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

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

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

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

Reversing vehicles

What’s the problem?

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

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

Guidance

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

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

In locations where reversing cannot be avoided:

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

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

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

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

Reducing the dangers caused by ‘blind-spots’:

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

Reversing alarms can be fitted:

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

Other safety devices can be fitted to vehicles:

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

Additionally:

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

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

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

 

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 10TH DECEMBER 2015

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IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

Scaffold checklist – company fined after scaffolding blown over during dismantling

Construction hazardous substances: Cement – construction firm fined after worker suffers cement burns

Preventing exposure to carbon monoxide from use of solid fuel appliances in commercial kitchens

Introduction

This is our last news update of the year and we would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our readers Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

As we head into winter, the cold temperatures predicted have thankfully so far eluded us, but heavy rain and strong winds are, worryingly, becoming commonplace. Only last weekend, outside a North Staffordshire convenience store, a 40 metre stretch of scaffolding blew down, landing on six parked cars. Amazingly and luckily, nobody was hurt. And this week, a scaffolding company was fined after scaffolding they were dismantling blew over and hit a bus and pedestrians. Investigation by the HSE found that the scaffolding was not tied to the building, and sheeting was left in place. We open this week’s update with HSE guidance intended to clarify when a scaffold design is required and what level of training and competence those erecting, dismantling, altering, inspecting and supervising scaffolding operations are expected to have.

Staying with construction, we also share HSE guidance on controlling the risks of serious skin problems such as dermatitis and burns which can arise from using cement based products, like concrete or mortar. This is after a construction firm was fined £14,000 plus £1590 costs when a 54-year-old employee suffered severe cement burns to his knees while laying concrete flooring.

Finally, with the increasing popularity of charcoal and wood-fired ovens, the uptake of solid fuel appliances in restaurant kitchens has been rapid. But the Health Protection Agency has warned that wood burning stoves “can cause lethal carbon monoxide poisoning”. So the HSE have published a new catering information sheet which we share this week, aimed specifically at employers who use solid fuel appliances such as tandoori ovens, charcoal grills and wood-fired pizza ovens in commercial kitchens.

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

Scaffold checklist – company fined after scaffolding blown over during dismantling

A scaffolding company has been fined a total of £8,000 plus £2,000 costs after scaffolding hit a bus and pedestrians when it blew over during dismantling.

Leicester Magistrates’ Court heard how in January 2015 the company was dismantling scaffolding on a city centre street when the incident occurred. The scaffolding hit a bus, landed on a parked van and hit two members of the public.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident, found that the company was not following a safe system of work. The scaffolding was not tied to the building and sheeting was left in place. The scaffolding dismantling took place over four days and the workers failed to check the scaffolding condition before they started or to take adequate measures to correct defects and ensure it would not collapse during the dismantling.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Martin Giles said: “Scaffolding needs to be tied to a building and dismantling needs to be properly planned and carried out in a safe manner.”

Scaffold checklist

This guide is intended to clarify when a scaffold design is required and what level of training and competence those erecting, dismantling, altering, inspecting and supervising scaffolding operations are expected to have.

Scaffold design

It is a requirement of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 that unless a scaffold is assembled to a generally recognised standard configuration, eg NASC Technical Guidance TG20 for tube and fitting scaffolds or similar guidance from manufacturers of system scaffolds, the scaffold should be designed by bespoke calculation, by a competent person, to ensure it will have adequate strength, rigidity and stability while it is erected, used and dismantled.

At the start of the planning process, the user should supply relevant information to the scaffold contractor to ensure an accurate and proper design process is followed.  Typically this information should include:

  • site location
  • period of time the scaffold is required to be in place
  • intended use
  • height and length and any critical dimensions which may affect the scaffold
  • number of boarded lifts
  • maximum working loads to be imposed and maximum number of people using the scaffold at any one time
  • type of access onto the scaffold eg staircase, ladder bay, external ladders
  • whether there is a requirement for sheeting, netting or brickguards
  • any specific requirements or provisions eg pedestrian walkway, restriction on tie locations, inclusion/provision for mechanical handling plant eg hoist)
  • nature of the ground conditions or supporting structure
  • information on the structure/building the scaffold will be erected against together with any relevant dimensions and drawings
  • any restrictions that may affect the erection, alteration or dismantling process

Prior to installation, the scaffold contractor or scaffold designer can then provide relevant information about the scaffold.  This should include:

  • type of scaffold required (tube & fitting or system)
  • maximum bay lengths
  • maximum lift heights
  • platform boarding arrangement (ie 5 + 2) and the number of boarded lifts that can be used at any one time
  • safe working load / load class
  • maximum leg loads
  • maximum tie spacing both horizontal and vertical and tie duty
  • details of additional elements such as beamed bridges, fans, loading bays etc, which may be a standard configuration (see note 1 ref TG20:13) or specifically designed
  • information can be included in relevant drawings if appropriate
  • any other information relevant to the design, installation or use of the scaffold
  • reference number, date etc. to enable recording, referencing and checking

All scaffolding must be erected, dismantled and altered in a safe manner.  This is achieved by following the guidance provided by the NASC in document SG4 ‘Preventing falls in scaffolding’ for tube and fitting scaffolds or by following similar guidance provided by the manufacturers of system scaffolding.

For scaffolds that fall outside the scope of a generally recognised standard configuration the design must be such that safe erection and dismantling techniques can also be employed throughout the duration of the works. To ensure stability for more complex scaffolds, drawings should be produced and, where necessary, these may need to be supplemented with specific instructions.

Any proposed modification or alteration that takes a scaffold outside the scope of a generally recognised standard configuration should be designed by a competent person and proven by calculation.

Scaffold structures that normally require bespoke design

Includes:

  • all shoring scaffolds (dead, raking, flying)
  • cantilevered scaffolds
  • truss-out Scaffolds
  • façade retention
  • access scaffolds with more than the 2 working lifts
  • buttressed free-standing scaffolds
  • temporary roofs and temporary buildings
  • support scaffolds
  • complex loading bays
  • mobile and static towers
  • free standing scaffolds
  • temporary ramps and elevated roadways
  • staircases and fire escapes (unless covered by manufacturers instructions)
  • spectator terraces and seating stands
  • bridge scaffolds
  • towers requiring guys or ground anchors
  • offshore scaffolds
  • pedestrian footbridges or walkways
  • slung and suspended scaffolds
  • protection fans
  • pavement gantries
  • marine scaffolds
  • boiler scaffolds
  • power line crossings
  • lifting gantries and towers
  • steeple scaffolds
  • radial / splayed scaffolds on contoured facades
  • system scaffolds outside manufacturers guidance
  • sign board supports
  • sealing end structures (such as temporary screens)
  • temporary storage on site
  • masts, lighting towers and transmission towers
  • advertising hoardings/banners
  • rubbish chute
  • any scaffold structure not mentioned above that falls outside the ‘compliant scaffold’ criteria in TG20 or similar guidance from manufacturers of system scaffolds.

The above list is not exhaustive and any scaffold that is not a standard configuration or does not comply with published manufacturers’ guidelines will require a specific design produced by a competent person.

Note:

  1. TG20:13 provides compliant scaffolds for a limited range of cantilever scaffolds, loading bays, static towers, use of rakers, bridges and protection fans.
  1. TG20:13 provides a range of compliant scaffolds, which can be boarded at any number of lifts, but only two platforms can be used as working platforms at any one time.

Competence and supervision of scaffolding operatives

All employees should be competent for the type of scaffolding work they are undertaking and should have received appropriate training relevant to the type and complexity of scaffolding they are working on.

Employers must provide appropriate levels of supervision taking into account the complexity of the work and the levels of training and competence of the scaffolders involved.

As a minimum requirement, every scaffold gang should contain a competent scaffolder who has received training for the type and complexity of the scaffold to be erected, altered or dismantled.

Trainee scaffolders should always work under the direct supervision of a trained and competent scaffolder. Operatives are classed as ‘trainees’ until they have completed the approved training and assessment required to be deemed competent.

Erection, alteration and dismantling of all scaffolding structures (basic or complex) should be done under the direct supervision of a competent person. For complex structures this would usually be an ‘Advanced Scaffolder’ or an individual who has received training in a specific type of system scaffold for the complexity of the configuration involved.

Scaffolding operatives should be up to date with the latest changes to safety guidance and good working practices within the scaffolding industry. Giving operatives job specific pre-start briefings and regular toolbox talks is a good way of keeping them informed.

Guidance on the relevant expertise of Scaffolders and Advanced scaffolders including details of which structures they are deemed competent to erect can be obtained from the Construction Industry Scaffolders Record Scheme (CISRS) website (http://cisrs.org.uk/).

Scaffold inspection

It is the scaffold users / hirers responsibility to ensure that all scaffolding has been inspected as follows:

  • following installation / before first use
  • at an interval of no more than every 7 days thereafter
  • following any circumstances liable to jeopardise the safety of the installation eg high winds.

All scaffolding inspection should be carried out by a competent person whose combination of knowledge, training and experience is appropriate for the type and complexity of the scaffold.

Competence may have been assessed under the CISRS or an individual may have received training in inspecting a specific type of system scaffold from a manufacturer/supplier.

A non-scaffolder who has attended a scaffold inspection course (eg a site manager) could be deemed competent to inspect a basic scaffold structure.

The scaffold inspection report should note any defects or matters that could give rise to a risk to health and safety and any corrective actions taken, even when those actions are taken promptly, as this assists with the identification of any recurring problem.

Further information

National Access and Scaffolding Confederation (http://www.nasc.org.uk/)

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

Construction hazardous substances: Cement – construction firm fined after worker suffers cement burns

A construction firm has been fined £14,000 plus £1590 costs after a 54-year-old employee suffered severe cement burns to his knees while laying concrete flooring.

Sefton Magistrates’ Court heard that in November 2014, the employee kneeled in wet concrete to manually finish the concrete flooring being laid in a domestic bungalow. The cement burns to both his knees resulted in 12 days hospitalisation and ongoing treatment.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the firm failed to adequately assess the risks and implement suitable and sufficient control measures to protect employees from contact of the wet concrete with the skin. In addition, it did not provide suitable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and there were no welfare facilities on site.

The court heard the company had been served with HSE Improvement Notices for lack of welfare facilities in September 2014 and June 2014.

HSE inspector Anne Foster said after the hearing: “The injuries the employee suffered were entirely foreseeable and avoidable had the company implemented suitable controls, such as the use of long-handled tools, or the provision of suitable chemical resistant PPE. It is also wholly unreasonable to expect workers to travel four miles to find welfare facilities.”

What you must do

The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations (http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/index.htm) says you must protect against the risks from cement-based products. Follow the Assess, Control and Review model. Pay particular attention to:

Assess

Identify and assess: Identify those tasks where cement based products will be used. Workers handling / mixing cement powder or using wet mortar and cement are particularly at risk. Check for any existing skin or allergy problems as this work could make these conditions worse. Follow the control steps below.

Cement powder is also a respiratory irritant. The dust produced while cutting, drilling etc dried concrete and mortar can cause more serious lung disease. More information on assessing and controlling this risk can be found in the section on construction dust (http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/healthrisks/hazardous-substances/construction-dust.htm).

Control

Prevent: Where possible think about eliminating or reducing the amount of cement used and contact with it. Consider:

  • avoiding exposure to cement powder by using pre-mixed concrete / mortar
  • using work methods that increases the distance between the worker and the substance such as longer handled tools
  • rotating cement bags to ensure they are used before the shelf date. The ingredient added to reduce the risk of allergic contact dermatitis is only effective for a limited period.

Control: Even if you stop some of the risk this way, you may still do other work that might involve contact with cement. Control the risk by:

  • Gloves – gloves should be waterproof and suitable for use with high pH (alkaline) substances; eg marked with EN374:2003 and tested for use with “alkalis and bases” (class K) – some nitrile or PVC gloves may be suitable. Breakthrough time and permeation rate should also be suitable for the type and duration of the work. Gloves should be long and /or tight fitting at the end to prevent cement being trapped between the glove and the skin.
  • More information on gloves: http://www.hse.gov.uk/skin/employ/gloves.htm
  • Footwear – suitable footwear, such as wellington boots, should be used where large concrete pours are taking place. If standing in cement, these should be high enough to prevent cement entering the top of the boot.
  • Waterproof trousers – when kneeling on wet products containing cement, appropriate waterproof trousers should be worn or, if screeding, use appropriate waterproof knee pads or knee boards. Minimise any time spent kneeling. Wear trousers over the top of boots. This stops cement getting into them.
  • Washing – wash off any cement on the skin as soon as possible. Workers should be encouraged to wash exposed skin at breaks and after work. Good washing facilities are essential. There should be hot and cold or warm running water, soap and towels. Basins should be large enough to wash forearms. Showers may be needed in some situations where workers could get heavily covered in cement. Use emergency eyewash to remove any cement that gets into eyes.
  • Skin care products – these can help to protect the skin. They replace the natural oils that help keep the skin’s protective barrier working properly.

Train: Workers need to know how to use the controls properly. They also need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of dermatitis.  Finding skin problems early can stop them from getting too bad.

Review

Supervise: Ensure that controls such as work methods, PPE and welfare are effective and used by the workers.

Monitor: Appropriate health surveillance is needed to check your controls are preventing dermatitis. This could be done by a ‘responsible person’ who can be an employee provided with suitable training. They should:

  • assess the condition of a new worker’s skin before, or as soon as possible after, they start work and then periodically check for early signs of skin disease after this
  • keep secure health records of these checks
  • tell the employer the outcome of these checks and any action needed

What you should know

Skin problems are not just a nuisance, they can be very painful and sometimes debilitating. Cement and cement-based products can harm the skin in a number of ways.

Wet cement is highly alkaline in nature. A serious burn or ulcer can rapidly develop if it is trapped against the skin. In extreme cases, these burns may need a skin graft or cause a limb to be amputated. Cement can also cause chemical burns to the eyes.

Cement also causes dermatitis. It can abrade the skin and cause irritant contact dermatitis. Cement also contains hexavalent chromium (chromate). This can cause allergic contact dermatitis due to sensitisation. Manufacturers add an ingredient to lower the hexavalent chromium content and reduce this risk. This ingredient is only effective for a limited period as indicated by the shelf date. After this period, the level of hexavalent chromium may increase again. Once a person has become sensitised to this substance, any future exposure may trigger dermatitis. Some skilled tradesmen have been forced to change their trade because of this.

For more information on the effects of dermatitis see (click on the links):

For more information visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/healthrisks/hazardous-substances/cement.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

Preventing exposure to carbon monoxide from use of solid fuel appliances in commercial kitchens

This new catering information sheet is published in collaboration with the Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme, the Solid Fuel Association and the Hospitality Industry Liaison Forum.

The guidance is aimed specifically at employers who use solid fuel appliances such as tandoori ovens, charcoal grills and wood-fired pizza ovens in commercial kitchens. It is concerned with the risks of exposure to carbon monoxide gas for workers as well as members of the public and outlines how they can be protected and what the law says.

The information sheet can be downloaded free by clicking on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/cais26.pdf

For clarification or more information visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/cais26.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