HSE food manufacturing inspections target the causes of workplace ill-health

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Companies and people working in food manufacturing are being told they must pay closer attention to how they manage workplace health risks or face serious penalties.

The Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) programme of proactive inspections will review health and safety standards in food manufacturing businesses across the country, and the sector is being warned that a programme of unannounced inspections will begin today (2nd January).

The inspections will focus on two of the main causes of ill-health in the sector which are currently occupational asthma from exposure to flour dust in bakeries, cake and biscuit manufacturers and grain mills and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) – predominantly lower back pain and upper limb disorders from manual handling activities and repetitive tasks across the sector.

The inspection visits come as HSE recently released its Manufacturing sector plan which prioritises the reduction of cases of occupational lung disease and MSDs.

Exposure to flour dust is the UK’s second most common cited cause of occupational asthma. MSDs are the most common type of work-related illness in food manufacturing with handling injuries, accounting for around 20% of reported employee injuries (RIDDOR). HSE insists that such ill-health can be prevented when organisations have proper risk control systems in place.

The inspections will ensure measures are being taken by those responsible to protect workers against health risks and HSE will not hesitate to use enforcement to bring about improvements.

HSE’s head of Manufacturing Sector John Rowe, said: “The food manufacturing sector is made up of over 300,000 workers and its health and safety record needs to improve. This inspection initiative will look to ensure effective management and control of targeted health risks.

HSE is calling on anyone working in the industry to take the time to refresh their knowledge of our advice and guidance, available for free on our website.

Food manufacturing companies should do the right thing by protecting workers’ health; everyone has the right to go home healthy from work.”

COSHH and bakers – key messages

Substances hazardous to health in baking include:

  • flour dust;
  • improver dusts containing enzymes etc;
  • dusts from protein-containing ingredients such as egg, soya;
  • spices, citrus oils and flavour concentrates;
  • cleaning and disinfectant products.

Dermatitis may result from some bakery tasks, and if hands are wet many times a day or for a lot of the time.

Control measures include:

  • careful working to avoid raising clouds of dust;
  • dust extraction;
  • vacuum or wet cleaning;
  • respirator for very dusty tasks;
  • skin checks.

Example: Flour dust

Flour dust can cause asthma when breathed in.

You must reduce exposure to flour dust as far below the WEL of 10 mg/m3 as is reasonably practicable. You normally need to use health surveillance (Check employees health for any adverse effects related to work. May involve checking skin for dermatitis or asking questions about breathing and may need to done by a doctor or nurse.)

Help in finding the right controls is on the Bakers and asthma website (http://www.hse.gov.uk/asthma/bakers.htm). Control information for flour dust appears in the following information sheets available from the COSHH essentials webpage: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/direct-advice/baking.htm

Employees

Your employer provides equipment to protect your health, such as:

  • dust extraction;
  • personal protective equipment (eg respirator).

You have a duty to use these properly and co-operate with any monitoring and health surveillance.

For advice on preventing and managing musculoskeletal disorders, visit the HSE web page http://www.hse.gov.uk/msd/. Alternatively, contact us about any of the above-mentioned issues, on 07896 016380 or at fiona@eljay.co.uk, and we’ll be happy to help

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

 

 

HEALTH & SAFETY NEWS UPDATE – 3RD MARCH 2016

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IN THIS UPDATE

Introduction

Fairgrounds and amusement parks – HSE to prosecute Alton Towers’ owners after ‘Smiler’ incident

Temporary demountable structures – firm fined after circus tent collapse

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) – insulation company fined for health and safety failings

Introduction

The Health and Safety Executive has again been in the news over the last week, after informing Merlin Operations Ltd that it will be prosecuted over an incident in which five people were seriously injured on a rollercoaster ride at Alton Towers in Staffordshire. Two female passengers on the ‘Smiler’ ride suffered leg amputations and three others were also seriously injured when their carriage collided with a stationary carriage on the same track. The incident happened on 2 June 2015. We open this week’s update with HSE guidance on safe practice for fairgrounds and amusement parks.

Staying with the leisure industry, we also share HSE guidance this week on ‘temporary demountable structures’, following news of a marquee and tent supplier being fined after guy ropes securing a circus tent snapped causing it to collapse injuring three adults and five children at Burley Park, New Forest.

And finally, we close with HSE guidance on the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH), following news of a Welsh insulation company that produced natural insulation products being fined £30,000 plus £59,000 costs for health and safety failings.

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

Fairgrounds and amusement parks – HSE to prosecute Alton Towers’ owners after ‘Smiler’ incident

HSE media statement – 25th February 2016

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has today informed Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd that it will be prosecuted over an incident in which five people were seriously injured on a rollercoaster ride at Alton Towers in Staffordshire.

Two female passengers on the ‘Smiler’ ride suffered leg amputations and three others were also seriously injured when their carriage collided with a stationary carriage on the same track. The incident happened on 2 June 2015.

Merlin Attractions Operation Ltd based in Poole, Dorset, will appear at North Staffordshire Justice Centre, Newcastle-under-Lyme on 22 April 2016 to face a charge under the Health and Safety at Work Act etc, 1974.

Neil Craig, head of operations for HSE in the Midlands said:

“We have today informed Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd that it will be prosecuted for breaching health and safety law.

“This was a serious incident with life-changing consequences for five people.

“We have conducted a very thorough investigation and consider that there is sufficient evidence and that it is in the public interest to bring a prosecution.”

Merlin Attractions Operations Ltd is the company responsible for Alton Towers and under health and safety law is responsible for managing the risks created by the operation of the theme park’s rides.

Guidance on safe practice

Free to download by clicking on the following link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg175.htm – revised guidance on what the Fairgrounds and Amusement Parks Joint Advisory Committee on Fairgrounds and Amusement Parks (FJAC) considers appropriate safe measures for the industry to adopt in order to comply with the law.

Although fairgrounds and amusement parks are relatively safe compared to activities such as driving a car or riding a bicycle, as we are all too aware, there have been a small number of serious incidents involving employees and members of the public. The Health and Safety Executive has worked with the members of the Fairgrounds and Amusement Parks Joint Advisory Committee to improve standards and to produce this revised guide.

Acknowledging the inherent nature of fairgrounds and describing how risks can be managed effectively, it also promotes a sensible, over-arching approach recognising that while users expect high safety levels from risks beyond their control, incidental elements, eg a dodgem bump, are considered ‘part of the fun’.

The guide, however, concentrates on the safety of employers and employees, as well as the public, and begins with the industry-specific ‘system for safety of attractions’ presented in easy table-form, which then steers the reader smoothly through the publication.

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

Temporary demountable structures – firm fined after circus tent collapse

The owner of a company who supplies marquees and tents has been fined after guy ropes securing a circus tent snapped causing it to collapse injuring three adults and five children at Burley Park, New Forest.

Southampton Magistrates’ Court heard that on 10 August 2014 a sudden gust of wind went through the circus tent and eighteen of the guy ropes which secured the tent failed and snapped.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident found that Happy Promotions Limited had in December 2013 taken their tent for inspection and repair to the marquee and tent supplier, who was asked to replace the guy ropes.

However, the court heard the guy ropes supplied were in fact made up of unrated webbing and had no safe working load. This led to the incident at Burley Park 8 months later.

HSE inspector Andrew Johnson said after the hearing: “The fact the guy ropes snapped (rather than the pegs being pulled from the ground) is a clear indication that the fault lies with the strength of the guy ropes, rather than the method of erection. Fortunately, the tent was empty at the time of the incident. Had a performance been underway there would have been performers and around 30 people were due to attend the afternoon performance. Were the tent occupied the collapse would likely have resulted in multiple serious injuries.”

Temporary demountable structures (TDS) – Stages, seating, marquees etc

Your duties as an event organiser

You are responsible for ensuring that as far as reasonably practicable, employees and others at a venue who could be affected by the construction and use of a TDS (such as scaffolders, riggers and members of the public) are not exposed to risks to their health and are kept safe from harm.

What you should know

Most fatal and serious injuries arise when workers fall during construction work or as a result of the collapse of the structure, lifting operations or mobile plant.

Checklist – TDS dos and don’ts

Do

Planning

  • Consider what the structure will be used for, what it needs to be able to do, who will use it and how?
  • Prepare a clear specification for the structure’s required use. This should include the technical details required to enable a design to be undertaken by your appointed TDS contractor(s) / designer (s).
  • TDS contractors / designers hired to design, supply, build, manage and take down a structure for you, should be competent and adequately resourced.
  • Provide TDS contractors / designers with relevant site information and/or allow them site access to carry out their own site assessments.
  • Your TDS contractor should ensure that the proposed structure has a design prepared by a competent person, which takes account of the use and conditions in which it is to be installed.
  • Where a structure is to carry advertising / scrim, include this requirement in any design concept, specification and structural assessment.
  • Novel or unusual structures may require additional testing by a TDS designer to demonstrate the integrity of the design.
  • Whoever builds the structure should undertake an assessment of the likely construction hazards and risks. To help with an assessment and to find out more about construction hazards and risks see:
  • Falls from height
  • Construction safety topics (including lifting operations and vehicle safety)
  • Health risks in construction
  • Plan and work with your contractors to develop safe systems of working and make sure all significant risks on the site are properly controlled, eg use of cranes and lift trucks.
  • Plan to minimise confusion and conflict, particularly between those contractors carrying out concurrent or consecutive activities on the same structure.
  • Consider the extent of control that you and your contractors have over the work activity and workplace during each phase of the build, use and deconstruction cycle of a structure. Organisers and TDS contractors should agree the extent of their control at the planning stage, so that responsibility for structural safety is understood and maintained throughout the event.

Building and dismantling the TDS

  • The assessments done under Planning (above) should serve as a guide on how to build and dismantle the structure safely.
  • Make sure there is sufficient time and resources available to build and dismantle the structure safely.
  • Use competent staff and have a suitable onsite operational management system in place to supervise and monitor safety compliance.
  • A programme of works, including key safety checkpoints, can be helpful to communicate critical erection / dismantling stages to the site manager / crew bosses and operatives.
  • Build the structure to the agreed design in accordance with a safe system of work.
  • Arrange for the structure to be checked to make sure that it has been built according to the design.

While TDS is in use

  • Have arrangements in place to inspect the structure for deterioration during the time it is installed in line with a documented management plan and, if needed, arrange for remedial works.
  • Any change in the proposed use of the structure or site conditions which may affect the structure’s suitability should trigger a design check for the new conditions. An example of this may be the requirement to add additional banners to a structure such as a PA tower. The organiser is responsible for ensuring this is done.
  • Have arrangements in place to ensure that any measures required to keep the structure safe during use are implemented. For example, if the structure is susceptible to the weather, monitor and measure the local weather conditions. In adverse weather conditions, know what to do with the structure to protect its stability, eg when to open wind relief panels and when to evacuate.

Don’t

  • Take forward incomplete design concepts, as this could result in last-minute modifications, leading to safety problems.
  • Build a structure on unstable ground.
  • Put advertising / scrim on a structure if a competent person has not approved it as being safe – it can affect wind loading and increase the risk of collapse / overturn.
  • Use flammable fabrics.

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

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) – insulation company fined for health and safety failings

A Welsh insulation company that produced natural insulation products have been fined £30,000 plus £59,000 costs for health and safety failings.

Wrexham Magistrates’ Court heard that the company failed to conduct an adequate risk assessment for the processing of hemp. They also failed to adequately guard machinery.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the concerns raised anonymously found that the COSHH assessment was not suitable and sufficient.

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)

What is a ‘substance hazardous to health’?

COSHH covers substances that are hazardous to health. Substances can take many forms and include:

  • chemicals
  • products containing chemicals
  • fumes
  • dusts
  • vapours
  • mists
  • nanotechnology
  • gases and asphyxiating gases and
  • biological agents (germs). If the packaging has any of the hazard symbols then it is classed as a hazardous substance.
  • germs that cause diseases such as leptospirosis or legionnaires disease and germs used in laboratories.

COSHH does not cover

  • lead,
  • asbestos or
  • radioactive substances

because these have their own specific regulations.

What you need to do

Before you start your COSHH assessment, you need to:

Think about

  • What do you do that involves hazardous substances?
  • How can these cause harm?
  • How can you reduce the risk of harm occurring?

Always try to prevent exposure at source. For example:

  • Can you avoid using a hazardous substance or use a safer process – preventing exposure, eg using water-based rather than solvent-based products, applying by brush rather than spraying?
  • Can you substitute it for something safer – eg swap an irritant cleaning product for something milder, or using a vacuum cleaner rather than a brush?
  • Can you use a safer form, eg can you use a solid rather than liquid to avoid splashes or a waxy solid instead of a dry powder to avoid dust?

Check your trade press and talk to employees. At trade meetings, ask others in your industry for ideas.

If you can’t prevent exposure, you need to control it adequately by applying the principles of good control practice (http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/detail/goodpractice.htm)

Control is adequate when the risk of harm is ‘as low as is reasonably practicable’.

This means:

  • All control measures are in good working order.
  • Exposures are below the Workplace Exposure Limit, where one exists.
  • Exposure to substances that cause cancer, asthma or genetic damage is reduced to as low a level as possible.

COSHH Essentials

COSHH Essentials sets out basic advice on what to do to control exposure to hazardous substances in the workplace. It takes the form of straightforward advice in ‘factsheets’ called ‘control guidance sheets’. There are two types of sheets, industry-specific ‘direct advice sheets’ and ‘generic control guidance sheets’.

Direct advice sheets (click on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/direct-advice/index.htm)

First check the direct advice sheets listed by industry to see if there are any direct advice sheets for tasks or processes in your industry. If your industry is not listed don’t worry, you can use our e-tool to identify which generic control guidance sheets are appropriate.

COSHH e-tool (click on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/coshh-tool.htm)

When using the tool you will be prompted by questions to enter some basic information about the substance you are using, before being directed to the most appropriate generic control guidance sheet for you.

Frequently asked questions (click on the link: http://www.hse.gov.uk/coshh/essentials/faq.htm)

  • Why does COSHH essentials not list all of the R phrases/H statements that are on my Safety Data Sheet (SDS)
  • I can’t find my safety data sheet. What should I do?
  • I have just completed COSHH essentials, is this sufficient to use as my COSHH assessment?
  • Some of the information I need is missing from my safety data sheet. What should I do?
  • There isn’t a boiling point in the safety data sheet?
  • Why can’t I mix a liquid with a solid?

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