HSE SAFETY ALERT: REVISION OF STANDARDS FOR POWERED DOORS, GATES AND BARRIERS

The Health & Safety Executive have issued the following safety alert, aimed at architects/specifiers, designers, manufacturers, suppliers, and installers of powered doors, gates and barriers primarily for vehicular use, and those responsible for servicing and maintaining these products in workplaces, car parks and the common areas of shared premises, including residential:

KEY ISSUES

Publication of two newly revised European Standards on the safety of doors, gates and barriers – BS EN 12453:2017 and BS EN 12604:2017.

These new standards replace four older standards from 2000 and 2001; they represent a significant move forward. However, these standards do not completely address the risks that may be present and additional consideration should be given to the following aspects:

  • Undertaking a risk assessment covering the unique environment and type of user
  • The selection and implementation of appropriate design measures
  • Ensuring appropriate levels of force limitation (below the specified maximum)
  • Where the technology permits, ensuring that the safety function is monitored and checked before each movement; and
  • Ensuring effective measures are in place to detect any means of failure in the means of suspension for vertically moving doors. More detail is given below.

INTRODUCTION

  • British/European standards BS EN 12453:2017 concerning the safety requirements and tests for powered doors, gates and barriers primarily for vehicular use, and BS EN 12604:2017 concerning mechanical requirements and tests for the safety of both powered and non-powered versions of these products, have now been published. They are available for purchase online from BSI.
  • They replace and supersede in full the 2000/01 versions of these standards which dealt with the same products and issues; these two new standards cover what was previously dealt with in four standards (BS EN 12453, BS EN 12445, BS EN 12604 and BS EN 12605).
  • These new standards are a major step forward in helping to define the ‘state of the art’ for all products in scope, especially for the safety related parts of the control system on which these products depend for safety. They maintain the previous requirements for basic strength, stability and testing, including where force limitation is the primary means of delivering safety. The requirement on force limitation is not to exceed the existing force limits (basically 400 N for crushing and 1400 N for impact).
  • HSE’s view, however, is that there are aspects of the standards where they do not as yet fully meet the objectives of the Essential Health and Safety Requirements (EHSRs) of the European Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC. This means that compliance alone with the standards will not be enough to meet the requirements of the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 (SMR08) for either new products placed on the market, or when first put into service (e.g. in situ manufacture, and powering existing gates).

BACKGROUND

  • Following two child fatalities which involved powered gates in 2010, HSE carried out a detailed examination of the suite of British/European standards then available to support the design and construction of powered doors, gates, barriers etc (see the related previous Safety Bulletins). HSE concluded that collectively the standards failed in a number of areas to adequately support the EHSRs of the Machinery Directive.
  • The Directive, which has been implemented into UK law for well over 20 years by SMR08, applies to all machinery, which includes powered doors, gates and barriers, when newly placed on the market, or when first put into service (eg when made in situ, or existing manual gates are ‘motorised’).
  • The UK launched its Formal Objectionto the standards in December 2010, as permitted by Article 10 of the Machinery Directive.
  • The European Commission considered the objection and agreed with the UK that the key standards did not entirely satisfy the EHSRs of the Machinery Directive. Its decision was confirmed and published by two Decisions which were made publicly available in 2015. Additionally, warnings were placed against the entries for EN 12635 and EN 13241-1 in the list of standards harmonised under the Machinery Directive in the official Journal of the European Union, in effect removing the ‘presumption of conformity’ that they previously gave.
  • Removing this presumption of conformity does not prevent manufacturers and installers of these products complying with the Directive/UK Regulations. Rather it means that manufacturers/installers who choose to use these standards can no longer simply rely on complying with the standards to meet all of the requirements of the Directive/UK Regulations.
  • Regulation 7(1) of SMR08 requires all machinery such as powered doors, gates and barriers to be safe. It is the duty of the person responsible for the design, construction and placing on the market/putting into service of the machinery to ensure this. Others then have the ongoing responsibility to keep the product safe through its lifetime of use, which includes ensuring non-employed persons are not endangered by the equipment (see below for link to FAQs).

ACTION REQUIRED

  • The new standards are not “harmonised”. This means that manufacturers (and installers, who often ‘put into service’ a new machine made in situ), must continue to show through a detailed technical file for each product how it has been designed and constructed to meet the safety objectives of the legislation. This must be undertaken before the CE marking is applied and the product is made available to the end user, together with comprehensive User/Maintenance Instructions, and a Declaration of Conformity, which must be made out in the name of the person responsible for the product’s conformity.
  • While these new revised standards can help define the ‘state of the art’ which must be reached, in all cases a thorough assessment of risk must be undertaken which fully considers the unique environment of use, the presence of and use by any vulnerable person, and all hazards arising from use, and foreseeable misuse, such as riding on the door or gate.
  • Design measures (to avoid risk, eg from hinge areas, collapse/falling over) and protective measures (guarding, fencing, safety edges, presence detection, etc) must be implemented during construction, taking into account the presence of any vulnerable populations such as children and those with reduced mobility or other disabilities, and any foreseeable misuse that may arise (such as playing on or near such equipment, or anyone rushing through gaps). You cannot rely on warnings alone to manage significant risks, although they may have their place in some circumstances.
  • Where force limitation is the primary means of safety, impact and crushing forces should be as low as possible (the standards give maximum levels), and verified by testing post installation.
  • Where the technology permits, the check of the safety function should take place before each movement. This is very important where vulnerable populations are at risk, as even one failure could result in serious or fatal injury from crush/entrapment.
  • Effective measures should be taken to detect any failure in the means of suspension of vertically moving doors, preferably stopping further use (unintended movement beyond 300 mm should be prevented), so that action can be taken before any catastrophic failure.
  • The existing harmonised standard BS EN 12978:2003+A1:2009 on safety devices for power operated doors and gates gives specific requirements to support the safe design of these products (Note: a revision of this standard is expected in 2019).
  • Although these standards are not intended for retrospective application, many existing powered doors, gates and barriers may not be as safe as they should be (some did not meet the previous standards or requirements for safety when originally supplied), so they can be used to support the re-assessment and any necessary upgrades to make existing products safer for continued use.
  • All readers are advised to consider the other available information and the existing Safety Bulletins published by HSE on these products (see below for links).

For more information, the safety alert can be viewed by clicking on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins/revision-standards-powered-doors.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

Safe maintenance – packaging manufacturer in court over workplace injury

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

Packaging manufacturer in court over workplace injury

A supplier of corrugated packaging has been fined £400,000 after a maintenance employee was injured when he was pulled into machinery.

The injured person was repairing a cardboard printing, slotting and forming machine at the packaging plant when he put his foot onto an exposed conveyor and was dragged into the machine’s moving parts.

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard that the packaging company allowed uncontrolled maintenance work to take place without any assessment of the risks posed by maintenance activities or having procedures in place for safe maintenance.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the machinery had a ‘jog mode’ which could have been set up to enable such maintenance work to be carried out safely, but the company had not identified this, trained staff to use it or enforced its use.

Speaking after the case, HSE Inspector Caroline Lane said: “The company relied on the experience of maintenance employees rather than controlling risks through careful assessment and putting safe systems of work in place.

In summing up, his Honour Judge Berlin considered the maintenance practices used by [the packaging company] to be ‘utterly dangerous’ and the risk to workers was wholly avoidable”.

Safe maintenance

Hazards during maintenance

What is maintenance?

In this context, maintenance simply means keeping the workplace, its structures, equipment, machines, furniture and facilities operating safely, while also making sure that their condition does not decline. Regular maintenance can also prevent their sudden and unexpected failure.

There are two main types of maintenance:

  • preventive or proactive maintenance – periodic checks and repairs; and
  • corrective or reactive maintenance – carrying out unforeseen repairs on workplace facilities or equipment after sudden breakage or failure. This is usually more hazardous than scheduled maintenance.

Why is it an issue?

Maintenance-related accidents are a serious cause of concern. For example, analysis of data from recent years indicates that 25-30% of manufacturing industry fatalities in Great Britain were related to maintenance activity.

Undertaking maintenance activities can potentially expose the workers involved (and others) to all sorts of hazards, but there are four issues that merit particular attention because of the severity of the harm that could be involved, and because they are commonly encountered during plant and building maintenance.

The health consequences of disturbing asbestos when drilling holes into the building fabric or replacing panels can be severe, as can the clean up costs involved.

Maintenance work often involves using access equipment to reach roofs, gutters, building services, and raised sections of plant and machinery. It can be all too easy to fall from these positions, or to drop things onto people beneath.

Isolation and lock off arrangements, and in some cases permits to work, are essential to enable maintenance work to be conducted safely.

Heavy items sometimes have to be moved, or get disturbed, during maintenance work. If one of these falls, the results can be fatal. There may well be cranes, fork lift trucks or props available for use, but maintenance tasks can sometimes involve one-off situations and the handling of heavy loads isn’t always properly planned.

You may do some or most of your plant and building maintenance in-house, but there will always be tasks that are too big or specialised and require contractors. To enable both in-house and contracted staff to work in safety you will need to properly brief them on your site and processes, and you will need them to follow safe working practices.

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

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HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 15TH SEPTEMBER 2016

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

Scalding and burning – charitable company sentenced over injury to service user

A limited company providing housing support services for vulnerable adults and children has been sentenced, and fined £8,000, after a service user was burnt at one of its properties where five service users required 24 hour support with every aspect of day to day living including personal care.

In April 2015, a female 49-year-old service user with cerebral palsy, epilepsy and severe learning disabilities was assisted to a shower room by a support worker. During the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation the radiator in the shower room was described as being very hot due to lacking an individual thermostatic control.

While the support worker was aware the radiator was hot, she did not consider it to be hot enough to burn. The support worker showered the service user and began drying her while she was sitting on a chair.

She then assisted the lady to step out of the shower area and take hold of a grab rail which was positioned above the radiator. While standing over the radiator her leg came into contact with the radiator.

As the service user is non-verbal and has difficulty balancing she was unable to move her leg away from the radiator or to communicate with the support worker to alert her. It is unknown exactly how long her leg was against the radiator.

The support worker noticed a burn on the left side of the injured lady’s left calf. She alerted the assistant team manager and the lady was taken to a specialist burns’ unit for treatment on the burn that extended 20 centimetres up her calf.

At a follow up appointment it was noted that the burn was not healing properly and a skin graft was taken from her thigh and applied to her calf. As a result the victim has been left with permanent scarring.

During the course of the investigation it came to light that the company had been alerted to the risk posed by the radiator. Following a routine inspection in November 2011 carried out by the local authority environmental health team, a written report required the radiator to be covered and a follow up email in 2012 asked whether the radiator in the bathroom had been provided with a suitable cover to protect clients from scalding.

Despite this being drawn to their attention, the court heard the company’s internal systems failed to ensure remedial action was taken. There was also a failure to carry out any general internal risk assessment regarding the danger posed by the radiator in question although an individual risk assessment in relation to the injured party identified that she was at risk from heat sources because she might not be able to move away from them easily or quickly.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Hazel Dobb said: “It was foreseeable that an unprotected, hot radiator could pose a risk to vulnerable individuals with reduced mobility and to those who could not react appropriately or quickly enough to prevent injury.

“There are several published sources of guidance on preventing burns and scalds which are available to download from the HSE website and we urge all dutyholders to visit the resource to help avoid such incidents in the future.”

Scalding and burning

Risks from hot water and hot surfaces

The health and social care sector often provides care and services for individuals who may be vulnerable to risks from hot water or surfaces. Those at risk include children, older people, people with reduced mental capacity, reduced mobility, a sensory impairment, or people who cannot react appropriately, or quickly enough, to prevent injury.

Risk of scalding

Health and social care settings have increased water temperatures for a number of reasons including the need to satisfy hot water demand, efficient running of the boiler and controlling the risk from Legionella bacteria. High water temperatures (particularly temperatures over 44°C) can create a scalding risk to vulnerable people who use care services.

Those who are vulnerable to the risk may be in hospitals and other care settings, care homes, social services premises and special schools. The risk of scalding/burning should also be assessed in community facilities such as hostels, or staffed and sheltered housing, where vulnerable people may be at risk.

Many accidents involving scalding have been fatal and have mainly occurred during bathing or showering. Where vulnerable people are at risk from scalding during whole body immersion, water temperatures must not exceed 44°C.  Any precautions taken should not introduce other risks, eg from Legionella bacteria.

Risk of burn injuries

Serious injuries and fatalities have also been caused by contact with hot pipes or radiators. Where there is a risk of a vulnerable person sustaining a burn from a hot surface, then the surface should not exceed 43°C when the system is running at the maximum design output.  Precautions may include insulation or providing suitable covers.

Further information

For more information visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/healthservices/scalding-burning.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 – 11TH AUGUST 2016

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

General fire safety in construction – timber-frame firm fined for fire safety and traffic offences

A construction firm has been fined £100,000 for running an unsafe timber-frame construction site.

The HSE launched an investigation last month after making an unannounced visit to the site.

Fifty-four timber-frame houses were under construction, which carry a serious fire risk if not planned or managed properly, as the structures are made from wood. If a fire starts, the speed and intensity of fire spread can be extreme – putting workers and even members of the public at risk of harm.

HSE found that measures to prevent a fire starting and getting out of control had not been properly taken. All the houses were under construction at broadly the same stage with little fire protection, a lack of site management control, insufficient means to detect a fire and raise the alarm, poor control of ignition sources and a general lack of emergency planning. Workers were also at risk of being struck or crushed by construction vehicles on site.

Improvement Notices were served regarding fire and vehicle safety issues and these were complied with after two further inspection visits.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Liam Osborne said: “[the construction firm] had been given plenty of warnings about fire-safety and traffic risks in the recent past, including from HSE.

“Timber-frame houses are perfectly safe once they’re finished and protected, but when under construction they can be very dangerous. Stringent fire-safety standards need to be in place well before the build starts, and then maintained and monitored”.

General fire safety in construction – what you need to do

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (FSO) sets out the law on construction site general fire safety.

The FSO requires that a ‘responsible person’ must carry out, and keep up to date, a risk assessment and implement appropriate measures to minimise the risk to life and property from fire.

The responsible person will usually be the main or principal contractor in control of the site.

You should identify sources of fuel and ignition and establish general fire precautions including, means of escape, warning and fighting fire, based on your fire risk assessment.

In occupied buildings such as offices, make sure the work does not interfere with existing escape routes from the building, or any fire separation, alarms, dry risers, or sprinkler systems.

Key issues are:

  • Risk assessment
  • Means of escape
  • Means of giving warning
  • Means of fighting fire

Construction of timber frame buildings will require significant additional measures – please refer to the specific guidance listed.

What you need to know

Each year there a number of serious fires on construction sites and buildings undergoing refurbishment.

Risk assessment

In most cases, conducting a risk assessment will be a relatively straightforward and simple task that may be carried out by the responsible person, or a person they nominate, such as a consultant.

There are five steps in carrying out a fire risk assessment:

  1. Identify hazards: consider how a fire could start and what could burn;
  2. People at risk: employees, contractors, visitors and anyone who is vulnerable, eg disabled;
  3. Evaluation and action: consider the hazards and people identified in 1 and 2 and act to remove and reduce risk to protect people and premises;
  4. Record, plan and train: keep a record of the risks and action taken. Make a clear plan for fire safety and ensure that people understand what they need to do in the event of a fire; and
  5. Review: your assessment regularly and check it takes account of any changes on site.

Means of escape

Key aspects to providing safe means of escape on construction sites include:

  • Routes: your risk assessment should determine the escape routes required, which must be kept available and unobstructed;
  • Alternatives:well-separated alternative ways to ground level should be provided where possible;
  • Protection: routes can be protected by installing permanent fire separation and fire doors as soon as possible;
  • Assembly: make sure escape routes give access to a safe place where people can assemble and be accounted for. On a small site the pavement outside may be adequate; and
  • Signs: will be needed if people are not familiar with the escape routes. Lighting should be provided for enclosed escape routes and emergency lighting may be required.

Means of giving warning

Set up a system to alert people on site. This may be temporary or permanent mains operated fire alarm (tested regularly), a klaxon, an air horn or a whistle, depending on the size and complexity of the site.

The warning needs to be distinctive, audible above other noise and recognisable by everyone.

Means of fighting fire

Fire extinguishers should be located at identified fire points around the site. The extinguishers should be appropriate to the nature of the potential fire:

  • wood, paper and cloth – water extinguisher;
  • flammable liquids – dry powder or foam extinguisher;
  • electrical – carbon dioxide (C02) extinguisher.

Nominated people should be trained in how to use extinguishers.

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

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HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 21ST JULY 2016

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

Maximum workplace temperature: what the law says

As the Met Office declares a Level 3 heatwave alert, and London endures its hottest night in 10 years, two MPs are now taking their campaign to Parliament for employers to be legally forced to provide water, breaks or air conditioning when workplace temperatures are uncomfortably high (above 30C, or 27C where strenuous work is carried out).

In the meantime, whilst the Health & Safety Executive advises that a meaningful figure for maximum workplace temperatures cannot be given (due to the high temperatures found in, for example, glass works or foundries), the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 place a legal obligation on employers to provide a “reasonable” temperature in the workplace.

What is a reasonable working temperature?

A reasonable temperature for a workplace depends on work activity and the environmental conditions of the workplace.

To find out if you have a reasonable workplace temperature you need to:

  • carry out a thermal comfort risk assessment

A simple way of estimating the level of thermal comfort in your workplace is to ask your employees or their safety representatives (such as unions or employee associations) if they are satisfied with the thermal environment ie to use the thermal comfort checklist (http://www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/assets/docs/thermal-comfort-checklist.pdf).

Use the downloadable thermal comfort checklist to help you identify whether there may be a risk of thermal discomfort to your employees. Please note that this is a basic checklist and does not replace a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, taking account of thermal comfort.

Read the descriptions for each thermal comfort factor, and tick the appropriate box. If you tick two or more ‘Yes’ boxes there may be a risk of thermal discomfort and you may need to carry out a more detailed risk assessment

Assessing thermal comfort

Once you have identified a problem using the thermal comfort checklist, in most instances the guidance on the HSE website will be sufficient to enable you to improve thermal comfort in your workplace.  If you need to take further action in measuring thermal comfort, you should refer to the relevant British Standards (http://www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/assets/docs/british-european-int-standards.pdf) that cover this area.

If thermal comfort is an issue in your workplace you may need to consider it as part of your risk assessment (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg163.htm) process. Read the six basic factors (http://www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/thermal/factors.htm) affecting thermal comfort and think about how they may be affecting your employees and about resolving the ones having the largest impact. If the environment is affected by seasonal factors you may need to reassess the risk at different times of year. For example consider scheduling maintenance work to a cooler time of the day.

Controlling thermal comfort

There are a number of ways that you can control thermal comfort in the workplace, some of which are very simple. Click on the link for more information: http://www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/thermal/controlling.htm

Act on the findings of the risk assessment by implementing appropriate controls. If the effect is seasonal they may only need to be in place temporarily. For advice on controls when working in very hot conditions please refer to heat stress in the workplace (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg451.htm).

For more information, visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/temperature/faq.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

 

 

HOW HEALTHY, SAFE AND DIVERSE IS YOUR WORKFORCE?

REGISTER BELOW-LEFT TO RECEIVE OUR UPDATES BY EMAIL

IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

Employing migrant workers?

Gender

Health and safety for disabled people

Young workers

Health and safety for older workers

New to the job

Introduction

Factors like race, gender, disability, age and work pattern may affect people’s health and safety in the workplace – and sometimes health and safety is used as a false excuse to justify discriminating against certain groups of workers.

Tackling discrimination

What is discrimination?

The Equality Act 2010 became law in October 2010 and replaces the Disability discrimination Act, the Race Relations Act and the Sex Discrimination Act. The Equality Act covers nine ‘protected characteristics’ these are: Age, Disability, Gender reassignment, Marriage and civil partnership, Pregnancy and maternity, Race, Religion and belief, Sex and Sexual orientation. More information on the Act can be found on the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) website: http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/

For health and safety purposes, equality is concerned with breaking down the barriers that currently block opportunities for certain groups of people in the workplace, aiming to identify and minimise the barriers that exclude people and to take action to achieve equal access to all aspects of work for everyone. Eliminating discrimination is important in achieving equality, since it is not just the physical environment or poor policies that prevent equality from being achieved but also ways of working, attitudes and stereotypes about different groups of people.

Diversity is about recognising, valuing and taking account of people’s different backgrounds, knowledge, skills, and experiences, and encouraging and using those differences to create a productive and effective workforce.

Why tackle discrimination?

The workforce and working patterns are changing. The working population is getting older and there are more women and people from ethnic minorities at work.

Everyone has the right to be treated fairly at work and to be free of discrimination on grounds of age, race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, pregnancy and maternity, gender reassignment, or belief.

Many employers have found that making adaptations to their working practices to accommodate a diverse workforce makes good business sense. It makes their business more attractive to both potential employees and customers and helps them recruit and retain the best people. This is not only good business sense but helps them meet the requirements of legislation.

Some provisions that have helped in this respect are:

  • extended leave;
  • religious holidays;
  • adaptation to hours of work;
  • reasonable adjustments.

Health and safety should never be used as a false excuse to justify discriminatory action.

There is a lot of advice available to employers which helps to dispel some of the myths around health and safety in the workplace. For further information please see the HSE web pages on vulnerable workers (http://www.hse.gov.uk/vulnerable-workers/index.htm) and HSE guidance on risk assessments.

Remember

Employers should make sure they communicate messages about risk in a way that their employees understand. Some things to think about are language, use of pictures, colour, font sizes or format.

We hope you find our 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

Employing migrant workers?

Good practice when employing migrant workers; and your legal responsibilities to them:

Who is responsible for the health and safety of migrant workers?

There is no simple answer to this question – it depends on the relationship between the labour provider and user and the circumstances under which the work is being carried out.

When a business uses workers supplied by an independent labour provider, the business and the labour provider have a shared responsibility to protect their health and safety, regardless of which one is the employer.

Determining who is the employer will in any case depend on the facts of each case

What about information, instruction, training and supervision?

If you are a labour provider you should:

  • Make sure you know what induction and job-related training the labour user is providing for the workers you supply;
  • Agree with the labour user how, when and by whom training will be provided for the workers you supply;
  • Advise the labour user about how well the workers you supply can speak and read English.

If you are a labour user you should:

  • Provide essential induction training and any necessary job-related/vocational training;
  • Provide relevant information about the risks to which they may be exposed and the precautions they will need to take to avoid those risks;
  • Consider the needs of workers who may not speak English well, if at all, and whether you need translation services;
  • Make sure workers have received and understood the information, instruction and training they need to work safely and consider how to ensure it is acted upon;
  • Make sure workers are adequately supervised and can communicate with their supervisors;
  • Make sure workers know where and how to raise any concerns about their health and safety and about any emergency arrangements or procedures.

What is risk assessment?

A risk assessment is a careful examination of what, in your workplace, could cause harm to people. It lets you weigh up whether you have taken enough precautions to protect them or need to do more.

Assessing the risks from work activities is a legal requirement, but it is also the key to effectively managing health and safety. It reduces the potential for accidents and ill health that can not only ruin lives but also seriously affect your business if output is lost, or plant machinery or property is damaged.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), trade associations and other organisations have published advice and guidance on how to carry out risk assessments (http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/controlling-risks.htm).

If you are a labour user you should:

  • Carry out a risk assessment of the tasks the worker will be expected to undertake;
  • Ensure the control measures identified in the assessment are effective, are in place and are maintained;
  • Pass relevant information on to your labour provider(s).

If you are a labour provider you should:

  • Ensure that your clients have carried out risk assessments for the tasks the workers you are supplying will be carrying out;
  • Agree with your client who will check the implementation and maintenance of the identified control measures, eg providing any necessary personal protective clothing.

Both labour providers and users should take account of the needs of overseas workers and consider:

  • Language issues;
  • Basic competencies, eg literacy, numeracy, physical attributes, general health, relevant work experience etc; and
  • Whether their vocational qualifications are compatible with those in GB;
  • Ensure that assessments are regularly reviewed to ensure they keep up to date with any changes to processes or working practices.

The risks that arise from workers being new to the job.

What about toilet and washing facilities and clean drinking water?

Employers must provide washing, toilet, rest and changing facilities for employees when they’re at work, and somewhere clean to eat and drink during breaks.

Toilets and hand basins, with soap and towels or a hand-dryer, as well as drinking water, are particularly important if working in remote, outdoor locations or premises with manual activities, such as labouring or planting and harvesting agricultural produce, and construction.

Employers must also provide a place to store clothing and somewhere to change if special clothing is worn during work.

Further guidance can be found in HSE’s leaflet workplace health, safety and welfare (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg244.pdf)

For more information on employing migrant workers, visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/migrantworkers/index.htm  

Gender

Women make up 42% of the employed population in the EU. The jobs they do, their working conditions and how they are treated by society can affect the hazards they face at work and the approach that needs to be taken to assess and control them. Factors to take into account include:

  • women and men are concentrated in certain jobs, and therefore face hazards particular to those jobs
  • women and men face different risks to their reproductive health.

The impact of gender on both men’s and women’s occupational health and safety is generally under-researched and poorly understood. However, discrimination against new and expectant mothers is well known and HSE has been working closely with other government departments to tackle this.

Promoting gender equality at work and tackling discrimination

HSE launched and promotes an Equality Impact Assessment Tool to mainstream diversity in our day-to-day work. It is designed to help staff identify and minimise any potential issues around equality.

Building the evidence base

The HSE’s review of research on gender sensitivity in occupational health and safety has increased understanding of the issues in this area. Three subject areas have been identified, including key issues and messages. These are:

  • male and female reproductive health
  • pregnancy
  • older workers, in particular older female workers.

HSE links with specialists in the fields of gender equality and occupational health and safety have improved. For example they:

  • have met with the TUC Gender Occupational Safety and Health group
  • have joined the Men’s Health Forum
  • are building contacts with the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Review of research into gender and occupational health and safety

Understanding the impact of gender (social) and sex (biological) differences on men’s and women’s occupational health and safety can help reduce inequality in the workplace.

A review of research identified three broad areas:

Gender balance in industry

  • Some industries and occupations are dominated by one gender.
  • Men and women in the same sectors, carrying out the same roles and tasks, can experience different demands. For example, female nurses tend to have more people-facing tasks than their male colleagues.
  • There is a perception that the risks associated with female-dominated industries are taken less seriously than those in male-dominated industries.

Under-representation of women in health and safety decision making

  • Women are under-represented in the health and safety decision-making process.
  • Their views and experience of female-specific health and safety issues are often marginalised, underestimated or overlooked.
  • Research studies tend to exclude or ignore women.

Gender (social) and sex (biological) differences

Examples of gender differences in occupational health and safety:

  • Differences in risk perception and risk management.
  • Different working patterns. Women are more likely to work part-time than men, and in jobs of lower status.
  • Outside the workplace, working women tend to have greater domestic and caring responsibilities.

Examples of sex difference in occupational health and safety:

  • Understanding the workplace risks to male and female reproductive health.
  • The impact of gender and sex difference in older workers is under-researched and little understood.

Working together, sharing intelligence and good practice

HSE’s External Diversity Team monitor progress against diversity priorities and the annual action plan.

HSE is trying to provide appropriate support by building intelligence they can share. If you have any information or research that would help them build their evidence base about health and safety in the workplace in relation to this area, please feel free to send it to them at diversity@hse.gsi.gov.uk.

For more information visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/vulnerable-workers/gender.htm

Health and safety for disabled people

Health and safety legislation should not prevent disabled people finding or staying in employment and should not be used as a false excuse to justify discriminating against disabled workers.

We want to enable disabled people and those with health conditions, including mental health conditions, to get into and stay in work.

The following guidance will help those employing disabled people to understand their health and safety responsibilities.

Myths

HSE’s Myth Buster Challenge Panel has considered a number of disability related cases. The Panel provides a route to challenge perceptions and promote awareness.

Myth: Health and safety provides a legitimate reason for not taking on a disabled worker

Reality: This is not the case. There is no health and safety legislation that would prevent a disabled person finding or staying in employment. Health and safety should not be used as an excuse for doing nothing, or for refusing to make reasonable adjustments.

Myth: Employing a disabled worker is expensive and difficult

Reality: Many people with disabilities do not require additional assistance to do their job.  Employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments to make sure disabled workers aren’t seriously disadvantaged when doing their jobs.  Many of these adjustments can be simple and straightforward, for example installing a ramp or letting a wheelchair user work on the ground floor.  The Government’s Access to Work programme means that funding may be available, should any adjustments be required.

Myth: You have to be registered as disabled to ensure you can get the adjustments needed to do your job

Reality: There is no process requiring registration for disabled people.  If you have a disability, your employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments to enable you to do your job.  The best way to make sure this happens is to inform your employer of your disability and work with them to identify and consider adjustments that could be put in place to assist you.

Find out more about making reasonable adjustments on gov.uk: https://www.gov.uk/reasonable-adjustments-for-disabled-workers

If you are blind or partially sighted, you have the option to register with your Local Authority.  You do not have to be registered to access help, registration is voluntary and may entitle you to certain concessions. The RNIB provides information on registering your sight loss.

Can health and safety law provide an employer with a legitimate reason to reject a job applicant on the grounds of their disability?

There are very few cases where health and safety law requires the exclusion of specific groups of people from certain types of activity. While work in hazardous situations cannot always be eliminated, it can often be substantially reduced with comparatively little cost.  With reasonable adjustments and plans to review if circumstances change, risks can be managed. This might be achieved by reallocating responsibilities or rescheduling duties to more suitable times.

Find out more about recruitment of disabled people on gov.uk: https://www.gov.uk/recruitment-disabled-people

Is an employer required to carry out a separate risk assessment for each disabled employee?

No, there is no requirement to carry out a separate risk assessment for a disabled employee. Employers should already be managing any significant workplace risks, including putting control measures in place to eliminate or reduce the risks. If an employer becomes aware of an employee who has a disability, they should review the risk assessment to make sure it covers risks that might be present for that employee.

For more information visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/disability/index.htm

Young workers

Please see our 25th February update for HSE guidance on employing under 18’s: http://www.eljay.co.uk/news/health-safety-news-update-25th-february-2016/

Health and safety for older workers

Today’s workforce is likely to contain a higher proportion of older workers because of factors such as increased life expectancy, removal of the default retirement age and raising of the State Pension Age, which means that many people will need, and want to continue working.

Employers have the same responsibilities for the health and safety of older employees as they have for all their employees.

The following will help employers take older workers into account when considering how to meet their responsibilities.

Guidance for employers

Older workers bring a broad range of skills and experience to the workplace and often have better judgement and job knowledge, so looking after their health and safety makes good business sense.

You should:

  • Review your risk assessment if anything significant changes, not just when an employee reaches a certain age
  • Not assume that certain jobs are physically too demanding for older workers, many jobs are supported by technology, which can absorb the physical strain.
  • Think about the activities older workers do, as part of your overall risk assessment and consider whether any changes are needed. This might include:
  • allowing older workers more time to absorb health and safety information or training, for example by introducing self-paced training.
  • introducing opportunities for older workers to choose to move to other types of work.
  • designing tasks that contain an element of manual handling in such a way that they eliminate or minimise the risk.
  • Think about how your business operates and how older workers could play a part in helping to improve how you manage health and safety risks. This might include having older workers working alongside colleagues in a structured programme, to capture knowledge and learn from their experience.
  • Avoid assumptions by consulting and involving older workers when considering relevant control measures to put in place. Extra thought may be needed for some hazards. Consultation with your employees helps you to manage health and safety in a practical way.

Further information (click on the links):

The law

Under health and safety law, employers must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable , the health and safety of all their employees, irrespective of age.

Employers must also provide adequate information, instruction, training and supervision to enable their employees to carry out their work safely.

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (MHSWR)

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, employers have a duty to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the workplace risks to the health and safety of his employees. This includes identifying groups of workers who might be particularly at risk, which could include older workers.

Equality Law

Discrimination in respect of age is different from all other forms of direct discrimination in that it can be justifiable if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate end, such as considering changes to work that may be needed to ensure older workers can remain in the workforce.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) provides information and further advice on age discrimination: http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/about-us/about-commission/our-vision-and-mission/our-business-plan/age-equality

For more information visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/vulnerable-workers/older-workers.htm

New to the job

Workers are as likely to have an accident in the first six months at a workplace as during the whole of the rest of their working life.

The extra risk arises due to:

  • lack of experience of working in a new industry or workplace
  • lack of familiarity with the job and the work environment
  • reluctance to raise concerns (or not knowing how to)
  • eagerness to impress workmates and managers.

This means workers new to a site:

  • may not recognise hazards as a potential source of danger
  • may not understand ‘obvious’ rules for use of equipment
  • may be unfamiliar with site layout – especially where site hazards may change from day to day
  • may ignore warning signs and rules, or cut corners.

Six steps to protect new starters

  1. Capability

Assess the new starter’s capabilities. For example:

  • literacy and numeracy levels
  • general health
  • relevant work experience
  • physical capability to do the job
  • familiarity with the work being done and the working environment (especially where conditions change rapidly, such as on construction sites).

Don’t forget to assess cultural and language issues (grasp of English) too, where relevant – you may need to use visual, non-verbal methods such as pictures, signs or learning materials such as videos/DVDs/CD-ROMs

  1. Induction

Provide an induction. Plan it carefully, including photos of hazards where possible, and use plain, simple language. Take time to walk around the workplace or site with new workers and show them where the main hazards exist (eg falls, slips and transport).

  1. Control measures

Make sure the control measures to protect against risk are up to date and are being properly used and maintained:

  • Involve employees and health and safety representatives in discussions about the risk and how best to make sure new starters are protected.
  • Emphasise the importance of reporting accidents and near misses.
  • Make any necessary arrangements for health surveillance.
  • If required, make sure suitable personal protective equipment is provided and maintained without cost to the workers.
  1. Information

Provide relevant information, instruction and training about the risks that new workers may be exposed to and the precautions they will need to take to avoid those risks.

  1. Supervision

Provide adequate supervision. Make sure workers know how to raise concerns and supervisors are familiar with the possible problems due to unfamiliarity and inexperience.

  1. Check understanding

Check workers have understood the information, instruction and training they need to work safely, and are acting on it, especially during the vital first days/weeks at work. Remember to make sure workers know how and with whom they can raise any concerns about their health and safety and that they know about any emergency arrangements or procedures.

For more information visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/vulnerable-workers/new-to-the-job.htm

For more information on health, safety and diversity in the workplace, visit the HSE web page: http://www.hse.gov.uk/diversity/index.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 – 21ST JANUARY 2016

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IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

Glasgow hosts first event on the health and safety system strategy for Great Britain roadshow

Sensible health and safety management in schools – School fined after pupil paralysed when swing collapsed

Noise induced hearing loss – key speakers announced for new hearing conference

Introduction

In our first update this year, we shared the news that leading industry figures and other key influencers are being urged to have a say in shaping the future strategy for Great Britain’s health and safety system. This week, Glasgow hosted the first of seven roadshow events taking place over the next fortnight in which people and organisations are being asked to contribute ideas on what will help the countries and regions of Great Britain ‘work well’.

With so many schools opting to convert to academy status, we looked at sensible health and safety management in education last week, particularly as a school had recently been in court over a science experiment injury. Less than a week later, the HSE has revealed how yet another school has been fined, after a pupil was paralysed when a swing collapsed. So this week, we’re reminding our readers of the HSE webpages providing guidance on the subject.

Last year, an estimated 15,000 people in employment suffered from noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) caused or made worse by work (based on data from the Labour Force Survey – averaged over 2011/12, 2013/14 and 2014/15). This equates to a rate of 48 cases per 100,000 people employed in the last 12 months. This March in Manchester, ListenUP! is bringing together international specialists in the field of hearing conservation to propose a fresh approach to this escalating problem. We close this week’s update with details of how to register for the conference, and also HSE guidance on the subject.

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

Glasgow hosts first event on the health and safety system strategy for Great Britain roadshow – 18 January 2016

Leaders of Scottish business and supporting organisations are meeting today in Glasgow to discuss the development of Britain’s new strategy for workplace health and safety.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), wants leading industry figures and key influencers to have a say in shaping the future strategy for Great Britain’s health and safety system, and is going on the road to hear those views. The roadshow will travel to six other cities over the next fortnight, finishing in London on 2 February.

Glasgow was chosen to host the first roadshow in which people and organisations are being asked to contribute ideas on what will help the countries and regions of Great Britain ‘work well’.

The roadshow coincides with the development of a new action plan by the Partnership on Health and Safety in Scotland (PHASS) to help strengthen the pattern of ownership and collective effort in continuing to improve health and safety in Scotland.

Despite being one of the safest places in the world to work, every year in Scotland there are an estimated 42,000 new incidences and rates of self-reported illness caused or made worse by a current or most recent job.

HSE, the independent regulator for workplace safety and health, which is organising the roadshows recently published the six themes the five-year strategy will cover and a wide range of influencers including employers, workers, local and central government, unions and other regulators are being consulted on their views.

There are three overarching aspects the new strategy will tackle and the conversations will seek to address;

  • Taking collective ownership and looking at personal contributions to health and safety that do not cause unnecessary cost or inefficiency to people or business.
  • Over 23 million working days are lost each year through work-related ill-health and the costs to Britain are estimated at over £9.4bn per year.
  • Boosting Britain’s businesses. Ensuring SMEs in particular get the right information, at the right time, and take the right action easily.

HSE will tell the collected audience that it has done much to banish the myth that health and safety equates to bureaucracy and actually benefits business in terms of productivity, innovation and growth. But at the roadshows it will ask how this work can be continued into the next five years.

A multi-channel awareness campaign is underway on social, online and print media and the hashtag #HelpGBWorkWell is inviting people from all over Britain to join the conversation.

Head of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) in Scotland, Karen McDonnell, who will address today’s event said: “Partnership working is vital to the future success of the health and safety system in Great Britain, and that is why this roadshow is so promising.

“Multi-disciplinary partnership working has been fundamental to bringing together Scotland’s business and health and safety networks and this engagement on the future system is the next step forward.

“I understand the future of the health and safety system in Great Britain belongs, not only to HSE, but, to everyone, and that’s why I have agreed to speak at this event that encourages people to talk and exchange views in order to gain a broader ownership of the system as we know it.”

Dame Judith Hackitt DBE, Chair of HSE said: “Scotland enjoys the same record on work-related safety and health as GB as a whole which is undoubtedly one of the best in the world.

“Ensuring Britain continues to work well is the challenge, which is why we are asking workers and employers to give us their ideas on the country’s health and safety strategy, a strategy for all, shaped by all.”

Sensible health and safety management in schools – school fined after pupil paralysed when swing collapsed

A Hertfordshire school has been fined a total of £50,000 plus £90,693 costs for safety failings after a pupil suffered permanent paralysis when a swing collapsed.

St Albans Magistrates’ Court heard how on September 2011 a 13-year-old pupil at the school was playing on a wooden swing in an adventure playground.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the swing had collapsed because the supporting timbers had rotted. The heavy wooden cross beam of the swing fell onto the pupil’s head and neck causing spinal injuries that resulted in permanent paralysis.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Alison Ashworth said:

“This case shows how important it is that schools and other providers of play equipment maintain them in a safe condition. This tragic accident could have been avoided had the school implemented the findings of its own risk assessment.”

Sensible health and safety management in schools

A sensible approach to health and safety in schools means focusing on how the real risks are managed. The guidance on this series of webpages (http://www.hse.gov.uk/services/education/sensible-leadership/) will help those responsible for managing health and safety in schools to strike the right balance, so that the real risks are managed and learning opportunities are experienced to the full. Sensible health and safety management should be straightforward, it’s just part of good school leadership.

If you need any assistance, we have been providing health and safety support and training to schools and colleges for a number of years now, and are happy to forward a no-obligation quotation on request. Contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Noise induced hearing loss – key speakers announced for new hearing conference

HSE’s Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL) has announced the keynote speakers who will speak at ListenUP! – the first European Hearing Conservation Conference.

Taking place in Manchester, UK on 2 March 2016, ListenUP! will bring together international specialists in the field of hearing conservation to propose a fresh approach to the escalating problem of noise-induced hearing loss.

Speakers at the conference, which is the first of its kind in Europe, represent a broad range of disciplines. Those delivering keynote talks include:

  • Professor Andrew Curran, HSE’s Chief Scientific Advisor
  • Professor Bart Vinck, Head of the Department of Communication Pathology, University of Pretoria
  • Dr David Welch, Head of Section (hearing and hearing loss), University of Auckland, and
  • Chris Wood, Senior Research and Policy Officer for Action on Hearing Loss

Attendees will also benefit from presentations from other expert speakers including Peter Wilson, Director of the Industrial Noise and Vibration Centre; Fiona Carragher, Deputy Chief Scientific Officer for NHS England; Stephen Dance, Reader in Acoustics at London South Bank University and Mike Barraclough, Senior Risk Manager with QBE Insurance.

Disabling hearing loss currently affects more than 10 million people in the UK and by 2031 it is anticipated that 14.5 million people in the UK will suffer some degree of noise-induced hearing loss.

ListenUP! offers anyone actively involved or interested in hearing conservation the unique opportunity to obtain the very latest information, solutions and good practice to help tackle hearing loss. They will also be in at the start of this drive for change and can help to shape the future of a proposed European Hearing Conservation Association.

Online registration for ListenUP! is now open, but interest in this landmark conference is high so anyone interested in attending is advised to visit www.hsl.gov.uk/listenup/registration now to secure their place.

Noise at work – advice for employers (click on the links for more information)

Some 17,000 people in the UK suffer deafness, ringing in the ears or other ear conditions caused by excessive noise at work.

For more information, visit the HSE webpage http://www.hse.gov.uk/noise/index.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 – 14TH JANUARY 2016

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IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

Excavation and underground services – electrical explosion leaves worker scarred for life

Sensible health and safety management in schools – school in court over science experiment injury

Work equipment and machinery – housing trust in court after mower mangles worker’s hand

Introduction

We open this week’s update with news of two construction companies being fined £45,000 each after two workers were seriously burned, and one scarred for life after they cut into a live 11,000v electrical cable. The HSE found that the principal contractor for the project had failed to identify the risk from live electrical cables that had been dug up and exposed (in addition to other failings by both companies at the site), so we’re sharing HSE guidance on excavation and underground services.

Moving from construction to education, it’s probably no surprise to readers that over half of secondary schools are now academies, and that up to 1,000 more could go through the transition by the next election. When a school becomes an academy, the Governing Body, as the employer, becomes legally responsible for health and safety and the school no longer automatically receives the Health, Safety and Wellbeing service that it was entitled to as a maintained school. So this week, after news of a chemistry laboratory technician losing parts of three fingers and sustaining a serious internal injury while preparing a highly sensitive explosive for use in a ‘fireworks’ demonstration, we also share HSE guidance on sensible health and safety management in schools.

And finally, we’re again sharing HSE guidance on work equipment and machinery, after news of a housing trust being fined £140,000 plus £70,000 costs after a worker suffered severe injuries to his left hand when it was struck by a metal blade on a ride-on mower.

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

Excavation and underground services – electrical explosion leaves worker scarred for life

Two construction companies have been fined £45,000 each after two workers were seriously burned, and one scarred for life after they cut into a live 11,000v electrical cable.

Southwark Crown Court heard the labourer and a bricklayer were working in a House of Lords site at Millbank, London, on 1 July 2013, to lay bricks around a manhole.

One of the men, who was 22 at the time of the incident, hit the cable with a jackhammer when removing old brickwork and suffered serious burns to his arms, legs, hands and face. He was in hospital for nearly a month receiving treatment to his injuries.

The other worker, a 63-year-old man, suffered significant burns to his face and neck. He has been treated for the longer term traumatic stress because of the incident and is unable to continue working with drills and machines.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) carried out an investigation into the incident and the conditions found at the construction site.

One of the companies – the principal contractor for the project – had failed to identify the risk from live electrical cables that had been dug up and exposed, failed to provide information warning that the incident cable was live, and failed to adequately manage the site and the contractor.

The employer of the two injured workers also failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment before the work started, failed to provide effective supervision during the work and failed to check competence before allocating tasks including the operation of the jackhammer.

HSE inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers commented after the hearing: “This serious incident should be a warning to the industry about the need to identify the risks to workers’ safety before work begins, so they can be protected.

“Employers have a duty to check workers have sufficient skills, knowledge, experience and training before they allow them to use equipment such as jackhammers on construction sites. A key point is to not assume a worker can use the equipment safely, just because they may have operated it previously.

“The ferocious explosion resulted in some serious injuries. This incident could easily have resulted in a fatality, and other employers should take this as a warning about the risks of working near electrical cables.”

Excavation and underground services

What you need to know

When underground cables are damaged, people can be killed and injured by electric shock, electrical arcs (causing an explosion), and flames. This often results in severe burns to hands, face and body, even if protective clothing is being worn.

Damage can be caused when a cable is:

  • cut through by a sharp object such as the point of a tool; or
  • crushed by a heavy object or powerful machine.

Cables that have been previously damaged but left unreported and unrepaired can cause incidents.

The HSE booklet “Avoiding danger from underground services” (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg47.htm) gives guidance on how you can manage the risks of digging near underground cables.

The Electricity Networks Association (ENA) publication “Watch It! When digging in the vicinity of underground electric cables” also provides advice.

What you need to do

If you are digging or disturbing the earth you should take care to avoid damaging underground services. Underground electrical cables can be particularly hazardous because they often look like pipes and it is impossible to tell if they are live just by looking at them.

Damage to underground electrical cables can cause fatal or severe injury and the law says you must take precautions to avoid danger.

Excavation work should be properly managed to control risks, including:

Planning the work

Most service cables belong to a Distribution Network Operator (DNO). However, some cables belong to other organisations such as the highways authority, Ministry of Defence or Network Rail.

You should check nearby for equipment owned by the organisations listed above, and if you suspect there are underground cables, ask them for plans to confirm their location. If underground cables are nearby you may need to ask someone from the organisation to come and accurately locate them for you.

If you are excavating near your own cables , then someone who is experienced in underground cable detection techniques should help you locate them using suitable equipment.

You may need to make underground cables dead for the work to proceed safely. Be aware that electricity companies are required to give five days’ notice to customers whose supply is to be disconnected.

Careful planning and risk assessments are essential before the work starts. Risk assessments should consider how the work is to be carried out, ensuring local circumstances are taken into account.

Using cable plans

Plans or other suitable information about all buried services in the area should be obtained and reviewed before any excavation work starts.

If the excavation work is an emergency, and plans and other information cannot be found, the work should be carried out as though there are live buried services in the area.

Symbols on electricity cable plans may vary between utilities and advice should be sought from the issuing office. Remember that high-voltage cables may be shown on separate plans from low-voltage cables.

Plans give only an indication of the location, and number of underground services at a particular site. It is essential that a competent person traces cables using suitable locating devices.

Cable locating devices

Before work begins, underground cables must be located, identified and clearly marked.

The position of the cable in or near the proposed work area should be pinpointed as accurately as possible by means of a locating device, using plans, and other information as a guide to the possible location of services and to help interpret the signal.

Remember: Locators should be used frequently and repeatedly during the course of the work.

People who use a locator should have received thorough training in its use and limitations. Locating devices should always be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, regularly checked and maintained in good working order.

Safe digging practices

Excavation work should be carried out carefully and follow recognised safe digging practices.

Once a locating device has been used to determine cable positions and routes, excavation may take place, with trial holes dug using suitable hand tools as necessary to confirm this.

Excavate alongside the service rather than directly above it. Final exposure of the service by horizontal digging is recommended, as the force applied to hand tools can be controlled more effectively.

Insulated tools should be used when hand digging near electric cables.

Find out more (click on the links for further information):

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

Sensible health and safety management in schools – school in court over science experiment injury

A chemistry laboratory technician lost parts of three fingers and sustained a serious internal injury while preparing a highly sensitive explosive for use in a ‘fireworks’ demonstration to a class of children.

Bristol Magistrates’ Court heard the now retired staff member lost the top joints of his left hand index, middle and ring fingers and ruptured his bowel while preparing the explosive.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuting told the court the laboratory technician spent 12 days in total in hospital after the October 2014 incident. Although he returned to work in February 2015, he has since retired.

It was revealed that the preparation of explosive substances had been carried out in the school several times a year since 2009. The mixture in question and other substances had been used in ‘fireworks’ demonstrations.

The court also heard that other explosive substances, namely flash powder and gunpowder, were stored in the school’s chemistry storeroom.

HSE said the incident could have been avoided if the school had implemented clear management arrangements to control and review the risks posed by the chemicals used in its teaching activities.

The school admitted that it failed to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of its employees, in breach of its duty under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

It also admitted failing to conduct its undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in its employment, in this case its pupils, were not exposed to risks to their health and safety, in breach of its duty under Section 3 of the same act.

The school was fined a total of £26,000 [£8,000 for the section 2 offence and £18,000 for the section 3 offence] and ordered to pay £12,176 costs.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Susan Chivers said: “Schools need to have clear health and safety arrangements in place for their staff and students.

“They should set up adequate control systems and ensure that these arrangements are clearly understood and adhered to. They should also follow recognised guidance provided by CLEAPSS (formerly known as the Consortium of Local Education Authorities for the Provision of Science Services) and similar organisations regarding the control of risks to health and safety in practical science work.”

Leading sensible health and safety management in schools

Sensible health and safety management means making sure that the focus is on real risks with the potential to cause harm, not wasting resources on trivial matters and unnecessary paperwork. In short effective leaders follow a sensible and proportionate approach to health and safety management that promotes risk awareness rather than risk avoidance.

While many schools manage health and safety effectively and sensibly, some have adopted over cautious approaches. This means that pupils are missing out on challenging and exciting activities and learning opportunities, and the chance to develop new skills.

In schools sensible health and safety starts at the top and relies on every member of the management team making sure that risk is managed responsibly and proportionately. It is about creating a safe learning environment, giving pupils an appreciation of risk and how to deal with it. It means doing what is reasonably practicable to reduce significant risks by putting in place control measures to manage the real risks. It is not about the elimination of all risk.

Health and safety arrangements in schools need to be proportionate and appropriate to the risks involved:

  • Primary schools and ‘traditional’ classrooms in secondary and sixth form colleges are typically lower risk environments, and you will probably already be doing enough. The classroom checklist (http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/classroom-checklist.htm), which is not mandatory, provides a useful prompt for these types of classroom.
  • Risks may increase in Design and Technology workshops, science laboratories, art studios, textiles, drama, and PE.
  • Some of the higher risks to manage include vehicle and pedestrian movements on site, refurbishment and construction work, and adventure activities. You may wish to consider the joint high level statement ‘Children’s play and leisure: promoting a balanced approach.’ (http://www.hse.gov.uk/entertainment/childs-play-statement.htm)

The following guidance provides advice for all schools on (click on the links for further information):

For more information visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/services/education/sensible-leadership/index.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Work equipment and machinery – housing trust in court after mower mangles worker’s hand

A Tameside housing trust has been fined £140,000 plus £70,000 costs after a worker suffered severe injuries to his left hand when it was struck by a metal blade on a ride-on mower.

The 24-year-old from Stockport, who has asked not to be named, sustained several broken bones and had to have his thumb and forefinger amputated following the incident in Dukinfield in March 2014. A hospital x-ray has been released showing the extent of his injuries.

The housing trust was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the organisation had failed to consider the risks from the work, provide professional training or to give clear instructions on what to do if the mowers became blocked.

Manchester Crown Court heard the worker was using a ride-on mower for the first cut of the season, with a grass box attached. The chute to the grass box often became blocked, as the grass was long and wet.

On one occasion, the employee reached into the chute to clear a blockage when his hand came into contact with a metal fan, which was still rotating. He suffered serious injuries as a result, and is now unable to grip with his left hand or use his remaining fingers.

The court was told the worker had not received training on how to use the mower, and did not know that the fan continued to rotate for around 30 seconds after the engine was switched off.

Are you a user of work equipment?

What you must do

You must select and install equipment properly, use it carefully and make sure it is maintained to protect the health and safety of yourself, employees and others who may be affected by the way you use it. Sensible risk assessment is the key, following manufacturer’s recommendations for use and maintenance, and ensuring employees are trained and competent. This includes taking reasonable steps to ensure new work equipment complies with the relevant European requirements for safe design and construction. You must not use, or permit the use of, unsafe work equipment.

What you should know

Nearly all equipment used at work is subject to the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER), which place duties on employers, the relevant self-employed and those who control work equipment. If you are self-employed and your work poses no risk to the health and safety of others, then health and safety law may not apply to you.  HSE has guidance to help you understand if the law applies. Work equipment may also be subject to more specific legislation, for example:

  • the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER)
  • the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989
  • the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992

In addition to the general requirements applicable to most work equipment, PUWER covers in particular:

  • the risks from riding on and controlling mobile work equipment
  • operator visibility
  • protection from falling objects and from rolling over
  • restraint systems (seat belts, etc)
  • inspection / thorough examination of power presses

PUWER is supported by three Approved Codes of Practice; a general one on the Regulations, and two on specific types of machinery (woodworking and power presses). The ACOPs give practical guidance and set out the minimum standards for compliance. LOLER is supported by its own ACOP.

If you find new work equipment is not safe because of the way it has been designed, constructed, supplied or installed then you should stop using it until this has been remedied. You should first make contact with the manufacturer and supplier (or installer, if relating to the installation) to get the issue resolved. Where the product is defective due to its design or construction, you can report this to the relevant market surveillance authority. They may have the statutory powers necessary to take formal action and resolve the matter.

Further reading (click on the links):

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

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

 

 

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 3RD DECEMBER 2015

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IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

Legionella and Legionnaires’ disease – coatings firm in court for legionella failings

Solder fume and you – an employee’s guide

3M SafeTea Break 2015 Campaign

Introduction

Legionnaires’ disease is, unfortunately, in the news regularly. Only last month a driving test centre in Kent had to be shut down after the bacteria – which can cause the potentially fatal lung infection – was found during a routine water test. One of the worst outbreaks in UK history was in 2002 in Barrow-in-Furness, the source of which was an arts centre air conditioning unit. 172 cases of the disease were reported, resulting in seven deaths. If you are an employer, or someone in control of premises, including landlords, you must understand the health risks associated with legionella, and take the right precautions to reduce the risks of exposure to the bacteria, guidance on which we share below. Failure to do so recently resulted in an international engineering firm being fined at total of £110,000 plus £77,252 costs.

If you work in an electronics, metalwork or plumbing related industry, you’re probably familiar with soldering processes, and the fact that serious health problems can arise from rosin, which is contained in solder fluxes. This week we share the HSE’s recently revised guidance document ‘Solder fume and you’ (INDG248) which gives advice to employees on safe working whilst soldering with rosin (colophony) based solder fluxes.

And finally, we share details of 3M’s SafeTea Break 2015 campaign which encourages employers to deliver bite-size ‘tea break’ talks to engage their workforces in discussions about health and long latency occupational diseases.

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

Legionella and Legionnaires’ disease – coatings firm in court for legionella failings

An international engineering firm, which refurbishes turbine blades, was recently fined a total of £110,000 plus £77,252 costs for failing to manage the risk to public and employees to potentially fatal legionella bacteria.

The company, which has sites in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, failed to properly manage the risk of bacteria growing in their cooling towers for over a year, from May 2011.

Derby Crown Court heard that during a visit to one of the sites in May 2012, a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector felt spray on his face, saw the yard’s surface was wet and that nearby cooling towers were corroded.

Corrosion can encourage the growth of legionella bacteria which is carried in water droplets. If water is inhaled which contains the bacteria, it can lead to a number of diseases, but most commonly legionnaire’s disease, a potentially fatal form of pneumonia.

The inspector extended his visit to the rest of the factory plus the company’s other site, and found significant failings in the company’s control, recording and management of legionella risks.

HSE issued four improvement notices in June 2012 requiring inlet screens to be placed on the cooling towers to stop debris falling in them which could encourage legionella growth, and for corroded items of plant to be replaced.

Two similar notices were served on the company in 2008 seeking improvements on rusting towers and a number of management failures. All the notices had been complied with.

The court was told a laboratory analysis of a water sample taken from one of the sites before the HSE investigation had found legionella bacteria levels to be so high that immediate action was required to clean the system.

As well as failing to maintain its infrastructure, the company did not keep biocides (chemicals which kill bacteria) at effective levels.

What is Legionnaires’ disease?

Legionellosis is a collective term for diseases caused by legionella bacteria including the most serious Legionnaires’ disease, as well as the similar but less serious conditions of Pontiac fever and Lochgoilhead fever. Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia and everyone is susceptible to infection. The risk increases with age but some people are at higher risk including:

  • people over 45 years of age
  • smokers and heavy drinkers
  • people suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease
  • diabetes, lung and heart disease
  • anyone with an impaired immune system

The bacterium Legionella pneumophila and related bacteria are common in natural water sources such as rivers, lakes and reservoirs, but usually in low numbers. They may also be found in purpose-built water systems such as cooling towers, evaporative condensers, hot and cold water systems and spa pools.

If conditions are favourable, the bacteria may grow increasing the risks of Legionnaires’ disease and it is therefore important to control the risks by introducing appropriate measures outlined in Legionnaires’ disease – The Control of Legionella bacteria in water systems (L8) (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l8.htm).

What you must do

If you are an employer, or someone in control of premises, including landlords, you must understand the health risks associated with legionella. This section can help you to control any risks.

Duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) extend to risks from legionella bacteria, which may arise from work activities. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (MHSWR) provide a broad framework for controlling health and safety at work.  More specifically, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) provide a framework of actions designed to assess, prevent or control the risk from bacteria like Legionella and take suitable precautions.  The Approved Code of Practice: Legionnaires’ disease: The control of Legionella bacteria in water systems (L8) contains practical guidance on how to manage and control the risks in your system.

As an employer, or a person in control of the premises, you are responsible for health and safety and need to take the right precautions to reduce the risks of exposure to legionella. You must understand how to:

  • identify and assess sources of risk
  • manage any risks
  • prevent or control any risks
  • keep and maintain the correct records
  • carry out any other duties you may have

Identify and assess sources of risk

Carrying out a risk assessment is your responsibility. You may be competent to carry out the assessment yourself but, if not, you should call on help and advice from either within your own organisation or from outside sources, e.g. consultancies.

You or the person responsible for managing risks, need to understand your water systems, the equipment associated with the system such as pumps, heat exchangers, showers etc, and its constituent parts. Identify whether they are likely to create a risk from exposure to legionella, and whether:

  • the water temperature in all or some parts of the system is between 20–45 °C
  • water is stored or re-circulated as part of your system
  • there are sources of nutrients such as rust, sludge, scale, organic matter and biofilms
  • the conditions are likely to encourage bacteria to multiply
  • it is possible for water droplets to be produced and, if so, whether they can be dispersed over a wide area, e.g. showers and aerosols from cooling towers
  • it is likely that any of your employees, residents, visitors etc are more susceptible to infection due to age, illness, a weakened immune system etc and whether they could be exposed to any contaminated water droplets

Your risk assessment should include:

  • management responsibilities, including the name of the competent person and a description of your system
  • competence and training of key personnel
  • any identified potential risk sources
  • any means of preventing the risk or controls in place to control risks
  • monitoring, inspection and maintenance procedures
  • records of the monitoring results and inspection and checks carried out
  • arrangements to review the risk assessment regularly, particularly when there is reason to suspect it is no longer valid

If you conclude that there is no reasonably foreseeable risk or the risks are low and are being properly managed to comply with the law, your assessment is complete. You may not need to take any further action at this stage, but any existing controls must be maintained and the assessment reviewed regularly in case anything changes in your system.

Managing the risk

As an employer, or person in control of premises, you must appoint someone competent to help you meet your health and safety duties and to take responsibility for controlling any identified risk from exposure to legionella bacteria. A competent person, often known as the responsible person, is someone with sufficient authority, competence, necessary skills, knowledge of the system, and experience. The appointed responsible person could be one, or a combination of:

  • yourself
  • one or more workers
  • someone from outside your business

If there are several people responsible for managing risks, e.g. because of shift-work patterns, you must make sure that everyone knows what they are responsible for and how they fit into the overall risk management of the system.

If you decide to employ contractors to carry out water treatment or other work, it is still the responsibility of the competent person to ensure that the treatment is carried out to the required standards. Remember, before you employ a contractor, you should be satisfied that they can do the work you want to the standard that you require. There are a number of external schemes to help you with this, for example, A Code of Conduct for service providers (http://www.legionellacontrol.org.uk/). The British Standards Institute have published a standard for legionella risk assessment (http://shop.bsigroup.com/ProductDetail/?pid=000000000030200235)

Preventing or controlling the risk

You should first consider whether you can prevent the risk of legionella by looking at the type of water system you need, e.g. identify whether it is possible to replace a wet cooling tower with a dry air-cooled system. The key point is to design, maintain and operate your water services under conditions that prevent or adequately control the growth and multiplication of legionella.

If you identify a risk that you are unable to prevent, you must introduce a course of action ie a written control scheme, that will help you to manage the risk from legionella by implementing effective control measures, by describing:

  • your system, e.g. develop a schematic diagram
  • who is responsible for carrying out the assessment and managing its implementation
  • the safe and correct operation of your system
  • what control methods and other precautions you will be using
  • what checks will be carried out, and how often will they be carried out, to ensure the controls remain effective

You should:

  • ensure that the release of water spray is properly controlled
  • avoid water temperatures and conditions that favour the growth of legionella and other micro-organisms
  • ensure water cannot stagnate anywhere in the system by keeping pipe lengths as short as possible or removing redundant pipework
  • avoid materials that encourage the growth of legionella (The Water Fittings & Materials Directory (http://www.materialstesting.co.uk/materials_directory.htm) references fittings, materials, and appliances approved for use on the UK Water Supply System by the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme)
  • keep the system and the water in it clean
  • treat water to either control the growth of legionella (and other microorganisms) or limit their ability to grow
  • monitor any control measures applied
  • keep records of these and other actions taken, such as maintenance or repair work

Keeping records

If you have five or more employees you have to record any significant findings, including those  identified as being particularly at risk and the steps taken to prevent or control risks.  If you have less than five employees, you do not need to write anything down, although it is useful to keep a written record of what you have done.

Records should include details of the:

  • person or persons responsible for conducting the risk assessment, managing, and implementing the written scheme
  • significant findings of the risk assessment
  • written control scheme and details of its implementation
  • details of the state of operation of the system, i.e. in use/not in use
  • results of any monitoring inspection, test or check carried out, and the dates

These records should be retained throughout the period for which they remain current and for at least two years after that period. Records kept in accordance with (e) should be retained for at least five years.

Other duties

Under the Notification of Cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers Regulations 1992, you must notify your local authority in writing, if you have a cooling tower or evaporative condenser on site, and include details about where it is located. You must also tell them if/when such devices are no longer in use. Notification forms are available from your local authority/environmental health department.

Although less common, other systems that do not rely solely on the principle of evaporation, are dry/wet coolers or condensers. Owing to their different principles of operation, these systems may not require notification under the Notification of Cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers Regulations 1992 (NCTEC) but it is important to assess the system against the notification requirements defined in NCTEC, eg where such systems spray water directly onto the surface of the heat exchanger.

In addition, under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR), you must report any cases of legionellosis in an employee who has worked on cooling towers or hot and cold water systems that are likely to be contaminated with legionella.

Specific risk systems

You will also need to consider technical and further information on the following risk systems (click on the links):

For more information visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/legionnaires/index.htm?ebul=gd-welding&cr=12/Dec15 or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help. We carry out Legionnella Risk Assessments of hot and cold water systems in commercial and residential property and can provide further information on request.

Solder fume and you – an employee’s guide

This guidance is aimed at people who solder using rosin, specifically colophony-based solder flux, which can cause asthma and dermatitis.

Be aware:

  • Working with rosin-based solder fluxes requires you to take action. You should take appropriate steps to prevent, control or reduce exposure to fumes, as they can cause serious health problems.
  • There are different types of solder flux. Find out from your manager what type of solder fume you are using.

Remember:

  • Serious health problems can occur when soldering.
  • Report symptoms of ill health to your manager. These can include: coughing; wheezing; runny eyes or nose; tight chest. These can all be symptoms of occupational asthma or serious illness.
  • If solder flux fume makes you ill, the effects will become worse if you carry on breathing in the fume.
  • Where it is necessary to have a health surveillance process in place to help protect the health of employees, your employer will ask you to co-operate.

To protect your health:

  • Keep your face out of the solder fume.
  • Use the correct control measure(s), such as: local exhaust ventilation (LEV); solder fume extraction; on-tip extraction; down-draught benches; enclosing hoods; moveable capturing hoods. Look at Controlling health risks from rosin (colophony)-based solder fluxes (see Further reading) for further information on which method you should use.
  • Use fume extraction when you are either: – soldering using rosin-based fluxes; or – using alternative fluxes for more than a few minutes a day.
  • You should check that the system works properly every time you use or move it.
  • Check for yourself to see how effective the LEV is where you work.

Further reading (click on the links)

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

3M SafeTea Break 2015 Campaign

3M in conjunction with Safety Groups UK have launched SafeTea Break 2015 Campaign. The campaign has an accompanying toolkit for bite-size ‘tea break’ talks to engage your workforce in discussions about health and long latency occupational diseases.

The kit provides open questions to present to the workforce in a breakout session that will generate debate across health topics, ultimately driving a useful action plan, and a better understanding of the health risks and consequences of non-compliance for the workforce.

Visit the website at http://safetynetwork.3m.com/blog/safetea/?WT.mc_id=www.3m.co.uk/SafeTea?ebul=gd-welding&cr=11/Dec15 where you can download the SafeTea Break pack for free.

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

 

 

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 19TH NOVEMBER 2015

REGISTER BELOW-LEFT TO RECEIVE OUR UPDATES BY EMAIL

IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

Chief Inspector challenges small construction sites to act now to manage workers health and safety

Crowd management – your duties as an event organiser

Managing risks from skin exposure at work

Introduction

This autumn saw the HSE’s 10th annual refurbishment inspection initiative, and after 46% of sites fell below standards, the Chief Inspector of Construction is challenging the refurbishment industry to act now and protect their workers. As well as serving 692 enforcement notices and 983 notifications of contravention, inspectors had to deal with immediate risks such as falls from height (the most common killer in the industry), and exposure to silica dust and asbestos. This week we open our update with HSE guidance on managing construction sites safely.

As the festive season rapidly approaches, we hear that this year’s Christmas lights switch-on in Solihull has been cancelled amid health and safety fears arising from the size of crowds expected to attend. In 2009 approximately 60 people were injured during a crowd-surge at such an event in Birmingham. So we’re also sharing HSE guidance this week on crowd management – specifically aimed at those responsible for organising events such as these.

And finally, we look at the risks from skin exposure at work – how many materials used can affect the skin or pass through the skin, causing diseases elsewhere in the body – and how these can be prevented.

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

Chief Inspector challenges small construction sites to act now to manage workers health and safety

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE’s) Chief Inspector of Construction is challenging the refurbishment industry to act now and protect their workers, after 46 per cent of sites fell below standards during a recent inspection initiative.

HSE targeted small refurbishment sites during the month long drive and 692 enforcement notices and 983 notifications of contravention had to be served where there was a material breach of health and/or safety. Inspectors had to deal with immediate risks, such as work at height, and also to deal with sites where workers were being exposed to silica dust and asbestos, which cause long term health problems.

Health and safety breaches were also followed up with clients and designers, reinforcing their duties under the Construction Design and Management Regulations (CDM) 2015 and help them understand their responsibilities.

Despite the high rate of enforcement action, the inspectors found a number of examples of good practice.

Peter Baker, Health and Safety Executive’s Chief Inspector of Construction said: “It is disappointing that some small refurbishment sites are still cutting corners and not properly protecting their workers. Falls from height are the most common killer in the industry but we still found workers put at risk to save minutes on the job – believing it wouldn’t happen to them.

“The mis-conception that health issues cannot be controlled is simply not true and ruining people’s lives. Harmful dust, whether silica or wood, is a serious issue and can be managed effectively with the right design, equipment and training. Health effects may not be immediate but the ultimate impact on workers and their families can be devastating. Each week 100 construction workers die from occupational disease.”

“HSE inspectors found lots of good examples of small sites carrying out work safely, proving it can be done. Larger construction sites accepted the challenge a few years ago and have made big improvements, which all of the industry can learn from. My message to smaller businesses is don’t wait for an accident or visit from an inspector before you make the change, but act now and learn from your colleagues’ example.”

How to manage your site safely (click on the links)

For more guidance on health and safety in the construction industry, visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/ or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Crowd management – your duties as an event organiser

Solihull’s Christmas lights switch-on has been cancelled this year amid health and safety fears arising from the size of crowds expected to attend. In 2009 approximately 60 people were injured during a crowd-surge at such an event in Birmingham.

As an organiser you must as far as reasonably practicable ensure the safety of visiting crowds.

While certain aspects of crowd safety can be allocated to contractors, for example stewarding, you will retain overall responsibility for ensuring the safety of the public.

What you should know

Hazards presented by a crowd:

  • Crushing between people.
  • Crushing against fixed structures, such as barriers.
  • Trampling underfoot.
  • Surging, swaying or rushing.
  • Aggressive behaviour.
  • Dangerous behaviour, such as climbing on equipment or throwing objects.

Hazards presented by a venue:

  • Slipping or tripping due to inadequately lit areas or poorly maintained floors and the build-up of rubbish.
  • Moving vehicles sharing the same route as pedestrians.
  • Collapse of a structure, such as a fence or barrier, which falls onto the crowd.
  • People being pushed against objects, such as unguarded, hot cooking equipment on a food stall.
  • Objects, such as stalls, that obstruct movement and cause congestion during busy periods.
  • Crowd movements obstructed by people queuing at bars etc.
  • Cross flows as people cut through the crowd to get to other areas, such as toilets.
  • Failure of equipment, such as turnstiles.
  • Sources of fire, such as cooking equipment.

Assessing the risks and putting controls in place

Carry out an assessment of the risks arising from crowd movement and behaviour as they arrive, leave and move around the site.

Note: Whether health and safety law will apply on routes to and from the venue will largely depend on the circumstances (other legislation to do with Licensing and traffic law may take precedence). If health and safety law does apply, an organiser’s legal duty regarding crowd safety will depend on the extent of control they have, which should be judged on a case-by-case basis. These duties are likely to be shared with others, including the local authority, landowners and transport providers.

Find out more

To assist you in identifying measures to help keep people safe see Managing crowds safely: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg154.htm

Barriers

Barriers at events serve several purposes, eg:

  • as an aid to manage and influence the behaviour of the audience; to line routes; and to prevent the audience climbing on top of temporary structures and putting themselves at risk of falling
  • to relieve and prevent overcrowding and the build-up of audience pressure
  • to provide physical security, as in the case of a high-perimeter fence at an outdoor event
  • to shield hazards from people

If you decide to use barriers and fencing as a crowd management tool, then they should be risk assessed. Depending on the complexity of the risk and barrier/s, you may need a source of competent advice to help you.

The factors you should take into account include:

  • the planned use of barriers
  • layout
  • ground conditions and topography
  • the presence of underground services, eg water pipes, electric cables that could restrict the use of pins to secure barriers
  • weather
  • load on the barrier – wind and/or crowd pressure
  • audience numbers and behaviour

These and any other factors peculiar to the location will determine the type of barrier or fence you select. It is crucial that the type of barrier and fence does not present greater risks than those they are intended to control. In some cases, barriers have failed due to incorrect selection.

To install simple barriers like rope and posts is relatively straightforward. However, for more complex barrier arrangements like stage barriers you may need a competent contractor to do this for you.

Deploy barriers and fencing with proper crowd management procedures, eg use of stewards to help achieve an all-round effective management of the risk. If appropriate, consult with a crowd management director on the use of barriers.

Find out more (click on the links)

For clarification or more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help.

Managing risks from skin exposure at work

Many materials used at work can affect the skin or can pass through the skin and cause diseases elsewhere in the body. If you are an employer, health and safety adviser, trainer or safety representative, this book (free to download by clicking on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg262.htm) provides guidance to help you prevent these disabling diseases.

It covers the protective role of the skin, ill health arising from skin exposure, recognising potential skin exposure in your workplace, and managing skin exposure to prevent disease.

There is guidance on assessing and managing risks, reducing contact with harmful materials, choosing the right protective equipment and skin care products, and checking for early signs of skin disease.

The document also contains a series of case studies drawn from a wide range of industries.

Related resources (click on the links)

See also

For clarification or more information, 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 published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence