Granite worktop company fined £30,000 after failing to carry out safety checks

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A granite worktop manufacturer has been fined after failing to ensure that lifting equipment was examined and maintained to ensure it was safe to use.

The Court heard how the manufacturer was not having regular statutory examinations carried out on lifting equipment and also failed to carry out repairs when defects had been found.

Following an inspection in June 2018 by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) at the site, it was discovered that the examinations were not carried out at the required six monthly intervals and when they were carried out the same faults were reported, as the company were not taking action to effect the repairs.

The manufacturer has pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 5 (1) of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 and Regulation 9 (3) of the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. The company has been fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4906.

Speaking after the case the HSE inspector said “This prosecution could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices. Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those who fall below the required standards”.

Thorough examinations and inspections of lifting equipment

Safe and successful lifting operations depend, in large part, on the continued safety of the lifting equipment and accessories that are used. Failures in this kind of equipment can result in significant or even fatal injuries. Health and safety law therefore places a number of specific obligations on those providing, controlling and using lifting equipment to properly manage these risks.

In addition to the requirements for safe design and construction, all lifting equipment should also be checked and maintained as necessary to keep it safe for use, so:

  • users may need to undertake simple pre-use checks (eg on lifting chains and slings), or make checks on a daily basis (eg for lift trucks)
  • in some cases, inspections and checks should be made on a regular basis, often weekly, but this may be on a monthly or quarterly basis (eg the checks undertaken by an operator on their crane)
  • employers should ensure that lifting equipment is thoroughly examined (normally once or twice a year but, in some cases, this may be more or less frequent)

These checks are necessary to verify that the lifting equipment can continue to be safely used. This page concentrates on thorough examination and inspection, and the reporting and record-keeping obligations of LOLER (regulations 9, 10 and 11).

What is a ‘thorough examination’ under LOLER?

This is a systematic and detailed examination of the equipment and safety-critical parts, carried out at specified intervals by a competent person who must then complete a written report. This report must contain the information required by LOLER Schedule 1 , including:

  • the examination date
  • the date when the next thorough examination is due
  • any defects found which are (or could potentially become) a danger to people

Where serious defects are identified, the competent person carrying out the examination must immediately report this verbally to the dutyholder. This should then be followed by the written report, a copy of which must also be sent to the relevant enforcing authority.

What is a ‘competent person’?

The term ‘competent person’ is not defined in law but the LOLER Approved Code of Practice and guidance (paragraph 294 on competent persons) states that:
‘You should ensure that the person carrying out a thorough examination has such appropriate practical and theoretical knowledge and experience of the lifting equipment to be thoroughly examined as will enable them to detect defects or weaknesses and to assess their importance in relation to the safety and continued use of the lifting equipment.’

Although the competent person may often be employed by another organisation, this is not necessary, provided they are sufficiently independent and impartial to ensure that in-house examinations are made without fear or favour. However, this should not be the same person who undertakes routine maintenance of the equipment – as they would then be responsible for assessing their own maintenance work.

When should thorough examinations be carried out?

In order to verify that lifting equipment and accessories remain safe for use, and to detect and remedy any deterioration in good time, thorough examinations are required throughout the lifetime of the equipment, including examinations:

  • before use for the first time – unless the equipment has an EC Declaration of Conformity less than one year old and the equipment was not assembled on site. If it was assembled on site, it must be examined by a competent person to ensure that the assembly (eg a platform lift installed in a building) was completed correctly and safely
  • after assembly and before use at each location – for equipment that requires assembly or installation before use, eg tower cranes
  • regularly, while in service – if the equipment is exposed to conditions that cause deterioration which is likely to result in dangerous situations. Most lifting equipment will be subject to wear and tear and so will need regular in-service examination. Some may be exposed to significant environmental conditions which may cause further deterioration. You have a choice:
    • arrange for thorough examination to be carried out at the intervals specified by LOLER (every 6 or 12 months, depending on the equipment – see below), or
    • conduct examinations in accordance with an examination scheme, drawn up by a competent person
  • following exceptional circumstances – liable to jeopardise the safety of lifting equipment, which may include:
    • damage or failure
    • being out of use for long periods
    • major changes, which are likely to affect the equipment’s integrity (eg modifications, or replacement / repair of critical parts)

What are the specified intervals for regular thorough examinations?

Unless there is an ‘examination scheme’ specifying other intervals, thorough examinations should be conducted every:

  • 6 months, for lifting equipment and any associated accessories used to lift people
  • 6 months, for all lifting accessories
  • 12 months, for all other lifting equipment

What is covered by a thorough examination?

This depends on the professional judgement of the competent person undertaking the examination, but needs to include all matters which affect the safety of the lifting equipment, including likely deterioration with time.

For most common lifting equipment and accessories, there are industry standard procedures and criteria which a competent person would follow when undertaking thorough examinations and making judgements as to the continued safety of the equipment. Methods used include:

  • visual examination and functional checks
  • measurements of wear
  • (in some cases) traditional NDT (non-destructive testing) and load testing

Some disassembly or internal examination of parts may also be required.

Where an examination scheme has been drawn up, this should identify and specify:

  • the parts to be thoroughly examined
  • the methods of examination and testing
  • the intervals for examination (and testing of the different parts, where appropriate)

The scheme should also include details of any other inspection regimes for the equipment. Examination schemes may be drawn up by any person with the necessary competence. This does not need to be the same competent person who conducts the thorough examination in accordance with the scheme.

Although examination schemes do not need to be preserved in the form of a document, it should be possible to produce a written copy when required (eg on request by the relevant enforcing authority). These should be secured from loss or unauthorised modification.

Testing of lifting equipment

Most lifting equipment does not need routine testing as part of the thorough examination – in fact some overload tests can cause damage to lifting equipment. Where testing is deemed necessary, it may not need be undertaken at every thorough examination. The need for, and nature of, testing should be based on an assessment of risk – taking account of information from the manufacturer and other relevant information – as determined by the competent person.

Maintenance and inspection of lifting equipment.

Maintenance of lifting equipment to ensure it remains safe for use is a requirement of PUWER. In some cases – to assist with this, and detect any deterioration so it can be remedied in good time – lifting equipment may need to be inspected between thorough examinations. Such inspections need to be undertaken by suitably trained and competent people, which can often be the lifting equipment operator or maintenance personnel.

The nature, need for and frequency of such inspections should be determined through risk assessment, taking full account of any manufacturer’s recommendations. Further recommendations on inspection relating to cranes are given in BS 7121 British Standard Code of Practice for the Safe Use of Cranes. The various parts of this standard can be obtained from BSI .

Lifting accessories do not normally need formal inspection, provided that proper pre-use checks are made and they undergo their standard thorough examination.

Reports and defects

Records should be kept of all thorough examinations and inspections, and of the EC Declarations of Conformity for all lifting equipment and lifting accessories. Examination and inspection records do not need to be kept in hard copy form but you should be able to provide a written copy when necessary (eg upon request by the relevant enforcing authority or when lifting equipment leaves your undertaking -under hire, use elsewhere, or second-hand sale). The records should also be protected from unauthorised alteration. Details of the periods for which they must be kept are given in Table 3 of Thorough examination of lifting equipment .

The contents required in a thorough examination report are specified by Schedule 1 of LOLER . There is no longer a defined format or form for such a report, provided that all 11 items listed in the Schedule are included.

Where, following thorough examination or inspection of lifting equipment, a defect is identified – which in the opinion of the person undertaking the examination or inspection – is (or could become) a danger to people, you as user (employer or self employed person) should be notified immediately. You must then take effective action to manage risk by ensuring the lifting equipment is not used until the defect is remedied. Such defects must be confirmed in writing in the report, even if it is remedied immediately (eg by destruction of a sling). The person making the report must also notify the relevant enforcing authority with a copy of the report. Enforcing authorities may follow up such reports to check that risks are being adequately managed.

In some cases, a defect may be identified which does not require the immediate cessation of use of the lifting equipment. In these cases, you must remedy the matter, or not further use the equipment, within the time period specified on the report.

Reports of thorough examinations sometimes contain additional non-statutory observations from the competent person on the condition of the lifting equipment. Analysis of this may provide useful information to manage your lifting equipment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Safety checks on private residential blocks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your cooperation in this important work.

MELANIE DAWES

Annex A

Protocol for Sampling of Aluminium Composite Material Cladding

Identification of Aluminium Composite Material Cladding

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

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

Testing of ACM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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