Letter from Melanie Dawes to owners, landlords and managers of private residential blocks about safety checks following the Grenfell Tower fire

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Melanie Dawes, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), has written to owners, landlords and managers of private residential blocks about safety checks following the Grenfell Tower fire. The government is making available testing facilities for private owners of residential blocks that have cladding made of aluminium composite material, and the letter explains how to identify this cladding, and access the testing facilities.

The letter, and supporting documents, can be viewed by clicking on the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/safety-checks-on-private-residential-blocks and we have published the contents below. Queries should be directed to PRShousingchecks@communities.gsi.gov.uk, but if you require any general assistance regarding fire safety in blocks of flats, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Safety checks on private residential blocks

This letter is intended for owners, landlords and managers of private residential blocks in England. Representative bodies for the private residential sector have kindly agreed to disseminate this letter to their members, and we are grateful for their assistance.

Following the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington last week, we want to ensure you are aware of help that is available in checking your buildings.

There has been much public concern and comment about potential flaws in the cladding that was on Grenfell Tower. While the exact reasons for the speed of the spread of fire have yet to be determined, we have concluded that there are additional tests that can be undertaken with regard to the cladding. We have asked local authorities and social housing providers to identify whether any panels used in new build or refurbishment of their own housing stock are a particular type of cladding made of Aluminium Composite Material (ACM). These checks will be relevant to privately owned and managed residential buildings too, so please can you consider carrying out these checks on your buildings.

More details on how to identify this cladding are in Annex A below.  It is important to stress that ACM cladding is not of itself dangerous, but it is important that the right type is used. If you identify that cladding on any of your buildings is made of ACM, then a sample can be tested.

This testing facility is also being made available to blocks that are privately owned, and your local authority may already have been in touch to make you aware of this.  The procedures for taking up this offer of testing, which will be paid for by DCLG, are set out in the annex. We are prioritising buildings over six storeys or 18 metres high.  The offer is for the initial testing only and the cost of any remedial action will be the responsibility of the owner of the building. The information from the checks will be available to DCLG from BRE. Please contact us at PRShousingchecks@communities.gsi.gov.uk if you have any queries.

Where the entire block is not owned and managed by the same party, please ensure that only one sample is provided and that any necessary permissions are obtained for taking and sending off the sample. We would not expect individual leaseholders within a building to send off samples for testing.

As well as this work it is of course important that owners / landlords have robust fire assessments for their properties.

Thank you for your cooperation in this important work.

MELANIE DAWES

Annex A

Protocol for Sampling of Aluminium Composite Material Cladding

Identification of Aluminium Composite Material Cladding

Aluminium Composite Material (ACM) is a type of flat panel that consists of two thin aluminium sheets bonded to a non-aluminium core, typically between 3 and 7mm thick. The panels can have a painted or metallic finish (eg copper or zinc effects). It can be differentiated from solid aluminium sheet by looking at a cut edge whereby the lamination is visible. It may be necessary to cut a hole in a panel if a cut edge is not readily accessible.

On buildings with a floor over 18m above ground level, where ACM panels are identified, it is necessary to establish whether the panels are of a type that complies with the Building Regulations guidance ie the core material should be a material of limited combustibility or Class A2.

Testing of ACM

To allow for the identification of core materials, we are putting in place Government-funded testing capacity that will allow a small sample of the cladding to be tested and its type identified. If you wish to take up this offer, then you will need to submit samples for testing.

Where the surveyor undertaking assessment of a composite panel determines that it is necessary for cladding to be subjected to laboratory screening they should follow this procedure:

  1. Cut out two samples of at least 250x250mm in size from each location sampled. Take photographs as necessary to identify the location of the sample. You should take samples from above and below 18m above ground level as appropriate and check different multiple panels where you have concern that material specification varies.
  1. Using an indelible ink pen, note the building name / number, postcode and a unique identifier (i.e. name of building owner followed by unique sample number e.g. ABC/001) traceable to the specific location within the building of each sample. Add a direct dial telephone or mobile contact number to be used in the event that there are any queries on the sample.
  1. You must make good by closing the hole using a non-combustible sheet such as steel fixed with self-tapping screws or rivets.
  1. Complete the data return form attached to this letter (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/620798/Data_Return_Form_for_testing_of_ACM_-_private_residential.xlsx) and include a hard copy of it with the sample. You should provide as much information as is readily available, but not if this will delay submission of samples for testing.
  1. Place one of the samples from each location in a padded envelope with a copy of the data return form. Clearly mark the envelope URGENT – CLADDING TEST SAMPLE.
  1. Send the test samples by recorded delivery or courier to:

BRE, Bucknalls Lane, Garston, Watford, Herts, WD25 9XX

For any testing related queries please email material.screening@bre.co.uk

  1. Retain the second sample from each location for your own records or for testing in the event that samples are lost or misplaced in transit

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

 

Safety in the storage and handling of steel and other metal stock (revised guidance)

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

Safety in the storage and handling of steel and other metal stock (revised guidance) – metal company fined after worker loses foot

A Bedfordshire metal company has been fined for safety breaches after a worker suffered severe leg injuries and lost most of his foot.

Luton Magistrates’ Court heard how the 24 year-old, who was an agency worker for the company, was injured when a trolley carrying metal stock fell on his legs causing severe injuries.

A bundle of 18 stainless steel bars weighing about 900kg was on a four wheeled trolley. The trolley was manually moved by the worker and another staff member but it tipped over and the bundle of bars fell off the top of the trolley trapping his leg and foot. He was rushed to hospital by the emergency services.

His right leg was broken and his right foot was badly crushed. Despite a number of operations to save his foot, most of it was amputated and he now has a prosthetic foot. It was many months before he was able to return to work. He is currently only able to work on a part-time basis.

HSE found that the metal trolleys had been used on site for some 20 years without incident. The metal company purchased the trolleys to be used as ‘workstations’, but employees had chosen to also use them to move metal stock around the site. There was no risk assessment or written system of work for these trolleys at the time of the accident. The trolley also had faulty wheels and there was no record of any maintenance.  After the accident, the trolley was given a safe working load of 500kg; half the weight placed on the trolley at the time of the accident.

The metal company pleaded guilty to Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £130,000 with costs of £2,456.40 and a victim surcharge of £120.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Emma Page said: “[The worker’s] life has been drastically altered by what happened and this incident could have been very easily avoided with some very simple measures. The right equipment and a correct maintenance system would have prevented this from happening.”

Safety in the storage and handling of steel and other metal stock

Many accidents, some resulting in death and serious injury, continue to occur during the storage and handling of steel and other metal stock. They cause enormous social and economic cost over and above the human tragedy involved. It is in everyone’s interest that they are reduced. Accident investigations often show that these injuries could have been avoided.

This revised guidance (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg246.pdf) is aimed at directors, owners, managers and supervisors and pays particular attention to the most common hazards, including (un)loading of delivery vehicles, storage systems, workplace transport, mechanical lifting and injuries from sharp edges.

New sections compare the use of single- versus double-hoist cranes and give additional information on the safe use of pendant and remote controllers, suitable lifting accessories, working at height and providing better access arrangements with stock products. There are now specific requirements which effectively prohibit the stacking of ‘U’ frame racking and ‘barring-off’.

This revised guidance was produced in consultation with the National Association of Steel Services Centres (also known as NASS) and the City of Wolverhampton Council working as partners with HSE in the Steel Stockholders Lead Authority Partnership (SSLAP).

For more information, visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg246.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 – 8TH OCTOBER 2015

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IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

Gate Safety Week: 12-18 October 2015

Planning and organising lifting operations (global firms sentenced after worker killed)

Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance (ELCI)

Health and safety implications of pervasive computing (RFID)

Introduction

Next week is Gate Safety Week which, in the words of Powered Gate Group Chairman Neil Sampson, “is all about raising public awareness of the dangers of using a poorly installed or maintained powered gate, in the hope that we can prevent any further deaths or injuries”. The Door & Hardware Federation Powered Gate Group has published a number of documents which provide guidance on gate safety, and reference to these is made on the HSE website where the advice we share with you this week is also provided.

The need to ensure that relevant information is considered when lift plans are produced was highlighted this summer, when two global companies were sentenced after a worker was killed and another seriously injured during construction of an offshore wind farm. Lifting operations can often put people at great risk of injury, as well as incurring great costs when they go wrong. It is therefore important to properly resource, plan and organise lifting operations so they are carried out in a safe manner, and HSE guidance on this topic is provided below.

Not sure whether or not you need Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance (ELCI)? Chances are, unless you have no employees, or are a family business and all employees are closely related to you, that you do. So this week we explain why you need it, and – more importantly – how to get it.

And finally, we look at the implications – positive and negative – of a technological concept that is becoming something of a “buzz word” in the world of health and safety. Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, is being successfully integrated into site safety procedures by warning pedestrians and machinery drivers of each others’ presence. However, while (as in the development of mobile telecommunications) no threat to human health has yet been proven from exposure to RF radiation, there is public concern about the nature and effects of signals from such technologies (NRPB – Mobile Phones and Health 2004).

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

 

Gate Safety Week: 12-18 October 2015

Next week is Gate Safety Week which, in the words of Powered Gate Group Chairman Neil Sampson, “is all about raising public awareness of the dangers of using a poorly installed or maintained powered gate, in the hope that we can prevent any further deaths or injuries”. The Door & Hardware Federation Powered Gate Group has published a number of documents which provide guidance on gate safety, and reference to these is made on the HSE website where the following advice is also provided:

Powered gates: Ensuring powered doors and gates are safe (click on the link for more information: http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/powered-gates/safety.htm)

Powered door and gate safety is not just about the individual components making up the product, but about the way they are combined together to fit a particular set of circumstances, and what is done over time to maintain safety.

At all times a powered gate must respond in a safe way when any person interacts with it. Its design must take into account that foreseeable interactions may go well beyond normal use (eg children playing around or with / on the powered gate), as well as normal wear and tear, and adverse environmental influences, particular wind and rain / snow and other debris that can impair function.

Delivering safety by design and construction

Much is dependent on the way the various component parts (switches, sensors, safety devices, controllers, and motors) are assembled and connected together to respond to the particular environment of use. Safety is usually delivered by a combination of methods, including:

  • design to eliminate hazards such as: the gate running away down a slope, coming off tracks / falling over, closing gaps at hinges creating crushing points, access to parts of the mechanism or gaps between the moving leaf and other leaves (including secondary leaves on telescopic gates) or fixed parts (supports, walls, etc), gaps in railings in which heads may get stuck, etc
  • the stability and strength of mountings and foundations to adequately resist dynamic forces arising from the weight of the gate as it moves and the effects of wind loadings, so as to minimise adverse effects on actuators and sensing systems
  • fixed guarding to prevent / restrict access to drive gears, etc, fencing off the back of sliding gates to avoid shear hazards between the gate leaf and fixed parts, etc
  • speed control, including deceleration when nearing the end of travel / rotational movement where crushing hazards may arise
  • limitation of forces exerted by moving parts (which may be delivered within the gate motor itself), or in conjunction with external protective mechanisms, including pressure sensitive edges fixed to leading and other edges where crushing/impact hazards exist, to detect and cushion the impact with an obstruction
  • non-contact sensors:
  • many of these are only designed to prevent a gate closing on a vehicle (note, these beams are not usually high integrity safety devices, in fact they may need to avoid over-sensitive tripping from rain / snow and leaves, and can usually be easily circumnavigated, eg by stepping over)
  • safety beams, which as higher integrity ‘safety components’ may be deployed in some cases to avoid contact with the moving gate(s), but because of cost are less common than pressure sensitive edges
  • the way the gate is operated: hold-to-run or automatic (fully automatic or from a starting impulse), and
  • the overall behaviour of the system as delivered by the system controller (eg not just stopping when encountering an obstruction, but also backing off at least a short distance to avoid entrapment – because even being held but not crushed can still be hazardous if there is no rescue),
  • the way the system has been wired and set up during / after installation, including the quality and physical protection of wiring and the connections between all component parts, to resist damage, deterioration and water ingress that may cause the loss of the safety function (eg through short circuits), and
  • how it is subsequently maintained / set as parts wear and respond to environmental conditions (eg temperature and wind forces, particularly on close boarded hinged gates which may experience high wind loadings that the drive motors may not always be able to overcome).

All these factors must be considered as part of the initial design (through suitable risk assessment), specification and construction, and appropriate information provided in the User Instructions, including on routine maintenance and the nature and periodicity of safety checks. Lifetime product safety doesn’t just depend on design and construction, but the way it is used and looked after, often by others not involved in original design and construction.

Maintaining for safety

Component parts can wear and fail, sometimes catastrophically. Like most machinery, powered doors and gates need to be maintained to remain safe. Powered gates forming parts of workplaces or in common parts of residential complexes will be subject to health and safety law. Owners, occupiers, landlords and managing agents will have on-going responsibilities for the safety of all users and all those who may encounter the gate.

Those undertaking work on powered gates are responsible for what they do, and for leaving the machinery in a safe condition, which may include switching off and isolating from power if it needs to be left in an unsafe condition. Substantial modifications may require re-assessment, in some cases re-CE marking by the person undertaking the modifications.

Risk assessment, competence and training

Whilst there may be standard components, even final products, the huge range of locations in which they are installed and variable environmental conditions to which they are exposed mean that most powered gates will be unique products requiring some form of specific risk assessment, both for installation and subsequent use. It is therefore not possible to define standard solutions for safety: each powered gate must be considered individually and holistically, employing suitable risk assessment tools and knowledge / expertise to manage the risks on a case by case basis.

Many organisations offer general training on risk assessment, and within the UK powered gate industry both Gate Safe and the Door and Hardware Federation can provide specific powered gate awareness / competence training.

Those working with powered gates need various competencies depending on their role. Often different members of a team will bring different skills to the job, eg electricians for wiring up and checking the basic safety of the electrical components. In some cases to evaluate component performance specific equipment or instruments may be required. For example, where force limitation is the primary means of safety some form of objective force testing may be required to ensure the final product as delivered is within safe limits, and to subsequently check the product remains safe. This may require additional specific competencies, and suitable record keeping.

Use of standards for design, assessment and testing

There are a number of current standards which are relevant to powered gates, including:

  • BS EN 13241-1 the Product Standard for powered gates (and relevant to the CPR)
  • BS EN 12604 & BS EN 12605 on mechanical requirements and tests
  • BS EN 12453 & BS EN 12445 on requirements and test for powered gates
  • BS EN 12635 on installation and use
  • BS EN 12978 on safety devices for power operated doors and gates
  • BS EN 60335-2-103 on drives for household and similar gates
  • BS EN 60335-2-95 on drives for residential vertically moving garage doors

but at present adherence to these standards alone in many cases will not ensure that all of the mandatory requirements for safety (the EHSRs of the Machinery Directive) will be met.

In particular hazards may remain with regard to:

  • Hinges, because of the way forces measured as specified by the above standards are ‘amplified’ closer to the pivot point, especially where crushing / trapping hazards have not been removed by design / construction (which may be less easy to avoid when converting existing gates to powered operation). A child fatality incident in 2006 was in part attributed to the design of the hinge area of a hinged gate.
  • Shear gaps, especially on sliding gates between moving leaves and fixed parts (or in some cases where leaves pass each other, eg telescopic sliding gates.
  • Force limitation, because published research (Mewes & Mauser 2003)1 suggests that the maximum impact forces permitted by the standards may not always be appropriate for the most vulnerable members of society (children, etc) who may reasonable encounter powered gates.
  • Control systems, because the key standard (BS EN 12453) does not define minimum requirements for safety integrity and reliability in all cases.

The use of any of the above standards by manufacturers for product safety is not mandatory (although products in scope of EN 13241-1 may have to be issued with a Declaration of Performance under the Construction Products Regulation). And the use of the main safety requirements standard EN 12453 does not currently give a ‘presumption of conformity’ with the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC.

Therefore manufacturers will have to show in detail in the technical file for each powered gate how they have designed and constructed the gate to meet the EHSRs and be safe for the gate’s foreseeable lifetime, taking account of foreseeable misuse, as well as intended use.

If you require any clarification at all, or further information, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

 

Planning and organising lifting operations (global firms sentenced after worker killed)

The need to ensure that relevant information is considered when lift plans are produced (to ensure that all of the relevant risks are considered) was highlighted this summer, when two global companies were sentenced after a worker was killed and another seriously injured during construction of an offshore wind farm.

The incident happened in May 2010, when a team of engineers were loading wind turbine blades onto a sea barge for delivery to a wind farm off the Suffolk coast. During loading of the components, a 2.11 tonne part of the blade transport arrangement fell off, crushing and fatally injuring one worker and seriously injuring another.

The investigation carried out by HSE found serious safety failings in the two firms’ management systems for the loading operation, which allowed vital parts of equipment to go unchecked before being lifted.

Following a four-week trial in July, prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the two companies were ordered to pay fines and costs totalling in excess of £1 million between them.

Speaking after the hearing, an HSE Inspector said: “This incident could easily have been avoided had suitable systems and procedures been in place to ensure that all loads were properly connected whilst being lifted. Had the right questions been asked when the lift was being planned and had the bolt and two brackets holding the blade and frame together been checked before they were lifted, the death and serious injury of two workers could have been prevented.”

Planning and organising lifting operations

Lifting operations can often put people at great risk of injury, as well as incurring great costs when they go wrong. It is therefore important to properly resource, plan and organise lifting operations so they are carried out in a safe manner. Each of these elements requires a person or people with sufficient competence to be involved at each step. These people should have sufficient theoretical and practical knowledge of the work and equipment in question, as well as the requirements of the law, to be able to do this properly. For complex and high-risk operations, the planning and organisation should be extensive and meticulous.

Planning

The planning of individual routine lifting operations may be the responsibility of those who carry them out (eg a slinger or crane operator). But for much more complex lifting operations (eg a tandem lift using multiple cranes), a written plan should be developed by a person with significant and specific competencies – adequate training, knowledge, skills and expertise – suitable for the level of the task.

For straightforward, common lifting operations, a single initial generic plan may be all that is required (eg fork-lift trucks in a factory), which could be part of the normal risk assessment for the activity. However, from time to time it may be necessary to review the plan to make sure that nothing has changed and the plan remains valid. Routine lifting operations which are a little more complex may, depending on the circumstances, need to be planned each time the lifting operation is carried out.

The plan for any lifting operation must address the foreseeable risks involved in the work and identify the appropriate resources (including people) necessary for safe completion of the job. Factors to include may be any or all of the following:

  • working under suspended loads
  • visibility
  • attaching / detaching and securing loads
  • environment
  • location
  • overturning
  • proximity hazards
  • derating
  • lifting people
  • overload
  • pre-use checking
  • continuing integrity of the equipment

The plan should set out clearly the actions involved at each step of the operation and identify the responsibilities of those involved. The degree of planning and complexity of the plan will vary and should be proportionate to the foreseeable risks involved in the work.

Strength and stability

Lifting equipment must be of adequate strength for the proposed use. The assessment of this should recognise that there may be a combination of forces to which the lifting equipment, including the accessories, will be subjected. The lifting equipment used should provide an appropriate ‘factor of safety’ against all foreseeable types of failure. Where people are lifted, the factor of safety is often higher. Any lifting equipment selected should not be unduly susceptible to any of the foreseeable failure modes likely to arise in service, for example fracture, wear or fatigue.

Positioning and installation

The position of mobile lifting equipment or the location of fixed installations can have a dramatic effect on the risks involved in a lifting operation. It is vital to take all practical steps to avoid people being struck by loads or the equipment itself during use. The equipment should also be positioned to minimise the need to lift over people. Measures should be taken to reduce the risk of load drift (eg spinning, swinging, etc); and of the load falling freely or being released unintentionally. Many different methods have been developed to prevent falling loads, including the use of multiple ropes or chains, hydraulic check valves and nets for palletised loads.

Measures must be taken to ensure that people cannot fall down a shaft or hoistway. At access points to these areas, effective means to prevent access should be in place, such as gates, barriers or doors. Where access is required to enter the area, when a platform or car is present (eg a lift), the doors or gates should be interlocked to allow the gates to open only when the car is present.

When positioning lifting equipment, care must be exercised to avoid hazards arising from proximity, for example: coming into contact with overhead power lines, buildings or structures; coming too close to trenches, excavations or other operations; and coming into contact with buried underground services, such as drains and sewers.

Working under suspended loads

Where it can be avoided, loads should not be suspended over occupied areas. Where it cannot be avoided, the risks to people must be minimised by safe systems of work and appropriate precautions. Where loads are suspended for significant periods, the area below them should be classed as a danger zone, where access is restricted.

Supervision of lifting operations

Supervision should be proportionate to the risk, taking account of the competencies and experience of those undertaking the lift. Many everyday lifting operations do not require direct supervision (eg experienced fork-lift operators undertaking routine lifts), although there may be circumstances where supervisory assistance may be required to manage risk (eg lifting an unusual load, crossing a public road etc). From time to time, employers may need to monitor the competence of workers undertaking lifting operations to ensure they continue to be carried out safely.

Guidance on planning, organising and undertaking lifting operations

More detailed advice on the planning, organising and undertaking of lifting operations is provided in the LOLER Approved Code of Practice and guidance (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l113.htm). Particular guidance is given on:

  • competence of people planning lifting (regulation 8; ACOP para 210 onwards)
  • suitability, including strength and stability, of lifting equipment (regulation 4; ACOP para 98 onwards)
  • positioning of lifting equipment and visibility (regulation 6; ACOP paras 161 and 237 onwards)
  • working under suspended loads (regulation 8; ACOP para 230 onwards)
  • attaching / detaching and securing loads (regulation 8; ACOP para 244 onwards)
  • location, including access (ACOP paras 256 and 62 onwards)
  • environment of use, including operator protection, the effects of wind and mobility (regulation 8; ACOP paras 83, 253, 89 and 112 onwards)
  • overturning (regulation 8; ACOP para 258 onwards)
  • proximity to other hazards, such as overhead power lines and buried services (regulation 8; ACOP para 265 onwards)
  • derating (regulation 8; ACOP paras 111 and 274 onwards)
  • the lifting of people (regulation 5; ACOP para 127 onwards)
  • preventing overload (regulation 4; ACOP para 122 onwards)
  • pre-use checks (regulation 8; ACOP para 285 onwards)
  • the continued integrity of lifting equipment (regulation 8; ACOP para 289 onwards)

For more information, visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-equipment-machinery/planning-organising-lifting-operations.htm (click on the link), or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be more than happy to help.

 

Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance (ELCI)

A Woolwich restaurant owner has recently been fined £1,500 plus £1,779 costs for failing to provide Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance (ELCI). Speaking after the hearing at Maidstone Magistrates’ Court, an HSE Inspector said: “Every employer needs to ensure that they have Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance in place, where such breaches, as in this case, are identified they will be pursued by the HSE.”

Get insurance for your business

If your business has employees you will probably need employers’ liability insurance.

If an employee is injured or becomes ill as a result of the work they do for you, they can claim compensation from you.

Meeting your health and safety duties is easier than you think. As long as you have taken reasonable steps to prevent accidents or harm to your employees (and the injury or illness was caused after 1 October 2013), you shouldn’t have to pay compensation. However, if a court finds you are liable, employers’ liability insurance will help you to pay any compensation for your employees’ injuries or illness.

Only a few businesses are not required to have employers’ liability insurance. If you have no employees, or are a family business and all employees are closely related to you, you may not need it. For further details see HSE leaflet Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969: A brief guide for employers (free to download by clicking on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/hse40.htm).

How do you get employers’ liability insurance?

You can buy employers’ liability insurance through insurers or intermediaries like brokers or trade associations. You may find that it often comes as part of an insurance package designed to cover a range of business needs.

Your policy must be with an authorised insurer and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has a list of these. You can check their register on the FCA website (http://www.fca.org.uk/).

If you require any clarification at all, or further information, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be more than happy to help.

 

Health and safety implications of pervasive computing (RFID)

This describes the concept of embedding or integrating computers into the environment with a view to enabling people to interact with them in a more “natural” way. Also referred to amongst other descriptions as “ubiquitous computing” or “ambient intelligence”, current examples include the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags and GPS systems in vehicles. Wireless networking technology (WiFi) is a key enabler for many of the applications and there is a growing trend towards greater connectivity through the use of broadband. For example in Philadelphia, “officials view broadband as an essential social service” and plan to introduce web access for all their citizens via a city-wide wireless network by the end of 2006.

Extensions of pervasive computing, which are being investigated actively at the moment include devices which sense changes in their environment and adapt and act on these changes, through to work on human-computer interactions and artificial intelligence.

In the short term, rapid expansion is expected in the use of RFID technology, where a vast range of applications are envisaged, offering benefits such as increased productivity and improved resource utilisation, together with reduced cycle times and re-work. All elements of the supply chain from raw material input through to delivery of product to the customer are potentially amenable to some form of RFID control and monitoring. In addition to logistics and product tracking applications, examples of the implementation of RFID technologies are foreseen in areas as diverse as personal identification, anti-counterfeiting, payment systems, maintenance management and healthcare.

Implications:

  • Increased exposure of the workforce (and customers in retail environments) to RF radiation is likely to result from the extended use of WiFi and the more powerful/ longer range WiMax technologies. While, as in the development of mobile telecommunications, no threat to human health has yet been proven from such exposure, there is public concern about the nature and effects of signals from such technologies (NRPB – Mobile Phones and Health 2004).
  • As with other computer-based systems, there is the potential for malicious or accidental corruption of the data stored on RFID tags, which could pose a threat, particularly where safety-critical applications such as e.g. maintenance monitoring are involved.
  • It is possible that intensive tracking of personnel activity in the workplace may result in stressors that may in turn contribute to increased incidences of stress.

Click on the link to read the RFID Technology short form report: http://www.hse.gov.uk/horizons/assets/documents/rfidsfreport.pdf

Our comment

There are positive implications too, in the form of “wearable technology” which is being successfully integrated into site safety procedures by warning pedestrians and machinery drivers of each others’ presence. A small RFID transponder is worn on pedestrians’ hard hats or sleeves, and a small unit fitted to vehicles. Both pedestrian and driver receive a warning if they become close enough to each other to be at risk of accidental collision. Warnings are automatically logged as incidents and the information is used by managers to monitor safety training requirements.

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