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

Quick guide to DSEAR – boat builders fined after worker suffers burns

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

Boat builders fined after worker suffers burns

A boat building company has been fined after a worker suffered serious burns.

Norwich Magistrates’ Court heard how an electrician was working in the hull of the boat whilst operating a battery powered drill in June 2015. The drill was later found to have ignited fumes from ‘Propeel’, a highly flammable substance, which had been applied to the boat shortly before the incident. The injured worker suffered serious burns to his face, arms and legs.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the hazardous substance had been applied to the boat with no safe system of work in place for its use. Company risk assessments were out of date and a less harmful substitute of the product had not been considered. Since the incident a much safer, water based alternative product has been successfully introduced.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 5, 6 and 9 (1) of the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR), was fined £12,000 and ordered to pay costs of £7163.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Paul Unwin said: “While this incident gave the man life changing injuries the consequences could have been fatal. Duty holders must ensure their risk assessment process includes the substitution of hazardous and harmful products with less dangerous ones wherever possible to avoid serious incidents like this.”

The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002

The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) require employers to control the risks to safety from fire, explosions and substances corrosive to metals.

Quick guide to DSEAR

What is DSEAR?

DSEAR stands for the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002.

Dangerous substances can put peoples’ safety at risk from fire, explosion and corrosion of metal. DSEAR puts duties on employers and the self-employed to protect people from these risks to their safety in the workplace, and to members of the public who may be put at risk by work activity.

What are dangerous substances?

Dangerous substances are any substances used or present at work that could, if not properly controlled, cause harm to people as a result of a fire or explosion or corrosion of metal. They can be found in nearly all workplaces and include such things as solvents, paints, varnishes, flammable gases, such as liquid petroleum gas (LPG), dusts from machining and sanding operations, dusts from foodstuffs, pressurised gases and substances corrosive to metal.

What does DSEAR require?

Employers must:

  • find out what dangerous substances are in their workplace and what the risks are
  • put control measures in place to either remove those risks or, where this is not possible, control them
  • put controls in place to reduce the effects of any incidents involving dangerous substances
  • prepare plans and procedures to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies involving dangerous substances
  • make sure employees are properly informed about and trained to control or deal with the risks from the dangerous substances
  • identify and classify areas of the workplace where explosive atmospheres may occur and avoid ignition sources (from unprotected equipment, for example) in those areas

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

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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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Questions you need to ask if you employ contractors – three prosecuted after man loses life due to fall through fragile roof

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

Three prosecuted after man loses life due to fall through fragile roof

A company, its director, and a self-employed contractor have been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), after a man was fatally injured by falling through a roof light.

Warrington Crown Court heard how in June 2013, the man was working with his friend. They were cleaning roof lights on the roof of a building at a Cheshire industrial estate.  The man fell approximately 7m through a roof light to the work-shop floor underneath, and subsequently died.  Both the roof and the roof lights were not able to support the weight of a person.

The HSE investigation found that his friend, who primarily was a gardener and not a roofer, did not take precautions to prevent a fall through the roof, nor off its edge. He did not have the necessary knowledge or competence to carry out the work.

The company failed to have adequate systems in place to ensure a competent roofer was appointed. Both the company and its director failed to adequately plan and supervise the work, due to their own lack of understanding of standards and the law relating to work on fragile roofs.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) and Regulation 5 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, and were fined £20,000 with more than £8,000 costs.

The company’s director pleaded guilty to breaching two counts of Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was sentenced to four months imprisonment on each count (suspended for 12 months) and was ordered to pay more than £8,000 costs.

At a recent hearing, the man’s friend pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment (suspended for 12 months) and was ordered to pay more than £8,000 costs.

An HSE inspector said after the hearing that if the company and its director had asked questions about the man’s friend’s experience and knowledge (of roof work standards), they would not have employed him. “He should have recognised he was not competent and should not have carried out the work. With these simple considerations, [the man] would not have been on the roof and would not have died in the way he did.”

Do you employ contractors?

If you employ contractors, you have a legal duty to make sure they are competent to do the work you want them to do.

Questions you need to ask

Their experience:

  • What experience do they have in the type of work?
  • Can they provide references? You may want to check these.

Their competence:

  • Do the contractor’s employees hold relevant certificates of competence? (e.g. chainsaw use, tree climbing and aerial rescue, chippers, MEWPs?)
  • Are they a member of a trade or professional body? (e.g. the Arboricultural Association, International Society of Arboriculture, Forestry Contracting Association)
  • What is their safety performance like? (e.g. accident records)?
  • Can they provide examples of methods of work, risk assessments or other documentation to show they are familiar with the type of work?

Their management arrangements:

  • What are their procedures for managing health and safety?
  • Do they properly plan and organise work at height? (e.g. use of MEWP v climbing)
  • Will the work be sub-contracted and if so, how will they control it?
  • How do they supervise and manage their site work?
  • What Codes of Practice or standards will the contractor be working to e.g. AFAG safety guides, Guide to good climbing practice
  • Do they provide employees with the correct personal protective equipment? How do they monitor and check their own safety standards?
  • How do they inspect and check their equipment (owned or hired) e.g. as required by the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations
  • Do they have employers’ liability, public liability and professional indemnity insurance?
  • Are they asking you about your risks or needs?

The more complex and potentially dangerous the activities, the more likely it is that the answers and information will need to be recorded. As the client, you will be responsible for checking that any contractor you appoint is competent to do the work safely.

Once you have selected a competent contractor, you will need to exchange information and agree the method of work. Both will need to be done before work starts. Pre-work meetings are a good way of ensuring that the work is properly planned and controlled. Finally, you will also need to monitor the work.

For more information, download the free HSE leaflet “Using contractors – A brief guide”: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg368.pdf 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 – 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.

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HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 24TH MARCH 2016

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IN THIS UPDATE

COMAH Regulations – chemical company fined £200,000 following toxic chemical release

Good practice guidelines for shift design – automotive company fined after worker loses finger

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

COMAH Regulations – chemical company fined £200,000 following toxic chemical release

A chemical company was sentenced last week in Leeds Crown Court for safety breaches when a very toxic chemical was ejected under pressure.

A company maintenance technician unintentionally opened a valve on top of an isotanker at the company’s Huddersfield plant resulting in the release of between 3.5 and 3.8 tonnes of paraquat dichloride solution. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the firm over the incident.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of the Control Of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 and Regulation 5(1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and was fined £200 000 with £13 041 costs by Leeds Crown Court.

Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH)

The Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations ensure that businesses:

  • “Take all necessary measures to prevent major accidents involving dangerous substances
  • Limit the consequences to people and the environment of any major accidents which do occur”

What is the main aim of the COMAH Regulations?

Their main aim is to prevent and mitigate the effects of those major accidents involving dangerous substances, such as chlorine, liquefied petroleum gas, explosives and arsenic pentoxide which can cause serious damage/harm to people and/or the environment. The COMAH Regulations treat risks to the environment as seriously as those to people.

Who enforces COMAH?

The COMAH Regulations are enforced by a competent authority (CA) consisting of:

  • In England and Wales – the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency
  • In Scotland – the Health and Safety Executive and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

The CA operates to a Memorandum of Understanding which sets out the arrangements for joint working.

The Regulations place duties on the CA to inspect activities subject to COMAH and prohibit the operation of an establishment if there is evidence that measures taken for prevention and mitigation of major accidents are seriously deficient. It also has to examine safety reports and inform operators about the conclusions of its examinations within a reasonable time period.

Who is affected?

Mainly the chemical industry, but also some storage activities, explosives and nuclear sites and other industries, where threshold quantities of dangerous substances identified in the Regulations are kept or used.

The substances which cause the duties to apply are detailed in Schedule 1 of the Regulations as are the quantities which set the two thresholds for application.

Operators of sites that hold larger quantities of dangerous substances (‘top tier’ sites) are subject to more onerous requirements than those of ‘lower tier’ sites.

What do you need to do?

Firstly you need to determine if the Regulations apply to you. Regulation 3, together with Schedule 1, will provide the answer. If you have enough dangerous substances present to take you over the lower threshold then the lower-tier duties apply and if you have enough to exceed the higher threshold then the top-tier duties apply. For more information about lower-tier and top-tier duties, visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/comah/background/comah99.htm

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

Good practice guidelines for shift design – automotive company fined after worker loses finger

A Birmingham-based automotive company has been fined £27,000 after a worker lost his finger.

Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard how a welder employed by the company was expected to work on a variety of jobs as required by production. While he was working on a machine the employee’s glove became entangled in the drill bit. He suffered partial amputation to the third finger on his right hand.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident which occurred on 17 June 2015 found that the company failed to provide adequate training, a safe system of work, a risk assessment or method statement.

Applying the following good practice guidelines, so far as it is reasonably practicable to do so, will help reduce the risk that workers are exposed to by shift working.

Good practice guidelines for shift design

  • Plan an appropriate and varied workload.
  • Offer a choice of permanent or rotating shifts and try to avoid permanent night shifts.
  • Either rotate shifts every 2-3 days or every 3-4 weeks – otherwise adopt forward rotating shifts.
  • Avoid early morning starts and try to fit shift times in with the availability of public transport.
  • Limit shifts to 12 h including overtime, or to 8 h if they are night shifts and/or the work is demanding, monotonous, dangerous and/or safety critical.
  • Encourage workers to take regular breaks and allow some choice as to when they are taken.
  • Consider the needs of vulnerable workers, such as young or aging workers and new and expectant mothers.
  • Limit consecutive work days to a maximum of 5 – 7 days and restrict long shifts, night shifts and early morning shifts to 2-3 consecutive shifts.
  • Allow 2 nights full sleep when switching from day to night shifts and vice versa.
  • Build regular free weekends into the shift schedule.

Good practice guidelines for the work environment

  • Provide similar facilities as those available during daytime and allow shift workers time for training and development.
  • Ensure temperature & lighting is appropriate and preferably adjustable.
  • Provide training and information on the risks of shift work and ensure supervisors and management can recognise problems.
  • Consider increasing supervision during periods of low alertness.
  • Control overtime, shift swapping and on-call duties and discourage workers from taking second jobs.
  • Set standards and allow time for communication at shift handovers.
  • Encourage interaction between workers and provide a means of contact for lone workers.
  • Encourage workers to tell their GPs that they are shift workers and provide free health assessments for night workers.
  • Ensure the workplace and surroundings are well lit, safe and secure.

For more information, visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/humanfactors/topics/good-practice-guidelines.htm or contact us on 07896 016380 or at Fiona@eljay.co.uk

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

 

 

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