Diesel engine exhaust emissions (DEEEs) and non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) – the risk to construction (and other) workers

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Recent headline news has made us all too aware of the effects of air pollution on the climate and our health, and this is contributed to significantly by emissions from combustion engines installed in non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) – used extensively in the construction industry. The Mayor of London has responded by targeting the sector with the world’s first “ultra-low emissions zone” for NRMM and – nationwide – under the Clean Air Strategy, the government will be exploring the use of environmental permitting to address the problem.

Whilst “cleaner” engines have started to become available, those powered by diesel are still the most widely used on construction sites, and inhalation of diesel engine exhaust emissions (DEEEs) can cause a number of ill health effects – both short term and long term, including – evidence suggests – an increased risk of lung cancer. According to HSE statistics, each year, around 3,000 workers in construction suffer with breathing and lung problems they believe were caused or made worse by their work. That is 0.14% of workers in the sector, compared with 0.09% of workers across all industries.

So, what should be done to prevent this risk?

The below HSE guidance “Control of diesel engine exhaust emissions in the workplace” includes control measures which can be implemented quickly and easily on a construction site and in other workplaces, e.g. switching off engines when not required, and adopting a programme of regular engine maintenance.

But a reduction in pollution can also be achieved through the use of cleaner fuels. Alternatives include low sulphur diesel (LSD), ultra low sulphur diesel (ULSD), biodiesel, blends of biodiesel with petroleum diesel and emulsified diesel. Low sulphur diesel has sulphur content of 300 – 500ppm and reduces particulate matter (PM) by 10 – 20% compared to non-road diesel fuel (which has a sulphur content or 3000 – 5000ppm).

And pollution control equipment such as diesel oxidation catalysts or diesel particulate filters can be retrofitted directly onto an engines exhaust system.

Under CDM 2015, design decisions made during the pre-construction phase of projects should also be considered, as these too have a significant influence on the health and safety of everyone affected by the work. For example, lighter buildings, often delivered by low carbon building methods (with no increase in cost), can reduce on-site excavation and heavy machinery due to the requirement for smaller foundations. An example of this is the timber structure of Dalston Works in London which weighs a fifth of its concrete equivalent. And as most the construction was off-site, there were 80% fewer site deliveries than usual.

The below guidance can be downloaded by clicking the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg187.pdf and more information is available on the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/healthrisks/cancer-and-construction/diesel-engine-exhaust.htm. Alternatively, please contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Control of diesel engine exhaust emissions in the workplace

Legislation

The law requires that a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to health which arise from exposure to hazardous substances is made, eg DEEEs. This is covered by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and several other regulations, in particular the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended) (COSHH) and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Having completed the assessment, there is a further duty to take the necessary steps to prevent or adequately control exposure to the hazard, and to use and maintain the relevant controls.

Risk assessment (COSHH regulation 6)

The health risk assessment will help you to assess the risks to health from exposure to hazardous substances and identify the necessary steps needed for controlling these risks. As workload, frequency of work, and work practices may change over a period, it is necessary to regularly review the assessment. In all but the simplest cases, you should record the assessment.

For DEEEs, the aim of the health risk assessment is to decide on the level of potential exposure, and then on the preventive measures or the level of control which you will need to apply. For example, if there is obvious blue or black smoke in the workplace, the controls need to be more stringent. In some circumstances, such as if there are visible exhaust emissions or complaints of irritancy, the assessment may necessitate carrying out monitoring to assess the effectiveness of the controls.

In order to carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment you need to ask a series of questions, find answers and then come to a conclusion. These questions include:

  • How likely is it that exposure to DEEEs will happen?
  • Who could be affected, to what extent and for how long? How many people are potentially exposed to the DEEEs? Can the exposures be avoided?
  • Have there been any ill-health complaints from potentially exposed groups? If yes, what has been done about it?
  • Is the engine being operated at full speed or left idling? What is the purpose of running at idling speed or full speed. Can it be avoided?
  • What is the state of the engine, and how many miles or hours have been completed? Can the engine efficiency be improved, and can operating times and distances be reduced? Improving the efficiency of the engine will also bring financial benefits.
  • What happens to the exhaust emissions: do they enter directly into the workplace, or are they piped away or processed through a treatment system? Could they trigger your fire detection system?
  • Is there visible smoke near the exhaust point? What is the type of smoke, ie white, black or blue? How could it be avoided? Is there a visible haze in the workplace? Can it be avoided and how?
  • What controls are in place to comply with COSHH? Are they satisfactory?
  • Are there soot deposits in the workplace; how significant are they? What can be done to avoid them? What methods are in place for regularly cleaning the workplace?
  • How many engines are running at any one time? Are they all necessary?
  • Is it necessary to use diesel engines, or can alternative power sources be used?

Prevention and control of exposure (COSHH regulation 7)

The answers to the questions in paragraph 17 will guide you in deciding on the actions necessary to prevent or control exposure to DEEEs in the workplace. The control measures you choose need to be based on: the levels of risk and exposure; the type of workplace; present work practices; cost and benefit factors. Because of the variety of workplaces where exposure may occur, the potential exposure and the level of risk will be different. For example, there may be increased exposure where fork-lift trucks are being used in a warehouse all day for moving goods, whereas in a maintenance depot the exposure may be intermittent as the vehicles enter, stay there for maintenance, and then leave.

Prevention

Health and safety legislation requires you to prevent the exposure of employees and others to substances hazardous to health. You should be able to prevent exposure to DEEEs by adopting one or a combination of options, for example:

  • changing the method of work;
  • modifying the layout of the workplace;
  • modifying the operations to eliminate exhaust emissions inside the workplace; or
  • substituting diesel fuel with a safer fuel or alternative technology where practicable, eg compressed natural gas, battery powered vehicles.

Your risk assessment should take account of any other risks posed by these alternative fuels and technologies, for example the use of alcohols may generate greater quantities of aldehydes with possible accompanying irritancy.

Control

There will be situations where it may not be reasonably practicable for you to prevent exposure to DEEEs. In these situations, you should consider the circumstances individually and take the necessary control measures to reduce exposure. These may include:

Engineering controls

  • the use of lower emission or more fuel-efficient engines where possible, eg higher engine injection pressures to reduce particulates, fitting exhaust gas recirculation systems to reduce gaseous oxide emissions;
  • the use of cleaner fuels such as low sulphur diesel fuels;
  • enclosing the exhaust tailpipe from which DEEEs are emitted, for example by using a fixed flexible hose with a tailpipe exhaust extraction system (see Figures 2 and 3);
  • using partial enclosure with local extraction ventilation (LEV) as shown in Figure 4;
  • the use of diesel exhaust gas ‘after-treatment’ systems such as catalytic converters to oxidise organic substances and gases, and catalysed and non-catalysed particulate traps to remove particulate matter;
  • using a combination of LEV and sufficient general ventilation, eg tailpipe exhausts with open doors or roof extraction;
  • using sufficient general ventilation, eg manual or mechanical roof extraction;

Practice and administrative controls

  • using processes or systems of work which will help you to reduce the generation of DEEEs, for example switching off engines when not required for a substantial period of time and adopting a programme of regular engine maintenance;
  • where practicable, reducing the number of employees directly exposed and their period of exposure, eg ensuring that office staff working adjacent to DEEE areas are not exposed, job rotation; and

Respiratory protective equipment (RPE)

  • as exposure to DEEEs is best controlled at source or by other means as described previously, RPE should only be used as a last resort. The RPE chosen should be suitable for protecting against the gaseous and particulate components. The use of nuisance dust masks as worn by cyclists are ineffective against DEEEs and, therefore, should not be used as a means of control in the workplace. Detailed information on RPE for use in the workplace can be found in the HSE guidance book HSG53 Respiratory protective equipment at work: A practical guide.

Use of control measures (COSHH regulation 8)

You should ensure that any control measures are properly used or applied. Employees should make full and proper use of any control measure or personal protective equipment provided by the employer, and report any defects to management for immediate attention.

Maintenance, examination and the testing of control measures (COSHH regulation 9)

You should ensure that all the measures provided to control exposure to DEEEs in the workplace are maintained in an effective state, and kept in efficient working order and in good repair. Where engineering controls are used, they should be thoroughly examined and tested at suitable intervals. LEV, for example, should be thoroughly examined and tested at least once every 14 months.

With the exception of disposable filtering facepiece respirators intended for single shift use, RPE should not be used unless it has had a recent thorough examination and maintenance. The interval between thorough examination and maintenance should not be more than one month.

You should keep a record of such examinations and tests of LEV and RPE for at least five years from the date on which they were made. The record should be readily available for inspection by employees or their representatives, or by enforcement authorities.

Monitoring for exposure to DEEEs in the workplace (COSHH regulation 10)

Under regulation 10 of COSHH, monitoring at the workplace may be required for the following reasons:

  • to determine if there is a failure or deterioration of the control measures which could result in an obvious health effect, eg irritancy from exposure to DEEEs;
  • to determine whether any workplace exposure limit (WEL) or any in-house working standard has been exceeded; and
  • when necessary to check the effectiveness of a control measure provided, eg particulate filter, LEV and/or general ventilation.

The health risk assessment will help you decide if it is necessary to carry out monitoring, for example, to judge the effectiveness of controls. A suitable monitoring strategy, as determined by a competent person such as an occupational hygienist, will indicate whether personal monitoring, fixed placed (static) monitoring, or both are required. It will show which site(s) require monitoring, when and how often, and which sampling and analytical methods would be appropriate.

Personal monitoring for exposure to DEEEs

You may need to carry out personal monitoring to determine the extent of inhalation exposure to DEEEs, and hence the level of risk. Personal monitoring samples should be collected in the breathing zone of the employees. Such samples should be collected where there is a significant potential for exposure during their working shift and include peak exposures, eg while repairing or testing/maintaining an engine, while driving a fork-lift truck or during lashing in ro-ro ferries.

The duration of sampling depends on the workplace situation, such as the nature of the work and the type of monitoring. However, to collect sufficient material from the workplace air and determine the time-weighted average (TWA) exposure, sampling periods will mainly be between six and eight hours. In some instances though, depending on the circumstances, short-term measurements may be all that is required to make decisions on the risk of exposure and level of control. The number of people you decide to sample at each location will depend on the nature of exposure and size of the exposed workforce, for example:

  • processes or operations where exposures are likely to occur;
  • the number, type and position of sources from which the DEEEs are released; and
  • which groups of employees are most likely to be exposed.

Fixed place monitoring

Fixed place monitoring is appropriate in those areas of the workplace where it is impractical to collect personal samples, eg outside a toll booth. Such fixed sampling is useful for determining the effectiveness of your control measures and for measuring background concentrations of DEEEs.

What substances to monitor

Levels of carbon dioxide (CO2 ) above 1000 ppm 8-hour TWA in the workplace, may indicate faulty, poorly maintained or inadequately designed control systems in particular LEV or roof extraction systems. As measurement of the CO2 level is easily carried out and because it is a useful indicator of the overall adequacy of control measures, it may be used as one of the steps in any assessment of the level of exposure to DEEEs.

Respirable dust levels may be measured to help you assess the particulate exposure if, for example, the workload is particularly heavy. However, the levels measured will include particulates from all sources and not just the DEEEs.

In situations where personal exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) may be high (such as at toll booths and in car parks where the majority of vehicles are petrol driven) measurement of CO will provide an indication about the adequacy of controls.

Irritancy

As the definite causes of irritancy are unknown, if any of your workforce complain of this health effect, it is important to look for better means of control rather than to monitor for other gaseous constituents of DEEEs.

Health surveillance (COSHH regulation 11)

Under COSHH, no formal health surveillance is required by employers of those exposed to DEEEs or related emissions. However, if employees are concerned about the short or long-term health effects of exposure to DEEEs, they should discuss the problem with management. If still not satisfied with the outcome, they should voice their concerns with their union representative if available or the works safety representative. Furthermore, if management notices that employees are suffering irritancy effects following exposure to DEEEs, it may indicate that the controls have failed and prompt action is required.

Employers must provide information on health and related matters to employees or their representatives in accordance with the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 and the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996. Such information allows employees or their representatives to help employers develop control measures.

Information, instruction and training (COSHH regulation 12)

Adequate information, instruction and training should be given to employees on the health hazards associated with occupational exposure to DEEEs and on the proper use of control measures. This information should also be made available to employee safety representatives or other appropriate people.

The information, training and instruction should enable employees to recognise obvious deterioration in the controls used (such as poor maintenance of engines, damage to extraction equipment or ineffective general ventilation), so they can report to employers who would then take the necessary action to rectify the situation.

 

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

HSE SAFETY ALERT: CHANGE IN ENFORCEMENT EXPECTATIONS FOR MILD STEEL WELDING FUME

The Health & Safety Executive have issued the following safety alert last month (February 2019), aimed at all workers, employers, self-employed, contractors’ and any others who undertake welding activities, including mild steel, in any industry:

KEY ISSUES

  • There is new scientific evidence that exposure to all welding fume, including mild steel welding fume, can cause lung cancer.
  • There is also limited evidence linked to kidney cancer.
  • There is a change in HSE enforcement expectations in relation to the control of exposure of welding fume, including that from mild steel welding.
  • All businesses undertaking welding activities should ensure effective engineering controls are provided and correctly used to control fume arising from those welding activities.
  • Where engineering controls are not adequate to control all fume exposure, adequate and suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is also required to control risk from the residual fume.

INTRODUCTION

There is new scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer that exposure to mild steel welding fume can cause lung cancer and possibly kidney cancer in humans. The Workplace Health Expert Committee has endorsed the reclassification of mild steel welding fume as a human carcinogen.

CONSEQUENCES

With immediate effect, there is a strengthening of HSE’s enforcement expectation for all welding fume, including mild steel welding; because general ventilation does not achieve the necessary control.

OUTCOME

Control of the cancer risk will require suitable engineering controls for all welding activities indoors e.g. Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV). Extraction will also control exposure to manganese, which is present in mild steel welding fume, which can cause neurological effects similar to Parkinson’s disease.

Where LEV alone does not adequately control exposure, it should be supplemented by adequate and suitable respiratory protective equipment (RPE) to protect against the residual fume.

Appropriate RPE should be provided for welding outdoors. You should ensure welders are suitably instructed and trained in the use of these controls.

Regardless of duration, HSE will no longer accept any welding undertaken without any suitable exposure control measures in place, as there is no known level of safe exposure.

Risk assessments should reflect the change in the expected control measures.

ACTION REQUIRED

  • Make sure exposure to any welding fume released is adequately controlled using engineering controls (typically LEV).
  • Make sure suitable controls are provided for all welding activities, irrelevant of duration. This includes welding outdoors.
  • Where engineering controls alone cannot control exposure, then adequate and suitable RPE should be provided to control risk from any residual fume.
  • Make sure all engineering controls are correctly used, suitably maintained and are subject to thorough examination and test where required.
  • Make sure any RPE is subject to an RPE programme. An RPE programme encapsulates all the elements of RPE use you need to ensure that your RPE is effective in protecting the wearer.

RELEVANT LEGAL DOCUMENTS

  • Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002

REFERENCES

WELDING FUME – REDUCING THE RISK

The above HSE guidance can be viewed by clicking on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/welding/fume-welding.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 – 3RD DECEMBER 2015

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IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

Legionella and Legionnaires’ disease – coatings firm in court for legionella failings

Solder fume and you – an employee’s guide

3M SafeTea Break 2015 Campaign

Introduction

Legionnaires’ disease is, unfortunately, in the news regularly. Only last month a driving test centre in Kent had to be shut down after the bacteria – which can cause the potentially fatal lung infection – was found during a routine water test. One of the worst outbreaks in UK history was in 2002 in Barrow-in-Furness, the source of which was an arts centre air conditioning unit. 172 cases of the disease were reported, resulting in seven deaths. If you are an employer, or someone in control of premises, including landlords, you must understand the health risks associated with legionella, and take the right precautions to reduce the risks of exposure to the bacteria, guidance on which we share below. Failure to do so recently resulted in an international engineering firm being fined at total of £110,000 plus £77,252 costs.

If you work in an electronics, metalwork or plumbing related industry, you’re probably familiar with soldering processes, and the fact that serious health problems can arise from rosin, which is contained in solder fluxes. This week we share the HSE’s recently revised guidance document ‘Solder fume and you’ (INDG248) which gives advice to employees on safe working whilst soldering with rosin (colophony) based solder fluxes.

And finally, we share details of 3M’s SafeTea Break 2015 campaign which encourages employers to deliver bite-size ‘tea break’ talks to engage their workforces in discussions about health and long latency occupational diseases.

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

Legionella and Legionnaires’ disease – coatings firm in court for legionella failings

An international engineering firm, which refurbishes turbine blades, was recently fined a total of £110,000 plus £77,252 costs for failing to manage the risk to public and employees to potentially fatal legionella bacteria.

The company, which has sites in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, failed to properly manage the risk of bacteria growing in their cooling towers for over a year, from May 2011.

Derby Crown Court heard that during a visit to one of the sites in May 2012, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector felt spray on his face, saw the yard’s surface was wet and that nearby cooling towers were corroded.

Corrosion can encourage the growth of legionella bacteria which is carried in water droplets. If water is inhaled which contains the bacteria, it can lead to a number of diseases, but most commonly legionnaire’s disease, a potentially fatal form of pneumonia.

The inspector extended his visit to the rest of the factory plus the company’s other site, and found significant failings in the company’s control, recording and management of legionella risks.

HSE issued four improvement notices in June 2012 requiring inlet screens to be placed on the cooling towers to stop debris falling in them which could encourage legionella growth, and for corroded items of plant to be replaced.

Two similar notices were served on the company in 2008 seeking improvements on rusting towers and a number of management failures. All the notices had been complied with.

The court was told a laboratory analysis of a water sample taken from one of the sites before the HSE investigation had found legionella bacteria levels to be so high that immediate action was required to clean the system.

As well as failing to maintain its infrastructure, the company did not keep biocides (chemicals which kill bacteria) at effective levels.

What is Legionnaires’ disease?

Legionellosis is a collective term for diseases caused by legionella bacteria including the most serious Legionnaires’ disease, as well as the similar but less serious conditions of Pontiac fever and Lochgoilhead fever. Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia and everyone is susceptible to infection. The risk increases with age but some people are at higher risk including:

  • people over 45 years of age
  • smokers and heavy drinkers
  • people suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease
  • diabetes, lung and heart disease
  • anyone with an impaired immune system

The bacterium Legionella pneumophila and related bacteria are common in natural water sources such as rivers, lakes and reservoirs, but usually in low numbers. They may also be found in purpose-built water systems such as cooling towers, evaporative condensers, hot and cold water systems and spa pools.

If conditions are favourable, the bacteria may grow increasing the risks of Legionnaires’ disease and it is therefore important to control the risks by introducing appropriate measures outlined in Legionnaires’ disease – The Control of Legionella bacteria in water systems (L8) (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l8.htm).

What you must do

If you are an employer, or someone in control of premises, including landlords, you must understand the health risks associated with legionella. This section can help you to control any risks.

Duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) extend to risks from legionella bacteria, which may arise from work activities. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) provide a broad framework for controlling health and safety at work.  More specifically, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) provide a framework of actions designed to assess, prevent or control the risk from bacteria like Legionella and take suitable precautions.  The Approved Code of Practice: Legionnaires’ disease: The control of Legionella bacteria in water systems (L8) contains practical guidance on how to manage and control the risks in your system.

As an employer, or a person in control of the premises, you are responsible for health and safety and need to take the right precautions to reduce the risks of exposure to legionella. You must understand how to:

  • identify and assess sources of risk
  • manage any risks
  • prevent or control any risks
  • keep and maintain the correct records
  • carry out any other duties you may have

Identify and assess sources of risk

Carrying out a risk assessment is your responsibility. You may be competent to carry out the assessment yourself but, if not, you should call on help and advice from either within your own organisation or from outside sources, e.g. consultancies.

You or the person responsible for managing risks, need to understand your water systems, the equipment associated with the system such as pumps, heat exchangers, showers etc, and its constituent parts. Identify whether they are likely to create a risk from exposure to legionella, and whether:

  • the water temperature in all or some parts of the system is between 20–45 °C
  • water is stored or re-circulated as part of your system
  • there are sources of nutrients such as rust, sludge, scale, organic matter and biofilms
  • the conditions are likely to encourage bacteria to multiply
  • it is possible for water droplets to be produced and, if so, whether they can be dispersed over a wide area, e.g. showers and aerosols from cooling towers
  • it is likely that any of your employees, residents, visitors etc are more susceptible to infection due to age, illness, a weakened immune system etc and whether they could be exposed to any contaminated water droplets

Your risk assessment should include:

  • management responsibilities, including the name of the competent person and a description of your system
  • competence and training of key personnel
  • any identified potential risk sources
  • any means of preventing the risk or controls in place to control risks
  • monitoring, inspection and maintenance procedures
  • records of the monitoring results and inspection and checks carried out
  • arrangements to review the risk assessment regularly, particularly when there is reason to suspect it is no longer valid

If you conclude that there is no reasonably foreseeable risk or the risks are low and are being properly managed to comply with the law, your assessment is complete. You may not need to take any further action at this stage, but any existing controls must be maintained and the assessment reviewed regularly in case anything changes in your system.

Managing the risk

As an employer, or person in control of premises, you must appoint someone competent to help you meet your health and safety duties and to take responsibility for controlling any identified risk from exposure to legionella bacteria. A competent person, often known as the responsible person, is someone with sufficient authority, competence, necessary skills, knowledge of the system, and experience. The appointed responsible person could be one, or a combination of:

  • yourself
  • one or more workers
  • someone from outside your business

If there are several people responsible for managing risks, e.g. because of shift-work patterns, you must make sure that everyone knows what they are responsible for and how they fit into the overall risk management of the system.

If you decide to employ contractors to carry out water treatment or other work, it is still the responsibility of the competent person to ensure that the treatment is carried out to the required standards. Remember, before you employ a contractor, you should be satisfied that they can do the work you want to the standard that you require. There are a number of external schemes to help you with this, for example, A Code of Conduct for service providers (http://www.legionellacontrol.org.uk/). The British Standards Institute have published a standard for legionella risk assessment (http://shop.bsigroup.com/ProductDetail/?pid=000000000030200235)

Preventing or controlling the risk

You should first consider whether you can prevent the risk of legionella by looking at the type of water system you need, e.g. identify whether it is possible to replace a wet cooling tower with a dry air-cooled system. The key point is to design, maintain and operate your water services under conditions that prevent or adequately control the growth and multiplication of legionella.

If you identify a risk that you are unable to prevent, you must introduce a course of action ie a written control scheme, that will help you to manage the risk from legionella by implementing effective control measures, by describing:

  • your system, e.g. develop a schematic diagram
  • who is responsible for carrying out the assessment and managing its implementation
  • the safe and correct operation of your system
  • what control methods and other precautions you will be using
  • what checks will be carried out, and how often will they be carried out, to ensure the controls remain effective

You should:

  • ensure that the release of water spray is properly controlled
  • avoid water temperatures and conditions that favour the growth of legionella and other micro-organisms
  • ensure water cannot stagnate anywhere in the system by keeping pipe lengths as short as possible or removing redundant pipework
  • avoid materials that encourage the growth of legionella (The Water Fittings & Materials Directory (http://www.materialstesting.co.uk/materials_directory.htm) references fittings, materials, and appliances approved for use on the UK Water Supply System by the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme)
  • keep the system and the water in it clean
  • treat water to either control the growth of legionella (and other microorganisms) or limit their ability to grow
  • monitor any control measures applied
  • keep records of these and other actions taken, such as maintenance or repair work

Keeping records

If you have five or more employees you have to record any significant findings, including those  identified as being particularly at risk and the steps taken to prevent or control risks.  If you have less than five employees, you do not need to write anything down, although it is useful to keep a written record of what you have done.

Records should include details of the:

  • person or persons responsible for conducting the risk assessment, managing, and implementing the written scheme
  • significant findings of the risk assessment
  • written control scheme and details of its implementation
  • details of the state of operation of the system, i.e. in use/not in use
  • results of any monitoring inspection, test or check carried out, and the dates

These records should be retained throughout the period for which they remain current and for at least two years after that period. Records kept in accordance with (e) should be retained for at least five years.

Other duties

Under the Notification of Cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers Regulations 1992, you must notify your local authority in writing, if you have a cooling tower or evaporative condenser on site, and include details about where it is located. You must also tell them if/when such devices are no longer in use. Notification forms are available from your local authority/environmental health department.

Although less common, other systems that do not rely solely on the principle of evaporation, are dry/wet coolers or condensers. Owing to their different principles of operation, these systems may not require notification under the Notification of Cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers Regulations 1992 (NCTEC) but it is important to assess the system against the notification requirements defined in NCTEC, eg where such systems spray water directly onto the surface of the heat exchanger.

In addition, under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR), you must report any cases of legionellosis in an employee who has worked on cooling towers or hot and cold water systems that are likely to be contaminated with legionella.

Specific risk systems

You will also need to consider technical and further information on the following risk systems (click on the links):

For more information visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/index.htm?ebul=gd-welding&cr=12/Dec15 or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help. We carry out Legionnella Risk Assessments of hot and cold water systems in commercial and residential property and can provide further information on request.

Solder fume and you – an employee’s guide

This guidance is aimed at people who solder using rosin, specifically colophony-based solder flux, which can cause asthma and dermatitis.

Be aware:

  • Working with rosin-based solder fluxes requires you to take action. You should take appropriate steps to prevent, control or reduce exposure to fumes, as they can cause serious health problems.
  • There are different types of solder flux. Find out from your manager what type of solder fume you are using.

Remember:

  • Serious health problems can occur when soldering.
  • Report symptoms of ill health to your manager. These can include: coughing; wheezing; runny eyes or nose; tight chest. These can all be symptoms of occupational asthma or serious illness.
  • If solder flux fume makes you ill, the effects will become worse if you carry on breathing in the fume.
  • Where it is necessary to have a health surveillance process in place to help protect the health of employees, your employer will ask you to co-operate.

To protect your health:

  • Keep your face out of the solder fume.
  • Use the correct control measure(s), such as: local exhaust ventilation (LEV); solder fume extraction; on-tip extraction; down-draught benches; enclosing hoods; moveable capturing hoods. Look at Controlling health risks from rosin (colophony)-based solder fluxes (see Further reading) for further information on which method you should use.
  • Use fume extraction when you are either: – soldering using rosin-based fluxes; or – using alternative fluxes for more than a few minutes a day.
  • You should check that the system works properly every time you use or move it.
  • Check for yourself to see how effective the LEV is where you work.

Further reading (click on the links)

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

3M SafeTea Break 2015 Campaign

3M in conjunction with Safety Groups UK have launched SafeTea Break 2015 Campaign. The campaign has an accompanying toolkit for bite-size ‘tea break’ talks to engage your workforce in discussions about health and long latency occupational diseases.

The kit provides open questions to present to the workforce in a breakout session that will generate debate across health topics, ultimately driving a useful action plan, and a better understanding of the health risks and consequences of non-compliance for the workforce.

Visit the website at http://safetynetwork.3m.com/blog/safetea/?WT.mc_id=www.3m.co.uk/SafeTea?ebul=gd-welding&cr=11/Dec15 where you can download the SafeTea Break pack for free.

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

 

 

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 5TH NOVEMBER 2015

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IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

New sentencing guidelines introduced for corporate manslaughter, health and safety and food safety

Dichloromethane (DCM) Restriction: firm sentenced after worker dies after inhaling paint stripper

Dumpers: construction firm sentenced after dumper truck topple

Introduction

Last week, we looked at the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007, and the impact its introduction has had on companies and organisations. This week, new sentencing guidelines have been introduced for corporate manslaughter, as well as health and safety and food safety. Publication of the guidelines (by the Sentencing Council) ensures that for the first time, there will be comprehensive sentencing guidelines covering the most commonly sentenced health and safety offences and food safety offences in England and Wales.

Also, further to news last week of a motor vehicle repair company being fined £50,000 following the death of a worker after inhaling dichloromethane (DCM) fumes while cleaning a chemical paint stripping tank, we share HSE guidance on the safe working practices that should be followed where the use of paint stripper containing DCM is permitted, i.e. in industrial installations only.

And finally, we close with HSE guidance on the safe use of dumpers, following the recent sentencing of a construction firm after a worker was injured when a 10 tonne dumper truck he was driving overturned and landed in an open excavation.

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

New sentencing guidelines introduced for corporate manslaughter, health and safety and food safety

New sentencing guidelines have been published this week aiming to ensure a consistent, fair and proportionate approach to sentencing organisations or individuals convicted of corporate manslaughter, health and safety and food safety and hygiene offences.

Offences that come under the guidelines are very varied and could include a building firm that causes the death of an employee by not providing the proper equipment for working at height, a restaurant that causes an outbreak of e. coli poisoning through unsafe food preparation, a manufacturer that causes injury to a new worker by not providing training for operating machinery or a gas fitter whose sub-standard work leads to the risk of an explosion in someone’s home.

The publication of the guidelines ensures that for the first time, there will be comprehensive sentencing guidelines covering the most commonly sentenced health and safety offences and food safety offences in England and Wales. Until now, there has been limited guidance for judges and magistrates in dealing with what can be complex and serious offences that do not come before the courts as frequently as some other criminal offences.

The introduction of the guidelines means that in some cases, offenders will receive higher penalties, particularly large organisations committing serious offences – such as when an organisation is convicted of deliberately breaking the law and creating a high risk of death or serious injury. It is not anticipated that there will be higher fines across the board, or that they will be significantly higher in the majority of cases to those currently imposed.

The increase in penalties for serious offending has been introduced because in the past, some offenders did not receive fines that properly reflected the crimes they committed. The Council wants fines for these offences to be fair and proportionate to the seriousness of the offence and the means of offenders.

In order to achieve this, the guidelines set out sentencing ranges that reflect the very different levels of risk of harm that can result from these offences.

Corporate manslaughter always involves at least one death, but health and safety offences can vary hugely; they may pose the risk of minor harm or lead to multiple fatalities. Food offences are also wide-ranging. They could involve poor hygiene or preparation standards in a restaurant kitchen that put customers at risk of illness or that cause fatal food poisoning.

The sentencing ranges also take into account how culpable the offender was. This could range from minor failings in procedures to deliberately dangerous acts.

While prison sentences are available for individuals convicted of very serious offences, most offences are committed by organisations and therefore fines are the only sentence that can be given.

The guidelines use the turnover of the offender to identify the starting point of the fine. Turnover is used as this is a clear indicator that can be easily assessed.

However, turnover is never the only factor taken into account. The guidelines require the court to “step back”, review and adjust the initial fine if necessary. It must take into account any additional relevant financial information, such as the profit margin of the organisation, the potential impact on employees, or potential impact on the organisation’s ability to improve conditions or make restitution to victims. This means sentences will always be tailored to the offender’s specific circumstances. Fines may move up or down or outside the ranges entirely as a result of these additional mandatory steps.

Legislation requires that any fine imposed must reflect the seriousness of the offence and take into account the financial circumstances of the offender. All factors being equal, a similar level of fine given to a large, wealthy corporation on the one hand and a sole trader with a modest turnover on the other would be unfair, just as the same speeding fine given to a premiership footballer and someone on an average income would not achieve the same level of punishment or deterrence.

The UK’s record on worker fatalities is good, but where such offences are committed, the Council believes fines should be available which reflect the seriousness of the offence. As well as causing fatalities, health and safety offences may risk or cause a wide spectrum of injury and illness, including a life-changing disability or health condition for victims.

While addressing remedial action with offenders is the responsibility of the Health and Safety Executive rather than the courts, the guideline does provide for remedial orders to be made by the court in addition to or instead of punishment in cases where they may be appropriate. The guideline also includes a range of mitigating factors which allow for voluntary positive action to remedy a failure on the part of offenders to be reflected in sentences.

Sentencing Council member Michael Caplan QC said:

“These guidelines will introduce a consistent approach to sentencing, ensuring fair and proportionate sentences for those who cause death or injury to their employees and the public or put them at risk. These offences can have very serious consequences and it is important that sentences reflect these.”

Rod Ainsworth, Director of Regulatory and Legal Strategy at the FSA said:

“We welcome these guidelines. They will ensure that there is consistency in sentencing for food safety and food hygiene offences across the country. They will also ensure that offenders are sentenced fairly and proportionately in the interests of consumers.”

Following their publication this week, the guidelines will come into force in courts on 1 February 2016.

© Crown copyright: contains public sector information published by the Sentencing Council, and licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

Dichloromethane (DCM) Restriction: firm sentenced after worker dies after inhaling paint stripper

An employer has been fined £50,000 after a worker died after inhaling fumes while cleaning a chemical paint stripping tank at a motor vehicle repair company.

Dundee Sheriff Court heard how in August 2011, the worker was employed by the company to undertake general duties which included collections and deliveries, removing and replacing tyres, and moving alloy wheels into, and out of, the chemical stripping tank. He was overcome by dichloromethane vapour while attempting to remove stripping debris from within the chemical stripping tank and died as a result of his exposure to those vapours.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the worker was provided with no formal training in respect of the use of the chemical stripping tank and the chemical stripping agent used by the company. Instead he was given ‘on the job’ training.

For more information about chemicals at work visit the website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/chemicals/

Dichloromethane (DCM) Restriction

A new ban on some supply and use of paint strippers containing the hazardous substance ‘dichloromethane’ (DCM, and also known as methylene chloride) is coming into force.  For the purposes of this ban, the term ‘paint stripper’ is taken to mean DCM (or mixtures containing it) intended for stripping paint, varnish or lacquer.

Pure DCM (or mixtures containing it) sold and used for other purposes (e.g. degreasing) aren’t banned and can continue to be sold and used (although not for stripping paint).

The new ban makes a distinction between three types of use:

  • ‘Industrial’ use of paint strippers in ‘industrial installations’ (i.e. facilities where paint stripping takes place) – this is allowed to continue as long as certain safe working practices are followed.
  • ‘Professional’ use by workers where this takes place away from an industrial installation. This will be banned, but UK can choose to allow continued safe use by specifically trained professionals.
  • ‘Consumer’ use by the general public, such as DIY. Supply to consumers is banned.

Industrial use

Use of DCM-based paint strippers can continue in industrial installations so long as certain safe working practices are followed. Supply for these uses is also permitted. The required conditions for continued industrial use are listed in paragraph 4 of the restriction text:

(a) effective ventilation in all processing areas, in particular for the wet processing and the drying of stripped articles: local exhaust ventilation at strip tanks supplemented by forced ventilation in those areas, so as to minimise exposure and to ensure compliance, where technically feasible, with relevant occupational exposure limits;

(b) measures to minimise evaporation from strip tanks comprising: lids for covering strip tanks except during loading and unloading; suitable loading and unloading arrangements for strip tanks; and wash tanks with water or brine to remove excess solvent after unloading;

(c) measures for the safe handling of dichloromethane in strip tanks comprising: pumps and pipework for transferring paint stripper to and from strip tanks; and suitable arrangements for safe cleaning of tanks and removal of sludge;

(d) personal protective equipment that complies with Directive 89/686/EEC comprising: suitable protective gloves, safety goggles and protective clothing; and appropriate respiratory protective equipment where compliance with relevant occupational exposure limits cannot be otherwise achieved;

(e) adequate information, instruction and training for operators in the use of such equipment.

Paint strippers supplied for industrial use must be labelled in accordance with either the CHIP Regulations or CLP, and must also be ‘visibly, legibly and indelibly marked’ with the text ‘Restricted to industrial use and to professionals approved in certain EU Member States — verify where use is allowed.’ Suppliers will wish to satisfy themselves that mixtures are being supplied for legal uses, in order to explain such a due diligence approach if challenged.

Professional (mobile) use

The ban first took effect on 6 December 2010.  Since then formulators of DCM-based paint strippers have not been allowed to put their products into the supply chain for use outside industrial installations. Suppliers could however continue to sell existing stocks to professionals or the public for a further year, until 6 December 2011. On the 6 June 2012 all use of DCM-based paint strippers by professionals outside industrial installations had to cease.

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

Dumpers: construction firm sentenced after dumper truck topple

A construction firm has been sentenced after a worker was injured when a 10 tonne dumper truck he was driving over turned and landed in an open excavation.

Peterborough Magistrates’ Court heard the construction firm failed to put in place measures such as stop blocks to prevent vehicles from falling into the excavation, failed to plan and implement a safe system of work, and inadequately trained the dumper truck driver.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuting said the incident could have easily been avoided by putting simple safety measures in place.

The driver of the truck sustained crush injuries to his wrist.

After the hearing, the HSE Inspector who investigated and prosecuted this case, said: “Accidents can be prevented by ensuring construction work is planned, managed and monitored in a way that ensures it is carried out safely from the start, including for example the use of stop blocks at the edge of excavations”.

Dumpers

What you need to do

The law says you must organise your site to segregate pedestrians and dumpers. The dumpers used must be carefully selected, maintained and operated by trained drivers. Key issues are:

  • Dumper hazards
  • Controlling the risk
  • Training and competence
  • Inspection and maintenance

What you need to know

A safe workplace for all vehicle operations must be established by separating pedestrians and vehicles and providing hazard-free traffic routes. See Traffic management (http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/vehiclestrafficmanagement.htm).

Dumper hazards

Most fatal injuries involving dumpers are caused by:

  • Overturning – over 60% of dumper deaths involve the driver when the vehicle overturns;
  • Collision – most other deaths occur when pedestrians are struck by the dumper when it is reversing or going forwards on site.

Controlling the risk

It is important to select the right dumper for the job. There are a number of key factors to consider when controlling the significant hazards arising from use of dumpers. These are:

  • Gradients: Plan the work so that dumpers are used on gradients that are within their safe working capacity. Check with the manufacturer.
  • Competence: Arrange for dumpers to be driven by trained and competent operators and implement a system for supervising safe driving practice.
  • Safety devices: Check that dumpers are provided with roll-over protection and that drivers use their seatbelts.
  • Loading: Make sure loads are distributed evenly and provide purpose-built platforms for regularly transported items, eg large drums.
  • Vision: Make sure that loads do not obscure driver vision.
  • Edges: Provide wheel stops at a safe distance from edges of excavations, pits and spoil heaps to prevent site dumpers falling when tipping.

Training and competence

There are two categories of worker who must be trained and competent regarding dumper hazards and precautions:

  • Drivers should be trained, competent and authorised to operate the specific dumper. Training certificates from recognised schemes help demonstrate competence, and certificates should be checked for validity;
  • Pedestrians: should be instructed in safe pedestrian routes on site and the procedure for making drivers aware of their presence.

Inspection and maintenance

A programme of daily visual checks, regular inspections and servicing schedules should be established in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and the risks associated with each vehicle.

Drivers should be encouraged to report defects or problems. Reported problems should be put right quickly and the dumper taken out of service if the item is safety critical.

For clarification or more information, please 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