Granite worktop company fined £30,000 after failing to carry out safety checks

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A granite worktop manufacturer has been fined after failing to ensure that lifting equipment was examined and maintained to ensure it was safe to use.

The Court heard how the manufacturer was not having regular statutory examinations carried out on lifting equipment and also failed to carry out repairs when defects had been found.

Following an inspection in June 2018 by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at the site, it was discovered that the examinations were not carried out at the required six monthly intervals and when they were carried out the same faults were reported, as the company were not taking action to effect the repairs.

The manufacturer has pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 (1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and Regulation 9 (3) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. The company has been fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4906.

Speaking after the case the HSE inspector said “This prosecution could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those who fall below the required standards”.

Thorough examinations and inspections of lifting equipment

Safe and successful lifting operations depend, in large part, on the continued safety of the lifting equipment and accessories that are used. Failures in this kind of equipment can result in significant or even fatal injuries. Health and safety law therefore places a number of specific obligations on those providing, controlling and using lifting equipment to properly manage these risks.

In addition to the requirements for safe design and construction, all lifting equipment should also be checked and maintained as necessary to keep it safe for use, so:

  • users may need to undertake simple pre-use checks (eg on lifting chains and slings), or make checks on a daily basis (eg for lift trucks)
  • in some cases, inspections and checks should be made on a regular basis, often weekly, but this may be on a monthly or quarterly basis (eg the checks undertaken by an operator on their crane)
  • employers should ensure that lifting equipment is thoroughly examined (normally once or twice a year but, in some cases, this may be more or less frequent)

These checks are necessary to verify that the lifting equipment can continue to be safely used. This page concentrates on thorough examination and inspection, and the reporting and record-keeping obligations of LOLER (regulations 9, 10 and 11).

What is a ‘thorough examination’ under LOLER?

This is a systematic and detailed examination of the equipment and safety-critical parts, carried out at specified intervals by a competent person who must then complete a written report. This report must contain the information required by LOLER Schedule 1 , including:

  • the examination date
  • the date when the next thorough examination is due
  • any defects found which are (or could potentially become) a danger to people

Where serious defects are identified, the competent person carrying out the examination must immediately report this verbally to the dutyholder. This should then be followed by the written report, a copy of which must also be sent to the relevant enforcing authority.

What is a ‘competent person’?

The term ‘competent person’ is not defined in law but the LOLER Approved Code of Practice and guidance (paragraph 294 on competent persons) states that:
‘You should ensure that the person carrying out a thorough examination has such appropriate practical and theoretical knowledge and experience of the lifting equipment to be thoroughly examined as will enable them to detect defects or weaknesses and to assess their importance in relation to the safety and continued use of the lifting equipment.’

Although the competent person may often be employed by another organisation, this is not necessary, provided they are sufficiently independent and impartial to ensure that in-house examinations are made without fear or favour. However, this should not be the same person who undertakes routine maintenance of the equipment – as they would then be responsible for assessing their own maintenance work.

When should thorough examinations be carried out?

In order to verify that lifting equipment and accessories remain safe for use, and to detect and remedy any deterioration in good time, thorough examinations are required throughout the lifetime of the equipment, including examinations:

  • before use for the first time – unless the equipment has an EC Declaration of Conformity less than one year old and the equipment was not assembled on site. If it was assembled on site, it must be examined by a competent person to ensure that the assembly (eg a platform lift installed in a building) was completed correctly and safely
  • after assembly and before use at each location – for equipment that requires assembly or installation before use, eg tower cranes
  • regularly, while in service – if the equipment is exposed to conditions that cause deterioration which is likely to result in dangerous situations. Most lifting equipment will be subject to wear and tear and so will need regular in-service examination. Some may be exposed to significant environmental conditions which may cause further deterioration. You have a choice:
    • arrange for thorough examination to be carried out at the intervals specified by LOLER (every 6 or 12 months, depending on the equipment – see below), or
    • conduct examinations in accordance with an examination scheme, drawn up by a competent person
  • following exceptional circumstances – liable to jeopardise the safety of lifting equipment, which may include:
    • damage or failure
    • being out of use for long periods
    • major changes, which are likely to affect the equipment’s integrity (eg modifications, or replacement / repair of critical parts)

What are the specified intervals for regular thorough examinations?

Unless there is an ‘examination scheme’ specifying other intervals, thorough examinations should be conducted every:

  • 6 months, for lifting equipment and any associated accessories used to lift people
  • 6 months, for all lifting accessories
  • 12 months, for all other lifting equipment

What is covered by a thorough examination?

This depends on the professional judgement of the competent person undertaking the examination, but needs to include all matters which affect the safety of the lifting equipment, including likely deterioration with time.

For most common lifting equipment and accessories, there are industry standard procedures and criteria which a competent person would follow when undertaking thorough examinations and making judgements as to the continued safety of the equipment. Methods used include:

  • visual examination and functional checks
  • measurements of wear
  • (in some cases) traditional NDT (non-destructive testing) and load testing

Some disassembly or internal examination of parts may also be required.

Where an examination scheme has been drawn up, this should identify and specify:

  • the parts to be thoroughly examined
  • the methods of examination and testing
  • the intervals for examination (and testing of the different parts, where appropriate)

The scheme should also include details of any other inspection regimes for the equipment. Examination schemes may be drawn up by any person with the necessary competence. This does not need to be the same competent person who conducts the thorough examination in accordance with the scheme.

Although examination schemes do not need to be preserved in the form of a document, it should be possible to produce a written copy when required (eg on request by the relevant enforcing authority). These should be secured from loss or unauthorised modification.

Testing of lifting equipment

Most lifting equipment does not need routine testing as part of the thorough examination – in fact some overload tests can cause damage to lifting equipment. Where testing is deemed necessary, it may not need be undertaken at every thorough examination. The need for, and nature of, testing should be based on an assessment of risk – taking account of information from the manufacturer and other relevant information – as determined by the competent person.

Maintenance and inspection of lifting equipment.

Maintenance of lifting equipment to ensure it remains safe for use is a requirement of PUWER. In some cases – to assist with this, and detect any deterioration so it can be remedied in good time – lifting equipment may need to be inspected between thorough examinations. Such inspections need to be undertaken by suitably trained and competent people, which can often be the lifting equipment operator or maintenance personnel.

The nature, need for and frequency of such inspections should be determined through risk assessment, taking full account of any manufacturer’s recommendations. Further recommendations on inspection relating to cranes are given in BS 7121 British Standard Code of Practice for the Safe Use of Cranes. The various parts of this standard can be obtained from BSI .

Lifting accessories do not normally need formal inspection, provided that proper pre-use checks are made and they undergo their standard thorough examination.

Reports and defects

Records should be kept of all thorough examinations and inspections, and of the EC Declarations of Conformity for all lifting equipment and lifting accessories. Examination and inspection records do not need to be kept in hard copy form but you should be able to provide a written copy when necessary (eg upon request by the relevant enforcing authority or when lifting equipment leaves your undertaking -under hire, use elsewhere, or second-hand sale). The records should also be protected from unauthorised alteration. Details of the periods for which they must be kept are given in Table 3 of Thorough examination of lifting equipment .

The contents required in a thorough examination report are specified by Schedule 1 of LOLER . There is no longer a defined format or form for such a report, provided that all 11 items listed in the Schedule are included.

Where, following thorough examination or inspection of lifting equipment, a defect is identified – which in the opinion of the person undertaking the examination or inspection – is (or could become) a danger to people, you as user (employer or self employed person) should be notified immediately. You must then take effective action to manage risk by ensuring the lifting equipment is not used until the defect is remedied. Such defects must be confirmed in writing in the report, even if it is remedied immediately (eg by destruction of a sling). The person making the report must also notify the relevant enforcing authority with a copy of the report. Enforcing authorities may follow up such reports to check that risks are being adequately managed.

In some cases, a defect may be identified which does not require the immediate cessation of use of the lifting equipment. In these cases, you must remedy the matter, or not further use the equipment, within the time period specified on the report.

Reports of thorough examinations sometimes contain additional non-statutory observations from the competent person on the condition of the lifting equipment. Analysis of this may provide useful information to manage your lifting equipment.

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

Diesel engine exhaust emissions (DEEEs) and non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) – the risk to construction (and other) workers

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Recent headline news has made us all too aware of the effects of air pollution on the climate and our health, and this is contributed to significantly by emissions from combustion engines installed in non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) – used extensively in the construction industry. The Mayor of London has responded by targeting the sector with the world’s first “ultra-low emissions zone” for NRMM and – nationwide – under the Clean Air Strategy, the government will be exploring the use of environmental permitting to address the problem.

Whilst “cleaner” engines have started to become available, those powered by diesel are still the most widely used on construction sites, and inhalation of diesel engine exhaust emissions (DEEEs) can cause a number of ill health effects – both short term and long term, including – evidence suggests – an increased risk of lung cancer. According to HSE statistics, each year, around 3,000 workers in construction suffer with breathing and lung problems they believe were caused or made worse by their work. That is 0.14% of workers in the sector, compared with 0.09% of workers across all industries.

So, what should be done to prevent this risk?

The below HSE guidance “Control of diesel engine exhaust emissions in the workplace” includes control measures which can be implemented quickly and easily on a construction site and in other workplaces, e.g. switching off engines when not required, and adopting a programme of regular engine maintenance.

But a reduction in pollution can also be achieved through the use of cleaner fuels. Alternatives include low sulphur diesel (LSD), ultra low sulphur diesel (ULSD), biodiesel, blends of biodiesel with petroleum diesel and emulsified diesel. Low sulphur diesel has sulphur content of 300 – 500ppm and reduces particulate matter (PM) by 10 – 20% compared to non-road diesel fuel (which has a sulphur content or 3000 – 5000ppm).

And pollution control equipment such as diesel oxidation catalysts or diesel particulate filters can be retrofitted directly onto an engines exhaust system.

Under CDM 2015, design decisions made during the pre-construction phase of projects should also be considered, as these too have a significant influence on the health and safety of everyone affected by the work. For example, lighter buildings, often delivered by low carbon building methods (with no increase in cost), can reduce on-site excavation and heavy machinery due to the requirement for smaller foundations. An example of this is the timber structure of Dalston Works in London which weighs a fifth of its concrete equivalent. And as most the construction was off-site, there were 80% fewer site deliveries than usual.

The below guidance can be downloaded by clicking the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg187.pdf and more information is available on the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/healthrisks/cancer-and-construction/diesel-engine-exhaust.htm. Alternatively, please contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Control of diesel engine exhaust emissions in the workplace

Legislation

The law requires that a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to health which arise from exposure to hazardous substances is made, eg DEEEs. This is covered by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and several other regulations, in particular the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended) (COSHH) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Having completed the assessment, there is a further duty to take the necessary steps to prevent or adequately control exposure to the hazard, and to use and maintain the relevant controls.

Risk assessment (COSHH regulation 6)

The health risk assessment will help you to assess the risks to health from exposure to hazardous substances and identify the necessary steps needed for controlling these risks. As workload, frequency of work, and work practices may change over a period, it is necessary to regularly review the assessment. In all but the simplest cases, you should record the assessment.

For DEEEs, the aim of the health risk assessment is to decide on the level of potential exposure, and then on the preventive measures or the level of control which you will need to apply. For example, if there is obvious blue or black smoke in the workplace, the controls need to be more stringent. In some circumstances, such as if there are visible exhaust emissions or complaints of irritancy, the assessment may necessitate carrying out monitoring to assess the effectiveness of the controls.

In order to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment you need to ask a series of questions, find answers and then come to a conclusion. These questions include:

  • How likely is it that exposure to DEEEs will happen?
  • Who could be affected, to what extent and for how long? How many people are potentially exposed to the DEEEs? Can the exposures be avoided?
  • Have there been any ill-health complaints from potentially exposed groups? If yes, what has been done about it?
  • Is the engine being operated at full speed or left idling? What is the purpose of running at idling speed or full speed. Can it be avoided?
  • What is the state of the engine, and how many miles or hours have been completed? Can the engine efficiency be improved, and can operating times and distances be reduced? Improving the efficiency of the engine will also bring financial benefits.
  • What happens to the exhaust emissions: do they enter directly into the workplace, or are they piped away or processed through a treatment system? Could they trigger your fire detection system?
  • Is there visible smoke near the exhaust point? What is the type of smoke, ie white, black or blue? How could it be avoided? Is there a visible haze in the workplace? Can it be avoided and how?
  • What controls are in place to comply with COSHH? Are they satisfactory?
  • Are there soot deposits in the workplace; how significant are they? What can be done to avoid them? What methods are in place for regularly cleaning the workplace?
  • How many engines are running at any one time? Are they all necessary?
  • Is it necessary to use diesel engines, or can alternative power sources be used?

Prevention and control of exposure (COSHH regulation 7)

The answers to the questions in paragraph 17 will guide you in deciding on the actions necessary to prevent or control exposure to DEEEs in the workplace. The control measures you choose need to be based on: the levels of risk and exposure; the type of workplace; present work practices; cost and benefit factors. Because of the variety of workplaces where exposure may occur, the potential exposure and the level of risk will be different. For example, there may be increased exposure where fork-lift trucks are being used in a warehouse all day for moving goods, whereas in a maintenance depot the exposure may be intermittent as the vehicles enter, stay there for maintenance, and then leave.

Prevention

Health and safety legislation requires you to prevent the exposure of employees and others to substances hazardous to health. You should be able to prevent exposure to DEEEs by adopting one or a combination of options, for example:

  • changing the method of work;
  • modifying the layout of the workplace;
  • modifying the operations to eliminate exhaust emissions inside the workplace; or
  • substituting diesel fuel with a safer fuel or alternative technology where practicable, eg compressed natural gas, battery powered vehicles.

Your risk assessment should take account of any other risks posed by these alternative fuels and technologies, for example the use of alcohols may generate greater quantities of aldehydes with possible accompanying irritancy.

Control

There will be situations where it may not be reasonably practicable for you to prevent exposure to DEEEs. In these situations, you should consider the circumstances individually and take the necessary control measures to reduce exposure. These may include:

Engineering controls

  • the use of lower emission or more fuel-efficient engines where possible, eg higher engine injection pressures to reduce particulates, fitting exhaust gas recirculation systems to reduce gaseous oxide emissions;
  • the use of cleaner fuels such as low sulphur diesel fuels;
  • enclosing the exhaust tailpipe from which DEEEs are emitted, for example by using a fixed flexible hose with a tailpipe exhaust extraction system (see Figures 2 and 3);
  • using partial enclosure with local extraction ventilation (LEV) as shown in Figure 4;
  • the use of diesel exhaust gas ‘after-treatment’ systems such as catalytic converters to oxidise organic substances and gases, and catalysed and non-catalysed particulate traps to remove particulate matter;
  • using a combination of LEV and sufficient general ventilation, eg tailpipe exhausts with open doors or roof extraction;
  • using sufficient general ventilation, eg manual or mechanical roof extraction;

Practice and administrative controls

  • using processes or systems of work which will help you to reduce the generation of DEEEs, for example switching off engines when not required for a substantial period of time and adopting a programme of regular engine maintenance;
  • where practicable, reducing the number of employees directly exposed and their period of exposure, eg ensuring that office staff working adjacent to DEEE areas are not exposed, job rotation; and

Respiratory protective equipment (RPE)

  • as exposure to DEEEs is best controlled at source or by other means as described previously, RPE should only be used as a last resort. The RPE chosen should be suitable for protecting against the gaseous and particulate components. The use of nuisance dust masks as worn by cyclists are ineffective against DEEEs and, therefore, should not be used as a means of control in the workplace. Detailed information on RPE for use in the workplace can be found in the HSE guidance book HSG53 Respiratory protective equipment at work: A practical guide.

Use of control measures (COSHH regulation 8)

You should ensure that any control measures are properly used or applied. Employees should make full and proper use of any control measure or personal protective equipment provided by the employer, and report any defects to management for immediate attention.

Maintenance, examination and the testing of control measures (COSHH regulation 9)

You should ensure that all the measures provided to control exposure to DEEEs in the workplace are maintained in an effective state, and kept in efficient working order and in good repair. Where engineering controls are used, they should be thoroughly examined and tested at suitable intervals. LEV, for example, should be thoroughly examined and tested at least once every 14 months.

With the exception of disposable filtering facepiece respirators intended for single shift use, RPE should not be used unless it has had a recent thorough examination and maintenance. The interval between thorough examination and maintenance should not be more than one month.

You should keep a record of such examinations and tests of LEV and RPE for at least five years from the date on which they were made. The record should be readily available for inspection by employees or their representatives, or by enforcement authorities.

Monitoring for exposure to DEEEs in the workplace (COSHH regulation 10)

Under regulation 10 of COSHH, monitoring at the workplace may be required for the following reasons:

  • to determine if there is a failure or deterioration of the control measures which could result in an obvious health effect, eg irritancy from exposure to DEEEs;
  • to determine whether any workplace exposure limit (WEL) or any in-house working standard has been exceeded; and
  • when necessary to check the effectiveness of a control measure provided, eg particulate filter, LEV and/or general ventilation.

The health risk assessment will help you decide if it is necessary to carry out monitoring, for example, to judge the effectiveness of controls. A suitable monitoring strategy, as determined by a competent person such as an occupational hygienist, will indicate whether personal monitoring, fixed placed (static) monitoring, or both are required. It will show which site(s) require monitoring, when and how often, and which sampling and analytical methods would be appropriate.

Personal monitoring for exposure to DEEEs

You may need to carry out personal monitoring to determine the extent of inhalation exposure to DEEEs, and hence the level of risk. Personal monitoring samples should be collected in the breathing zone of the employees. Such samples should be collected where there is a significant potential for exposure during their working shift and include peak exposures, eg while repairing or testing/maintaining an engine, while driving a fork-lift truck or during lashing in ro-ro ferries.

The duration of sampling depends on the workplace situation, such as the nature of the work and the type of monitoring. However, to collect sufficient material from the workplace air and determine the time-weighted average (TWA) exposure, sampling periods will mainly be between six and eight hours. In some instances though, depending on the circumstances, short-term measurements may be all that is required to make decisions on the risk of exposure and level of control. The number of people you decide to sample at each location will depend on the nature of exposure and size of the exposed workforce, for example:

  • processes or operations where exposures are likely to occur;
  • the number, type and position of sources from which the DEEEs are released; and
  • which groups of employees are most likely to be exposed.

Fixed place monitoring

Fixed place monitoring is appropriate in those areas of the workplace where it is impractical to collect personal samples, eg outside a toll booth. Such fixed sampling is useful for determining the effectiveness of your control measures and for measuring background concentrations of DEEEs.

What substances to monitor

Levels of carbon dioxide (CO2 ) above 1000 ppm 8-hour TWA in the workplace, may indicate faulty, poorly maintained or inadequately designed control systems in particular LEV or roof extraction systems. As measurement of the CO2 level is easily carried out and because it is a useful indicator of the overall adequacy of control measures, it may be used as one of the steps in any assessment of the level of exposure to DEEEs.

Respirable dust levels may be measured to help you assess the particulate exposure if, for example, the workload is particularly heavy. However, the levels measured will include particulates from all sources and not just the DEEEs.

In situations where personal exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) may be high (such as at toll booths and in car parks where the majority of vehicles are petrol driven) measurement of CO will provide an indication about the adequacy of controls.

Irritancy

As the definite causes of irritancy are unknown, if any of your workforce complain of this health effect, it is important to look for better means of control rather than to monitor for other gaseous constituents of DEEEs.

Health surveillance (COSHH regulation 11)

Under COSHH, no formal health surveillance is required by employers of those exposed to DEEEs or related emissions. However, if employees are concerned about the short or long-term health effects of exposure to DEEEs, they should discuss the problem with management. If still not satisfied with the outcome, they should voice their concerns with their union representative if available or the works safety representative. Furthermore, if management notices that employees are suffering irritancy effects following exposure to DEEEs, it may indicate that the controls have failed and prompt action is required.

Employers must provide information on health and related matters to employees or their representatives in accordance with the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 and the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996. Such information allows employees or their representatives to help employers develop control measures.

Information, instruction and training (COSHH regulation 12)

Adequate information, instruction and training should be given to employees on the health hazards associated with occupational exposure to DEEEs and on the proper use of control measures. This information should also be made available to employee safety representatives or other appropriate people.

The information, training and instruction should enable employees to recognise obvious deterioration in the controls used (such as poor maintenance of engines, damage to extraction equipment or ineffective general ventilation), so they can report to employers who would then take the necessary action to rectify the situation.

 

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

Control of legionella (and other) bacteria in metal working fluids (MWFs)

Legionella bacteria are commonly found in water supplies at low concentrations and if conditions (eg temperature and nutrients) are right, these microorganisms will grow. Water mix metal working fluids (MWFs) are mostly water and their industrial use may produce aerosols. Inhaling an aerosol contaminated with Legionella bacteria can cause Legionnaires’ disease. HSE guidance L8 “Legionnaires’ disease. The control of legionella bacteria in water systems” recommends that the MWF storage and distribution system of lathe and machine tool coolant systems should be cleaned and disinfected every six months or more frequently if recommended by machine tool or fluid suppliers.

However, the Health and Safety Laboratory has carried out research, Survival of Legionella pneumophila in metalworking fluids, which shows there is a minimal risk of Legionella bacteria contaminating such a system, if the system is properly managed.

HSE’s guidance on managing bacterial contamination of metalworking fluids suggests a risk-based approach, based on monitoring fluid condition and bacterial contamination: http://www.hse.gov.uk/metalworking/bacterial.htm

If you can demonstrate that metalworking fluids are managed in accordance with the COSHH essentials sheet Managing sumps and bacterial contamination (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/guidance/mw05.pdf) and HSE’s guidance on managing bacterial contamination in metalworking fluids an additional assessment of the risk of Legionnaires’ disease is normally unnecessary. However, further assessment and precautions will be necessary to cover any special circumstances, such as deep cleaning of sumps and machinery with jet washers, where the potential for exposure to airborne hazardous bacteria is much greater. This is due to the disturbance of microbial slime known as biofilm – where Legionella may survive. Avoid water jetting where possible, as it tends to create fine water droplets or mists.

If water jetting is necessary carry out a risk assessment, to include respiratory and other risks such as those arising from the use of high pressure and electricity, see,

More guidance on metalworking fluids can be found on the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/metalworking/index.htm

For more information on controlling the risk of Legionnaires’ disease, see Legionella and Legionnaires’ disease: http://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/index.htm, or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, ad we’ll be happy to help

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.