further year until 27 June 2014 and pupils starting year 11 or below in September 2013 will need to continue until at least their 18th birthday. This will not impact on health and safety legislation and guidance and the definition of a child remains unchanged.

The Department for Education provides information on school leaving age https://www.gov.uk/know-when-you-can-leave-school and the latest information on participation age https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/raising-the-participation-age

For more information visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/youngpeople/ or contact us on 07896 016380, 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 and safety for disabled people – HSE signs up to become disability confident

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

HSE signs up to become disability confident

HSE is marking International Day of Persons with Disabilities (http://www.un.org/en/events/disabilitiesday) by signing up to become a disability confident employer.

Disability Confident (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/disability-confident-campaign?HSE-referral) is a government led scheme set up to help employers make the most of the opportunities provided by employing disabled people.

It aims to remove barriers, increase understanding and ensure that disabled people have the opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations.

HSE is committed to treating all its workers fairly and actively supports its network for disabled colleagues, ‘Equal’.

Equal has invited gold medal winning Paralympian Hannah Cockroft to witness HSE’s official signing up to Level 1 of the Disability Confident scheme at an event on 5 December.

HSE will use this opportunity to discuss with colleagues how it intends to develop itself to become a fully disability confident employer.

Chair of Equal, Paul Willgoss says: “As Chair of Equal, I welcome HSE’s commitment to the journey of becoming a fully disability confident organisation.

“Due to the nature of HSE’s work, and the environment we undertake it in, HSE will face unique challenges on this journey, but I am certain that with the senior commitment from the Minister, Chief Executive and the Management Board in the coming months and years, our disability confidence as an organisation will continue to develop and grow”

Minister for disabled people, health and work Penny Mordaunt MP said: “The Disability Confident scheme is about helping employers make the most of the opportunities provided by employing disabled people. It’s great that HSE is signing up to the scheme and I fully support them as they begin their work to become a disability confident employer.

“We must reduce the disability employment gap in the UK by ensuring that recruitment opportunities for disabled people are improved. I welcome HSE’s commitment to this and hope others will follow their lead by signing up too.”

HSE is also encouraging its own stakeholders to sign up to Disability Confident, find out more on how to do this here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/disability-confident-how-to-sign-up-to-the-employer-scheme?HSE-referral

Health and safety for disabled people

Health and safety legislation should not prevent disabled people finding or staying in employment and should not be used as a false excuse to justify discriminating against disabled workers.

The HSE wants to enable disabled people and those with health conditions, including mental health conditions, to get into and stay in work.

This guidance will help those employing disabled people to understand their health and safety responsibilities.

Myths

HSE’s Myth Buster Challenge Panel has considered a number of disability related cases. The Panel provides a route to challenge perceptions and promote awareness.

Myth: Health and safety provides a legitimate reason for not taking on a disabled worker

Reality: This is not the case. There is no health and safety legislation that would prevent a disabled person finding or staying in employment. Health and safety should not be used as an excuse for doing nothing, or for refusing to make reasonable adjustments.

Myth: Employing a disabled worker is expensive and difficult

Reality: Many people with disabilities do not require additional assistance to do their job.  Employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to make sure disabled workers aren’t seriously disadvantaged when doing their jobs.  Many of these adjustments can be simple and straightforward, for example installing a ramp or letting a wheelchair user work on the ground floor.  The Government’s Access to Work (https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work) programme means that funding may be available, should any adjustments be required.

Myth: You have to be registered as disabled to ensure you can get the adjustments needed to do your job

Reality: There is no process requiring registration for disabled people.  If you have a disability, your employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments to enable you to do your job.  The best way to make sure this happens is to inform your employer of your disability and work with them to identify and consider adjustments that could be put in place to assist you. Find out more about making reasonable adjustments (https://www.gov.uk/reasonable-adjustments-for-disabled-workers) on gov.uk. If you are blind or partially sighted, you have the option to register with your Local Authority.  You do not have to be registered to access help, registration is voluntary and may entitle you to certain concessions. The RNIB provides information on registering your sight loss: http://www.rnib.org.uk/eye-health/registering-your-sight-loss

For more information, including a list of FAQs, resources and practical examples, visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/disability/ 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

 

 

Metalworking fluids – ejector seat manufacturer fined £800,000 for failing to protect workers’ health

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

Ejector seat manufacturer fined £800,000 for failing to protect workers’ health

A  manufacturer of ejector seats has been fined £800,000 after three workers developed debilitating lung conditions.

Three skilled CNC machine operators developed extrinsic allergic alveolitis after many years of exposure to the mist of working metal fluid. The lung condition, also known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis, is a body’s allergic reaction to breathing in a substance and symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath and joint pain.

Aylesbury Crown Court heard how the workers, who had served with the company for more than 20 years, were exposed to the working metal fluid mist over at least a three-year period. One worker has been so severely affected they have become virtually paralysed by the illness, another will never be able to work with metal working fluids again, a key material in the industry and a third must have special measures in place to ensure he never comes into contact with the substance.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the measures in place within the factory to stop the exposure to workers were inadequate. The fluid is commonly used as a lubricant and coolant in engineering processes. During the process of using the machines the fluid creates a mist, which in this case was breathed in by around 60 workers.

The manufacturer failed to put in place a system of cleaning away the excess fluid or providing extraction to prevent the build-up of the mist. There were also failings in the provision of health surveillance, which should have identified the issue early enough to ensure the company were able to put in place and monitor any appropriate safety measures.

The manufacturer pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act (1974) and Regulation 6(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended) (COSHH) and were fined £ 800 000 and ordered to pay costs of £36 912.36

The HSE said “Companies need to make sure they consider workers’ health just as much as their safety when carrying out risk assessments. The dangers of breathing in metal working fluid are well known within the industry. In this case one worker has had his health permanently and severely damaged, two others have also been affected, all will have to live with their condition for the rest of their lives.”

About metalworking fluids

Metalworking Fluids (MWFs) are neat oils or water-based fluids used during the machining and shaping of metals to provide lubrication and cooling. They are sometimes referred to as suds, coolants, slurry or soap.

The main health risks from working with metalworking fluids

Exposure to metalworking fluids can cause:

  • irritation of the skin or dermatitis; and
  • occupational asthma, bronchitis, irritation of the upper respiratory tract, breathing difficulties or, rarely, a more serious lung disease called extrinsic allergic alveolitis (EAA), which can cause increasingly severe breathing difficulties in recurrent episodes, following repeated exposure.

Fluid and mist from water-mix wash fluids and washing machines used to clean machined components may be hazardous in much the same way as fluid and mist from metalworking machines, and the same principles of risk assessment, prevention and control should be applied.

How harm is caused

Metalworking fluids are mostly applied by continuous jet, spray or hand dispenser and can affect your health:

  • if you inhale the mist generated during machining/shaping operations;
  • through direct contact with unprotected skin, particularly hands, forearms and heads;
  • through cuts and abrasions or other broken skin; and
  • through the mouth if you eat, drink or smoke in work areas, or from poor personal hygiene, eg not washing hands before eating.

Key messages for managing the health risks

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) requires exposure to metalworking fluids by inhalation, ingestion or skin contact to be prevented where reasonably practicable, or failing that, adequately controlled.

You should:

  • carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment – HSE’s self-assessment questionnaire (http://www.hse.gov.uk/metalworking/questionnaire.pdf) will help you do this;
  • maintain fluid quality and control bacterial contamination of fluids;
  • minimise skin exposure to fluids;
  • prevent or control airborne mists; and
  • where there is exposure to fluid or mist, carry out health surveillance.

To achieve the necessary control and risk reduction, among other actions, you will need to:

  • check and maintain exposure control measures, such as enclosures and local exhaust ventilation;
  • check levels of bacterial contamination using dip slides, or other means of measuring the level of bacterial activity, in both metalworking and associated fluids eg in washing machines, and act on the readings obtained in line with your risk assessment;
  • ensure that, as a minimum, a responsible person carries out the required health surveillance
  • conduct asthma health checks
  • refer anyone affected by exposure to a competent occupational health professional;
  • take prompt action after any diagnosis of ill health to identify the likely cause and ensure it is prevented or adequately controlled; and
  • keep workers informed of all findings.

For more information, visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/metalworking/index.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 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