HSE food manufacturing inspections target the causes of workplace ill-health

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Companies and people working in food manufacturing are being told they must pay closer attention to how they manage workplace health risks or face serious penalties.

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) programme of proactive inspections will review health and safety standards in food manufacturing businesses across the country, and the sector is being warned that a programme of unannounced inspections will begin today (2nd January).

The inspections will focus on two of the main causes of ill-health in the sector which are currently occupational asthma from exposure to flour dust in bakeries, cake and biscuit manufacturers and grain mills and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) – predominantly lower back pain and upper limb disorders from manual handling activities and repetitive tasks across the sector.

The inspection visits come as HSE recently released its Manufacturing sector plan which prioritises the reduction of cases of occupational lung disease and MSDs.

Exposure to flour dust is the UK’s second most common cited cause of occupational asthma. MSDs are the most common type of work-related illness in food manufacturing with handling injuries, accounting for around 20% of reported employee injuries (RIDDOR). HSE insists that such ill-health can be prevented when organisations have proper risk control systems in place.

The inspections will ensure measures are being taken by those responsible to protect workers against health risks and HSE will not hesitate to use enforcement to bring about improvements.

HSE’s head of Manufacturing Sector John Rowe, said: “The food manufacturing sector is made up of over 300,000 workers and its health and safety record needs to improve. This inspection initiative will look to ensure effective management and control of targeted health risks.

HSE is calling on anyone working in the industry to take the time to refresh their knowledge of our advice and guidance, available for free on our website.

Food manufacturing companies should do the right thing by protecting workers’ health; everyone has the right to go home healthy from work.”

COSHH and bakers – key messages

Substances hazardous to health in baking include:

  • flour dust;
  • improver dusts containing enzymes etc;
  • dusts from protein-containing ingredients such as egg, soya;
  • spices, citrus oils and flavour concentrates;
  • cleaning and disinfectant products.

Dermatitis may result from some bakery tasks, and if hands are wet many times a day or for a lot of the time.

Control measures include:

  • careful working to avoid raising clouds of dust;
  • dust extraction;
  • vacuum or wet cleaning;
  • respirator for very dusty tasks;
  • skin checks.

Example: Flour dust

Flour dust can cause asthma when breathed in.

You must reduce exposure to flour dust as far below the WEL of 10 mg/m3 as is reasonably practicable. You normally need to use health surveillance (Check employees health for any adverse effects related to work. May involve checking skin for dermatitis or asking questions about breathing and may need to done by a doctor or nurse.)

Help in finding the right controls is on the Bakers and asthma website (http://www.hse.gov.uk/asthma/bakers.htm). Control information for flour dust appears in the following information sheets available from the COSHH essentials webpage: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/direct-advice/baking.htm

Employees

Your employer provides equipment to protect your health, such as:

  • dust extraction;
  • personal protective equipment (eg respirator).

You have a duty to use these properly and co-operate with any monitoring and health surveillance.

For advice on preventing and managing musculoskeletal disorders, visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/. Alternatively, contact us about any of the above-mentioned issues, 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 – 19TH NOVEMBER 2015

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IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

Chief Inspector challenges small construction sites to act now to manage workers health and safety

Crowd management – your duties as an event organiser

Managing risks from skin exposure at work

Introduction

This autumn saw the HSE’s 10th annual refurbishment inspection initiative, and after 46% of sites fell below standards, the Chief Inspector of Construction is challenging the refurbishment industry to act now and protect their workers. As well as serving 692 enforcement notices and 983 notifications of contravention, inspectors had to deal with immediate risks such as falls from height (the most common killer in the industry), and exposure to silica dust and asbestos. This week we open our update with HSE guidance on managing construction sites safely.

As the festive season rapidly approaches, we hear that this year’s Christmas lights switch-on in Solihull has been cancelled amid health and safety fears arising from the size of crowds expected to attend. In 2009 approximately 60 people were injured during a crowd-surge at such an event in Birmingham. So we’re also sharing HSE guidance this week on crowd management – specifically aimed at those responsible for organising events such as these.

And finally, we look at the risks from skin exposure at work – how many materials used can affect the skin or pass through the skin, causing diseases elsewhere in the body – and how these can be prevented.

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

Chief Inspector challenges small construction sites to act now to manage workers health and safety

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE’s) Chief Inspector of Construction is challenging the refurbishment industry to act now and protect their workers, after 46 per cent of sites fell below standards during a recent inspection initiative.

HSE targeted small refurbishment sites during the month long drive and 692 enforcement notices and 983 notifications of contravention had to be served where there was a material breach of health and/or safety. Inspectors had to deal with immediate risks, such as work at height, and also to deal with sites where workers were being exposed to silica dust and asbestos, which cause long term health problems.

Health and safety breaches were also followed up with clients and designers, reinforcing their duties under the Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM) 2015 and help them understand their responsibilities.

Despite the high rate of enforcement action, the inspectors found a number of examples of good practice.

Peter Baker, Health and Safety Executive’s Chief Inspector of Construction said: “It is disappointing that some small refurbishment sites are still cutting corners and not properly protecting their workers. Falls from height are the most common killer in the industry but we still found workers put at risk to save minutes on the job – believing it wouldn’t happen to them.

“The mis-conception that health issues cannot be controlled is simply not true and ruining people’s lives. Harmful dust, whether silica or wood, is a serious issue and can be managed effectively with the right design, equipment and training. Health effects may not be immediate but the ultimate impact on workers and their families can be devastating. Each week 100 construction workers die from occupational disease.”

“HSE inspectors found lots of good examples of small sites carrying out work safely, proving it can be done. Larger construction sites accepted the challenge a few years ago and have made big improvements, which all of the industry can learn from. My message to smaller businesses is don’t wait for an accident or visit from an inspector before you make the change, but act now and learn from your colleagues’ example.”

How to manage your site safely (click on the links)

For more guidance on health and safety in the construction industry, visit the HSE 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.

Crowd management – your duties as an event organiser

Solihull’s Christmas lights switch-on has been cancelled this year amid health and safety fears arising from the size of crowds expected to attend. In 2009 approximately 60 people were injured during a crowd-surge at such an event in Birmingham.

As an organiser you must as far as reasonably practicable ensure the safety of visiting crowds.

While certain aspects of crowd safety can be allocated to contractors, for example stewarding, you will retain overall responsibility for ensuring the safety of the public.

What you should know

Hazards presented by a crowd:

  • Crushing between people.
  • Crushing against fixed structures, such as barriers.
  • Trampling underfoot.
  • Surging, swaying or rushing.
  • Aggressive behaviour.
  • Dangerous behaviour, such as climbing on equipment or throwing objects.

Hazards presented by a venue:

  • Slipping or tripping due to inadequately lit areas or poorly maintained floors and the build-up of rubbish.
  • Moving vehicles sharing the same route as pedestrians.
  • Collapse of a structure, such as a fence or barrier, which falls onto the crowd.
  • People being pushed against objects, such as unguarded, hot cooking equipment on a food stall.
  • Objects, such as stalls, that obstruct movement and cause congestion during busy periods.
  • Crowd movements obstructed by people queuing at bars etc.
  • Cross flows as people cut through the crowd to get to other areas, such as toilets.
  • Failure of equipment, such as turnstiles.
  • Sources of fire, such as cooking equipment.

Assessing the risks and putting controls in place

Carry out an assessment of the risks arising from crowd movement and behaviour as they arrive, leave and move around the site.

Note: Whether health and safety law will apply on routes to and from the venue will largely depend on the circumstances (other legislation to do with Licensing and traffic law may take precedence). If health and safety law does apply, an organiser’s legal duty regarding crowd safety will depend on the extent of control they have, which should be judged on a case-by-case basis. These duties are likely to be shared with others, including the local authority, landowners and transport providers.

Find out more

To assist you in identifying measures to help keep people safe see Managing crowds safely: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg154.htm

Barriers

Barriers at events serve several purposes, eg:

  • as an aid to manage and influence the behaviour of the audience; to line routes; and to prevent the audience climbing on top of temporary structures and putting themselves at risk of falling
  • to relieve and prevent overcrowding and the build-up of audience pressure
  • to provide physical security, as in the case of a high-perimeter fence at an outdoor event
  • to shield hazards from people

If you decide to use barriers and fencing as a crowd management tool, then they should be risk assessed. Depending on the complexity of the risk and barrier/s, you may need a source of competent advice to help you.

The factors you should take into account include:

  • the planned use of barriers
  • layout
  • ground conditions and topography
  • the presence of underground services, eg water pipes, electric cables that could restrict the use of pins to secure barriers
  • weather
  • load on the barrier – wind and/or crowd pressure
  • audience numbers and behaviour

These and any other factors peculiar to the location will determine the type of barrier or fence you select. It is crucial that the type of barrier and fence does not present greater risks than those they are intended to control. In some cases, barriers have failed due to incorrect selection.

To install simple barriers like rope and posts is relatively straightforward. However, for more complex barrier arrangements like stage barriers you may need a competent contractor to do this for you.

Deploy barriers and fencing with proper crowd management procedures, eg use of stewards to help achieve an all-round effective management of the risk. If appropriate, consult with a crowd management director on the use of barriers.

Find out more (click on the links)

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

Managing risks from skin exposure at work

Many materials used at work can affect the skin or can pass through the skin and cause diseases elsewhere in the body. If you are an employer, health and safety adviser, trainer or safety representative, this book (free to download by clicking on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg262.htm) provides guidance to help you prevent these disabling diseases.

It covers the protective role of the skin, ill health arising from skin exposure, recognising potential skin exposure in your workplace, and managing skin exposure to prevent disease.

There is guidance on assessing and managing risks, reducing contact with harmful materials, choosing the right protective equipment and skin care products, and checking for early signs of skin disease.

The document also contains a series of case studies drawn from a wide range of industries.

Related resources (click on the links)

See also

For clarification or more 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 the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence

 

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 29TH OCTOBER 2015

REGISTER BELOW-LEFT TO RECEIVE OUR UPDATES BY EMAIL

IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

HSE issues health warning to the stone industry

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007

Work related injury and ill health still costing Britain £14 billion per year

Introduction

We open this week’s update with a health warning issued by the HSE to the stone industry, but also relevant to industries where exposure to respirable crystalline silica (RCS) can occur. Worryingly, during a recent inspection initiative in the south of England, a number of businesses were found to be unaware that in 2006 the workplace exposure limit for RCS was revised from 0.3 mg/m3 to 0.1mg/m3 thereby requiring them to devise more stringent controls.

Also, with the widely reported news yesterday that Volkswagen could be facing corporate manslaughter charges over rigged diesel emission tests, we look at the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, and the impact its introduction has had on companies and organisations – particularly the way in which their activities are managed and organised by senior management.

And finally, we share news of the financial – and human – cost to Britain of work related injury and ill health in the year 2014/15 according to statistics released by this week by the HSE.

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 issues health warning to the stone industry

The Health and Safety Executive is urging the stone industry to do more to protect workers’ health following findings of a recent inspection initiative in the south of England.

HSE inspectors visited sixty stone businesses, including work surface manufacturers, stonemasons and monumental masons during the initiative, which ran from June to September, and was supported by trade association, Stone Federation Great Britain. The visited businesses were both Stone Federation Great Britain members and non-members.

Worryingly, serious breaches were found at over half (35) of the premises that were visited. HSE issued four Prohibition Notices, 54 Improvement Notices and provided verbal advice to others.

Although many of the sites visited were attempting to manage their health and safety, four common areas of concern were found throughout the initiative –

  • control of respirable crystalline silica (RCS), a hazardous dust which can damage health,
  • handling and storage of stone,
  • poor machinery guarding, and
  • air compressors can create an explosion risk.

A number of businesses were unaware that in 2006 the workplace exposure limit for RCS was revised from 0.3 mg/m3 to 0.1mg/m3 thereby requiring them to devise more stringent controls.

Key issues in this area were:

  • Dry sweeping which can put fine ‘respirable’ stone dust back into the workplace air;
  • Extraction systems which are intended to protect workers by removing stone dust from air in the workplace;
  • Face masks that were inadequate.

HSE Inspector Tahir Mortuza, who led on the initiative, said:

“HSE intends to visit more stone work businesses in the future to ensure that health and safety is adequately managed. Business owners should review their processes and the materials they use whilst thinking about what might cause harm and whether they are doing enough to protect workers.

“Once the risks have been identified, businesses need to decide how best to control them so they can put the appropriate measures in place. A good starting point is to look at respirable crystalline silica, as it is one of the greatest risks for businesses engaged in stonework, as found in this inspection campaign.”

Chief Executive of the Stone Federation Great Britain, Jane Buxey, said:

“Health and Safety is a top priority for the Federation and we are working closely with the HSE to improve standards in the Industry.

“We hope to run a number of joint events with HSE and they will be sending representatives to Stone Federation Great Britain events and the Federation’s Health and Safety Forum.”

You can also keep up to date with new guidance, events and other important stone working issues by signing up for the stone working e-bulletin: http://www.hse.gov.uk/stonemasonry/subscribe.htm

Occupational exposure to RCS can also occur in the following industries:

  • construction and demolition processes – concrete, stone, brick, mortar;
  • quarrying;
  • slate mining and slate processing;
  • potteries, ceramics, ceramic glaze manufacture, brick and tile manufacture;
  • foundries;
  • refractory production and cutting;
  • concrete product manufacture;
  • grit and abrasive blasting, particularly on sandstone.

The HSE have published a leaflet “Control of exposure to silica dust – A guide for employees”, free to download by clicking on the following link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg463.pdf

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

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007

It has been widely reported in the news this week that Volkswagen could be facing corporate manslaughter charges over rigged diesel emission tests.

What is corporate manslaughter?

When the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 came into force in April 2008, it was a landmark in law. For the first time, companies and organisations could be found guilty of corporate manslaughter as a result of serious management failures resulting in a gross breach of a duty of care.

The Act clarifies the criminal liabilities of companies including large organisations where serious failures in the management of health and safety result in a fatality.

The Ministry of Justice leads on the Act and more information is available on its Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 webpage.

Although the offence is not part of health and safety law, the HSE welcomed and supports the act, which has introduced an important new element in the corporate management of health and safety.

Prosecutions are of the corporate body and not individuals, but the liability of directors, board members or other individuals under health and safety law or general criminal law, are unaffected. And the corporate body itself and individuals can still be prosecuted for separate health and safety offences.

The Act also largely removes the Crown immunity that applied to the previous common law corporate manslaughter offence. This is consistent with Government and HSE policy to secure the eventual removal of Crown immunity for health and safety offences. The Act provides a number of specific exemptions that cover public policy decisions and the exercise of core public functions.

Companies and organisations should keep their health and safety management systems under review, in particular, the way in which their activities are managed and organised by senior management. The Institute of Directors and HSE have published guidance for directors on their responsibilities for health and safety: ‘Leading health and safety at work: leadership actions for directors and board members’ (INDG417): http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg417.pdf

For answers to the following FAQs, click on the link http://www.hse.gov.uk/corpmanslaughter/faqs.htm#where:

  • Where can I find the Act and any guidance?
  • When did the new Act come into force?
  • Are there any new duties or obligations under the Act?
  • What do companies and organisations need to do to comply?
  • Where does health and safety legislation come in?
  • Who will investigate and prosecute under the new offence?
  • What is the role of health and safety regulators like HSE, local authorities etc?
  • Will directors, board members or other individuals be prosecuted?

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

Work related injury and ill health still costing Britain £14 billion per year

More than a million people are being made ill by their work, costing society £14.3 billion, according to new figures published this week.

Despite Britain remaining one of the safest places to work in Europe, injury and ill-health statistics released by the Health and Safety Executive show that an estimated 27.3 million working days were lost due to work related ill health or injury in 2014/15.

In the same year 142 workers were killed, and there were 611,000 injuries in the workplace.

Of the estimated 1.2 million people who suffered from a work related illness, 516,000 were new cases.

HSE’s Chief Statistician Alan Spence explains more about the latest findings in this video (click on the link): https://youtu.be/T5zRbXfQKpg

The full statistical report (http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/overall/hssh1415.pdf) and industry specific data (http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/industry/index.htm) can be found online (click on the links).

This is the view of HSE’s Chair Judith Hackitt: “It’s encouraging that there have been improvements in injuries and ill health caused by work related activities. But behind the statistics are people, their families, friends, work colleagues, directly affected by something that’s gone wrong, that is usually entirely preventable. Nobody should lose their life or become ill simply from doing their job. These figures show that despite the great strides and improvements made over the last 40 years since Britain’s health and safety regime was established, there is still more that can be done”.

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

Thankyou to Bryan & Armstrong Ltd (www.bryan-armstrong.com), for very kindly providing us with the below infographic, relating to the latest annual health and safety statistics:

HSE Health and safety statistics 2014/15 Infographic
Click image to open full version (via Bryan Armstrong Ltd).