Demolition health and safety – company and contractor sentenced for uncontrolled collapse of building on high street

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The owner of a building in Kent and the contractor employed to demolish it have been fined for safety failings after an uncontrolled collapse onto a high street.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the collapse, which occurred in November 2013, found that the contractor had failed to properly plan the work and then carried out unsafe demolition work.

The building owner did not make any enquiries into the suitability or competence of the contractor to undertake the demolition.

Neither the building owner nor the contractor applied for a road closure and members of the public were put at risk.

The building owner pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, and was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9128.89.

The contractor pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 25(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, and has been sentenced to nine months imprisonment suspended for two years.

HSE inspector Andrew Cousins said after the hearing: “Lives were put at risk when this structure uncontrollably collapsed. Clients have a responsibility to appoint competent contractors to undertake hazardous work such as demolition.

“Those in control of demolition have a responsibility to plan demolition work and to devise a safe way of working that protects both the workers and members of the public.

“The job could have been safely carried out by simply undertaking the demolition behind a substantial hoarding.”

Demolition

What you need to do

The law says that all demolition, dismantling and structural alteration must be carefully planned and carried out in a way that prevents danger by practitioners with the relevant skills, knowledge and experience. Key issues are:

  • Falls from height
  • Injury from falling materials
  • Uncontrolled collapse
  • Risks from connected services
  • Traffic management
  • Hazardous materials
  • Noise and vibration
  • Fire
  • Worker involvement

What you need to know

A systematic approach to demolition projects is a team effort between many people, who all have responsibilities:

  • Clients must appoint dutyholders who have the relevant skills, knowledge and experience and where organisations, the organisational capability, and are adequately resourced.
  • Clients, with the help of the principal designer must provide those who need it (eg, designers, contractors) with pre-construction information that can reasonably be obtained. A range of surveys and reports will be needed – for example, to check for presence of asbestos; structural stability of site and nearby structures; the location of above and below ground live services in the work area; etc. These should be done before work begins and not be left for the principal contractor to organise once the demolition work has started.
  • Principal designers must plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety issues in the pre-construction phase (i.e. before demolition starts) to give principal contractors as much information as possible to allow the principal contractor to keep people (site workers and the public) as far as possible from the risks.
  • Principal contractors must plan, manage, monitor and coordinate health and safety issues during the demolition work.
  • Site managers must ensure workers are supervised and are following safe working practice.
  • Sub-contractors and site workers must follow the instructions and plans given to them by those in charge of the work and ensure that their colleagues do too.

Falls from height

During demolition and dismantling, workers can be injured falling from edges, through openings, fragile surfaces and partially demolished floors.

Dutyholders have a responsibility to assess, eliminate and control the risks of falls from height. Find out more about falls from height: http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/workingatheight.htm.

Injury from falling materials

Workers and passers-by can be injured by the premature and uncontrolled collapse of structures, and by flying debris.

A safe system of work is one that keeps people as far as possible from the risks. This may include:

  • establishing exclusion zones and hard-hat areas, clearly marked and with barriers or hoardings if necessary
  • covered walkways
  • using high-reach machines
  • reinforcing machine cabs so that drivers are not injured
  • training and supervising site workers

Uncontrolled collapse

The structural survey should consider:

  • the age of the structure
  • its previous use
  • the type of construction
  • nearby buildings or structures
  • the weight of removed material or machinery on floors above ground level

The method statement for the demolition should identify the sequence required to prevent accidental collapse of the structure.

Risks from connected services

Gas, electricity, water and telecommunications services need to be isolated or disconnected before demolition work begins. If this is not possible, pipes and cables must be labelled clearly, to make sure they are not disturbed.

Traffic management

Effective traffic management systems are essential on site, to avoid putting workers at risk of being hit by vehicles turning, slewing, or reversing. Where possible, vision aids and zero tail swing machines should be used. Find out more about traffic management

Hazardous materials

Hazardous materials that should to be considered include dust, asbestos and respirable crystalline silica (RCS).There may also be material or contamination on site that has not been cleared, for example:

  • acids from industrial processes
  • paints
  • flammable liquids
  • unidentified drums
  • microbiological hazards (especially in old hospital buildings).

Find out more about the control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH): http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/index.htm

Noise and vibration

Frequent exposure to loud noise can permanently damage a persons hearing. Noise can also create a safety risk if it makes it difficult for workers to communicate effectively or stops them hearing warning signals.

Vibrating hand tools used in demolition can cause hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).Workers exposure to vibration must be managed and reduced as far as possible.

Fire

Fire is a risk where hot work (using any tools that generate spark, flame or heat) is being done. During structural alteration, the fire plan must be kept up to date as the escape routes and fire points may alter. There must be an effective way to raise the alarm.

Worker involvement

Everyone involved must to know what precautions are to be taken on site. Workplaces where employees are involved in taking decisions about health and safety are safer and healthier. Your employees are often the best people to understand the risks in their workplace. Find out more about involving your workers in health and safety: http://www.hse.gov.uk/involvement

Resources

Leaflets

Books

Useful links – other HSE sites

The law

For more information, visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/safetytopics/demolition.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 – 4TH FEBRUARY 2016

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IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

HSE Myth Busters Challenge Panel Case 383 – Odd job person in managed block of flats not allowed to change light bulbs for health and safety reasons

HSE Health & Safety Bulletin – Use of Barrier Glands in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres to meet IEC 60079:14 2013 (Edition 5)

HSL/HSE CDM 2015 Training: the role of the Principal Designer

Introduction

‘Health and Safety’ is often incorrectly used as a convenient excuse to stop what are essentially sensible activities going ahead. The Health and Safety Executive has set up an independent panel – the Myth Busters Challenge Panel – to scrutinize such decisions. We open this week’s update with the panel’s response to a property management company citing health and safety as the reason for not allowing an odd job person to change light bulbs in a block of flats.

Electricity at work is also the theme of the HSE’s latest health & safety bulletin aimed at (amongst others) those designing, installing, inspecting and maintaining electrical equipment in potentially explosive atmospheres. Electrical (and non electrical) equipment and installations in potentially explosive atmospheres must be specially designed and constructed so that the risks of ignition are eliminated or reduced. The approach that the current IEC 60079-14: 2013 Standard allows duty holders to take, creates a fire and explosion risk, and this Notice provides information on what action to take.

Finally, we close this week’s update with details of a training event being delivered by HSL (the Health & Safety Executive’s Laboratory), aimed at designers, clients, contractors and/or individuals who may take on, or want to understand the Principal Designer function which replaced the role of CDM Co-ordinator under CDM 2015.

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 Myth Busters Challenge Panel Case 383 – Odd job person in managed block of flats not allowed to change light bulbs for health and safety reasons

‘Health and Safety’ is often incorrectly used as a convenient excuse to stop what are essentially sensible activities going ahead. The Health and Safety Executive has set up an independent panel – the Myth Busters Challenge Panel – to scrutinize such decisions.

The Panel is chaired by the HSE Chair Judith Hackitt, with HSE Board member Sarah Veale as the Vice-Chair and they are supported by a pool of independent members who represent a wide range of interests. This includes small businesses, public safety, trade union, the insurance industry and many outside interests where day-to-day common sense decisions on risk management are made.

This Panel will look into enquiries regarding the advice given by non-regulators such as insurance companies, health and safety consultants and employers and, quickly assess if a sensible and proportionate decision has been made. We want to make clear that “health and safety” is about managing real risks properly, not being risk averse and stopping people getting on with their lives.

If you think a decision or advice that you have been given in the name of health and safety is wrong, or disproportionate to what you are doing, you can contact the panel on the following web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/contact-myth-busting.htm. Guidance on how to raise a concern (http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/concerns.htm) or complaint (http://www.hse.gov.uk/contact/complaints.htm) on workplace health and safety is also available.

Issue (Case 383)

A property management company advised that an odd job person is unable to change light bulbs as they would only be protected from negligence if a competent electrician carried out the job.

Panel opinion

Health and safety at work legislation does not require the use of a competent electrician to change light bulbs in a residential property. Confusing a perceived (but in all probability low) risk of being sued for negligence with the requirements of health and safety legislation is unhelpful, and can distort the aim of the legislation, which is to ensure a proportionate approach to managing risks.

An example risk assessment for the maintenance of flats is available on the following HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/casestudies/flats.htm and health and safety guidance is also available on the ARMA website (Association of Residential Managing Agents): http://arma.org.uk/leasehold-library/document/health-safety/pages/1 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 and fire/legionella risk assessments of commercial and residential properties.

HSE Health & Safety Bulletin – Use of Barrier Glands in Potentially Explosive Atmospheres to meet IEC 60079:14 2013 (Edition 5)

Target Audience

  • Chemical processing and production
  • Engineering
  • Warehousing
  • Offshore
  • Others: Duty holders designing, installing, inspecting and maintaining electrical equipment in potentially explosive atmospheres
  • COMAH Duty Holders and operators installing and maintaining electrical equipment in explosive atmospheres

Key Issues

There is currently a key difference between the current IEC 60079-14: 2013 Standard and previous versions of BS EN 60079-14: 2008 & IEC 60079-14: 2007 for use of electrical equipment in potentially explosive atmospheres in that the IEC Standard currently allows the Duty Holder to use a ‘standard’ Ex certified flameproof gland as opposed to a Ex certified ‘barrier gland’ without the requirement to apply the previous flowchart used in the British Standard which identified glanding requirements based on gas group / zone / enclosure size. There is evidence that this approach creates a fire and explosion risk and this Notice provides Duty Holders with information on what action to take.

To read the bulletin click on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins/use-of-barrier-glands.htm

About safety notices

Aim of bulletin: A safety notice is usually issued to facilitate a change in procedure or it requires an action to be undertaken to improve the level of protection or instruction in a potentially dangerous situation. It must be acted upon within a reasonable time, if a time period is not stated. It is not as immediate as a safety alert.

Safety notices are issued where, under certain circumstances, an unsafe situation could arise. For example, where instructions or labelling for use are not clear, additional guarding may be required, operating parameters or procedures need to be changed, where this could, in some cases, lead to an injury. Action should be taken although it may not need to be immediate.

When potentially dangerous equipment, process, procedures or substances have been identified, and depending on the probability of the incident reoccurring and the possible severity of the injuries, HSE may want to inform all users and other stakeholders of the situation and the steps that should be taken to rectify the fault via a safety notice. Safety notices will be issued after consultation with stakeholders and may result in industry-led notices being issued at the same time.

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

HSL/HSE CDM 2015 Training: the role of the Principal Designer

Dates and locations

  • 16 February 2016, ETC Venues, Maple House, 150 Corporation Street, Birmingham B4 6TB
  • 26 April 2016, ETC Venues, Marble Arch, Garfield House, 86 Edgware Road, London W2 2EA

Event overview

This event provides an introduction to this new role and is aimed at designers, clients, contractors and/or individuals who may take on, or want to understand the PD function, particularly for small to medium size projects. The course will be delivered by an ex-HSE Principal Construction Inspector with almost 40 years’ experience.

It will include:

  • An introduction and overview to CDM 2015 and the duties of the Principal Designer
  • The role of the construction client
  • The Principal Designer’s role in supporting the client
  • Obtaining and using pre-construction information
  • Appointment of designers and contractors
  • The Principal Designer’s role in ensuring designers comply with their duties
  • Exploring through case study discussion the key health and safety risks construction workers can face during construction and maintenance
  • Coordinating the flow of health and safety information
  • The role of the Principal Contractor and liaison with the PD
  • Preparing the health and safety file

By the end of the course, delegates will:

  • Understand the changes introduced by CDM 2015, the policy objectives behind them, and how the Regulations enable proportionate compliance dependent on project complexity
  • Know the role and duties of the Client, Principal Designer, designers, Principal Contractor, and contractors and the relationships and interfaces with the Principal Designer
  • Know the key health and safety risks faced by construction workers and those maintaining a structure
  • Understand the importance of pre-construction information, its limitations and the need for interpretation and further investigation in some circumstances
  • Understand the importance of achieving the effective communication of and use of design information
  • Understand how effective management, coordination and monitoring during the pre-construction phase can help to eliminate or reduce risks during the construction and life of the structure
  • As PDs, be better placed to make decisions on the relevancy of pre-construction and design information they should provide to PCs for construction phase health & safety plans, and relevant information for health and safety file

Who should attend?

This training is aimed at individuals and employees of organisations who meet the definition of designer and could be appointed as PD to be in control of the pre-construction phase of a project, and those who want to understand the duties of a Principal Designer as defined in CDM 2015.

This course is intended to provide an introduction and overview only to this new role and help delegates understand the actions that need to be taken to discharge the Principal Designer’s duties. It is not aimed at those involved in major projects or designed to establish or evaluate competence.

Information and booking

For the Birmingham event, a full programme and online booking form can be found on the HSL/HSE CDM 2015 Training (Birmingham) event page: http://www.hsl.gov.uk/health-and-safety-training-courses/the-construction-%28design-and-management%29-regulations-2015-%28cdm-2015%29—an-introduction-to-the-role-of-the-principal-designer—birmingham

For the London event, a full programme and online booking form can be found on the HSL/HSE CDM 2015 Training (London) event page: http://www.hsl.gov.uk/health-and-safety-training-courses/the-construction-%28design-and-management%29-regulations-2015-%28cdm-2015%29—an-introduction-to-the-role-of-the-principal-designer—london

Alternatively, you can email HSL Training at training@hsl.gsi.gov.uk or call 01298 218806.

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

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 22ND OCTOBER 2015

REGISTER BELOW-LEFT TO RECEIVE OUR UPDATES BY EMAIL

IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

Frequently asked questions – Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015

Upper Limb Disorders (ULDs) – assessment of repetitive tasks of the upper limbs (the ART tool)

PPE – are turban-wearing Sikhs exempt from the need to wear head protection in the workplace?

Introduction

Since The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) came into force on 6 April 2015, replacing CDM 2007, we have received a number of queries in relation to this major legislative development, so we thought it would be useful this week to open our update with the HSE’s latest answers to the most frequently asked questions on this topic.

Do your work tasks involve guiding or holding tools, keyboard work or heavy lifting? If so, these have been reported by GPs as being the most likely work-related causes of Upper Limb Disorders (ULDs), for which a prevalence rate of approximately 200,000 total cases was reported amongst people working in the 12 months between 2013/14, resulting in a total of 3.2 million lost working days – an average of almost 16 days per worker (see http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/musculoskeletal/msd.pdf). This week, we also share details of the HSE ART tool (assessment of repetitive tasks of the upper limbs) – available as a free download, allowing you to complete your own assessment of repetitive tasks in your workplace.

And finally, we close with news that turban-wearing Sikhs are now legally exempt from the need to wear head protection not only on construction sites, but also in the workplace of any industry (with limited exceptions).

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

Frequently asked questions – Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015

Notifications – F10’s

When is a construction project ‘notifiable’?

A construction project is notifiable if the construction work is expected to:

  • last longer than 30 working days and have more than 20 workers working at the same time at any point on the project; or
  • exceed 500 person days.

Find out how to notify projects, and complete the f10 notification form (click on the link): https://www.hse.gov.uk/forms/notification/f10.htm

Does the 30 working days/500 person days on site include weekends, bank holidays etc?

Every day on which construction work is likely to be carried out should be counted, even if the work on that day is of a short duration. This includes holidays and weekends.

Who should notify a project?

The client has the duty to notify a construction project. In practice however, the client may ask someone else to notify on their behalf.

Maintenance

Does CDM 2015 apply to all maintenance work?

No. The definition of construction work has not changed under CDM 2015. The application to maintenance work remains the same as it was under CDM 2007.

Principal Designer (PD)

I was a CDM co-ordinator under CDM 2007. Can I now work as a principal designer (PD)?

No, not necessarily. To work as a PD, you must be a designer:

  • You might be an architect, consulting engineer, quantity surveyor or anyone who specifies and alters designs as part of their work.
  • You might also be a contractor/builder, commercial client, tradesperson or anyone who carries out design work, or arranges for or instructs people under your control to do so.

You must have the right mix of skills, knowledge, experience and (if an organisation) organisational capability to allow you to carry out all of the functions and responsibilities of a PD for the project in hand, and be in control of the pre-construction phase.

I was an architect/designer on the planning and Building Regulations stages of a project and I am no longer involved with the project. Who will take on the role of principal designer (PD)?

The client has the duty to appoint the PD. If you are no longer involved with the project, the client must appoint another PD. You will still be responsible for the design decisions you made in preparing the original plans. The new PD must then take responsibility for any design decisions made following their appointment.

If the client fails to appoint the PD, then the client assumes the role.

I’m a client, can I take on the Principal Designer (PD) role?

Yes. You can choose to take on the PD role yourself. If you do you must have the skills, knowledge, experience and(if an organisation) organisational capability, to carry out all the functions and responsibilities of the PD.

Small builder

I am a general builder who only works on small scale commercial and domestic projects, will CDM 2015 affect me?

Yes. CDM 2015 applies to all construction work including domestic projects.

You will have different responsibilities depending on whether you are (for example):

  • The only contractor working on the job;
  • The principal contractor;
  • One of the contactors workings for a PC.

For more information, please go to ‘Are You a small builder…’ (click on the link): http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/areyou/builder.htm

Construction Phase Plan (CPP)

As a general builder do I need a Construction Phase Plan (CPP) for any construction work I do?

Yes. If you are the only contactor or the principal contractor (PC), you must draw up a Construction Phase Plan (CPP): http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/cis80.pdf. However, it should be proportionate to the size and scale of the job.

A simple plan before the work starts is usually enough to show that you have thought about health and safety.

If you are a contractor working for a PC, it is the PC who must draw up the CPP.

To help you draw up a CPP for small scale projects, please go to the template CPP (click on the link): http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/cis80.pdf, or the CDM Wizard (click on the link): http://www.citb.co.uk/health-safety-and-other-topics/health-safety/construction-design-and-management-regulations/cdm-wizard-app/, a free to download smartphone app produced by the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB).

Self build

I want to build my own house, does CDM 2015 apply to me?

To find out, go to The Self Build Portal (click on the link): http://www.selfbuildportal.org.uk/healthandsafety.

Miscellaneous

Can I carry out the role of more than one CDM duty holder on a project?

Yes. Whether you are an individual or an organisation (client, designer, principal designer, contractor or principal contractor), you can carry out the role of more than one duty holder.  You must have the skills, knowledge, experience and (if an organisation) the organisational capability to carry out all of the functions and responsibilities of each role in a way that secures health and safety.

For further information, visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/cdm/2015/index.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be more than happy to help.

Upper Limb Disorders (ULDs) – assessment of repetitive tasks of the upper limbs (the ART tool)

The assessment of repetitive tasks (ART) tool is designed to help you risk assess tasks that require repetitive moving of the upper limbs (arms and hands). It helps you assess some of the common risk factors in repetitive work that contribute to the development of upper limb disorders (ULDs).

It is aimed at those responsible for designing, assessing, managing and inspecting repetitive work. It can help identify those tasks that involve significant risks and where to focus risk-reduction measures. It will be useful to employers, safety representatives, health and safety practitioners, consultants and ergonomists.

It includes an assessment guide, a flow chart, a task description form and a score sheet. Further information on ART, including online training on how to use the tool is also available (click on the link): http://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/uld/art/index.htm

Free guidance for employers can be downloaded by clicking on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg438.pdf or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be more than happy to help.

PPE – are turban-wearing Sikhs exempt from the need to wear head protection in the workplace?

Yes. Sections 11 and 12 of the Employment Act 1989 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1989/38/section/11) as amended by Section 6 of the Deregulation Act 2015 (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2015/20/section/6/enacted) exempts turban-wearing Sikhs from any legal requirement to wear head protection at a workplace. A workplace is defined broadly and means any place where work is undertaken including any private dwelling, vehicle, aircraft, installation or moveable structure (including construction sites).

There is a limited exception for particularly dangerous and hazardous tasks performed by individuals working in occupations which involve providing an urgent response to an emergency where a risk assessment has identified that head protection is essential for the protection of the individual eg such as a fire fighter entering a burning building, dealing with hazardous materials.

The exemption applies only to head protection and Sikhs are required to wear all other necessary personal protective equipment required under the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992. The exemption does not differentiate between employees and other turban-wearing Sikhs that may be in the workplace, eg visitors. However, it applies solely to members of the Sikh religion and only those Sikhs that wear a turban.

Employers are still required to take all necessary actions to avoid injury from falling objects by putting in place such safe systems of work, control measures and engineering solutions eg restricting access to areas where this may be an issue. Where a turban-wearing Sikh chooses not to wear the head protection provided, the exemption includes a limitation on the liability of the duty-holder should an incident occur.

For general guidance on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/ppe.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be more than happy to help.

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