HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 10TH MARCH 2016

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IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

No Smoking Day – are e-cigarettes permitted or prohibited in the workplace?

European campaign – Healthy workplaces manage stress

Health and safety myths – “You don’t need to secure your load if you’re just driving down the road”

Introduction

Yesterday was No Smoking Day, and since its introduction in 1983, there are millions less smokers in the UK. But now, the most popular form of support to stop smoking is the use of e-cigarettes. BHF’s associate medical director Mike Knapton, has said “Although e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking cigarettes, there is no doubt that more research is needed into the potential long term effects of the use of them.” And whilst a ban on their use in some public places is being proposed, the decision on whether or not to permit their use in workplaces actually lies with employers. We open this week’s update with advice for employers from the HSE.

It’s a known fact that many people smoke when they feel stressed, and a major part of quitting smoking is finding ways to handle that stress. This can be difficult if the stress is work related, perhaps as a result of insufficient attention by employers to job design, work organisation and management. Work related stress develops because a person is unable to cope with the demands being placed on them. So this week we also share the HSE’s approach to tackling an issue which in 2015 accounted for 43% of all working days lost due to ill health.

And finally, we close this week’s update with HSE guidance on securing loads safely on vehicles and challenging the myth that this doesn’t need to be done for very short journeys.

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

No Smoking Day – are e-cigarettes permitted or prohibited in the workplace?

Yesterday was No Smoking Day, run by the British Heart Foundation. Since it was introduced in 1983, there are millions less smokers in the UK. This will no doubt have been helped by the smoke-free legislation introduced in 2007 in England, banning smoking in nearly all enclosed workplaces and public spaces. But now, the most popular form of support to stop smoking is the use of e-cigarettes. BHF’s associate medical director Mike Knapton, has said “Although e-cigarettes are much less harmful than smoking cigarettes, there is no doubt that more research is needed into the potential long term effects of the use of them.” And whilst a ban on their use in some public places is being proposed, the decision on whether or not to permit their use in workplaces actually lies with employers. The HSE provides the following advice:

Electronic cigarettes

HSE does not enforce legislation or standards for e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are not regulated like tobacco products and there is currently no bespoke regulatory system for e-cigarettes in the UK, but they are captured by general product safety regulatory requirements.

HSE’s advice is that an employer needs to consider e-cigarettes in the wider context of risk in the workplace. We are aware that some organisations have banned their use but this is not something HSE has advised on. Employers may want to ask for advice on this from Public Health England: cleartobaccoteam@phe.gov.uk.

Some organisations may find the ‘Will you permit or prohibit electronic cigarette use on your premises?’ document useful which can be downloaded by clicking on the link: http://www.ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_900.pdf. It sets out five questions to ask yourself before deciding whether to permit or prohibit e-cigarette use on your premises.

If an employer decides to ‘prohibit’ the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace but allow for ‘vaping’ breaks or provide areas where employees can use e-cigarettes, the employer needs to ensure that those who use e-cigarettes are not put at risk of harm from second-hand tobacco smoke.

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

European campaign – Healthy workplaces manage stress

We are now in the last month of the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work’s healthy workplaces campaign for 2014 – 2015 ‘Healthy workplaces manage stress’, more information on which can still be found by clicking on the following link: http://hw2014.healthy-workplaces.eu/en

Work-related stress, depression or anxiety is defined as a harmful reaction people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work, and associated statistics published by the HSE for 2015 are as follows:

  • The total number of cases of work related stress, depression or anxiety in 2014/15 was 440,000 cases, a prevalence rate of 1380 per 100,000 workers.
  • The number of new cases was 234,000, an incidence rate of 740 per 100,000 workers. The estimated number and rate have remained broadly flat for more than a decade.
  • The total number of working days lost due to this condition in 2014/15 was 9.9 million days. This equated to an average of 23 days lost per case.
  • In 2014/15 stress accounted for 35% of all work related ill health cases and 43% of all working days lost due to ill health.
  • Stress is more prevalent in public service industries, such as education; health and social care; and public administration and defence.
  • By occupation, jobs that are common across public service industries (such as health; teaching; business, media and public service professionals) show higher levels of stress as compared to all jobs.
  • The main work factors cited by respondents as causing work related stress, depression or anxiety (LFS, 2009/10-2011/12) were workload pressures, including tight deadlines and too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support.

Well-designed, organised and managed work is good for us but when insufficient attention to job design, work organisation and management has taken place, it can result in Work related stress. Work related stress develops because a person is unable to cope with the demands being placed on them. Stress, including work related stress, can be a significant cause of illness and is known to be linked with high levels of sickness absence, staff turnover and other issues such as more errors.

Stress can hit anyone at any level of the business and recent research shows that work related stress is widespread and is not confined to particular sectors, jobs or industries. That is why a population-wide approach is necessary to tackle it.

HSE has developed the Management Standards approach to tackling work related stress; these Standards represent a set of conditions that, if present, reflect a high level of health, well-being and organisational performance. This approach helps those who have key roles in promoting organisational and individual health and well-being to develop systems to prevent illness resulting from stress. For more information click on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/standards/index.htm

Find out more (click on the links for more information)

For more information on work related stress and how we can tackle it, visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/index.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Health and safety myths – “You don’t need to secure your load if you’re just driving down the road”

The reality

If not properly secured, vehicle loads can become unsafe, even over a short distance.

Loads that haven’t been firmly tied down increase the risk of vehicle rollover and spillage. They risk the lives of drivers and other road users, and can also cause annoying traffic disruption.

More than 1200 people a year are injured as a result of unsafe loads, and millions of pounds are lost in damaged goods.

Don’t take the risk – make sure your load is restrained and contained!

Load safety

The HSE provides the following guidance on how to secure loads safely on vehicles:

What can happen

Unrestrained loads can increase the risk of vehicle rollover and load spillage, and risk the life of the driver and other road users.

People and load falls: An unsecured load shifts inside the trailer and is more difficult to unload. The load may have to be unloaded manually. Sending someone up onto the trailer bed to sort out a load that has shifted puts them at risk of falling off.

Vehicles roll: Vehicles can roll over. In serious cases of load shift the vehicle can become unbalanced and overturn.

Product is damaged: All or part of the load may be damaged if it falls from the trailer. Product damage can be a significant cost to the business.

Load shifts forward: If there is a gap between the load and the headboard, the load can shift forward under braking, risking the life of the driver and other road users.

How to secure loads safely

Securing loads safely is good for business – product is delivered intact and on time.

To secure a load safely you need to make sure it is:

  • restrained – tied firmly down to the load bed; and
  • contained – it can’t move around (shift) inside the vehicle.

The only way to do this is with strong chains or webbing straps (lashings) attached directly to the vehicle.

If the load shifts in transit, contact the depot and agree a safe way to sort it out.

Planning your load

Planning how you secure the load is an important step to keeping workers safe.

Loading plans can help to flag up issues before they become problems.

Things to be considered will vary but could include:

  • Whether the driver will witness loading.
  • Who will apply the load restraints and what they should be.
  • How the load will be placed on the trailer bed.
  • Who will unload the vehicle and what equipment will be required.
  • Who the driver should report to on arrival.
  • What the driver should do if the load shifts during the journey.

Your employer should give you a loading plan – Full written details about every load you carry

The consignor – the person responsible for sending the load – is responsible for ensuring that the load is loaded so that it does not present a danger to others. It is important that the driver knows how the load has been secured, especially if he has not seen it loaded. This information should also be available to the delivery site.

Don’t just rely on word of mouth.

Time spent thinking about safe loading can help prevent all the problems of an unsafe load so make sure you:

  • Have the correct equipment on your premises to load vehicles safely.
  • Prepare a loading plan for each journey, to include information about:
  • how the load is to be secured; and
  • the location and layout of each delivery site, including unloading equipment and facilities.

Delivery plan should travel with the load

If you are a driver, you should keep this loading plan with you at all stages of the delivery. If there is anything you don’t understand in the loading plan, ask someone before you drive away.

How you can help make loading and unloading safer

  • Look at what other companies do – if you see a good idea, suggest it to your safety advisor or supervisor.
  • Report all ‘near miss’ incidents.
  • Ask your employer about training.

Other things to think about

To prevent falls from the cab or load bed

  • Before you set off, check that steps or handholds are in good condition.
  • On refrigerated vehicles, check the floor for ice or water and follow any instructions you are given to reduce the amount of water.
  • Wear non-slip footwear.

To prevent hitting a pedestrian

  • Ask about the layout of the sites you are delivering to. Segregation is an essential element in the loading/unloading process. It is important to have only the people involved in the process present in area where the activity is taking place.
  • Observe traffic lights, signs, road markings, speed limits and one-way systems – if you don’t understand a sign or if you think it is hard to see, tell someone.
  • Remember that you become a pedestrian when you step out of your vehicle.
  • Don’t let anyone guide your vehicle around the site unless you know they are a trained banksman or signaller.

To prevent slips and trips

  • Wear well-fitting, slip-resistant safety footwear when working on vehicles.
  • Keep the soles of your footwear clean.
  • Clean up spills and dirt, such as diesel or mud on the catwalk or load area.
  • Keep the load area tidy – pick up loose ropes and packaging.

To prevent injury caused by poor manual handling

  • Follow your employer’s guidance on lifting and moving loads.
  • Use the correct equipment to load your vehicles safely.

Use appropriate personal protective equipment

  • If your employer gives you personal protective equipment to wear, for example slip resistant footwear, be sure to use it whenever you need to. Keep it in good condition and report any faults or excess wear.

For more information visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/loadsafety/ 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 – 17TH SEPTEMBER 2015

IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

Advice on horizontal swing car park barriers

National company calls on the construction industry to learn from their mistakes during HSE’s refurbishment initiative

Use of e-cigarettes in the workplace

Fire as a health asset? Or a health necessity?

Introduction

Further to news last week of a local authority being fined £160,000 after a man died when his car drove into a horizontal swing car park barrier, we’re opening this week’s update with information provided by the HSE to remind users of their duties in relation to the safe use of such barriers.

A couple of weeks ago we opened our news update with details of the HSE’s 10th annual refurbishment inspection initiative, which started a couple of days ago and which targets the unsafe work practices that make construction one of Britain’s most dangerous industries. This week, we’re highlighting the national interiors fit-out company (previously prosecuted by the HSE) who have publicly backed the initiative.

In the light of concerns raised this week in the British Medical Journal on Public Health England’s review which concludes that e-cigarettes are around 95% safer than smoked tobacco, some employers may be unsure as to whether their use should be permitted or prohibited in the workplace, so we’re sharing the HSE’s advice on what has recently become something of a contentious issue.

And finally, we close with news of a new partnership which may be of interest to our clients and readers working within the Health & Social Care sector. Health and local government staff in some areas are working with the Fire & Rescue Services to identify households with complex conditions or needs and increased risk of fire. NHS England is supporting the local development of a whole system, multi-agency approach to deliver the national commitment of more integrated person centred care closer to home.

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

Advice on horizontal swing car park barriers

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is aware of accidents, including fatalities, as a result of incidents involving horizontal swing barriers, which are found in car parks used in retail and many other premises.

Only last week, North Lincolnshire Council was fined after a man died when his car drove into a horizontal swing barrier gate to a car park at a local authority sports ground. Hull Crown Court heard how, in August 2012, Andrew Matthews had gone to a sports ground to watch his son play football. The horizontal barrier had been opened earlier, but was not secured so it swung into a dangerous position. As Mr Matthews drove his car towards the gate, the horizontal end section of the barrier went through the windscreen striking him on the head, causing fatal injuries. North Lincolnshire Council was fined a total of £160,000, and ordered to pay £40,476 in costs after pleading guilty to an offence under Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Horizontal swing barriers typically comprise a bar or beam hinged at a vertical pillar. The bar is manually moved to open or close off access to an opening in a car park exit/entrance. As in the tragic case above, accidents have occurred when barriers have been inadequately secured so that they have partially opened and presented a least visible end on profile of protruding barrier which has impaled an oncoming vehicle. The end profile of the barrier may not be clearly visible to an oncoming driver. Other incidents have occurred as a barrier has swung into the path of an oncoming vehicle. Unsecured barriers can swing open due to the wind, gravity or as a result of vandalism.

HSE has provided the following information to remind users of their duties in relation to the safe use of such barriers. Duty holders include persons in charge of the entrances to industrial estates, retail premises, leisure premises, sporting complexes, parks, farms etc. In short any premise with a car park entrance or exit to which members of the public and workers have vehicular access, may utilise such barriers. (Vertically opening or lifting barriers can also present safety risks if they are not correctly controlled.)

Duty holders are reminded of their responsibilities in relation to barriers. They include:

  • Carrying out a suitable risk assessment so that potential dangers are identified and precautions are put in place to ensure they are removed or controlled.
  • Reviewing existing risk assessments where horizontal swing barriers are in use to determine whether elimination of the risk is possible. Horizontal swing barriers rely on human intervention to ensure they are locked open or locked shut, they are also susceptible to vandalism which can leave them in an unsafe position. Vertical lifting gates are a lower risk alternative, as is the provision of lower height swing barriers so that any collision will result in damage to the vehicle without causing any part of the barrier to enter the vehicle with possible fatal consequences.
  • Where horizontal barriers are used, making sure the barriers are adequately secured at all times whether open or shut (a padlock will suffice).
  • Making sure the barriers are made visible by painting or marking with alternate red and white bands of adequate width to be clearly visible, so that persons do not inadvertently drive into them (additional local lighting may be required).
  • Carrying out regular inspections to ensure that the methods of securing and visibility aspects have not deteriorated.
  • Ensuring barriers are maintained in accordance with manufacturers instructions.
  • Liaising with suppliers if your risk assessment reveals that securing and visibility requirements are inadequate.

If you need any help with the carrying out or reviewing of your risk assessments, 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 undertake property health & safety/fire risk assessments, and no-obligation quotations can be provided upon request.

National company calls on the construction industry to learn from their mistakes during HSE’s refurbishment initiative

A couple of weeks ago we opened our news update with details of the HSE’s 10th annual refurbishment inspection initiative, which started a couple of days ago.

A national interiors fit-out company (previously prosecuted by the HSE), whose clients include high-end retail brands, is backing the initiative. The nationwide drive will target the unsafe work practices that make construction one of Britain’s most dangerous industries.

John Graham, Newman Scott’s new Joint Managing Director said:

“I would urge everyone in the construction industry to take action now in protecting the health and safety of your workers. Don’t let a prosecution or worse the death or injury of a colleague be the catalyst for change.”

Although construction is 5 per cent of Britain’s workforce it accounts for 31% of all fatalities, with 42 deaths in 2014/15 and 76,000 cases of reported ill-health. HSE will be targeting the refurbishment sites as they account for more than half of all the deaths, injuries and cases of ill-health within the construction industry.

HSE Inspectors will be visiting refurbishment sites across the country, between 14 September and 9 October, to challenge the poor standards that are putting the health and safety of workers at risk.

Newman Scott was visited by HSE during the 2013 inspection initiative and the poor practice found resulted in the company and one of their directors being prosecuted.

John Graham explains:

“We were mortified at the thought of being prosecuted because we had a good safety record and thought we were pretty good at health and safety.

“A sub-contractor was using a poorly erected mobile scaffold, on an escalator between the ground and first floor, and although no-one was hurt there was a very real and high risk of injury, or worse, to the operatives.

“We had a choice, we could consider ourselves lucky there were no injuries or we could hold a full and frank internal investigation, understand what had gone wrong and make sure our sites were safe for our workers.”

Newman Scott had the processes in place but they were not being followed. Their decision to get to the root-cause of the incident has created a sea change in their organisation’s health and safety culture, an example HSE hopes other construction companies will learn from.

John continues:

“We focused on improving the already positive safety culture in the company through better communication, more training, more competency checking and giving more ownership of health and safety to our employees. Most importantly our employees knew they could say no, without fear of retribution, to any request from a client or director if they felt it could not be carried out without risking their health or their safety.”

Although John believes the company would have made changes eventually Newman Scott are convinced HSE’s enforcement action acted as a catalyst and their interaction with the inspector helped them to implement sustained and effective changes.

John, said:

“Of course HSE has an enforcement function and this may make them appear formal but there was a genuine desire from them to help us make the workplace a safer, healthier place. We were treated with respect and courtesy and that helped us approach the whole experience in a positive way, maximising the improvements to the benefit of everyone on our sites.

“We cannot say that we will have no more lapses in the future. We can say that all our people sleep easier in their beds knowing that we are all doing all we can to make sure we have safer, healthier sites. That peace of mind is priceless.”

Jo Anderson, HSE’s lead for the construction initiative, said:

“We are grateful to Newman Scott for sharing their experience and for how they have responded to the prosecution.

“We hope everyone can learn from their lessons and realise it is vital when carrying out construction work that the right management systems are in place so risks to workers’ health are controlled just as effectively as safety. Workers within construction are paying too high a toll on their health and safety when it is completely avoidable by planning the work, providing the right kit and making sure it is used properly.

HSE guidance on health and safety in the construction industry can be found on their web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/, or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Use of e-cigarettes in the workplace

Further to concerns raised this week in the British Medical Journal on Public Health England’s review of the latest evidence concluding e-cigarettes are around 95% safer than smoked tobacco, we’re sharing HSE’s advice on their use in the workplace.

HSE does not enforce legislation or standards for e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are not regulated like tobacco products and there is currently no bespoke regulatory system for e-cigarettes in the UK, but they are captured by general product safety regulatory requirements.

HSE’s advice is that an employer needs to consider e-cigarettes in the wider context of risk in the workplace. HSE is aware that some organisations have banned their use but this is not something the regulator has advised on. Employers may want to ask for advice on this from Public Health England: cleartobaccoteam@phe.gov.uk.

Some organisations may find the “Will you permit or prohibit electronic cigarette use on your premises?” document useful (http://www.ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_900.pdf). It sets out five questions to ask yourself before deciding whether to permit or prohibit e-cigarette use on your premises

If an employer decides to ‘prohibit’ the use of e-cigarettes in the workplace but allow for ‘vaping’ breaks or provide areas where employees can use e-cigarettes, the employer needs to ensure that those who use e-cigarettes are not put at risk of harm from second-hand tobacco smoke.

To read the joint statement on e-cigarettes published this week by Public Health England and other UK public health organisations, click on the link: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/e-cigarettes-an-emerging-public-health-consensus

Fire as a health asset? Or a health necessity?

Likely to be of interest to some of our clients and readers working within the Health & Social Care sector,  a new partnership has been established between NHS England and the Fire and Rescue Services (FRS), to use their collective capabilities and resources more effectively to enhance the lives of older people and those with complex conditions.

Working together with Public Health England, the Chief Fire Officers Association, the Local Government Association and Age UK, the group has established a new working relationship aimed at improving the quality of life for people who would benefit from brief health and wellbeing interventions in their own homes, and better coordinated public services.

Jacquie White, NHS England’s Deputy Director for People with Long Term Conditions, explained: “The Fire and Rescue Services in England carry out 670,000 home visits annually on vulnerable people.

“These are already providing some basic health interventions – but they are keen to do more.

“Health and local government staff in some areas are working with the FRS to identify households with complex conditions or needs and increased risk of fire. They agree a local list of health interventions to be provided, while also developing ways of directing people who need help from health or care services.”

NHS England is supporting the local development of a whole system, multi-agency approach to deliver the national commitment of more integrated person centred care closer to home.

A consensus statement between NHS England, the Chief Fire Officers’ Association, PHE, LGA and Age UK will be published soon along with design principles for ‘safe and well visits’ and links to case studies.

You can read more about this new initiative in Jacquie White’s blog: http://www.england.nhs.uk/2015/08/14/jacquie-white/

Contains public sector information published by Gov.UK, the Health and Safety Executive and NHS England, and licensed under the Open Government Licence