Advice for employers of outdoor workers (council refuses to supply gardeners with sun screen in case they are allergic)

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

The HSE ‘Myth Busters Challenge Panel’ Case 351 is the subject of this week’s news update.

‘Health and Safety’ is often incorrectly used as a convenient excuse to stop what are essentially sensible activities going ahead. The Health and Safety Executive has set up an independent panel – the Myth Busters Challenge Panel – to scrutinize such decisions.

The Panel is chaired by the HSE Chair, supported by a pool of independent members who represent a wide range of interests. This includes small businesses, public safety, Trade Unions, the insurance industry and others.

This Panel looks into enquiries regarding the advice given by non-regulators such as insurance companies, health and safety consultants and employers and, quickly assess if a sensible and proportionate decision has been made. They want to make clear that “health and safety” is about managing real risks properly, not being risk averse and stopping people getting on with their lives.

If you think a decision or advice that you have been given in the name of health and safety is wrong, or disproportionate for the activity you are doing, you can contact the panel here: http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/contact-myth-busting.htm. But please note this is not the right route into HSE for raising a concern or complaint about your workplace, or for general enquires. Instead, go here (http://webcommunities.hse.gov.uk/connect.ti/concernsform/answerQuestionnaire?qid=594147) to raise a workplace health and safety concern, here (http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/complaints.htm) to make a complaint, or here (http://webcommunities.hse.gov.uk/connect.ti/advice/answerQuestionnaire?qid=593891) to get advice.

Issue (Case 351)

A council would not supply their gardeners with sun screen during hot weather as it was a health and safety issue as someone may be allergic.

Panel opinion

The council is not obliged to provide sun screen to outdoor workers, but there is nothing under health and safety law to prevent it doing so. HSE encourages employers to provide advice on sun protection for those who work outside for most of the day including using sun screen to prevent long term health damage.

Skin at work: Outdoor workers and sun exposure

What is the problem?

Too much sunlight is harmful to your skin. A tan is a sign that the skin has been damaged. The damage is caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight.

Who is at risk?

If work keeps you outdoors for a long time your skin could be exposed to more sun than is healthy for you. Outdoor workers that could be at risk include farm or construction workers, market gardeners, outdoor activity workers and some public service workers. You should take particular care if you have:

  • fair or freckled skin that doesn’t tan, or goes red or burns before it tans;
  • red or fair hair and light coloured eyes;
  • a large number of moles.

People of all skin colours should take care to avoid damage to the eyes, overheating and dehydration.

What are the harmful effects?

In the short term, even mild reddening of the skin from sun exposure is a sign of damage. Sunburn can blister the skin and make it peel.

Longer term problems can arise. Too much sun speeds up ageing of the skin, making it leathery, mottled and wrinkled. The most serious effect is an increased chance of developing skin cancer.

What can you do to protect yourself?

  • Keep your top on.
  • Wear a hat with a brim or a flap that covers the ears and the back of the neck.
  • Stay in the shade whenever possible, during your breaks and especially at lunch time.
  • Use a high factor sunscreen of at least SPF15 on any exposed skin.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
  • Check your skin regularly for any unusual moles or spots. See a doctor promptly if you find anything that is changing in shape, size or colour, itching or bleeding.

Where can you get further information?

The following free leaflets have been produced by HSE:

The following website also provides useful information:

For more information, click on the above links 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

 

 

Cancer and construction: Diesel engine exhaust emissions

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

The subject of air pollution has been very much in the headlines recently, particularly in London, where it was described in January as being worse than that in Beijing. And the London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory (LAEI) shows that the construction industry’s contribution to this is disproportionate compared to that of the usual road transport related suspects, with site-based plant and machinery being mostly to blame. This is due to the fact that emissions from these “non-road mobile machines” or NRMMs, are regulated under a different and (until now) more relaxed system to road transport. Even whilst complying with recent regulatory standards, emissions from a modern excavator, for example, are still apparently 15 times greater than those from a modern double decker bus. And whilst attempts are being made by London mayor Sadiq Khan to address these issues and their effects on the health of Londoners, the health of construction workers themselves is also thrown into doubt by the absence of legal diesel fume exposure limits.

According to the HSE, as of 2005, cancers relating to exposure to diesel exhaust emissions accounted for 6.5% of construction-related cancer deaths – that’s an estimated 230 construction workers each year. At the very least, short-term exposure to diesel engine exhaust emissions or DEEEs, can cause eye or respiratory irritation. And longer periods of exposure, in particular to any blue or black smoke, can lead to coughing, chestiness and breathlessness.

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.

The HSE provides the following guidance on managing the risks to construction workers from DEEEs.

Cancer and construction: Diesel engine exhaust emissions

What is it?

Exhaust emissions from diesel engines are made up of a complex mixture of gases, vapours, liquid aerosols and soot particles. It contains many known carcinogenic substances such as Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (known as PAHs). These PAHs are adsorbed onto the soot which makes them easy to inhale.

The quantity and make-up of DEEEs depends mainly on the engine type and setting, how it is maintained, fuel quality, the demands placed on the engine and temperature that it is working at. Three different types of visible smoke may be produced:

  • blue smoke (mainly oil and unburnt fuel) which indicates a poorly serviced / tuned engine
  • black smoke (soot, oil and unburnt fuel) which indicates a mechanical fault with the engine
  • white smoke (water droplets and unburnt fuel) which is produced when the engine is started from cold and disappears when the engine warms up

What is the risk to construction workers?

The major source of DEEEs on a construction site is likely to be from generators and heavy vehicles like lorries, excavators or telehandlers. The more significant risks are linked to longer periods of work with this equipment in enclosed spaces and / or situations where there is blue or black smoke.

Breathing DEEEs can cause a number of ill-health effects. Short-term exposure may cause eye or respiratory irritation. This should stop when you are in fresh air. Longer periods of exposure, in particular to any blue or black smoke, can lead to coughing, chestiness and breathlessness.

There is also evidence that repeated exposure to DEEEs over many years can increase the risk of lung cancer. HSE commissioned research highlighted it as a significant risk to construction workers from DEEEs, estimating that over 200 died prematurely in 2005. It is important to note that this estimate is based on past exposures up to 50 years ago. Engine and fuel technology has changed significantly since then. However, risks remain that you need to control.

Can you prevent this risk?

Yes. There are a number of steps you can take: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg187.htm (click on the link to download a free copy of HSE publication “Control of diesel engine exhaust emissions in the workplace”)

For more information, visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/healthrisks/cancer-and-construction/diesel-engine-exhaust.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

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

 

 

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 4TH FEBRUARY 2016

REGISTER BELOW-LEFT TO RECEIVE OUR UPDATES BY EMAIL

IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

HSE Myth Busters Challenge Panel Case 383 – Odd job person in managed block of flats not allowed to change light bulbs for health and safety reasons

HSE Health & Safety Bulletin – Use of Barrier Glands in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres to meet IEC 60079:14 2013 (Edition 5)

HSL/HSE CDM 2015 Training: the role of the Principal Designer

Introduction

‘Health and Safety’ is often incorrectly used as a convenient excuse to stop what are essentially sensible activities going ahead. The Health and Safety Executive has set up an independent panel – the Myth Busters Challenge Panel – to scrutinize such decisions. We open this week’s update with the panel’s response to a property management company citing health and safety as the reason for not allowing an odd job person to change light bulbs in a block of flats.

Electricity at work is also the theme of the HSE’s latest health & safety bulletin aimed at (amongst others) those designing, installing, inspecting and maintaining electrical equipment in potentially explosive atmospheres. Electrical (and non electrical) equipment and installations in potentially explosive atmospheres must be specially designed and constructed so that the risks of ignition are eliminated or reduced. The approach that the current IEC 60079-14: 2013 Standard allows duty holders to take, creates a fire and explosion risk, and this Notice provides information on what action to take.

Finally, we close this week’s update with details of a training event being delivered by HSL (the Health & Safety Executive’s Laboratory), aimed at designers, clients, contractors and/or individuals who may take on, or want to understand the Principal Designer function which replaced the role of CDM Co-ordinator under CDM 2015.

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 Myth Busters Challenge Panel Case 383 – Odd job person in managed block of flats not allowed to change light bulbs for health and safety reasons

‘Health and Safety’ is often incorrectly used as a convenient excuse to stop what are essentially sensible activities going ahead. The Health and Safety Executive has set up an independent panel – the Myth Busters Challenge Panel – to scrutinize such decisions.

The Panel is chaired by the HSE Chair Judith Hackitt, with HSE Board member Sarah Veale as the Vice-Chair and they are supported by a pool of independent members who represent a wide range of interests. This includes small businesses, public safety, trade union, the insurance industry and many outside interests where day-to-day common sense decisions on risk management are made.

This Panel will look into enquiries regarding the advice given by non-regulators such as insurance companies, health and safety consultants and employers and, quickly assess if a sensible and proportionate decision has been made. We want to make clear that “health and safety” is about managing real risks properly, not being risk averse and stopping people getting on with their lives.

If you think a decision or advice that you have been given in the name of health and safety is wrong, or disproportionate to what you are doing, you can contact the panel on the following web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/contact-myth-busting.htm. Guidance on how to raise a concern (http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/concerns.htm) or complaint (http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/complaints.htm) on workplace health and safety is also available.

Issue (Case 383)

A property management company advised that an odd job person is unable to change light bulbs as they would only be protected from negligence if a competent electrician carried out the job.

Panel opinion

Health and safety at work legislation does not require the use of a competent electrician to change light bulbs in a residential property. Confusing a perceived (but in all probability low) risk of being sued for negligence with the requirements of health and safety legislation is unhelpful, and can distort the aim of the legislation, which is to ensure a proportionate approach to managing risks.

An example risk assessment for the maintenance of flats is available on the following HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/casestudies/flats.htm and health and safety guidance is also available on the ARMA website (Association of Residential Managing Agents): http://arma.org.uk/leasehold-library/document/health-safety/pages/1 or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help. We carry out health and safety inspections and fire/legionella risk assessments of commercial and residential properties.

HSE Health & Safety Bulletin – Use of Barrier Glands in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres to meet IEC 60079:14 2013 (Edition 5)

Target Audience

  • Chemical processing and production
  • Engineering
  • Warehousing
  • Offshore
  • Others: Duty holders designing, installing, inspecting and maintaining electrical equipment in potentially explosive atmospheres
  • COMAH Duty Holders and operators installing and maintaining electrical equipment in explosive atmospheres

Key Issues

There is currently a key difference between the current IEC 60079-14: 2013 Standard and previous versions of BS EN 60079-14: 2008 & IEC 60079-14: 2007 for use of electrical equipment in potentially explosive atmospheres in that the IEC Standard currently allows the Duty Holder to use a ‘standard’ Ex certified flameproof gland as opposed to a Ex certified ‘barrier gland’ without the requirement to apply the previous flowchart used in the British Standard which identified glanding requirements based on gas group / zone / enclosure size. There is evidence that this approach creates a fire and explosion risk and this Notice provides Duty Holders with information on what action to take.

To read the bulletin click on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins/use-of-barrier-glands.htm

About safety notices

Aim of bulletin: A safety notice is usually issued to facilitate a change in procedure or it requires an action to be undertaken to improve the level of protection or instruction in a potentially dangerous situation. It must be acted upon within a reasonable time, if a time period is not stated. It is not as immediate as a safety alert.

Safety notices are issued where, under certain circumstances, an unsafe situation could arise. For example, where instructions or labelling for use are not clear, additional guarding may be required, operating parameters or procedures need to be changed, where this could, in some cases, lead to an injury. Action should be taken although it may not need to be immediate.

When potentially dangerous equipment, process, procedures or substances have been identified, and depending on the probability of the incident reoccurring and the possible severity of the injuries, HSE may want to inform all users and other stakeholders of the situation and the steps that should be taken to rectify the fault via a safety notice. Safety notices will be issued after consultation with stakeholders and may result in industry-led notices being issued at the same time.

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

HSL/HSE CDM 2015 Training: the role of the Principal Designer

Dates and locations

  • 16 February 2016, ETC Venues, Maple House, 150 Corporation Street, Birmingham B4 6TB
  • 26 April 2016, ETC Venues, Marble Arch, Garfield House, 86 Edgware Road, London W2 2EA

Event overview

This event provides an introduction to this new role and is aimed at designers, clients, contractors and/or individuals who may take on, or want to understand the PD function, particularly for small to medium size projects. The course will be delivered by an ex-HSE Principal Construction Inspector with almost 40 years’ experience.

It will include:

  • An introduction and overview to CDM 2015 and the duties of the Principal Designer
  • The role of the construction client
  • The Principal Designer’s role in supporting the client
  • Obtaining and using pre-construction information
  • Appointment of designers and contractors
  • The Principal Designer’s role in ensuring designers comply with their duties
  • Exploring through case study discussion the key health and safety risks construction workers can face during construction and maintenance
  • Coordinating the flow of health and safety information
  • The role of the Principal Contractor and liaison with the PD
  • Preparing the health and safety file

By the end of the course, delegates will:

  • Understand the changes introduced by CDM 2015, the policy objectives behind them, and how the Regulations enable proportionate compliance dependent on project complexity
  • Know the role and duties of the Client, Principal Designer, designers, Principal Contractor, and contractors and the relationships and interfaces with the Principal Designer
  • Know the key health and safety risks faced by construction workers and those maintaining a structure
  • Understand the importance of pre-construction information, its limitations and the need for interpretation and further investigation in some circumstances
  • Understand the importance of achieving the effective communication of and use of design information
  • Understand how effective management, coordination and monitoring during the pre-construction phase can help to eliminate or reduce risks during the construction and life of the structure
  • As PDs, be better placed to make decisions on the relevancy of pre-construction and design information they should provide to PCs for construction phase health & safety plans, and relevant information for health and safety file

Who should attend?

This training is aimed at individuals and employees of organisations who meet the definition of designer and could be appointed as PD to be in control of the pre-construction phase of a project, and those who want to understand the duties of a Principal Designer as defined in CDM 2015.

This course is intended to provide an introduction and overview only to this new role and help delegates understand the actions that need to be taken to discharge the Principal Designer’s duties. It is not aimed at those involved in major projects or designed to establish or evaluate competence.

Information and booking

For the Birmingham event, a full programme and online booking form can be found on the HSL/HSE CDM 2015 Training (Birmingham) event page: http://www.hsl.gov.uk/health-and-safety-training-courses/the-construction-%28design-and-management%29-regulations-2015-%28cdm-2015%29—an-introduction-to-the-role-of-the-principal-designer—birmingham

For the London event, a full programme and online booking form can be found on the HSL/HSE CDM 2015 Training (London) event page: http://www.hsl.gov.uk/health-and-safety-training-courses/the-construction-%28design-and-management%29-regulations-2015-%28cdm-2015%29—an-introduction-to-the-role-of-the-principal-designer—london

Alternatively, you can email HSL Training at training@hsl.gsi.gov.uk or call 01298 218806.

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

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 24TH SEPTEMBER 2015

REGISTER BELOW-LEFT TO RECEIVE OUR UPDATES BY EMAIL

IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

Provision of welfare facilities during construction work

Excavation and underground services

Asbestos information, instruction and training

Why is machinery safety important?

Introduction

As highlighted in our previous updates, HSE Inspectors are currently visiting refurbishment sites across the country until 9th October, to challenge the poor standards that are putting the health and safety of workers at risk. With this in mind, if you are a client or contractor, are you aware of your responsibilities regarding welfare facilities on construction projects? Last week, a Cheshire building contractor was fined £4,000 with costs of £2,495 after failing to fulfil these responsibilities so we open this week’s update with what you need to do to comply with the law.

Did you know that replacing a wooden garden fence around a domestic property could result in a potentially fatal electric shock? A Barnsley housing services provider has been fined £7,500 with £8,562 costs after exactly this happened to one of its employees who struck an underground electric cable with a metal spade whilst excavating a fence post hole. HSE guidance below explains what you need to know, and do, before digging or disturbing earth where underground services may be located.

It’s almost a year now since the HSE launched the “Beware Asbestos” campaign, but awareness is still very much lacking amongst trades people likely to come into contact with the potentially deadly substance. In response to reports of a Middlesex self employed heating engineer being fined £5,000 with £3,000 costs after removing asbestos lagged pipework in a domestic property with no precautions to prevent exposure to asbestos fibres, we share HSE guidance this week on exactly what type of information, instruction and training is necessary to provide a sufficient level of awareness.

And finally, after reports of a meat processing company being fined £28,000 after an employee suffered severe injuries to the fingers of his left hand when they came into contact with a band saw, we ask why machinery safety is important, and share HSE guidance on what workers using moving machinery should and should not do to prevent injury.

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

Provision of welfare facilities during construction work

Last week a Cheshire building contractor was fined £4,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,495, for serious health breaches and lack of welfare facilities on a Culcheth building site.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) received a complaint from a member of the public in May 2014 about the conditions on the site where work was being carried out to convert a disused NHS premises.

The HSE investigation found access to the construction site was restricted and a lack of both health and safety provisions and welfare facilities. Workers were entering the building via ladders and planks. Work was stopped whilst scaffolding was erected to make access to the building safe.

Dust from sandblasting activities was found to be affecting other workers on the site and inadequate protection had been provided. Workers were expected to carry out tasks such as groundworks and bricklaying but were unable to wash their hands to remove any contamination.

Organising site welfare

What you need to do

The law says that clients and contractors have responsibilities regarding welfare facilities on construction projects.

Contractors provide welfare facilities and clients must ensure this happens.

The pre-construction information prepared by the client should include the arrangements for welfare provision. On notifiable projects (longer than 30 days or 500 person days), the client must ensure the construction phase does not start unless they are satisfied that there are arrangements for welfare facilities to be provided.

Contractors must maintain the facilities throughout the life of the project.

The nature and scale of facilities required will depend on the size, location and type of project. Facilities include:

  • Toilets
  • Washing facilities
  • Drinking water
  • Changing rooms and lockers
  • Facilities for rest

What you need to know

Everyone who works on any site must have:

  • access to adequate toilet and washing facilities;
  • a place for preparing and consuming refreshments; and
  • somewhere for storing and drying clothing and personal protective equipment.

If mobile teams work at a number of locations over a few days (eg road repair and cable-laying gangs), these facilities can be provided at a central location accessible within a reasonable distance or time.

Decisions and action on welfare facilities need to be taken at an early stage of project planning.

Toilets

Toilets should be suitable and sufficient, ventilated, lit and kept in a clean and orderly condition.

Washing facilities must be provided so that workers can use them immediately after using the toilet or urinal, even if they are provided elsewhere.

Washing facilities

General washing facilities must be suitable and sufficient, kept clean and orderly and with basins or sinks large enough for people to wash their face, hands and forearms.

The facilities should include:

  • clean hot and cold, or warm, running water;
  • soap or other suitable means of cleaning;
  • towels or other suitable means of drying; and
  • showers where the nature of work is particularly dirty or there is a need to decontaminate.

Drinking water

Drinking water must be provided or made available at readily accessible and suitable places.

Cups are required unless the supply is in a jet from which people can drink easily.

Changing rooms and lockers

Changing rooms are needed where workers have to wear special clothing for the purposes of their work and cannot be expected to change elsewhere.

The rooms must be provided with seating, means of drying and keeping clothing and personal effects secure.

Facilities for rest

Rest rooms or rest areas are required equipped with tables and seating (with backs) sufficient for the number of persons likely to use them at any one time.

There should be arrangements for meals to be prepared and eaten, plus means for boiling water. In cold weather, heating should be provided.

For more information, HSE’s Construction Information Sheet No 59 can be downloaded free by clicking on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/cis59.pdf or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk and we’ll be more than happy to help.

Excavation and underground services

Last week a Barnsley housing services provider was fined £7,500 with £8,562 in costs after an employee received an electric shock while replacing a wooden garden fence around a domestic property.

Barnsley Magistrates Court heard how the injured person struck an underground electric cable with a metal spade while excavating a post hole and received an electric shock. The shock did not cause any lasting injury to the joiner, though the court was told that such incidents do pose a risk of fatal injury.

The court found that the Company had failed to ensure the safety of their employee, in that work carried out near an electrical system was not planned in order to minimise the risk of a cable strike.

HSE and other organisations have produced guidance on electrical safety that is suitable for a wide range of industries and technical competencies. Most of the information produced by the HSE is available for immediate download.

What you need to know

When underground cables are damaged, people can be killed and injured by electric shock, electrical arcs (causing an explosion), and flames. This often results in severe burns to hands, face and body, even if protective clothing is being worn.

Damage can be caused when a cable is:

  • cut through by a sharp object such as the point of a tool; or
  • crushed by a heavy object or powerful machine.

Cables that have been previously damaged but left unreported and unrepaired can cause incidents.

The HSE booklet “Avoiding danger from underground services” gives guidance on how you can manage the risks of digging near underground cables and is free to download by clicking on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg47.pdf

The Electricity Networks Association (ENA) publication “Watch It! When digging in the vicinity of underground electric cables” also provides advice: https://www.southern-electric.co.uk/uploadedFiles/CoreMarketingSites/Assets/Documents/UndergroundCables.pdf

What you need to do

If you are digging or disturbing the earth you should take care to avoid damaging underground services. Underground electrical cables can be particularly hazardous because they often look like pipes and it is impossible to tell if they are live just by looking at them.

Damage to underground electrical cables can cause fatal or severe injury and the law says you must take precautions to avoid danger.

Excavation work should be properly managed to control risks, including:

  • Planning the work
  • Using cable plans
  • Cable locating devices
  • Safe digging practices

Planning the work

Most service cables belong to a Distribution Network Operator (DNO). However, some cables belong to other organisations such as the highways authority, Ministry of Defence or Network Rail.

You should check nearby for equipment owned by the organisations listed above, and if you suspect there are underground cables, ask them for plans to confirm their location. If underground cables are nearby you may need to ask someone from the organisation to come and accurately locate them for you.

If you are excavating near your own cables , then someone who is experienced in underground cable detection techniques should help you locate them using suitable equipment.

You may need to make underground cables dead for the work to proceed safely. Be aware that electricity companies are required to give five days’ notice to customers whose supply is to be disconnected.

Careful planning and risk assessments are essential before the work starts. Risk assessments should consider how the work is to be carried out, ensuring local circumstances are taken into account.

Using cable plans

Plans or other suitable information about all buried services in the area should be obtained and reviewed before any excavation work starts.

If the excavation work is an emergency, and plans and other information cannot be found, the work should be carried out as though there are live buried services in the area.

Symbols on electricity cable plans may vary between utilities and advice should be sought from the issuing office. Remember that high-voltage cables may be shown on separate plans from low-voltage cables.

Plans give only an indication of the location, and number of underground services at a particular site. It is essential that a competent person traces cables using suitable locating devices.

Cable locating devices

Before work begins, underground cables must be located, identified and clearly marked.

The position of the cable in or near the proposed work area should be pinpointed as accurately as possible by means of a locating device, using plans, and other information as a guide to the possible location of services and to help interpret the signal.

Remember: Locators should be used frequently and repeatedly during the course of the work.

People who use a locator should have received thorough training in its use and limitations. Locating devices should always be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, regularly checked and maintained in good working order.

Safe digging practices

Excavation work should be carried out carefully and follow recognised safe digging practices.

Once a locating device has been used to determine cable positions and routes, excavation may take place, with trial holes dug using suitable hand tools as necessary to confirm this.

Excavate alongside the service rather than directly above it. Final exposure of the service by horizontal digging is recommended, as the force applied to hand tools can be controlled more effectively.

Insulated tools should be used when hand digging near electric cables.

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

Asbestos information, instruction and training

A Middlesex self employed heating engineer has been fined £5,000 with £3,000 costs after removing asbestos lagged pipework in a domestic property with no precautions to prevent exposure to asbestos fibres.

The engineer was employed to install a new heating system in the domestic property. He removed the redundant pipework that was lagged with asbestos, using a powered electric saw. He then transported the pipework through the property and deposited it outside on the drive.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court heard that the engineer did not have any asbestos awareness training. HSE told the court that had he been appropriately trained, he would have been in a position to recognise that the lagging may be asbestos. He would have known to avoid any work until it had been demonstrated as asbestos free or been removed by a licensed contractor. Instead, he removed the pipes with no precautions to prevent his own exposure to asbestos fibres, and the potential for other persons to be exposed. The homeowners have had to move out of their home pending thorough decontamination of the property.

Every employer must make sure that anyone who is liable to disturb asbestos during their normal work, or who supervises those employees, gets the correct level of information, instruction and training so that they can work safely and competently without risk to themselves or others.

What type of information, instruction and training is necessary?

Workers and supervisors must be able to recognise asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) and know what to do if they come across them in order to protect themselves and others.

There are three main levels of information, instruction and training. These relate to:

  • Asbestos awareness
  • Non-licensable work with asbestos including NNLW
  • Licensable work with asbestos.

Attending a training course on its own will not make a worker competent. Competence is developed over time by implementing and consolidating skills learnt during training, on-the-job learning, instruction and assessment.

It is important that the level of information, instruction and training is appropriate for the work and the roles undertaken by each worker (and supervisor). Using a training needs analysis (TNA) will help to identify what topics should be covered to ensure workers have the right level of competence to avoid putting themselves or others at risk.

Asbestos awareness

Information, instruction and training for asbestos awareness is intended to give workers and supervisors the information they need to avoid work that may disturb asbestos during any normal work which could disturb the fabric of a building, or other item which might contain asbestos. It will not prepare workers, or self-employed contractors, to carry out work with asbestos-containing materials. If a worker is planning to carry out work that will disturb ACMs, further information, instruction and training will be needed.

Examples of those affected are listed below. There will be other occupations where asbestos may be disturbed in addition to those listed.:

  • General maintenance workers
  • Electricians
  • Plumbers
  • Joiners
  • Painters and decorators
  • Plasterers
  • Construction workers
  • Roofers
  • Shop fitters
  • Gas fitters
  • Heating and ventilation engineers
  • Demolition workers
  • Telecommunication engineers
  • Fire/burglar alarm installers
  • Computer and data installers
  • Architects
  • Building surveyors

Information, instruction and training about asbestos awareness should cover the following:

  • the properties of asbestos and its effects on health, including the increased risk of developing lung cancer for asbestos workers who smoke
  • the types, uses and likely occurrence of asbestos and asbestos materials in buildings and plant
  • the general procedures to deal with an emergency, eg an uncontrolled release of asbestos dust into the workplace
  • how to avoid the risk of exposure to asbestos

Online learning (often referred to as e–learning) is increasingly used as a method of providing asbestos awareness training. HSE recognises the use of e-learning as a viable delivery method, among others, for asbestos awareness training, provided it satisfies the requirements of Regulation 10 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and the supporting Approved Code of Practice L143 ‘Managing and working with asbestos’.

Workers who plan to carry out work that will disturb asbestos require a higher level of information, instruction and training, in addition to asbestos awareness. This should take account of whether the work is non-licensed; notifiable non-licensed work (NNLW); or licensed work and should be job specific.

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

Why is machinery safety important?

A company which processes and distributes meat for retail catering and wholesale sectors has been fined £28,000 after an employee suffered severe injuries to the fingers of his left hand when they came into contact with a band saw.

Forfar Sheriff Court heard how on May 2013 an employee of the meat processing company was using a band saw which formed part of the machinery for cutting pig carcasses.

The court was told the band saw, which had an exposed blade, was being used as a replacement for the usual saw which was inoperative. The replacement band saw was not fitted to a conveyor to carry the sections of cut meat away from the blade and towards the employee. This meant that the employee’s hands were in close proximity to the exposed cutting blade.

It was during the process of moving the meat that the employee’s fingers came into contact with the band saw.

Moving machinery can cause injuries in many ways:

  • People can be struck and injured by moving parts of machinery or ejected material. Parts of the body can also be drawn in or trapped between rollers, belts and pulley drives
  • Sharp edges can cause cuts and severing injuries, sharp-pointed parts can cause stabbing or puncture the skin, and rough surface parts can cause friction or abrasion
  • People can be crushed, both between parts moving together or towards a fixed part of the machine, wall or other object, and two parts moving past one another can cause shearing
  • Parts of the machine, materials and emissions (such as steam or water) can be hot or cold enough to cause burns or scalds and electricity can cause electrical shock and burns
  • Injuries can also occur due to machinery becoming unreliable and developing faults or when machines are used improperly through inexperience or lack of training

What do I have to do?

Before you start

Before you start using any machine you need to think about what risks may occur and how these can be managed. You should therefore do the following:

  • Check that the machine is complete, with all safeguards fitted, and free from defects. The term ‘safeguarding’ includes guards, interlocks, two-hand controls, light guards, pressure-sensitive mats etc. By law, the supplier must provide the right safeguards and inform buyers of any risks (‘residual risks’) that users need to be aware of and manage because they could not be designed out
  • Produce a safe system of work for using and maintaining the machine. Maintenance may require the inspection of critical features where deterioration would cause a risk. Also look at the residual risks identified by the manufacturer in the information/ instructions provided with the machine and make sure they are included in the safe system of work
  • Ensure every static machine has been installed properly and is stable (usually fixed down)
  • Choose the right machine for the job and do not put machines where customers or visitors may be exposed to risk
  • Note that new machines should be CE marked and supplied with a Declaration of Conformity and instructions in English

Make sure the machine is:

  • safe for any work that has to be done when setting up, during normal use, when clearing blockages, when carrying out repairs for breakdowns, and during planned maintenance
  • properly switched off, isolated or locked-off before taking any action to remove blockages, clean or adjust the machine

Also, make sure you identify and deal with the risks from:

  • electrical, hydraulic or pneumatic power supplies
  • badly designed safeguards. These may be inconvenient to use or easily overridden, which could encourage your workers to risk injury and break the law. If they are, find out why they are doing it and take appropriate action to deal with the reasons/causes

Preventing access to dangerous parts

Think about how you can make a machine safe. The measures you use to prevent access to dangerous parts should be in the following order. In some cases it may be necessary to use a combination of these measures:

  • Use fixed guards (eg secured with screws or nuts and bolts) to enclose the dangerous parts, whenever practical. Use the best material for these guards – plastic may be easy to see through but may easily be damaged. Where you use wire mesh or similar materials, make sure the holes are not large enough to allow access to moving parts
  • If fixed guards are not practical, use other methods, eg interlock the guard so that the machine cannot start before the guard is closed and cannot be opened while the machine is still moving. In some cases, trip systems such as photoelectric devices, pressure-sensitive mats or automatic guards may be used if other guards are not practical
  • Where guards cannot give full protection, use jigs, holders, push sticks etc if it is practical to do so
  • Control any remaining risk by providing the operator with the necessary information, instruction, training, supervision and appropriate safety equipment

Other things you should consider

  • If machines are controlled by programmable electronic systems, changes to any programmes should be carried out by a competent person (someone who has the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to carry out the work safely). Keep a record of such changes and check they have been made properly
  • Ensure control switches are clearly marked to show what they do
  • Have emergency stop controls where necessary, eg mushroom-head push buttons within easy reach
  • Make sure operating controls are designed and placed to avoid accidental operation and injury, use two-hand controls where necessary and shroud start buttons and pedals
  • Do not let unauthorised, unqualified or untrained people use machinery – never allow children to operate or help at machines. Some workers, eg new starters, young people or those with disabilities, may be particularly at risk and need instruction, training and supervision
  • Adequate training should ensure that those who use the machine are competent to use it safely. This includes ensuring they have the correct skills, knowledge and experience – sometimes formal qualifications are needed, eg for chainsaw operators
  • Supervisors must also be properly trained and competent to be effective. They may need extra specific training and there are recognised courses for supervisors
  • Ensure the work area around the machine is kept clean and tidy, free from obstructions or slips and trips hazards, and well lit

Dos and don’ts of machinery safety for workers

Do…

  • check the machine is well maintained and fit to be used, ie appropriate for the job and working properly and that all the safety measures are in place – guards, isolators, locking mechanisms, emergency off switches etc
  • use the machine properly and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
  • make sure you are wearing the appropriate protective clothing and equipment required for that machine, such as safety glasses, hearing protection and safety shoes

Don’t…

  • use a machine or appliance that has a danger sign or tag attached to it. Danger signs should only be removed by an authorised person who is satisfied that the machine or process is now safe
  • wear dangling chains, loose clothing, rings or have loose, long hair that could get caught up in moving parts
  • distract people who are using machines
  • remove any safeguards, even if their presence seems to make the job more difficult

For more information visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/index.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 and we’ll be more than happy to help.

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