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

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

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.

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 3RD SEPTEMBER 2015

IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

HSE Refurbishment Inspection Initiative 2015

FLTA Safety Month – Safetember: see danger, speak up!

Licensing of houses in multiple occupation in England: a guide for landlords and managers

Key safety campaigns to be supported at British Safety Council’s annual conference

Introduction

Later this month, the construction industry will be the focus of HSE attention, as inspectors embark on a four week long programme of unannounced visits to sites where refurbishment projects or repairs are underway. We open this week’s update with details of the HSE’s 10th annual refurbishment inspection initiative.

Already underway is the Fork Lift Truck Association’s safety month which runs until 30th September, and during which free resources and guides will be available on the FLTA website. The campaign is now in its eighth year and aims to raise awareness of the dangers involved in fork lift operations throughout the industry and to stress the importance of common sense measures that can make lift trucks safer and more efficient.

Are you a landlord or managing agent/property manager? Do you know what constitutes a House in Multiple Occupation, and that some HMOs are required to be licensed? Read on for more information about your responsibilities, particularly in regard to health and safety.

The safety of cyclists on our roads has been highlighted in the news in recent weeks, and a ban on unsafe lorries has recently come into force in London. Work-related transport is one of the health and safety campaigns the British Safety Council will be focusing on at its conference on 23rd September. Read on to find out which other campaigns will be highlighted at the event.

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 Refurbishment Inspection Initiative 2015

The HSE’s 10th annual refurbishment inspection initiative is due to take place between 14th September and 9th October 2015. Poor standards and unsafe practices on Britain’s building sites are likely to be targeted during a nationwide drive aimed at reducing ill health, death and injury in the industry.

During the annual initiative, HSE Construction Inspectors carry out unannounced visits to sites where refurbishment projects or repair works are underway, ensuring high-risk activities particularly those affecting the health of workers, are being properly managed.

What the initiative does

The main aims of the initiative are:

  • to achieve an improvement in industry standards, in particular at small sites
  • to increase awareness of HSEs expectations of the industry
  • to demonstrate that HSE will use the enforcement tools at its disposal to prevent immediate risk and bring about sustained improvements

What inspectors look for

During inspections, HSE inspectors consider whether:

  • risks to health from exposure to dust such as silica are being controlled
  • workers are aware of where they may find asbestos, and what to do if they find it
  • other health risks, such as exposure to noise and vibration, manual handling, hazardous substances are being properly managed
  • jobs that involve working at height have been identified and properly planned to ensure that appropriate precautions, such as proper support of structures, are in place
  • equipment is correctly installed / assembled, inspected and maintained and used properly
  • sites are well organised, to avoid trips and falls, walkways and stairs are free from obstructions and welfare facilities are adequate

HSE uses the inspection initiatives to reinforce its message to the construction industry that poor standards are unacceptable and liable to result in HSE taking enforcement action.

Previous campaign results:

More information on the above can be found on the HSE website www.hse.gov.uk or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be more than happy to help.

FLTA Safety Month – Safetember: see danger, speak up!

Date and location

1st – 30th September 2015, throughout the month, location the FLTA website (http://fork-truck.org.uk/fork-lift-safety/national-fork-lift-safety-month)

Event overview

National Fork Lift Safety Week was launched by the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) in 2008 to raise awareness of the dangers involved in fork lift operations throughout the industry and to stress the importance of common sense measures that can make lift trucks safer and more efficient.

For 2015, the Association has increased the scope into a month-long campaign throughout September, dubbing the campaign “Safetember”.

Throughout Safetember the FLTA will be making a compendium of free resources and guides available on its website. The Association will also be urging every company that works with lift trucks to genuinely empower workers with the freedom to report bad practice in a blame-free environment.

After all, this freedom is not a luxury, it is a right.

Further information

More information can be found on the FLTA website (http://fork-truck.org.uk/fork-lift-safety/national-fork-lift-safety-month), or by emailing the FLTA secretariat.

Licensing of houses in multiple occupation in England: a guide for landlords and managers

This publication is aimed at landlords and managers who manage a house in multiple occupation (HMO), or if you are not sure whether you manage an HMO. The booklet explains more about HMOs, which HMOs are required to be licensed and what other if any responsibilities there are in relation to the management of HMOs.

Not sure whether you manage an HMO?

The home you manage is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) if both of the following apply:

  • at least 3 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household
  • tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities

The home you manage is a large HMO if all of the following apply:

  • it’s at least 3 storeys high
  • at least 5 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household
  • tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities

A household is either a single person or members of the same family who live together. A family includes people who are:

  • married or living together – including people in same-sex relationships
  • relatives or half-relatives, eg grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings
  • step-parents and step-children

Your safety responsibilities

You must keep the property you manage safe and free from health hazards.

Gas safety

You must:

  • make sure gas equipment you supply is safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer
  • have a registered engineer do an annual gas safety on each appliance and flue
  • give tenants a copy of the gas safety check record before they move in, or within 28 days of the check

Electrical safety

You must make sure:

  • the electrical system is safe, eg sockets and light fittings
  • all appliances you supply are safe, eg cookers and kettles

Fire safety

You must:

  • follow fire safety regulations, eg check tenants have access to escape routes at all times
  • make sure the furniture and furnishings you supply are fire safe
  • provide fire alarms and extinguishers (if the property is a large House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

Download the publication by clicking on the link: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/15652/HMO_Lic_landlords_guide.pdf or contact us for more information on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk and we’ll be more than happy to help.

Key safety campaigns to be supported at British Safety Council’s annual conference

Health and safety campaigns such as work-related transport, occupational health and young people at work will be highlighted at the British Safety Council annual conference on 23rd September.

Work-related transport

Every year 70 people are killed and 2000 more are seriously injured in incidents involving vehicles at work. Often these incidents occur in a lorry park or yard while goods are being delivered. In many cases it is the driver who is injured.

The HSE recently ran an advertising campaign on radio and press in the North West and Midlands to raise awareness among the people who can make a real difference – depot managers and those who receive or despatch goods.

The concerns of professional drivers, about the dangers of delivery and collection of goods have also been included.

This campaign focused on how depot managers can take small practical steps to make delivery areas safer. Examples include (click on the links for more information):

Key messages

Campaign posters

Campaign radio publicity

To download, right click and select ‘save target as…’

For more advice on transport topics visit the HSE Vehicles at Work website (http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/)

Proposal to replace OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health & Safety Management) with ISO 45001

ISO 45001 on occupational health and safety management system requirements is currently being produced with an intended publication date of October 2016. However, it is expected that the current standard OHSAS 18001 will be valid for some time after this date and therefore companies interested in certifying should still do so, and will benefit from its implementation.

The aim of the new standard is to improve occupational health and safety for all, in developed and developing countries, and at local, national, regional and international levels.

For up to date information about the new standard, follow our health and safety news updates.

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.

Guidance on the HSE website (http://www.hse.gov.uk/youngpeople/) will help young people and those employing them understand their responsibilities.

Work experience

Introducing young people to the world of work can help them understand the work environment, choose future careers or prepare for employment. We need young people to be offered opportunities to develop new skills and gain experience across the world of work. Click on the below links for more information:

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

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

 

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 30TH JULY 2015

IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

HSE Safety Alert

Poor design of scaffold loading bay gate, providing inadequate edge protection to prevent falls from height

HSE Myth Busters Challenge Panel

Case 363 – Unable to open office windows

Case 357 – Consultants and Letting Agents misinterpreting the risks of exposure to legionella of their tenants

Case 355 – All tools on building sites need to be a maximum of 110V

Case 345 – Council erecting a barrier on sloping grass bank to prevent workers and the public falling onto concrete path below

News & Research

1.3 million tradespeople at risk from dangers of asbestos

HSE Research Report 1052 – The effect of wearer stubble on the protection given by Filtering Facepieces Class 3 (FFP3) and Half Masks

Face Fit testing of RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment)

Introduction

Welcome to this week’s Health & Safety news update – our second since the launch of our new website. We’re settling into it quite nicely, and hope you are too. Don’t forget that comments and/or feedback are always welcome!

We experienced a few teething problems last week with subscription registrations, and apologise if you were affected by these. Fingers crossed they’ve now been solved, so if you want to receive email notifications of our updates, just click on “Register” (bottom-left), and you’ll be directed to a page where you can enter a user name of your choice, and your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time and each email will contain an unsubscription link for this purpose. If you experience any difficulties at all, please email us at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, or via the “Contact us” page on our website (http://www.eljay.co.uk/contact-eljay-risk-management.php)

This week, after bring your attention to this week’s HSE Safety Alert, we’re quashing a few Health & Safety myths via the ‘Myth Busters Challenge Panel’, and highlighting the HSE’s asbestos safety campaign, before leading into our new ‘Face Fit Testing’ service with some interesting research on the topic.

HSE Safety Alert

Extendable Scaffolding Loading Bay Gate – use of cable ties to secure loose mesh and unsafe means of operation

HSE has become aware that a number of manufacturers/suppliers are marketing an extendable scaffold loading bay gate that does not satisfy legal requirements or applicable standards when in some configurations. When extended the loading bay gate, which forms part of the edge protection on a scaffold, is not robust enough to fulfil this function and is therefore not suitable and sufficient to comply with the Work at Height Regulations 2005. For more information click on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins/loading-bay-gate.htm?ebul=gd-cons/jul15&cr=1 or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

HSE Myth Busters Challenge Panel

‘Health and Safety’ is often incorrectly used as a convenient excuse to stop what are essentially sensible activities going ahead when instead, we should be using good health & safety principles and practice to ensure that work proceeds, but safely. The Health and Safety Executive has set up an independent panel – the Myth Busters Challenge Panel – to scrutinize such decisions.

Below are just a few of the cases that the panel have recently considered, and their findings.

Case 363 – Unable to open office windows

Issue

Enquirer’s office has been told that they cannot have the keys to open the windows in their office on the 3rd floor as this would breach health and safety. The windows run almost floor to ceiling with the top section opening inwards. Standing next to the window, the open section is just below the enquirer’s chest height (they are 6ft tall). With summer coming the office is getting hotter and they are unable to have any fresh air in the building.

Panel opinion

In some circumstances it may be appropriate to prohibit people from opening windows if there is a real risk of someone falling out; but where this is a concern, the problem can also be addressed by fitting controls to limit the extent to which the windows can be opened. In this particular case it seems more likely that “health and safety” has been used as a cover when the real reason is to do with concerns over the effectiveness of the air conditioning.

“Health and safety” should not be used simply to avoid having a discussion about the real concerns and what solutions might be possible.

Our comment

More information about the safe opening and closing of windows, etc, as well as glazing safety in relation to impact and cleaning, can be found in Building Regulations Approved Document N (http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/uploads/br/BR_PDF_ADN_1998.pdf) or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

Case 357 – Consultants and Letting Agents misinterpreting the risks of exposure to legionella of their tenants

Issue

Consultants and letting agents are i) using the revised L8 ACOP to infer there is new legislation regarding landlords responsibilities and ii) misrepresenting what the law requires of landlords of domestic rented properties in relation to assessing and controlling the risks of exposure to Legionella bacteria of their tenants, for financial gain.

Panel opinion

Health and Safety law does not require landlords to produce a ‘Legionnaires testing certificate’. Legionella testing is required only in exceptional circumstances and generally not in domestic hot and cold water systems. Such letting agents and consultants are scaremongering landlords, for financial gain, by misinterpreting and exaggerating the legal requirements to manage and control legionella in domestic premises.

HSE has published guidance for landlords, free to download from HSE’s website:

http://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/faqs.htm – As a landlord, what are my duties?

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg274part2.pdf – PDF – Paragraphs 2.138-2.146

Our comment

Whilst Legionella testing is not always required, if you are an employer, or someone in control of premises, you need to take the right precautions to reduce the risks of exposure to Legionella by carrying out a risk assessment, which includes management and prevention or control of any risks, as well as keeping and maintain the correct records. For more information click on the link http://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/what-you-must-do.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

Case 355 – All tools on building sites need to be a maximum of 110V

Issue

The enquirer was tasked with carrying out sound insulation tests in houses on a construction site. The site manager asked him if his equipment was battery operated to which his reply was “no, it will need to be plugged into a 230V socket”. He asked if there was 230V power in the plots and the site manager said yes it was available but all “tools” on site need to run off a maximum of 110V as this was the company policy.

Panel opinion

The enquirer appears to have been planning to work in a completed (or nearly) completed house with the electrical system installed and compliant with requirements for electrical installations. This is a significantly lower risk from when the house is under construction. Whilst health and safety law does not ban 230v tools on construction sites, HSE strongly advises that 110v tools are preferable given the wet, dirty and dusty nature of construction sites and the possibility of mechanical damage to cables and tools.

In this instance a standard which is reasonable for a live, temporary, construction site is being applied to a different (domestic) environment where the risks would be much lower and the electrical system permanent and compliant with the latest standards.  If a site or company decide to impose a higher (disproportionate) standard in this lower risk environment they can but it is not health and safety law that requires this.

Our comment

More information about this construction safety topic can be found on the HSE web page “Electricity – Systems in buildings”. Click on the link http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/systems.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

Case 345 – Council erecting a barrier on sloping grass bank to prevent workers and the public falling onto concrete path below

Issue

A sloping grassed bank, whose base is retained by a vertical wall, runs along behind social housing dwellings. The council has identified a risk of injury to workers from a fall from the top of the retaining wall when working on the bank above and also identified a similar risk of injury for residents and the public who access the bank. The council plans to install a barrier on top of the wall to reduce the risk of fall from height onto the concrete path below.

Panel opinion

The Council is taking a sensible approach to find a way of minimising various risks to its own employees and members of the public. They should continue to discuss with residents to find a suitable means of fencing/protection that reduces risk without restricting access unduly.

Our comment

If you manage or own property in which others live or work, it is your duty to ensure that the premises (inside and out) are in a satisfactory state from a health and safety perspective. Falls from height is just one of the many risks that need to be considered. We provide health & safety inspections of residential and commercial properties, as well as fire and Legionella risk assessments. For more information contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk.

News & Research

1.3 million tradespeople at risk from dangers of asbestos

Health and Safety Executive launches new safety campaign as an average of 20 tradespeople die every week from asbestos related disease

Tradespeople, including construction workers, carpenters and painters and decorators, could come into contact with deadly asbestos on average more than 100 times a year* according to a new survey commissioned by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)**.

As well as illustrating how often tradespeople can be exposed to asbestos, the survey revealed some common myths believed by those at risk, with 1 in seven (14 per cent) believing that drinking a glass of water will help protect them from the deadly dust and one in four (27 per cent) thinking that opening a window will help to keep them safe.

Only a third (30 per cent) of those asked, were able to identify all the correct measures for safe asbestos working, whilst more than half (57 per cent) made at least one potentially lethal mistake in trying to identify how to stay safe.

Twenty tradespeople, on average, die every week from asbestos related diseases.

Asbestos can be found in walls and ceilings, or the structure of a building, as well as a host of other places like floor tiles, boilers, toilet cisterns, guttering and soffits.

It can be disturbed by basic maintenance work like drilling holes and sanding and once disturbed, the microscopic fibres can prove lethal if breathed in, causing lung disease and cancer.

The research, undertaken by Censuswide in September 2014, shows that while more than half (53 per cent) knew that asbestos could be in old buildings built before 1970, only 15 per cent knew that it could still be found in buildings built up to the year 2000.

And although many of those surveyed could pinpoint some asbestos-containing materials, others were clueless, with only 19 per cent recognising it could also be hidden in common fixtures such as toilet seats and cisterns.

To encourage tradespeople to think about asbestos on every job so they are prepared to deal with the danger, HSE has launched a new safety campaign. A key feature of the campaign is the creation of a new web app for phones, tablets and laptops that helps tradespeople easily identify where they could come into contact with the deadly material as they go about their day-to-day work and gives them tailored help on how to deal with the risks.

Philip White, HSE’s Chief Inspector for Construction, said:

“Asbestos is still a very real danger and the survey findings suggest that the people who come into contact with it regularly often don’t know where it could be and worryingly don’t know how to deal with it correctly, which could put them in harm’s way. Our new campaign aims to help tradespeople understand some of the simple steps they can take to stay safe. Our new web app is designed for use on a job so workers can easily identify if they are likely to face danger and can then get straight forward advice to help them do the job safely.”

Former electrical consultant Simon Clark, who in 2012 was diagnosed with mesothelioma – the life-threatening and aggressive cancer caused by exposure to asbestos – when he was just 52, said:

“When I was younger I didn’t think of the dangers of asbestos and I must have been exposed to it frequently. Since being diagnosed, I’ve had to give up my work and let some of my employees go – which is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It is vitally important that everybody knows when they might be exposed and takes the correct steps to protect themselves.”

To download the web app please visit www.beware-asbestos.info/news

For more information on asbestos safety please visit http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

HSE Research Report 1052 – The effect of wearer stubble on the protection given by Filtering Facepieces Class 3 (FFP3) and Half Masks

HSE Inspectors routinely come across workers with various degrees of stubble growth using respiratory protective masks, despite guidance to the contrary. This research studied the effect of 0-7 days stubble growth on the protection given by FFP3 filtering facepieces and half masks.

Fifteen male volunteers took part, each testing four masks. For most, three different design FFP3 and one half mask were tested, selected from seven models of FFP3 and 2 half masks. Fit tests were carried out immediately after shaving and repeated six times during the following week, without further shaving.

Results showed that the effect on protection was quite specific to the mask/wearer combination.

Protection could be significantly reduced where stubble was present, beginning within 24 hours from shaving, and generally worsening as facial hair grew. Statistical analysis predicted this could reach an unacceptable level for all of the masks tested.

While some individual wearers did grow some stubble without significantly reducing protection with some masks, this was unpredictable and it would not be practical to conduct the necessary testing to confirm this for every individual wearer.

The current guidance advising being clean-shaven in the area of the mask seal is justified.

Face Fit testing of RPE (Respiratory Protective Equipment)

As you will be aware you must ensure that any RPE you use provides adequate protection for individual wearers. RPE can’t protect the wearer if it leaks. A major cause of leaks is poor fit – tight-fitting face-pieces need to fit the wearer’s face to be effective. As people come in all sorts of shapes and sizes it is unlikely that one particular type or size of RPE face-piece will fit everyone. Fit testing will ensure that the equipment selected is suitable for the wearer and, importantly, will help ensure the safety of your workers.

RPE fit testing should be conducted by a competent person – you should take steps to ensure that person who carries out the fit test is appropriately trained, qualified and experienced, and is provided with appropriate information to undertake each particular task.

We can carry out your face fit testing, so if you need help selecting and fit testing RPE, contact us today on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk to discuss your requirements and we will provide you with a no-obligation quotation.

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

 

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