Vehicles at work and reversing – three companies fined in same week after two separate fatalities

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In the last week, a construction company and groundwork contractor, along with a farm and its owner, have been fined after two separate incidents involving fatalites resulting from being struck by reversing vehicles.

In the first case, the construction company and groundwork contractor failed to ensure the safe movement of pedestrians and vehicles on their site. In the second case, the farm and owner failed to ensure the vehicle was maintained. It was found to be in poor condition, with dirty and badly positioned mirrors, and dirty glass in the cab, resulting in compromised visibility.

Reversing vehicles

What’s the problem?

Nearly a quarter of all deaths involving vehicles at work occur during reversing. Many other reversing accidents do not result in injury but cause costly damage to vehicles, equipment and premises.

Most of these accidents can be avoided by taking simple precautions, such as those below.

Guidance

Remove the need for reversing altogether, by setting up one-way systems, for example drive-through loading and unloading positions. Where reversing is unavoidable, routes should be organised to minimise the need for reversing.

Ensure visiting drivers are familiar with the layout of the workplace, and with any site rules. Do drivers have to report to reception on arrival?

In locations where reversing cannot be avoided:

  • ‘Reversing areas’ should be planned out and clearly marked.
  • People who do not need to be in reversing areas should be kept well clear.
  • Consider employing a trained signaller (a banksman), both to keep the reversing area free of pedestrians and to guide drivers. Be aware: The use of signallers is not allowed in some industries due to the size of vehicles involved, and the difficulty that drivers have in seeing them.
  • A signaller:
  • Will need to use a clear, agreed system of signalling.
  • Will need to be visible to drivers at all times.
  • Will need to stand in a safe position, from which to guide the reversing vehicle without being in its way.
  • Should wear very visible clothing, such as reflective vests, and ensure that any signals are clearly seen.
  • If drivers lose sight of the signallers they should know to stop immediately.
  • Consider whether portable radios or similar communication systems would be helpful.

The following steps might help to reduce the risk of reversing accidents. The following are examples, but it is unlikely that any single measure will be enough to ensure safety:

Site layouts can be designed (or modified) to increase visibility for drivers and pedestrians, for example:

  • By increasing the area allowed for reversing.
  • By installing fixed mirrors in smaller areas.

Reducing the dangers caused by ‘blind-spots’:

  • Most vehicles already have external side-mounted and rear-view mirrors fitted. These need to be kept clean and in good repair.
  • Refractive lenses fitted to rear windows or closed-circuit television systems can be used to help drivers to see behind the vehicle.
  • If drivers cannot see behind the vehicle, they should leave their cab and check behind the vehicle before reversing.

Reversing alarms can be fitted:

  • These should be kept in working order.
  • Audible alarms should be loud and distinct enough that they do not become part of the background noise.
  • where an audible alarm might not stand out from the background noise, flashing warning lights can be used.

Other safety devices can be fitted to vehicles:

  • For example, a number of ‘sensing’ and ‘trip’ systems are available, which either warn the driver or stop the vehicle when an obstruction is detected close to, or comes in contact with, the reversing vehicle.

Additionally:

  • Stops such as barriers, or buffers at loading bays can be used. They should be highly visible, and sensibly positioned.
  • Where vehicles reverse up to structures or edges, barriers or wheel stops can be used to warn drivers that they need to stop.
  • White lines on the floor can help the driver position the vehicle accurately.

For more information visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/information/reversing.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

 

WORK RELATED ROAD SAFETY – EMPLOYERS RESPONSIBILITIES

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Work related road safety

Everyone who uses the public highway must comply with road traffic legislation which is managed by the Department for Transport (DfT). This covers things as diverse as requirements for vehicles to be regularly examined for road-worthiness, through to the application of speed limits. However, employers also have some responsibilities to manage the work properly and take proportionate measures to keep workers safe.

Employers responsibilities

Managing the risks to employees who drive at work requires more than just compliance with road traffic legislation.

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires employers to take appropriate steps to ensure the health and safety of their employees and others who may be affected by their activities when at work. This includes the time when they are driving or riding at work, whether this is in a company or hired vehicle, or in the employee’s own vehicle.

There will always be risks associated with driving. Although these cannot be completely controlled, an employer has a responsibility to take all reasonable steps to manage these risks and do everything reasonably practicable to protect people from harm in the same way as they would in the workplace.

Practical considerations

The lists below are practical considerations for employers.

Drivers should be:

  • competent and capable of doing their work in a way that is safe for them and others;
  • properly trained;
  • sufficiently fit and healthy to drive safely and not put themselves and others at risk;
  • provided with information that will help them reduce risk (eg recommended tyre pressures);
  • provided with appropriate advice on driving posture.

Vehicles should be:

  • fit for the purpose for which they are used;
  • maintained in a safe condition and fit for the road.

Journey planning should:

  • take account of appropriate routes;
  • incorporate realistic work schedules;
  • not put drivers at risk from fatigue;
  • take sufficient account of adverse weather conditions.

Employers are encouraged to seek the views of their employees, or their representatives, as they will have first-hand experience of what happens in practice.

Managing the risks

While employers cannot exercise the same control over hazards to employees when they are driving or riding on the road as in the workplace, there are practical steps they should take to reduce the risks.

Work-related road safety can only be effectively controlled if it is integrated into arrangements for managing health and safety at work. For example, an employer should take account of the total number of hours worked, and not just the number of hours spent at the wheel, when planning driving schedules.

The risk section of the HSE website (http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/index.htm) contains practical advice on how to carry out a risk assessment and links to helpful free publications.

There are also many business benefits in managing work-related road safety, no matter how large or small your business is. For example:

  • fewer days lost due to injury;
  • fewer vehicles off the road for repair;
  • fewer missed orders;
  • reduced need for investigation and follow up.

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

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

 

 

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 22ND SEPTEMBER 2016

We hope you find our news updates useful. If you know of anyone who may benefit from reading them, please encourage them to register at the bottom-left of our news page (http://www.eljay.co.uk/news/) and we’ll email them a link each time an update is published. If in the unlikely event any difficulties are experienced whilst registering we’ll be more than happy to help and can be contacted on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

Traffic management on construction sites – construction company fined £800,000 after worker injured

A construction company has been fined £800,000 after a contractor was run over on a large site in Surrey.

The contractor was a site foreman on the large housing development project when, in December 2014, he was struck by and pulled under a large bulk powder (mortar) carrier. He had been walking along the site road toward the rear of the vehicle which was located on a T junction having just reversed into it. He walked along the nearside of the vehicle as it pulled forward and turned towards the nearside. He was hit by the vehicle and pulled under it.

He suffered serious life threatening injuries. His skin was removed and split on his left arm and leg, he fractured his left hip requiring a pin to be inserted, and fingers on his left hand were broken. His left leg has been left permanently shorter than his right by 20mm.

Reading Crown Court heard the site, run by the construction company (appointed as the principal contractor), had failed to plan and manage the workplace transport effectively. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuting told the court the incident could have been avoided had they monitored and taken action to ensure workers stayed behind the pedestrian barriers and not walked on the road, and prevented large HGVs reversing 100s of metres at a time.

The construction company pleaded guilty to breaches of Regulation 36 (1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 and was fined £800,000 plus £10,984 costs.

HSE’s inspector John Berezansky said.

“[The contractor] suffered life changing injuries because [the construction company] did not properly manage and monitor the workplace transport on their construction site. When working with such large delivery vehicles and construction plant, especially on projects where there are lots of pedestrians,  the principal contractor much take responsibility and ensure the health and safety of all those involved.”

Traffic management on site

What you need to do

Important statistic: on average, each year, about 7 workers die as a result of accidents involving vehicles or mobile plant on construction sites. A further 93 are seriously injured.

The law says that you must organise a construction site so that vehicles and pedestrians using site routes can move around safely.

The routes need to be suitable for the persons or vehicles using them, in suitable positions and sufficient in number and size.

The term ‘vehicles’ includes: cars, vans, lorries, low-loaders and mobile plant such as excavators, lift trucks and site dumpers etc.

The key message is: construction site vehicle incidents can and should be prevented by the effective management of transport operations throughout the construction process.

Key issues in dealing with traffic management on site are:

  • Keeping pedestrians and vehicles apart
  • Minimising vehicle movements
  • People on site
  • Turning vehicles
  • Visibility
  • Signs and instructions

What you need to know

Each year within the construction industry, approximately ten people die as a result of being struck by vehicles on site. In addition, there are hundreds of preventable accidents and injuries.

Accidents occur from groundworks to finishing works and managers, workers, visitors to sites and members of the public can all be at risk.

Inadequate planning and control is the root cause of many construction vehicle accidents.

Keeping pedestrians and vehicles apart

The majority of construction transport accidents result from the inadequate separation of pedestrians and vehicles.

This can usually be avoided by careful planning, particularly at the design stage, and by controlling vehicle operations during construction work.

The following actions will help keep pedestrians and vehicles apart:

  • Entrances and exits – provide separate entry and exit gateways for pedestrians and vehicles;
  • Walkways – provide firm, level, well-drained pedestrian walkways that take a direct route where possible;
  • Crossings – where walkways cross roadways, provide a clearly signed and lit crossing point where drivers and pedestrians can see each other clearly;
  • Visibility – make sure drivers driving out onto public roads can see both ways along the footway before they move on to it;
  • Obstructions – do not block walkways so that pedestrians have to step onto the vehicle route; and
  • Barriers – think about installing a barrier between the roadway and walkway.

Minimising vehicle movements

Good planning can help to minimise vehicle movement around a site. For example, landscaping to reduce the quantities of fill or spoil movement.

To limit the number of vehicles on site:

  • provide car and van parking for the workforce and visitors away from the work area;
  • control entry to the work area; and
  • plan storage areas so that delivery vehicles do not have to cross the site.

People on site

Employers should take steps to make sure that all workers are fit and competent to operate the vehicles, machines and attachments they use on site by, for example:

  • checks when recruiting drivers/operators or hiring contractors;
  • training drivers and operators;
  • managing the activities of visiting drivers.

People who direct vehicle movements (signallers) must be trained and authorised to do so.

Accidents can also occur when untrained or inexperienced workers drive construction vehicles without authority. Access to vehicles should be managed and people alerted to the risk.

Turning vehicles

The need for vehicles to reverse should be avoided where possible as reversing is a major cause of fatal accidents.

One-way systems can reduce the risk, especially in storage areas.

A turning circle could be installed so that vehicles can turn without reversing.

Visibility

If vehicles reverse in areas where pedestrians cannot be excluded the risk is elevated and visibility becomes a vital consideration.

You should consider:

  • Aids for drivers – mirrors, CCTV cameras or reversing alarms that can help drivers can see movement all round the vehicle;
  • Signallers – who can be appointed to control manoeuvres and who are trained in the task;
  • Lighting – so that drivers and pedestrians on shared routes can see each other easily. Lighting may be needed after sunset or in bad weather;
  • Clothing – pedestrians on site should wear high-visibility clothing.

Signs and instructions

Make sure that all drivers and pedestrians know and understand the routes and traffic rules on site. Use standard road signs where appropriate

Provide induction training for drivers, workers and visitors and send instructions out to visitors before their visit.

For more information, visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/vehiclestrafficmanagement.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 – 1ST OCTOBER 2015

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IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

Landlords required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms from 1st October

Selecting a first-aid training provider

Freight container safety – transport company fined after crate falls on worker

Working at height – engineering company fined for safety breaches

Introduction

Two important changes to health and safety legislation/regulations come into force today, one of which is the requirement for landlords to ensure that they have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms installed in their properties. The measures were announced in March of this year by Housing Minister Brandon Lewis, and have since received Parliamentary approval.

Another change which has come into force today is the requirement by the HSE for individuals delivering first aid training to hold recognised teaching and assessing qualifications, details of which are provided below, along with guidance on establishing whether or not first aid training is required.

In response to the fining last month of a transport company after a crate fell on a worker, we also highlight the importance of identifying relevant risks before any work tasks are carried out, and putting in place appropriate control measures to protect against them, particularly those involved in work with containers.

Finally, it’s no wonder that falls from height remain one of the biggest causes of deaths at work in the UK, after a member of the public witnessed workers on a fragile roof without any preventative measures to avoid risk of falling – either off the edge or through it. The incident was reported to the HSE and the engineering company employing the workers was fined last month £10,000 plus £4,782 costs, despite no injury occurring. We look at the hierarchy of controls that managing work at height should follow.

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

Landlords required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms from 1st October

From 1st October, landlords will be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties, under measures announced by Housing Minister Brandon Lewis in March of this year.

The move will help prevent up to 26 deaths and 670 injuries a year.

The measure comes with strong support after a consultation on property condition in the private rented sector.

England’s 46 fire and rescue authorities are expected to support private landlords in their own areas to meet their new responsibilities with the provision of free alarms, with grant funding from government.

This is part of wider government moves to ensure there are sufficient measures in place to protect public safety, while at the same time avoiding regulation which would push up rents and restrict the supply of homes, limiting choice for tenants.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said:

In 1988 just 8% of homes had a smoke alarm installed – now it’s over 90%.

The vast majority of landlords offer a good service and have installed smoke alarms in their homes, but I’m changing the law to ensure every tenant can be given this important protection.

But with working smoke alarms providing the vital seconds needed to escape a fire, I urge all tenants to make sure they regularly test their alarms to ensure they work when it counts. Testing regularly remains the tenant’s responsibility.

Communities Minister Stephen Williams said:

We’re determined to create a bigger, better and safer private rented sector – a key part of that is to ensure the safety of tenants with fire prevention and carbon monoxide warning.

People are at least 4 times more likely to die in a fire in the home if there’s no working smoke alarm.

That’s why we are proposing changes to the law that would require landlords to install working smoke alarms in their properties so tenants can give their families and those they care about a better chance of escaping a fire.

Ensuring the safety of tenants

Other measures to support the private rented sector include investing £1 billion in building newly-built homes specifically for private rent, giving tenants support against rogue landlords and publishing a How to rent guide so tenants and landlords alike are aware of their rights and responsibilities.

The changes to the law will require landlords to install smoke alarms on every floor of their property, and test them at the start of every tenancy.

Landlords will also need to install carbon monoxide alarms in high risk rooms – such as those where a solid fuel heating system is installed.

Those who fail to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms will face sanctions and could face up to a £5,000 civil penalty.

This will bring private rented properties into line with existing building regulations that already require newly-built homes to have hard-wired smoke alarms installed.

And it’s in line with other measures the government has taken to improve standards in the private rented sector, without wrapping the industry up in red tape.

Free to download from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/smoke-and-carbon-monoxide-alarms-explanatory-booklet-for-landlords, an explanatory booklet has been published, designed to help landlords further understand and comply with the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015.

If you need clarification or further information about any aspect of property health and safety or fire safety, we undertake health & safety/fire risk assessments of commercial and residential properties and will be happy to advise accordingly. We can also provide a no-obligation quotation for the above upon request. Contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk.

Selecting a first-aid training provider

From 1st October 2015, HSE guidance to employers requires individuals delivering first aid training to hold recognised teaching and assessing qualifications. For more information about what to check when selecting a training provider, the HSE’s information sheet provides guidance for employers and is free to download by clicking on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/geis3.pdf

Do I need first-aid training?

HSE cannot tell you what provision you should make for first aid. You, as an employer, are best placed to understand the exact nature of your workplace and decide what you need to provide.

First aid provision must be ‘adequate and appropriate in the circumstances’. This means that you must provide sufficient first aid equipment (first aid kit), facilities and personnel at all times.

In order to decide what provision you need to make you should undertake a first-aid needs assessment. This assessment should consider the circumstances of your workplace, workforce and the hazards and risks that may be present. The findings will help you decide what first-aid arrangements you need to put in place.

In assessing your first-aid needs, you should consider:

  • the nature of the work you do
  • workplace hazards and risks (including specific hazards requiring special arrangements)
  • the nature and size of your workforce
  • the work patterns of your staff
  • holiday and other absences of those who will be first-aiders and appointed persons
  • your organisation’s history of accidents

You may also need to consider:

  • the needs of travelling, remote and lone workers
  • the distribution of your workforce
  • the remoteness of any of your sites from emergency medical services
  • whether your employees work on shared or multi-occupancy sites
  • first-aid provision for non-employees (eg members of the public).

HSE has published further guidance on all the factors above that will help you carry out your first-aid needs assessment. Click on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/l74.pdf#page=9

You may also wish to consider their suite of case studies, containing scenario-based examples of first-aid needs assessments for a variety of workplaces. They demonstrate the general principles involved in deciding on the provision you should make for first aid, but you should not assume the outcomes shown are directly transferable to your workplace. Click on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/casestudy9.pdf

You do not need to record the findings of your needs assessment, but you may find it useful to do so, as it will demonstrate how you have decided on the first-aid provision that you make.

The minimum requirement in terms of personnel is to appoint a person to take charge of first-aid arrangements. The roles of this appointed person include looking after the first-aid equipment and facilities and calling the emergency services when required. The appointed person can also provide emergency cover, within their role and competence, where a first-aider is absent due to unforeseen circumstances. An appointed person is not required to have any formal training.

If your workplace has more significant health and safety risks, for example you use machinery or hazardous materials then you are more likely to need a trained first-aider.

There are no hard and fast rules on exact numbers, and you will need to take into account all the relevant circumstances of your particular workplace.

If you need clarification or further information, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help. We also provide first-aid training and can provide a no-obligation quotation upon request.

Freight container safety – transport company fined after crate falls on worker

Last month, a transport company firm was fined £9,000 plus £917 costs for safety failings after a worker suffered serious injuries when a crate fell on him whilst he was unloading crates from a container.

Ipswich Magistrates’ Court heard how on April 2013 the transport company employee was assisting to unload two containers which contained two tonne crates of glass mirrors. The second container had no fork pockets or lighting, so the worker had to closely guide the fork lift truck operator to ensure the forks were in position.

Some of the crates were jammed in place and as the fork lift truck operator attempted to dislodge them, one of the crates toppled onto the worker, pinning him to the side of the container. The incident has left him with life changing injuries and he will be unable to work for at least three years.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Corinne Godfrey said:

“This worker was employed by the company for less than three weeks as a Warehouse Foreman, and although he had previous job experience which involved the maintenance and repair of containers, he had never been involved with this type of unloading work known as ‘devanning’.

This incident was inevitable, neither worker had seen the procedures manual or any risk assessments/method statements relating to the unloading of containers.

The company failed to plan what should happen when it was identified that loads were not able to be readily offloaded by forklift truck.

It’s essential that before any work tasks are carried out, the relevant risks should be identified and appropriate control measures put in place to protect against them.

All participants in the logistics chain – from owner drivers with one vehicle to large fleet operators, to shippers and warehouse operators – are likely to work with containers on a daily basis as drivers, loaders or handlers.

Accidents may happen at any stage of a container’s journey; many of these will be serious or fatal, including crushing and falls from height. These accidents may be caused by human error or failure of technical items.

Typical hazards regarding freight containers in ports:

  • Structural failure due to lack of maintenance and wear and tear
  • Structural failure due to overloading, misdeclared weight, uneven or shifted loads
  • Falls from height while working with containers
  • Crush injuries during container manoeuvring and movements
  • Exposure to fumigants used during transit or chemicals given off by cargo that may build up during transit

How the risks can be reduced

All of these can be reduced by proper planning of work and training of workers. Before any work tasks are carried out, the relevant risks should be identified through risk assessment and appropriate control measures put in place to protect against them.

Port Skills and Safety (PSS) have produced a comprehensive ‘Health & Safety in Ports’ guidance document entitled SIP003 – Guidance on Container Handling that covers these issues in more detail. Click on the link: http://www.portskillsandsafety.co.uk/publications/safety_in_ports_guidance

This document has been produced by the ports industry, with assistance from HSE, to help dutyholders understand their duties under health and safety legislation and to identify key risks. This guidance also gives examples which dutyholders can use to inform their risk assessments and procedures.

Which laws apply? (click on the links for more information)

For clarification or further information, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Working at height – engineering company fined for safety breaches

Also last month, an engineering company firm was fined £10,000 plus £4,782 costs for safety failings after a member of the public witnessed workers on a fragile roof without any preventative measures to avoid risk of falling.

Redhill Magistrates’ Court heard how in September 2014, the engineering company employees were working on a fragile roof installing ventilation ducting. The risks were obvious, but nothing was in place to prevent either falling off the edge of the roof or through the roof.

Falls from height remain one of the biggest causes of deaths at work in the UK. Fortunately, no-one was injured in this incident.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Denis Bodger said: “It is essential that all roof work is properly planned by a competent person and competent workers are clearly instructed on how to carry out the work safely. It is not acceptable to simply rely on sending the workers to site and expecting that they will carry out the work safely, as was the case here.”

Managing work at height follows a hierarchy of controls – avoid, prevent, arrest – which begins with the question – can the work be done safely from the ground? Fall restraints and safety netting should only be considered as a last resort if other safety equipment cannot be used.

For clarification or further information please don’t hesitate to contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

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