Your garden walls: better to be safe – local authority prosecuted after wall collapses onto child

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

Local authority prosecuted after wall collapses onto child

A local authority was sentenced last month after a brick boundary wall it part-owned collapsed and seriously injured a six-year-old girl.

Details of the Crown Court hearing reveal how, in August 2016, a wall spanning the back of two houses at a town in Essex collapsed onto the girl during a family barbecue. She was placed in an induced coma after sustaining serious and life-threatening injuries. She was in intensive care for 7 days and in hospital for 10 days in total. She has made a good recovery but still suffers some physical and emotional problems.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the local authority failed to take any action after receiving concerns about the wall’s condition from private tenants, two years prior to the incident. Wider concerns about the poor condition of brick walls in the vicinity, including council-owned walls, were not passed to building control or the Council’s inspections teams.

The local authority failed to implement a system of intelligence-led inspection, maintenance and repair, to adequately identify and remedy the risks of collapses to boundary walls, both owned solely by the Council, or jointly with private residents.

The local authority pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and has been fined of £133,333 and ordered to pay costs of £21,419.55.

Speaking after the case, an HSE inspector said: “This was a wholly avoidable incident which could easily have been fatal. If [the local authority] had properly recorded residents’ concerns about the state of the walls, then a suitably qualified individual could have been engaged to identify the level of risk and instigated the required remedial action. Despite the low frequency of wall collapses, they are high consequence events requiring those with the responsibility for structural safety to take proactive measures to ensure that boundary walls and other structures are safely maintained.”

Your garden walls: better to be safe

(Information on inspecting garden and boundary walls, published on 13 May 2013, by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government)

If you are an employer, or someone in control of premises, including landlords, the below information is relevant to you. Eljay Risk Management carries out Health and Safety Inspections of commercial and domestic premises, and we include checks of garden/boundary walls in our reports. Why not contact us for a no-obligation quote.

Garden walls

Garden and boundary walls should be inspected from time to time to see if any repairs are necessary, or whether a wall needs rebuilding. Such walls are amongst the most common forms of masonry to suffer collapse, and they are unfortunately one of the commonest causes of death by falling masonry. Your insurances may not cover you if the wall has been neglected.

Besides the general deterioration and ageing of a masonry wall over the years, walls may be affected by:

  • an increase in wind load or driving rain if a nearby wall is taken down
  • felling of nearby mature trees or planting of new trees close to the wall
  • changes leading to greater risk of damage from traffic
  • alterations, such as additions to the wall or removal of parts of the wall e.g. for a new gateway

Things to check

  1. Is the surface of the brickwork crumbling away?

If restricted to a few bricks this may not be serious but walls can be weakened by general crumbling across either face.

  1. Is the mortar pointing in good condition?

If the hard surface layer can be picked out from the joint, or if the mortar can easily be scraped out with, say, a door key, then this is a good indication that the wall may need repointing.

  1. Is there a tree near the wall?

As trees mature, there is a risk of the wall being damaged by the roots, and from wind-blown branches. Damaged sections may have to be re-built, perhaps with bridges incorporated to carry the wall over the roots. Removal of large trees can also lead to problems because the soil accumulates more moisture and expands.

  1. Is the wall upright?

Walls lean for a variety of causes, due for example to failure below ground caused by tree roots, a cracked drain, frost damage to the foundations or inadequate foundations. If your wall leans to an extent that could present a danger e.g. more than 30mm (half brick wall), 70mm (single brick wall) or 100mm (brick and a half wall) it is recommended that expert advice is sought. This may involve checking of the wall foundations.

  1. Is the wall thick enough for its height?

The map and table at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/your-garden-walls-better-to-be-safe give guidance on how high walls should be in different parts of the UK relative to their thickness. Seek expert advice if your wall exceeds the recommended height, or in circumstances whereby this guidance is inapplicable e.g. walls incorporating piers, or walls supporting heavy gates or retaining soil.

  1. Some climbing plants, like ivy, can damage walls if growth is unchecked.

Consider cutting them back and supporting regrowth clear of the wall.

  1. Is the top of the wall firmly attached?

Brick cappings or concrete copings may be loose or there may be horizontal cracks (frost damage) in the brickwork a few courses down. Loose or damaged masonry near the top of the wall will need to be rebuilt.

  1. Has the wall been damaged by traffic?

Minor scratch marks or scoring of the surface may obscure more significant cracks. Piers at vehicular entrances may have been dislodged by impact and be unsafe; in such cases they should be rebuilt.

  1. Are there any cracks in the wall?

Hairline cracks (0-2mm across) are common in walls and may not indicate serious problems. For wider cracks seek expert advice; some may indicate a need for partial or complete rebuilding. Seek advice on any horizontal cracks which pass right through a wall or any cracks close to piers or gates. Repointing of cracks can lead to problems. Do not repoint without establishing the cause of the cracking.

If you have any queries at all regarding the above, 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 licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

 

Passenger lifts and escalators – Bolton resident dies in lift shaft fall

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

Bolton resident dies in lift shaft fall

A property management company has been fined after a resident of an apartment block in Bolton died after falling down a lift shaft.

Bolton Crown Court heard how the resident and a friend were trapped in a lift and unable to raise the alarm. They attempted a self-rescue by forcing the doors open and sliding out onto the floor below.

The resident slipped under the lift car and fell five stories down the lift shaft and died of multiple injuries. His friend escaped unhurt.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident which occurred in August 2014 found that the management company for the building failed to take suitable and sufficient steps to prevent the resident and his friend self-rescuing.

The management company pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and was fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of £45,000.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Sarah Taylor said: “Those who manage lifts have a responsibility to ensure they are properly maintained but if people are trapped they have a way to raise the alarm and are not in a position to try and rescue themselves.

“The problems with this lift were well known and if [the management company] had fulfilled their health and safety responsibilities [the resident] would probably be around to celebrate Christmas with his family this weekend.”

Passenger lifts and escalators

Lifts provided for use by workers in workplaces are subject to the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER). However, in most cases lifting equipment which is not provided for, or used by, people at work (eg stair lifts in private dwellings and platform lifts in shops used for customer access) will not be subject to either LOLER or PUWER. But businesses providing this equipment will have responsibilities for its safety (it will require routine maintenance and inspection).

LOLER does not apply to escalators or any travelators / moving walkways which transport people, even though they may ‘lift’ people from one level to another. Such equipment is covered by regulation 19 of the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations.

However, escalators and similar machines, platform and stair lifts, and all conventional passenger lifts must meet the requirements for safety and conformity of either the Machinery or Lift Directives in their design, construction and installation, when first brought into use. (Note: stair lifts, certain slow moving platform lifts (less that 0.15 m/s) and construction hoists come within scope of the Machinery Directive instead of the Lifts Directive).

Passenger lifts used by people at work

Passenger lifts and combined goods / passenger lifts in workplaces (eg offices and factories) which are primarily used by people at work, are subject to periodic thorough examination and inspection, as required by LOLER and PUWER. Guidance for lift owners and others responsible for the examination and testing of lifts is available in: Thorough examination and testing of lifts: Simple guidance for lift owners (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg339.htm)

Passenger lifts used by people who are not at work

LOLER (and PUWER) may not apply where a passenger lift is not used by people at work (eg in public areas of a shopping centre). However, if the lift is operated by – or to some extent under the control of – an employer or self-employed person in connection with their business, they still have some responsibility for the health and safety of people they don’t employ. This includes members of the public who use the lift and those people who may work on or inspect the lift.

Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act imposes these general responsibilities, so far as reasonably practicable. As the risks may be the same as when using lifts in connection with work, a similar regime of maintenance, inspection and examination to that required under LOLER and PUWER may be entirely ‘reasonably practicable’ in managing the risks. In any case, insurers may impose demands for similarly stringent levels of risk management to cover public liability.

Escalators and moving walkways

Guidelines for the safe operation of escalators and moving walks (walkways) have been prepared by the Safety Assessment Federation in consultation with HSE. This document provides considerable guidance on the duties and responsibilities of those who:

  • manufacture, supply and install escalators and moving walkways
  • design premises where they are to be installed
  • own or manage premises in which they are installed, and
  • inspect and examine escalators and moving walkways

Although not subject to LOLER, these detailed guidelines recommend thorough examination of escalators and moving walkways, normally at six-monthly intervals.

Stair lifts:

Where provided as work equipment for use by employees, stair lifts will be subject to the requirements of LOLER (thorough examination) and PUWER (maintenance and inspection). Where they are not, but are still provided in connection with an undertaking (eg in work environments where the public or visitors may use them), employers and the self-employed will have responsibilities for the safety of all users under Section 3 of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. These may be adequately discharged by undertaking maintenance, and inspection, and 6 monthly thorough examination, even though PUWER & LOLER may not apply to the equipment.

However, all new stair lifts (either when first placed on the market, or first brought into use), as machinery are subject to the Machinery Directive / Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008. They must be constructed to be safe, supplied with Instructions, a Declaration of Conformity and CE marking. Those stair lifts which involve a hazard of falling from a vertical height of 3m or more are subject to Annex IV (item 17) of the Machinery Directive (so subject to conformity assessment as required by Article 12 (3) or 12 (4) of 2006/42/EC).

More information on LOLER can be found on the LOLER FAQ page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/faq-lifting.htm

For more information visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/passenger-lifts.htm 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 (as well as fire/legionella risk assessments) of all types of residential and commercial properties and are happy to provide a no-obligation quotation on request.

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

 

 

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 6TH AUGUST 2015

IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

CDM 2015 Principal Designer Role – FAQs

Powered Gates

Cutting Red Tape – The Government wants you to tell them which regulatory issues hamper your business

HSE and HMRC working together for you – growing your business

Introduction

It’s been four months now since The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) came into force, replacing CDM 2007. As virtually everyone involved in a construction project has legal duties under the regulations, it’s not surprising that the HSE has received many enquiries since the change, including those about the role of the principal designer (PD), and we open this week’s update with the HSE’s answers to some of these questions.

Following the deaths five years ago of two children after becoming trapped in powered gates, the HSE issued the following safety notices (click on the links):

http://www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins/electricgates.htm

http://www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins/electricgates2.htm

Whilst, thankfully, there have been no similar reports since then (as far as we are aware), a research report recently published by the HSE has highlighted several safety related inadequacies in the design of powered gates and so this week we’re looking at the responsibilities of those whose role it is to ensure that powered (automatic) doors and gates on their premises are safe.

Is your business hampered by regulations? Whilst we join the HSE in encouraging a “common sense” approach to health and safety, we’re certainly aware of constraints faced by our clients when trying to comply with regulations. RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) is a common example. Of course we’re happy to help, where we can, in helping clients overcome these issues but we welcome the move by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) in launching a new twitter account to encourage business, and in particular, small business, to highlight issues they have.

Additional issues/concerns are faced by small businesses as they start to grow or take on more employees, and HMRC and the Health and Safety Executive are working together to deliver a live webinar about the typical situations likely to be faced. You can find out more about/register for this at the close of this update.

Our next update will be published at the end of this month, after which we’ll keep you updated on a weekly basis. But if you have any queries in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 07896 016380, at Fiona@eljay.co.uk or via our website. Alternatively, check out the HSE website (http://www.hse.gov.uk/) where you’ll be able to find the answers to many frequently asked questions.

CDM 2015 Principal Designer Role – FAQs

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) has received many enquires on The Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) and they will be updating their web pages (http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/cdm/2015/index.htm) with further information in due course.

In the meantime, here are a couple of answers to some frequently asked questions about the role of the principal designer (PD).

Who can carry out the role of the principal designer (PD)? 

The PD must be a designer – an architect, consulting engineer or quantity surveyor, or anyone who specifies and alters designs as part of their work.  They can also be clients, contractors and trades people if they carry out design work or arrange for or instruct persons under their control to do so.

They must have the right mix of skills, knowledge and experience (SKE) or organisational capability to carry out all the functions and responsibilities assigned to them in Regulations 11 and 12 and have control over the pre-construction phase.

Commonly, the PD is likely to be:

For larger projects – a design practice or a technical department of a principal contractor e.g. a principal contractor doing design and build;

For smaller projects – a self-employed architect/technician, small design practice, a project management company, a client’s internal estates management team, or even a specialist tradesperson such as an electrician where they lead on the design function;

So long as they meet the criteria of;

– being a designer;

– having the relevant SKE or organisational capability, and;

– being in control of the pre-construction phase.

Does CDM 2015 require the principal designer to be a member of the project design team? 

No.  The PD must be appointed by the client as soon as it is established that more than one contractor is or is likely to be working on the project to plan, manage, monitor and control the design stages.

If the client gets it right and appoints the PD early at the concept stage, then the appointment should commonly take place before the project design team has been fully identified or assembled.

The PD may provide their own design team, appoint a team or manage and control any team appointed by others.

Whatever the model, which provides maximum flexibility for the client, – the PD must be able to prove to the client that they have the SKE or organisational capability to fulfil all the functions – proportionate to the nature, size, complexity and risk profile of the project.  Once in place, the PD should be in control of the design team so that they, and the design team, can carry out their roles effectively.

Can a client carry out the role of the principal designer? 

Yes. If a client fails to, or decides not to appoint a PD the law provides that the PD role is automatically assigned to the client.

Many clients will choose to take on the PD role themselves but irrespective of whether by choice or otherwise, the client must have the SKE or organisational capability to fulfil all the PD functions and responsibilities effectively.

Powered Gates

In the light of recently published HSE research report RR1056 – ‘Critical analysis of safety related design of powered gates’ – which highlights several safety-related inadequacies and suggests alternative safety measures, those whose role it is to ensure that powered (automatic) doors and gates on their premises are safe, may be seeking clarification of their responsibilities.

The HSE web page ‘Powered gates’ (http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/powered-gates/introduction.htm) provides information and guidance (including the following – click on the links for more info) for safety on the design, construction, supply, and use, inspection, examination and maintenance of powered gates:

Basics on risks, safety and the law (http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/powered-gates/basics.htm)

Risks from powered gates

Powered gates can give rise to a number of significant hazards, including those from being:

– hit by the moving gate

– crushed against fixed and / or other moving parts

– trapped between fixed, moving and other parts

– caught on moving parts, eg gears

– electrocuted, as most are powered by electric motors, or controlled electrically

– affected by hydraulic or pneumatic parts, where these are present

Responsibilities of designers, manufacturers, installers, owners, repairers, etc (http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/powered-gates/responsibilities.htm)

Owners, occupiers and users

While the responsibility for safe design / construction and installation may rest with others, the owner / user should ensure that the installed product is safe, and kept safe. In particular they should study the User Instructions that must come with the product, assessing what servicing and inspection / safety checks may be necessary.

More on Safety by design/construction, when in use, or following maintenance (http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/powered-gates/safety.htm)

Maintaining for safety

Component parts can wear and fail, sometimes catastrophically. Like most machinery, powered doors and gates need to be maintained to remain safe. Powered gates forming parts of workplaces or in common parts of residential complexes will be subject to health and safety law. Owners, occupiers, landlords and managing agents will have on-going responsibilities for the safety of all users and all those who may encounter the gate.

Powered Gate FAQs (http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/faq-powered-gates.htm)

What are the risks with powered (automatic) doors and gates, and how can they be controlled?

What if I think a gate is unsafe?

I’m a domestic householder, do I have to do anything?

I own a commercial/industrial premises, what do I have to do?

I install doors and gates, what must I do?

As a maintenance contractor, what do I have to do?

What are the main safety requirements for these machines?

What does the law say?

Where can I get more information?

Our comment

We check the operation of powered gates when carrying out health & safety inspections of commercial and residential property. Optical/stop sensors should operate satisfactorily, and confirmation should be provided that the gates have been risk assessed and are maintained by a suitably qualified contractor in order to meet current legislative requirements.

Cutting Red Tape – The Government wants you to tell them which regulatory issues hamper your business

The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) have launched a new twitter account to encourage business, and in particular, small business, to highlight issues they have with regulation. BIS are keen to promote this account to help engage and better understand the regulatory concerns of business, and to hear it direct from them.

You can get involved by:

– Following @CutRedTapeUK for discussion on Twitter

– Remembering to use the hashtag #cutredtape in your tweets

– Share information on how small business can grow through your social media channels, tweet using #cutredtape

– Do you have a newsletter, online group or forum? Encourage discussion about regulatory issues and share feedback.

Our comment

We’re on Twitter too! We’re following @CutRedTapeUK, and you can follow us at @Eljay_Risk_Mgmt to stay up to date with health & safety news and our range of support and training services.

HSE and HMRC working together for you – growing your business

If your business is growing and you have questions on health and safety and taking on new employees, you can find answers in a live webinar delivered by HSE and HMRC.

Webinar overview

As your business starts to grow or you take on more employees you’ll face new issues and concerns. HMRC and the Health and Safety Executive are working together to deliver a live webinar about the typical situations you are likely to face. It looks at some of the questions you may have and guides you through the answers.

Webinar dates (click on the links to register)

12 August 2015, 10am – https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4319267968957115650

16 September 2015, 10am – https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/6473058415654087938

13 October 2015, 10am – https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/30011536368234241

Once you have registered the webinar organizer will communicate with you regarding these events.

Our comment

Of course we’re always available to answer any questions you may have about health and safety. Contact us on 07896 016380, at Fiona@eljay.co.uk or via our website.

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

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