New App launched to support Construction Worker’s Mental Health

The statistics are grim, two construction workers take their own life every single working day and stress, anxiety and depression currently accounts for a fifth of all work-related illness.

A new collaboration between the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity, construction software firm ‘COINS’ and ‘Building Mental Health’, aims to address this sensitive subject with a new ‘Construction Industry Helpline’ app. This free mental health app will provide vital information, advice and guidance on many wellbeing topics including stress, anxiety, depression, anger and suicidal thoughts.

Bill Hill, CEO of the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity said, “The app complements our existing 24/7 Construction Industry Helpline and is aimed at construction workers and their families. We recognise that not everyone feels comfortable talking about their feelings or personal situation, so the ‘Construction Industry Helpline’ app is aimed at people who would like to find out more information about how they can perhaps help themselves or if necessary, take the next step in seeking professional help.  It is a preventative tool and provides support at the initial stages of a situation so that the problem does not reach a life critical stage.”

Although the construction industry is rising to the challenge of creating a healthier workplace, finding the right support is not always easy. The Lighthouse Club are already helping to drive significant change through a variety of mental health and wellbeing support programmes – but realise that there is still a long way to go before the culture in construction removes the stigma about talking about mental health and wellbeing. By providing a free app, which can be downloaded by anyone in the industry, they hope to combat this. The ‘Construction Industry Helpline’ app will provide information, advice and guidance about how people can relieve the long term effects of stress, anxiety or depression as well as providing access to other areas of support such as anger management, drug and alcohol dependency, debt management, legal advice, and emergency financial aid.

COINS, who have over 35 years of developing software solutions for construction companies, are also passionate about giving something back to the industry. Their CEO, Robert Brown, added, “Collaborating with the Lighthouse Construction Industry in building this important app to help support construction workers and their families has been a privilege. It is great way for COINS to give something back to the construction industry and hope that it will be a great help to both construction workers and their families when they need it the most.”

For more information and to download the free app, click on the following link: https://www.constructionindustryhelpline.com/app.html

To view HSE guidance on mental health conditions, work and the workplace, click on the following link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/mental-health.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help

 

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

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

Local authority prosecuted after wall collapses onto child

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your garden walls: better to be safe

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

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

Garden walls

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

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

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

Things to check

  1. Is the surface of the brickwork crumbling away?

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

  1. Is the mortar pointing in good condition?

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

  1. Is there a tree near the wall?

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

  1. Is the wall upright?

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

  1. Is the wall thick enough for its height?

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

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

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

  1. Is the top of the wall firmly attached?

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

  1. Has the wall been damaged by traffic?

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

  1. Are there any cracks in the wall?

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

If you have any queries at all regarding the above, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

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

 

Metalworking fluids – ejector seat manufacturer fined £800,000 for failing to protect workers’ health

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

Ejector seat manufacturer fined £800,000 for failing to protect workers’ health

A  manufacturer of ejector seats has been fined £800,000 after three workers developed debilitating lung conditions.

Three skilled CNC machine operators developed extrinsic allergic alveolitis after many years of exposure to the mist of working metal fluid. The lung condition, also known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis, is a body’s allergic reaction to breathing in a substance and symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath and joint pain.

Aylesbury Crown Court heard how the workers, who had served with the company for more than 20 years, were exposed to the working metal fluid mist over at least a three-year period. One worker has been so severely affected they have become virtually paralysed by the illness, another will never be able to work with metal working fluids again, a key material in the industry and a third must have special measures in place to ensure he never comes into contact with the substance.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the measures in place within the factory to stop the exposure to workers were inadequate. The fluid is commonly used as a lubricant and coolant in engineering processes. During the process of using the machines the fluid creates a mist, which in this case was breathed in by around 60 workers.

The manufacturer failed to put in place a system of cleaning away the excess fluid or providing extraction to prevent the build-up of the mist. There were also failings in the provision of health surveillance, which should have identified the issue early enough to ensure the company were able to put in place and monitor any appropriate safety measures.

The manufacturer pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act (1974) and Regulation 6(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (as amended) (COSHH) and were fined £ 800 000 and ordered to pay costs of £36 912.36

The HSE said “Companies need to make sure they consider workers’ health just as much as their safety when carrying out risk assessments. The dangers of breathing in metal working fluid are well known within the industry. In this case one worker has had his health permanently and severely damaged, two others have also been affected, all will have to live with their condition for the rest of their lives.”

About metalworking fluids

Metalworking Fluids (MWFs) are neat oils or water-based fluids used during the machining and shaping of metals to provide lubrication and cooling. They are sometimes referred to as suds, coolants, slurry or soap.

The main health risks from working with metalworking fluids

Exposure to metalworking fluids can cause:

  • irritation of the skin or dermatitis; and
  • occupational asthma, bronchitis, irritation of the upper respiratory tract, breathing difficulties or, rarely, a more serious lung disease called extrinsic allergic alveolitis (EAA), which can cause increasingly severe breathing difficulties in recurrent episodes, following repeated exposure.

Fluid and mist from water-mix wash fluids and washing machines used to clean machined components may be hazardous in much the same way as fluid and mist from metalworking machines, and the same principles of risk assessment, prevention and control should be applied.

How harm is caused

Metalworking fluids are mostly applied by continuous jet, spray or hand dispenser and can affect your health:

  • if you inhale the mist generated during machining/shaping operations;
  • through direct contact with unprotected skin, particularly hands, forearms and heads;
  • through cuts and abrasions or other broken skin; and
  • through the mouth if you eat, drink or smoke in work areas, or from poor personal hygiene, eg not washing hands before eating.

Key messages for managing the health risks

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) requires exposure to metalworking fluids by inhalation, ingestion or skin contact to be prevented where reasonably practicable, or failing that, adequately controlled.

You should:

  • carry out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment – HSE’s self-assessment questionnaire (http://www.hse.gov.uk/metalworking/questionnaire.pdf) will help you do this;
  • maintain fluid quality and control bacterial contamination of fluids;
  • minimise skin exposure to fluids;
  • prevent or control airborne mists; and
  • where there is exposure to fluid or mist, carry out health surveillance.

To achieve the necessary control and risk reduction, among other actions, you will need to:

  • check and maintain exposure control measures, such as enclosures and local exhaust ventilation;
  • check levels of bacterial contamination using dip slides, or other means of measuring the level of bacterial activity, in both metalworking and associated fluids eg in washing machines, and act on the readings obtained in line with your risk assessment;
  • ensure that, as a minimum, a responsible person carries out the required health surveillance
  • conduct asthma health checks
  • refer anyone affected by exposure to a competent occupational health professional;
  • take prompt action after any diagnosis of ill health to identify the likely cause and ensure it is prevented or adequately controlled; and
  • keep workers informed of all findings.

For more information, visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/metalworking/index.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 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 SEPTEMBER 2015

IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

HSE Refurbishment Inspection Initiative 2015

FLTA Safety Month – Safetember: see danger, speak up!

Licensing of houses in multiple occupation in England: a guide for landlords and managers

Key safety campaigns to be supported at British Safety Council’s annual conference

Introduction

Later this month, the construction industry will be the focus of HSE attention, as inspectors embark on a four week long programme of unannounced visits to sites where refurbishment projects or repairs are underway. We open this week’s update with details of the HSE’s 10th annual refurbishment inspection initiative.

Already underway is the Fork Lift Truck Association’s safety month which runs until 30th September, and during which free resources and guides will be available on the FLTA website. The campaign is now in its eighth year and aims to raise awareness of the dangers involved in fork lift operations throughout the industry and to stress the importance of common sense measures that can make lift trucks safer and more efficient.

Are you a landlord or managing agent/property manager? Do you know what constitutes a House in Multiple Occupation, and that some HMOs are required to be licensed? Read on for more information about your responsibilities, particularly in regard to health and safety.

The safety of cyclists on our roads has been highlighted in the news in recent weeks, and a ban on unsafe lorries has recently come into force in London. Work-related transport is one of the health and safety campaigns the British Safety Council will be focusing on at its conference on 23rd September. Read on to find out which other campaigns will be highlighted at the event.

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

HSE Refurbishment Inspection Initiative 2015

The HSE’s 10th annual refurbishment inspection initiative is due to take place between 14th September and 9th October 2015. Poor standards and unsafe practices on Britain’s building sites are likely to be targeted during a nationwide drive aimed at reducing ill health, death and injury in the industry.

During the annual initiative, HSE Construction Inspectors carry out unannounced visits to sites where refurbishment projects or repair works are underway, ensuring high-risk activities particularly those affecting the health of workers, are being properly managed.

What the initiative does

The main aims of the initiative are:

  • to achieve an improvement in industry standards, in particular at small sites
  • to increase awareness of HSEs expectations of the industry
  • to demonstrate that HSE will use the enforcement tools at its disposal to prevent immediate risk and bring about sustained improvements

What inspectors look for

During inspections, HSE inspectors consider whether:

  • risks to health from exposure to dust such as silica are being controlled
  • workers are aware of where they may find asbestos, and what to do if they find it
  • other health risks, such as exposure to noise and vibration, manual handling, hazardous substances are being properly managed
  • jobs that involve working at height have been identified and properly planned to ensure that appropriate precautions, such as proper support of structures, are in place
  • equipment is correctly installed / assembled, inspected and maintained and used properly
  • sites are well organised, to avoid trips and falls, walkways and stairs are free from obstructions and welfare facilities are adequate

HSE uses the inspection initiatives to reinforce its message to the construction industry that poor standards are unacceptable and liable to result in HSE taking enforcement action.

Previous campaign results:

More information on the above can be found on the HSE website www.hse.gov.uk or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be more than happy to help.

FLTA Safety Month – Safetember: see danger, speak up!

Date and location

1st – 30th September 2015, throughout the month, location the FLTA website (http://fork-truck.org.uk/fork-lift-safety/national-fork-lift-safety-month)

Event overview

National Fork Lift Safety Week was launched by the Fork Lift Truck Association (FLTA) in 2008 to raise awareness of the dangers involved in fork lift operations throughout the industry and to stress the importance of common sense measures that can make lift trucks safer and more efficient.

For 2015, the Association has increased the scope into a month-long campaign throughout September, dubbing the campaign “Safetember”.

Throughout Safetember the FLTA will be making a compendium of free resources and guides available on its website. The Association will also be urging every company that works with lift trucks to genuinely empower workers with the freedom to report bad practice in a blame-free environment.

After all, this freedom is not a luxury, it is a right.

Further information

More information can be found on the FLTA website (http://fork-truck.org.uk/fork-lift-safety/national-fork-lift-safety-month), or by emailing the FLTA secretariat.

Licensing of houses in multiple occupation in England: a guide for landlords and managers

This publication is aimed at landlords and managers who manage a house in multiple occupation (HMO), or if you are not sure whether you manage an HMO. The booklet explains more about HMOs, which HMOs are required to be licensed and what other if any responsibilities there are in relation to the management of HMOs.

Not sure whether you manage an HMO?

The home you manage is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) if both of the following apply:

  • at least 3 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household
  • tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities

The home you manage is a large HMO if all of the following apply:

  • it’s at least 3 storeys high
  • at least 5 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household
  • tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities

A household is either a single person or members of the same family who live together. A family includes people who are:

  • married or living together – including people in same-sex relationships
  • relatives or half-relatives, eg grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings
  • step-parents and step-children

Your safety responsibilities

You must keep the property you manage safe and free from health hazards.

Gas safety

You must:

  • make sure gas equipment you supply is safely installed and maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer
  • have a registered engineer do an annual gas safety on each appliance and flue
  • give tenants a copy of the gas safety check record before they move in, or within 28 days of the check

Electrical safety

You must make sure:

  • the electrical system is safe, eg sockets and light fittings
  • all appliances you supply are safe, eg cookers and kettles

Fire safety

You must:

  • follow fire safety regulations, eg check tenants have access to escape routes at all times
  • make sure the furniture and furnishings you supply are fire safe
  • provide fire alarms and extinguishers (if the property is a large House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

Download the publication by clicking on the link: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/15652/HMO_Lic_landlords_guide.pdf or contact us for more information on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk and we’ll be more than happy to help.

Key safety campaigns to be supported at British Safety Council’s annual conference

Health and safety campaigns such as work-related transport, occupational health and young people at work will be highlighted at the British Safety Council annual conference on 23rd September.

Work-related transport

Every year 70 people are killed and 2000 more are seriously injured in incidents involving vehicles at work. Often these incidents occur in a lorry park or yard while goods are being delivered. In many cases it is the driver who is injured.

The HSE recently ran an advertising campaign on radio and press in the North West and Midlands to raise awareness among the people who can make a real difference – depot managers and those who receive or despatch goods.

The concerns of professional drivers, about the dangers of delivery and collection of goods have also been included.

This campaign focused on how depot managers can take small practical steps to make delivery areas safer. Examples include (click on the links for more information):

Key messages

Campaign posters

Campaign radio publicity

To download, right click and select ‘save target as…’

For more advice on transport topics visit the HSE Vehicles at Work website (http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/)

Proposal to replace OHSAS 18001 (Occupational Health & Safety Management) with ISO 45001

ISO 45001 on occupational health and safety management system requirements is currently being produced with an intended publication date of October 2016. However, it is expected that the current standard OHSAS 18001 will be valid for some time after this date and therefore companies interested in certifying should still do so, and will benefit from its implementation.

The aim of the new standard is to improve occupational health and safety for all, in developed and developing countries, and at local, national, regional and international levels.

For up to date information about the new standard, follow our health and safety news updates.

Young people at work

When employing a young person under the age of 18, whether for work, work experience, or as an apprentice, employers have the same responsibilities for their health, safety and welfare as they do for other employees.

Guidance on the HSE website (http://www.hse.gov.uk/youngpeople/) will help young people and those employing them understand their responsibilities.

Work experience

Introducing young people to the world of work can help them understand the work environment, choose future careers or prepare for employment. We need young people to be offered opportunities to develop new skills and gain experience across the world of work. Click on the below links for more information:

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

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