HSE releases annual workplace fatality figures – second lowest year on record

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

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has this week released its annual figures for work-related fatalities, as well as the number of people known to have died from the asbestos-related cancer, mesothelioma, in 2015.

The provisional annual data for work-related fatal accidents revealed that 137 workers were fatally injured between April 2016 and March 2017 (a rate of 0.43 per 100,000 workers), the second lowest year on record.

There has been a long-term downward trend in the number of fatal injuries to workers – they have halved over the last 20 years – although in recent years the trend shows signs of leveling.

HSE Chair Martin Temple said:

“Every fatality is a tragic event that should not happen. While we are encouraged by this improvement on the previous year, we continue unwaveringly on our mission to prevent injury, death and ill health by protecting people and reducing risks.”

The new figures show the rate of fatal injuries in several key industrial sectors:

  • 30 fatal injuries to construction workers were recorded. While this accounts for the largest share, this is the lowest number on record for the sector. However, over the last five years the number has fluctuated, The annual average for the past five years is 39. The annual average rate over the last five years in construction is around four times as high as the all industry rate.
  • 27 fatal injuries to agricultural workers were recorded. This sector continues to account for a large share of the annual fatality count. It has the highest rate of fatal injury of all the main industry sectors, around 18 times as high as the all industry rate.
  • 14 fatal injuries to waste and recycling workers were recorded. Despite being a relatively small sector in terms of employment, the annual average fatal injury rate over the last five years is around 15 times as high as the all industry rate.

The fatalities in the waste and recycling sector in 2016/17 include the single incident at Hawkeswood Metal Recycling Ltd in Birmingham on 7 July 2016 which resulted in five deaths.

Martin Temple continued:

“As we approach the one-year anniversary of this incident, our thoughts remain with the families of those who died. We continue to fully support West Midlands Police’s investigation.”

The new figures also highlight the risks to older workers – around a quarter of fatal injuries in 2016/17 were to workers aged 60 or over, even though such workers made up only around 10% of the workforce.

There were also 92 members of the public fatally injured in accidents connected to work in 2016/17. Almost half of these occurred on railways with the remainder occurring across a number of sectors including public services, entertainment and recreation.

Mesothelioma, one of the few work related diseases where deaths can be counted directly, contracted through past exposure to asbestos killed 2,542 in Great Britain in 2015 compared to 2,519 in 2014. The current figures relating to asbestos-related cancer reflect widespread exposures before 1980. Annual deaths are therefore expected to start to reduce after this current decade.

A fuller assessment of work related ill-health and injuries, drawing on HSE’s full range of data sources, will be provided as part of the annual Health and Safety Statistics release on 1 November 2017.

The HSE Chair added:

“We deal daily with the causes and consequences of work-related deaths, injuries and ill health. Today’s updated figures continue to inform our understanding of which areas we need to target.”

“We concentrate our interventions where we know we can have the biggest impact. We hold dutyholders accountable for managing the risks they create in the workplace. This benefits workers, business performance, the economy and wider society alike.”

Further information on these statistics can be found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics. For more information on any of the above topics, visit the HSE website www.hse.gov.uk, 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

 

 

Personal buoyancy equipment on inland and inshore waters – water authority fined after death of employee

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

A water authority has been sentenced following the death of an employee.

The employee, who was a catchment operator, was working on the sand filtration unit of a waste water treatment works in 2013 when a colleague discovered him face down in water. He died at the scene having drowned.

The employee was last seen working on the top of the unit several hours before he was found by his colleague who was responding to the lone worker system. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company failed to identify the risk of drowning with the maintenance activity which was undertaken by the employee and his colleagues on a regular basis.

The water authority pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, was fined £1.8million and ordered to pay costs of £41,607.71.

Speaking after the hearing an HSE inspector said: “This tragic case could have been prevented if the company had reduced the size of the hatch used to access the sand filters, and properly considered the hazards of the operation, including how close [the employee] was to the water.

“[The employee] was exposed to the risk of drowning which could have been easily been controlled if the task had been properly planned and simple measures adopted earlier which [the water authority] failed to do so adequately.”

Personal buoyancy equipment on inland and inshore waters

This information sheet (download free by clicking on the link http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/ais1.pdf) aims to improve safety for activities on inland or inshore waters.

It is specifically for establishments that are covered by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act) and where HSE is the enforcing authority. These include fish farms, floating cage units, mussel rafts, farm or estate fisheries and similar activities.

The objective of this sheet is to reduce the number of accidental drownings to employees, employers, the self-employed and members of the public (including children).

It also covers:

  • selecting personal buoyancy equipment;
  • using and maintaining personal buoyancy equipment; and
  • operating automatic inflation mechanisms.

For more information visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/ais1.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

 

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

We hope you find our news updates useful. If you know of anyone who may benefit from reading them, please encourage them to register at the bottom-left of our news page (http://www.eljay.co.uk/news/) and we’ll email them a link each time an update is published. If in the unlikely event any difficulties are experienced whilst registering we’ll be more than happy to help and can be contacted on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

Bolton resident dies in lift shaft fall

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Passenger lifts and escalators

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

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

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

Passenger lifts used by people at work

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

Passenger lifts used by people who are not at work

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

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

Escalators and moving walkways

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

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

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

Stair lifts:

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

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

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

For more information visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/passenger-lifts.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help. We carry out health and safety inspections (as well as fire/legionella risk assessments) of all types of residential and commercial properties and are happy to provide a no-obligation quotation on request.

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

 

 

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 4TH AUGUST 2016

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

How to carry out a COSHH risk assessment – worker dies from toxic gas

A medicinal herbal manufacturing company has been fined £45,000 after a worker died from exposure to a toxic gas.

The 50 year old employee was using cleaning chemicals to clean a changing room when he was exposed to a toxic gas (likely to be chlorine) and died at the scene.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident which occurred in September 2014 found that he had not been trained in the safe use of chemicals and no company Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) assessment had been carried out.

HM Inspector Stephen Farthing said: “This was a tragic industrial incident that was entirely preventable had suitable precautions been taken. [The employee] had not received any training in the safe use of hazardous chemicals and as a result died from the exposure to a toxic gas.

“Companies should ensure that they assess all the risks associated with the use of dangerous chemical and that exposure to their employees is either eliminated or minimised.”

How to carry out a COSHH risk assessment

A COSHH assessment concentrates on the hazards and risks from hazardous substances in your workplace.

Remember that health hazards are not limited to substances labelled as ‘hazardous’. Some harmful substances can be produced by the process you use, eg wood dust from sanding, or silica dust from tile cutting.

Identify the hazards

  • Identify which substances are harmful by reading the product labels and safety data sheets (SDS)
  • If you are in doubt, contact your supplier
  • Remember to think about harmful substances produced by your processes, such as cutting or grinding, or to which workers may be otherwise exposed

Decide who might be harmed and how

  • How might workers be exposed? Think about the route into the body (whether the substance can be breathed in, get onto or through the skin or can even be swallowed) and the effects of exposure by each of these routes
  • Think of how often people work with the substance and for how long
  • Think about anyone else who could be exposed
  • Don’t forget maintenance workers, contractors and other visitors or members of the public who could be exposed
  • Also think about people who could be exposed accidentally, eg while cleaning, or what happens if controls fail

Evaluate the risks and decide on precautions

Once you have carried out a risk assessment and identified which harmful substances are present, and how workers can be harmed, you need to think about preventing exposure.

  • Do you really need to use a particular substance, or is a safer alternative available?
  • Can you change the process to eliminate its use or avoid producing it? If this is not possible, you must put in place adequate control measures to reduce exposure

The measures you adopt could include the following:

Changing the process to reduce risks

  • Consider whether you can change the process you use to reduce the risk of exposure. For example, you could reduce the temperature of a process to reduce the amount of vapour getting into the air or use pellets instead of powders as they are less dusty

Containment

  • Enclose the process or activity as much as possible to minimise the escape or release of the harmful substance
  • Use closed transfer and handling systems and minimise handling of materials
  • Extract emissions of the substance near the source

Systems of work

  • Restrict access to those people who need to be there
  • Plan the storage of materials, and use appropriate containers. Check that storage containers are correctly labelled and that incompatible materials, for example acids and caustics, are separated
  • Plan the storage and disposal of waste

Cleaning

  • Exposure to hazardous substances can occur during cleaning, so plan and organise the workplace so that it can be easily and effectively cleaned
  • Smooth work surfaces will allow easy cleaning
  • Have the right equipment and procedures to clear up spillages quickly and safely
  • Clean regularly using a ‘dust-free’ method – vacuum, don’t sweep

If you have five or more employees, you must record your assessment but, even if you have fewer than five, it makes sense to write down what steps you have taken to identify the risks. And the really important part is making a list of the actions you have taken to control the risks to workers’ health.

The risk assessment should be regularly reviewed to ensure that it is kept up to date to take into account any changes in your workplace.

For more information, visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/harmful/coshh.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 MARCH 2016

REGISTER BELOW-LEFT TO RECEIVE OUR UPDATES BY EMAIL

IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

Fairgrounds and amusement parks – HSE to prosecute Alton Towers’ owners after ‘Smiler’ incident

Temporary demountable structures – firm fined after circus tent collapse

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) – insulation company fined for health and safety failings

Introduction

The Health and Safety Executive has again been in the news over the last week, after informing Merlin Operations Ltd that it will be prosecuted over an incident in which five people were seriously injured on a rollercoaster ride at Alton Towers in Staffordshire. Two female passengers on the ‘Smiler’ ride suffered leg amputations and three others were also seriously injured when their carriage collided with a stationary carriage on the same track. The incident happened on 2 June 2015. We open this week’s update with HSE guidance on safe practice for fairgrounds and amusement parks.

Staying with the leisure industry, we also share HSE guidance this week on ‘temporary demountable structures’, following news of a marquee and tent supplier being fined after guy ropes securing a circus tent snapped causing it to collapse injuring three adults and five children at Burley Park, New Forest.

And finally, we close with HSE guidance on the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH), following news of a Welsh insulation company that produced natural insulation products being fined £30,000 plus £59,000 costs for health and safety failings.

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

Fairgrounds and amusement parks – HSE to prosecute Alton Towers’ owners after ‘Smiler’ incident

HSE media statement – 25th February 2016

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has today informed Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd that it will be prosecuted over an incident in which five people were seriously injured on a rollercoaster ride at Alton Towers in Staffordshire.

Two female passengers on the ‘Smiler’ ride suffered leg amputations and three others were also seriously injured when their carriage collided with a stationary carriage on the same track. The incident happened on 2 June 2015.

Merlin Attractions Operation Ltd based in Poole, Dorset, will appear at North Staffordshire Justice Centre, Newcastle-under-Lyme on 22 April 2016 to face a charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act etc, 1974.

Neil Craig, head of operations for HSE in the Midlands said:

“We have today informed Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd that it will be prosecuted for breaching health and safety law.

“This was a serious incident with life-changing consequences for five people.

“We have conducted a very thorough investigation and consider that there is sufficient evidence and that it is in the public interest to bring a prosecution.”

Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd is the company responsible for Alton Towers and under health and safety law is responsible for managing the risks created by the operation of the theme park’s rides.

Guidance on safe practice

Free to download by clicking on the following link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg175.htm – revised guidance on what the Fairgrounds and Amusement Parks Joint Advisory Committee on Fairgrounds and Amusement Parks (FJAC) considers appropriate safe measures for the industry to adopt in order to comply with the law.

Although fairgrounds and amusement parks are relatively safe compared to activities such as driving a car or riding a bicycle, as we are all too aware, there have been a small number of serious incidents involving employees and members of the public. The Health and Safety Executive has worked with the members of the Fairgrounds and Amusement Parks Joint Advisory Committee to improve standards and to produce this revised guide.

Acknowledging the inherent nature of fairgrounds and describing how risks can be managed effectively, it also promotes a sensible, over-arching approach recognising that while users expect high safety levels from risks beyond their control, incidental elements, eg a dodgem bump, are considered ‘part of the fun’.

The guide, however, concentrates on the safety of employers and employees, as well as the public, and begins with the industry-specific ‘system for safety of attractions’ presented in easy table-form, which then steers the reader smoothly through the publication.

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

Temporary demountable structures – firm fined after circus tent collapse

The owner of a company who supplies marquees and tents has been fined after guy ropes securing a circus tent snapped causing it to collapse injuring three adults and five children at Burley Park, New Forest.

Southampton Magistrates’ Court heard that on 10 August 2014 a sudden gust of wind went through the circus tent and eighteen of the guy ropes which secured the tent failed and snapped.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found that Happy Promotions Limited had in December 2013 taken their tent for inspection and repair to the marquee and tent supplier, who was asked to replace the guy ropes.

However, the court heard the guy ropes supplied were in fact made up of unrated webbing and had no safe working load. This led to the incident at Burley Park 8 months later.

HSE inspector Andrew Johnson said after the hearing: “The fact the guy ropes snapped (rather than the pegs being pulled from the ground) is a clear indication that the fault lies with the strength of the guy ropes, rather than the method of erection. Fortunately, the tent was empty at the time of the incident. Had a performance been underway there would have been performers and around 30 people were due to attend the afternoon performance. Were the tent occupied the collapse would likely have resulted in multiple serious injuries.”

Temporary demountable structures (TDS) – Stages, seating, marquees etc

Your duties as an event organiser

You are responsible for ensuring that as far as reasonably practicable, employees and others at a venue who could be affected by the construction and use of a TDS (such as scaffolders, riggers and members of the public) are not exposed to risks to their health and are kept safe from harm.

What you should know

Most fatal and serious injuries arise when workers fall during construction work or as a result of the collapse of the structure, lifting operations or mobile plant.

Checklist – TDS dos and don’ts

Do

Planning

  • Consider what the structure will be used for, what it needs to be able to do, who will use it and how?
  • Prepare a clear specification for the structure’s required use. This should include the technical details required to enable a design to be undertaken by your appointed TDS contractor(s) / designer (s).
  • TDS contractors / designers hired to design, supply, build, manage and take down a structure for you, should be competent and adequately resourced.
  • Provide TDS contractors / designers with relevant site information and/or allow them site access to carry out their own site assessments.
  • Your TDS contractor should ensure that the proposed structure has a design prepared by a competent person, which takes account of the use and conditions in which it is to be installed.
  • Where a structure is to carry advertising / scrim, include this requirement in any design concept, specification and structural assessment.
  • Novel or unusual structures may require additional testing by a TDS designer to demonstrate the integrity of the design.
  • Whoever builds the structure should undertake an assessment of the likely construction hazards and risks. To help with an assessment and to find out more about construction hazards and risks see:
  • Falls from height
  • Construction safety topics (including lifting operations and vehicle safety)
  • Health risks in construction
  • Plan and work with your contractors to develop safe systems of working and make sure all significant risks on the site are properly controlled, eg use of cranes and lift trucks.
  • Plan to minimise confusion and conflict, particularly between those contractors carrying out concurrent or consecutive activities on the same structure.
  • Consider the extent of control that you and your contractors have over the work activity and workplace during each phase of the build, use and deconstruction cycle of a structure. Organisers and TDS contractors should agree the extent of their control at the planning stage, so that responsibility for structural safety is understood and maintained throughout the event.

Building and dismantling the TDS

  • The assessments done under Planning (above) should serve as a guide on how to build and dismantle the structure safely.
  • Make sure there is sufficient time and resources available to build and dismantle the structure safely.
  • Use competent staff and have a suitable onsite operational management system in place to supervise and monitor safety compliance.
  • A programme of works, including key safety checkpoints, can be helpful to communicate critical erection / dismantling stages to the site manager / crew bosses and operatives.
  • Build the structure to the agreed design in accordance with a safe system of work.
  • Arrange for the structure to be checked to make sure that it has been built according to the design.

While TDS is in use

  • Have arrangements in place to inspect the structure for deterioration during the time it is installed in line with a documented management plan and, if needed, arrange for remedial works.
  • Any change in the proposed use of the structure or site conditions which may affect the structure’s suitability should trigger a design check for the new conditions. An example of this may be the requirement to add additional banners to a structure such as a PA tower. The organiser is responsible for ensuring this is done.
  • Have arrangements in place to ensure that any measures required to keep the structure safe during use are implemented. For example, if the structure is susceptible to the weather, monitor and measure the local weather conditions. In adverse weather conditions, know what to do with the structure to protect its stability, eg when to open wind relief panels and when to evacuate.

Don’t

  • Take forward incomplete design concepts, as this could result in last-minute modifications, leading to safety problems.
  • Build a structure on unstable ground.
  • Put advertising / scrim on a structure if a competent person has not approved it as being safe – it can affect wind loading and increase the risk of collapse / overturn.
  • Use flammable fabrics.

For more information, visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/event-safety/temporary-demountable-structures.htm, or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) – insulation company fined for health and safety failings

A Welsh insulation company that produced natural insulation products have been fined £30,000 plus £59,000 costs for health and safety failings.

Wrexham Magistrates’ Court heard that the company failed to conduct an adequate risk assessment for the processing of hemp. They also failed to adequately guard machinery.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the concerns raised anonymously found that the COSHH assessment was not suitable and sufficient.

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)

What is a ‘substance hazardous to health’?

COSHH covers substances that are hazardous to health. Substances can take many forms and include:

  • chemicals
  • products containing chemicals
  • fumes
  • dusts
  • vapours
  • mists
  • nanotechnology
  • gases and asphyxiating gases and
  • biological agents (germs). If the packaging has any of the hazard symbols then it is classed as a hazardous substance.
  • germs that cause diseases such as leptospirosis or legionnaires disease and germs used in laboratories.

COSHH does not cover

  • lead,
  • asbestos or
  • radioactive substances

because these have their own specific regulations.

What you need to do

Before you start your COSHH assessment, you need to:

Think about

  • What do you do that involves hazardous substances?
  • How can these cause harm?
  • How can you reduce the risk of harm occurring?

Always try to prevent exposure at source. For example:

  • Can you avoid using a hazardous substance or use a safer process – preventing exposure, eg using water-based rather than solvent-based products, applying by brush rather than spraying?
  • Can you substitute it for something safer – eg swap an irritant cleaning product for something milder, or using a vacuum cleaner rather than a brush?
  • Can you use a safer form, eg can you use a solid rather than liquid to avoid splashes or a waxy solid instead of a dry powder to avoid dust?

Check your trade press and talk to employees. At trade meetings, ask others in your industry for ideas.

If you can’t prevent exposure, you need to control it adequately by applying the principles of good control practice (http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/detail/goodpractice.htm)

Control is adequate when the risk of harm is ‘as low as is reasonably practicable’.

This means:

  • All control measures are in good working order.
  • Exposures are below the Workplace Exposure Limit, where one exists.
  • Exposure to substances that cause cancer, asthma or genetic damage is reduced to as low a level as possible.

COSHH Essentials

COSHH Essentials sets out basic advice on what to do to control exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace. It takes the form of straightforward advice in ‘factsheets’ called ‘control guidance sheets’. There are two types of sheets, industry-specific ‘direct advice sheets’ and ‘generic control guidance sheets’.

Direct advice sheets (click on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/direct-advice/index.htm)

First check the direct advice sheets listed by industry to see if there are any direct advice sheets for tasks or processes in your industry. If your industry is not listed don’t worry, you can use our e-tool to identify which generic control guidance sheets are appropriate.

COSHH e-tool (click on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/coshh-tool.htm)

When using the tool you will be prompted by questions to enter some basic information about the substance you are using, before being directed to the most appropriate generic control guidance sheet for you.

Frequently asked questions (click on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/faq.htm)

  • Why does COSHH essentials not list all of the R phrases/H statements that are on my Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
  • I can’t find my safety data sheet. What should I do?
  • I have just completed COSHH essentials, is this sufficient to use as my COSHH assessment?
  • Some of the information I need is missing from my safety data sheet. What should I do?
  • There isn’t a boiling point in the safety data sheet?
  • Why can’t I mix a liquid with a solid?

For more information, visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/, or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

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