COVID 19

We at Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd realise that you must be sick of hearing about Covid and the legal restrictions that still apply. However, we have to highlight here an issue that is so vitally important to everyone’s safety but that we, to be quite honest, are sick of encountering both on site and at fixed premises.

If anyone has reason to, or is told to, get tested for Covid for any reason whatsoever, that person cannot come into work until the test result is received and is negative; that person MUST self-isolate in the meantime.

It is unbelievable just how many times our advisors have come across workers, and often management themselves, who are at work awaiting test results thus putting, not only their fellow workers at risk, but our advisors too. This is both unacceptable and illegal and employers, management and the workers involved can all be prosecuted if they ignore this legal (and common sense!) instruction.

COMPANY NEWS

TRAINING

Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) is running a full programme of classroom-based courses at our offices or, upon request, at customers’ premises provided they can meet the necessary Covid-related controls. The courses are restricted to a maximum attendance of 8 candidates (for social-distancing) but 6 for first-aid courses with no mouth-to-mouth practical work. With severely restricted numbers, early booking is vital.

Any necessary criteria and restrictions will be personally communicated, both directly at the time of booking and again through joining instructions, ahead of planned courses. It is vital that these are understood and relevant information clearly passed to candidates.

As usual, please contact Vicki at Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) on 01952 885885 or enquiries@wenlockhs.co.uk or vicki@wenlockhs.co.uk to book places.

LEGIONELLA AWARENESS

WHS is holding an open Legionella Awareness Course:

27th April, 9am – 1pm
£95 + VAT per person

After a period of closure, businesses need to think about a potential risk of legionella in buildings or parts of buildings that have been left dormant, as well as the ongoing risks. This is also particularly applicable for house builders who leave properties unoccupied while completing sales, as well as landlords both commercial and domestic. It is important that those people involved in assessing risk and applying precautions are competent, trained and aware of their responsibilities. Refer to the specific article later in this newsletter.

This course will cover the background of the bacteria and disease, where and how it occurs, and your legal obligations. To book a place, please email Vicki on vicki@wenlockhs.co.uk

MENTAL HEALTH

It is widely known that the problems over the last year, compounded in particular with the January – March 2021 lockdown, have produced a profound amount of emotional distress amongst people of all walks of life, whether employed or not. To assist our clients in dealing with possible mental health issues amongst the workforce (and also at home), WHS is also holding an open Mental Health First Aid Course:

Date: 21st May, 9am – 4pm
Cost: £75 + VAT per person

This 6-hour qualification is aimed at managers and supervisors, and provides learners with the knowledge to recognise a range of mental health conditions, how to start a supportive conversation, and when and how to help a person to seek appropriate professional help.

Please note that strict Covid-specific controls will apply as always and, thus, no lunch can be offered.

FIRST AID

1-day (6 hours) Emergency First-Aid at Work course dates are listed below; very strict Covid-specific controls will apply and no lunch can be offered until further notice. Demand is expected to be high, so book places as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Dates:

  • 13 April 2021 an additional course because of high demand
  • 26 April 2021 fully booked – but names can always go on the waiting list!
  • 26 May 2021
  • 24 June 2021
  • 27 July 2021
  • 25 August 2021
  • 28 September 2021
  • 29 October 2021
  • 24 November 2021
  • 20 December 2021

Cost: £85 + VAT per person

CITB Courses

It must be noted that CITB attendance rules are very strict; they MUST be understood and are reiterated here:

  • CITB specifies that candidates must be available to attend each session within the course; failure to do so may require a repeat course.
  • And booked attendance is absolutely vital: because of CITB rules, we may be forced to cancel a course ON THAT MORNING if some candidates fail to take part, to the detriment of all candidates.
  • Strict Covid-specific controls apply and no lunch can be offered; candidates to make their own provision.

Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS)

Duration: 5 days; 1 day per week
Dates:

  • 7, 14, 21, 28 May & 4 June 2021 (Fridays)
  • 7, 14, 21, 28 July & 4 August 2021 (Wednesdays)
  • 10, 17, 24 September & 1, 8 October 2021 (Fridays)
  • 15, 22, 29 November & 6, 13 December 2021 (Mondays)

Cost: £495 + VAT per person

Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) Refresher

Duration: 2 days
Dates:

  • 14 & 15 April 2021 (Wednesday & Thursday)
  • 7 & 8 June 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 9 & 10 August 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 4 & 5 October 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 9 & 10 December 2021 (Thursday & Friday)

Cost: £265 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS)

Duration: 2 days
Dates:

  • 24 & 25 May 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 29 & 30 July 2021 (Thursday & Friday)
  • 20 & 21 September 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 25 & 26 November 2021 (Thursday & Friday)

Cost: £230 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS) Refresher

Duration: 1 day
Dates:

  • 19 April 2021 (Monday)
  • 25 June 2021 (Friday)
  • 20 August 2021 (Friday)
  • 18 October 2021 (Monday)

Cost: £160 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

CITB 1-Day Health & Safety Awareness

Duration: 1 day
Dates:

  • 2 July 2021 (Friday)
  • 1 November 2021 (Monday)
  • 17 December 2021 (Friday)

Cost: £125 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

WHS PARKING ARRANGEMENTS

A reminder about the new parking arrangements when visiting the WHS offices; we made them plain in our last newsletter but several people have not adhered to them and were therefore charged parking fees. The arrangements are reiterated when booking courses but are evidently not being passed on to candidates. Those visiting our offices for ad-hoc reasons also please take note if you want to avoid charges. To reiterate:

WHS has negotiated FREE parking for all our visitors, but this is totally reliant on the following criteria to avoid being charged by Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust (and there’s nothing we can do about it afterwards, sorry!).

  • It is VITAL that you give WHS your car registration number WITHIN 20 MINUTES of arrival at the car park so that we can log it with Ironbridge Gorge to allow for your free parking.
  • If you arrive early and need to bide time, park up elsewhere, NOT in our car park; the clock starts ticking the minute you enter! And obviously, DON’T HANG ABOUT! Make sure you tell us your registration number within that 20 minutes or you will be charged by Ironbridge Gorge.

HSE NEWS

Through the current Covid crisis, the HSE has continued to update its guidance to focus specifically on how best to control commonplace issues in relation to risks posed by the pandemic. A selection of recent HSE bulletins follows; a vast array of further information is available and continually updated on the HSE website:
https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/

COVID RISK ASSESSMENT

As you know (or you should do by now!), the law requires all employers to carry out sufficient risk assessments to cover every risk of element of every task undertaken at work. And, as we have said so many times before, this includes the very high risk of Covid transmission.

The HSE has issued a warning that, if an inspector visits your site or premises and does not find a specific risk assessment or assessments to cover Covid, enforcement will be issued. In our experience, all too many managers or employers think that issuing a generic Covid assessment is sufficient; it is not and the HSE are coming down heavily where they find this to be the case.

ALL risk assessments must be site and task specific

WHS has issued guidance as to what is required but please do ring us if you still don’t understand. Do be aware that we can’t help you actually write assessments without visiting your site or premises, but we can certainly discuss on the phone what is required.

If you need more clarity and/or guidance, go to the HSE’s specific guidance on:
https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/risk-assessment.htm

OFFICIAL HSE App

The HSE has released an app designed to help organisations understand health & safety law and legal responsibilities. The app is a good tool for businesses who have little or no knowledge of health & safety law and is cheap, being available from the Apple or Google Play stores at £2.99 via: https://bit.ly/3vbFDUo

But nobody reading this newsletter should need this type of assistance other than for use as a handy reminder; everyone reading this should have been adequately trained by WHS or equivalent, and should have sufficient documentation and systems in place to be legally compliant. If you think you need the app, or feel that you may not know enough to establish compliant documentation and systems, then ring us straight away! Our advisors, as always, are more than happy to discuss requirements with you – but only you can ensure that enough is in place to be both compliant and able to prove compliance to the HSE.

NEAR-MISS BOOK

The HSE has also released a new Near-Miss Book to help record and report near-misses at work. WHS has always issued (free to our clients) our own version of near-miss report sheets to encourage formalisation of near-miss reporting and investigation to prevent future accidents. However, the new HSE book is a positive step towards encouraging a culture of investigation and, thence, improvement. Both Near-Miss Report Books and Accident Books can be purchased online for £8 each including VAT from: https://bit.ly/3qxacjW

And never forget that some serious near-misses are classified as ‘dangerous occurrences’ and MUST legally be reported to the HSE anyway: https://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/dangerous-occurences.htm

INDUSTRY NEWS

LEGIONELLA – very important

Legionella is a naturally occurring bacteria in watercourses such as rivers and ponds. The bacteria enter a domestic water system and will thrive at temperatures between 20°C and 45°C.
During the Covid lockdown buildings, or parts of buildings, that would normally have a high-water turnover have been left dormant providing an ideal situation for Legionella bacteria to grow and thrive. There is a potential for multiple outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease caused by the Legionella bacteria (which presents similar symptoms to Covid) following the Covid lockdowns if actions taken now are not carefully considered. It is essential that when buildings, or parts of buildings, reopen following the lifting of Covid restrictions water systems are not simply put straight back to use. Simply reopening a building, or part thereof, that has stood idle without addressing the safety of the water system, is unacceptable and is likely to be in breach of the law. A comprehensive action plan should be derived and implemented using the Legionella Risk Assessment and Written Scheme. Should this not be available professional advice should be sought on the best way forward.

Any water system, with the right environmental conditions, could be a source for Legionella bacteria growth and as an employer, business owner, care provider, landlord (and many more) the right precautions need to be taken and implemented to reduce the risks of exposure to legionella. Therefore, under health and safety legislation there is a legal obligation to carry out a legionella risk assessment of the water services in any workplace or business-related premise, including both commercial and domestic rented properties.

For further information, guidance and Legionella surveys, please contact water hygiene specialists, Clira (www.clira.co.uk ), on 01743-247942 or contact Rachel Griffiths direct on rachel@clira.co.uk

TOWER SCAFFOLDING

All contractors reading this must, by now, be aware of the absolute need to ensure those who erect tower scaffolds (of all types) are properly trained and competent, and that it has been generally accepted for several decades now, both by the industry and the HSE, that this means taking a PASMA course. A quick 5-minute briefing by the supplier or a read of the instruction manual is NOT acceptable as it will not cover, amongst other things, the correct method of erection necessary to satisfy the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

We trust that everyone out there who has need to erect, alter or dismantle a tower scaffold therefore has a PASMA card – yes? Maybe not – we know from experience that many have not and therefore risk being shut down by the HSE. But how many contractors and site management realise that managers also must, by law, be trained and competent to the correct level?

It is worth reminding everyone that both the Work at Height Regulations and CDM state quite clearly that all work must be properly planned, organised and supervised by a competent person or persons, which means that any manager or supervisor in charge of those erecting, dismantling or using scaffolding must, by law, be appropriately competent and qualified to be able to supervise the work – and that includes tower scaffolds.

It is therefore prudent, if not essential, for site managers and/or supervisors to undertake the 1-day PASMA Towers for Managers course; find a course near you via: https://pasma.co.uk/training/towers-for-managers/

The course, which can be taken with or without holding a PASMA tower erection card, is aimed at ensuring managers and supervisors can recognise ‘good’ practice; it is totally insufficient (and illegal) to rely solely on the competence of the contractors or workers involved, and any site that cannot demonstrate management/supervisory competence as well will attract enforcement from the HSE.

So, what does ‘good’ look like? The course teaches managers/supervisors the principles of safe erection/dismantling including assessing ground conditions and the site environment, potential loadings, understanding the many different configurations and categories, choosing appropriate equipment, ensuring workers have the correct training and competence, and other important factors such as current and possible weather conditions. We can’t go into too much detail in this newsletter, space doesn’t permit, which is why attendance at the Towers for Managers course is vital. But several key points to note:

  • There are 7 different categories of ‘standard’ towers, from mobile access towers to linked towers, each with its own BS or EN standard, each with specific different assembly techniques and, thus, each with its own specific PASMA card.
  • In addition, there is a PASMA card for the more complex or awkward ‘non-standard’ towers.
  • It is therefore vital that those erecting anything other than a basic tower scaffold have the appropriate category of PASMA card – and it’s the legal responsibility of managers/supervisors to plan for and ensure this happens: https://pasma.co.uk/training/
  • Tower scaffolds cannot be used when wind speeds reach 17 mph, which is actually quite low. When wind speeds are likely to reach between 17 and 25 mph, towers should be tied to the structure but they still cannot be used. When wind speeds are likely to exceed 25 mph, the tower must be dismantled and re-erected later. Strict forward planning, followed by pro-active management, is therefore vital.
  • Manufacturers’ instructions must be read and strictly adhered to because these will dictate permissible loadings. Never forget that total permissible loadings will include, not only materials, but equipment and workers too. Assessment of likely loadings is essential – plus an added factor of safety!
  • Risk assessments must be both site and operation specific and must include an emergency rescue plan. The HSE will shut down operations if this emergency planning says ‘call 999’ only! The rescue plan must reflect all aspects of the work and environment, must be communicated to the workforce and, as recommended by the HSE, practiced as well.
  • And lastly a reminder that inspections of towers by competent persons are required by law before first ascent, following any alteration, move or incident that could affect the towers’ integrity, and at a minimum frequency of 7 days if they remain unmoved, unaltered and uncompromised.

Those working on the towers but who have not been involved with the erection, etc., don’t have to have a PASMA card. However, everyone working at height must be suitably trained to ‘work at height’ and PASMA also has a very useful half-day Work at Height Novice course which covers, not only use of mobile towers, but an insight into the use of all forms of access equipment: https://pasma.co.uk/training/work-at-height-novice/

A few final points which are worth mentioning:

  • Because of Covid, PASMA has re-organised training courses to enable online learning where preferred or during a lockdown. However, many of the PASMA courses focus, for obvious reasons, on the practical side; therefore, classroom-based theory can be undertaken online but completion of the courses and issue of cards will rely on practical sessions at a later date.
  • Courses can be organised on site or at customers’ premises provided that there is a Covid-safe classroom and there is a safe area well away from other work where the tower erection practical exercise can take place. PASMA trainers will not conduct a course where the environment is deemed unsuitable.
  • It is useful to sign up to both the PASMA newsletter: www.pasma.co.uk/newsletter and also to the newsletter of the No Falls Foundation, a charity which, not only carries out research etc, but also offers support for victims of falls (at work and at home) and shares stories to help others avoid accidents: www.nofallsfoundation.org/index.php/sign-up-to-newsletter A free downloadable support pack for anyone affected by a fall can be accessed from: https://nofallsfoundation.org/index.php/support/support-after-a-fall-from-height/
  • An excellent recent PASMA/HSE webinar, succinctly summarising the points raised above and much more, can be freely downloaded from: https://bit.ly/2Q8RTot
  • It is strongly recommended that all WHS clients who have need to use towers, or manage sites where they are used, watch the video. And, if you have any questions at all, please do contact WHS immediately. N.B. The video does not constitute training in any way.

And lastly, just one recent accident and resultant prosecution resulting from a fall from a tower is highlighted at the end of this newsletter; be warned, be alert and get trained.

GENERAL NEWS

MOTORWAY DRIVING

Everyone should know that, when re-joining a motorway from the hard shoulder, it is necessary to speed up to match the speed of the traffic and watch for a safe gap in the traffic before accessing the inside lane (obviously watching out for other vehicles within the hard shoulder whilst doing so). This is enshrined within the Highway Code so must be followed.

However, the advent of so-called ‘smart motorways’ has produced additional risks as the hard shoulder may well now be open for use at certain times and as indicated on the overhead gantries. Emergency areas have been provided for use on smart motorways to avoid risks to those in broken down vehicles within a ‘live’ inside lane. However, it is often impossible to reach one of these emergency areas when a vehicle breaks down; it simply happens too quickly to travel to the safe space. So what should you do?

Highways England have issued the following advice:

  • Try your best to travel safely to the left lane of the motorway
  • Call Highways England on 0300 123 5000, then your breakdown provider for assistance.

This implies that there must be a mobile phone with the vehicle and it is a proposal that having a fully charged mobile phone will be made a legal requirement in the near future, as it is in many other countries already. Apart from any future legal requirement, it is common-sense that drivers should equip themselves with a changed mobile before setting out on any journey.

But what happens when the driver does manage to reach an emergency area? Is it sufficient to contact Highways England using your mobile, and what about re-joining the motorway as there is no safe lane from which to gain speed and feed into the traffic?

Several serious accidents have occurred involving these emergency areas on smart motorways because of their limitations. It is therefore worth pointing out that drivers stopping in one of these must immediately make a call using the emergency telephone provided. This is so that the operator can immediately close off the inside lane (using the gantry signage) to ensure additional safety and to enable the driver to safely exit the emergency area into the (closed) inside lane and gather speed before entering the flow of traffic.

A further change to the Highway Code is being proposed to make it mandatory to use the emergency phone provided but, as this is still in the consultation stage, our advice would be to just do that anyway; the risks of being parked up by, and then re-entering into, live traffic cannot be underestimated.

AND FINALLY

Work at height

  • Rooffabs Direct Ltd was fined a total of £21,000 and director, Paul McMahon, ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid community service after two workers suffered fractures to legs and ankles when they fell 2 metres from an incorrectly assembled tower scaffold. Those who erected the tower hadn’t been properly trained, guard rails were missing and no outriggers were in place.

The HSE commented that there were an estimated 36,000 falls from height last year, a shocking 99 per day. Invariably they are found to have been avoidable; most, as with this case, resulted from lack of training, planning and competent supervision.

  • Pearsons Glass was fined a total of almost £87,000 after a contractor’s worker fell 6 metres to his death through a fragile asbestos roof. No fall arrest equipment had been installed.

Note here that, although investigations are ongoing, it was the employing body, Pearson Glass, rather than the contractor who has been prosecuted so far. Under the Health & Safety at Work Act Section 3(1) states that:

“It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”

Clearly, the employing body had failed to ensure that the contractor was both competent for the tasks and properly equipped to undertake the work safely. A salutary lesson for all employers.

  • SolarUK Ltd was fined a total of £42,000 after a worker fell 4 metres through an unprotected skylight, sustaining multiple injuries to his wrist. Despite being fully aware of the risks, the Company had failed to plan, manage or equip the work, with workers being put at risk throughout.
  • Atec Maintenance Ltd was fined a total of £38,000 after the friend of company director, Terry Adams, fell 6 metres through a warehouse roof. Stephen Bowkett was helping Adams install netting on the roof of the warehouse; after unclipping his harness for a break, he stepped backwards and fell through the roof, suffering severe injuries to his torso. This case demonstrates that it only takes a second of carelessness for a life to be destroyed.
  • Principal Contractor, Robert Norman Construction Ltd, was fined a total of over £148,000 and its contractor, R&B Plastering Ltd, over £35,000 after an R&BH employee fell 3 metres through a hole cut in a floor of a property during refurbishment; he sustained fractures to his vertebrae and ribs, and required a back brace.

Not only was R&B’s risk assessment inadequate but, despite the PC’s policy to review all contractors’ risk assessments before they were allowed to start work, this had not been done. Therefore, the inadequacy of the assessment had not been challenged, a clear failure on the PC’s part.

N.B. This is an issue that WHS advisors see on site all the time – Principal Contractors ignoring the content of contractors’ risk assessments (if, indeed, they ask for them at all!) with the result that the work cannot possibly be planned, managed or supervised properly. It is just not good enough to assume that contractors’ risk assessments are adequate – and how can Principal Contractors properly manage the site and tasks if they don’t know how contractors intend to do or control the work?!

Safe systems of work

  • PCR Steel was fined a total of almost £60,000 after an employee of South East Galvanizers was crushed to death by a 400kg balcony frame that fell from a telehandler during loading. The HSE found that there was no safe system of work in place at all. There was no lifting plan, no competent supervision and nothing to prevent persons from standing in harm’s way; nothing to assess the size, weight and security of the load, and nothing to ensure the safety of employees. The victim had been standing on the trailer bed, which says it all.
  • Calachem Ltd was fined £560,000 after an employee was severely scalded with boiling water during a cleaning operation. Without going into technical detail here, the original safe system of work requiring wash down with clean, cold water had been incrementally altered over time to facilitate a second process, but neither the process nor these changes had ever been re-assessed. The result was that boiling water, related to the second process rushed from the vessel, scalding and disfiguring the employee.

N.B. This case clearly demonstrates that ANY change in the working method, circumstances or environment MUST be re-assessed. Each incremental change will present different and maybe additional risks and, although each may seem insignificant at the time, they may well build up over time to present a severe risk – as in this case.

Risk assessment is NOT to be done and left on the shelf; risk assessment requires continual review and revision to be sure that any foreseeable risks are controlled BEFORE they become significant.

Equally, NO method of work can be altered or modified without re-assessment and approval by management. Again, small changes may seem harmless BUT they, all too often, build up to present significant risks which remain unseen and unrecognised because management is unaware.

Identify the hazards – assess the risks – control those risks – then…..
CONTINUALLY REVIEW – RE-ASSESS & CONTROL – CONTINUE TO MONITOR
SUITABILITY & EFFECTIVENESS

WHS is working for you; help us to help you.
Our aim is to keep people safe and to keep your company working.
To contact WHS, ring: 01952-885885

COVID 19

We at Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd realise that you must be sick of hearing about Covid and the legal restrictions that still apply. However, we have to highlight here an issue that is so vitally important to everyone’s safety but that we, to be quite honest, are sick of encountering.

If anyone has reason to, or is told to, get tested for Covid for any reason whatsoever, that person cannot come into work until the test result is received and is negative; that person MUST self-isolate in the meantime.

It is unbelievable just how many times our advisors have come across workers, and often management themselves, who are at work awaiting test results thus putting, not only their fellow workers at risk, but our advisors too. This is both unacceptable and illegal and employers, management and the workers involved can all be prosecuted if they ignore this legal (and common sense!) instruction.

COMPANY NEWS

TRAINING

Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) is running a full programme of classroom-based courses at our offices or, upon request, at customers’ premises provided they can meet the necessary Covid-related controls. The courses are restricted to a maximum attendance of 8 candidates (for social-distancing) but 6 for first-aid courses with no mouth-to-mouth practical work. With severely restricted numbers, early booking is vital.

Any necessary criteria and restrictions will be personally communicated, both directly at the time of booking and again through joining instructions, ahead of planned courses. It is vital that these are understood and relevant information clearly passed to candidates.

As usual, please contact Vicki at Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) on 01952 885885 or enquiries@wenlockhs.co.uk or vicki@wenlockhs.co.uk to book places.

LEGIONELLA AWARENESS

WHS is holding an open Legionella Awareness Course:

27th April, 9am – 1pm
£95 + VAT per person

After a period of closure, businesses need to think about a potential risk of legionella in buildings or parts of buildings that have been left dormant, as well as the ongoing risks. This is also particularly applicable for house builders who leave properties unoccupied while completing sales, as well as landlords both commercial and domestic. It is important that those people involved in assessing risk and applying precautions are competent, trained and aware of their responsibilities. Refer to the specific article later in this newsletter.

This course will cover the background of the bacteria and disease, where and how it occurs, and your legal obligations. To book a place, please email Vicki on vicki@wenlockhs.co.uk

MENTAL HEALTH

It is widely known that the problems over the last year, compounded in particular with the January – March 2021 lockdown, have produced a profound amount of emotional distress amongst people of all walks of life, whether employed or not. To assist our clients in dealing with possible mental health issues amongst the workforce (and also at home), WHS is also holding an open Mental Health First Aid Course:

Date: 21st May, 9am – 4pm
Cost: £75 + VAT per person

This 6-hour qualification is aimed at managers and supervisors, and provides learners with the knowledge to recognise a range of mental health conditions, how to start a supportive conversation, and when and how to help a person to seek appropriate professional help.

Please note that strict Covid-specific controls will apply as always and, thus, no lunch can be offered.

FIRST AID

1-day (6 hours) Emergency First-Aid at Work course dates are listed below; very strict Covid-specific controls will apply and no lunch can be offered until further notice. Demand is expected to be high, so book places as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Dates:

  • 13 April 2021 an additional course because of high demand
  • 26 April 2021 fully booked – but names can always go on the waiting list!
  • 26 May 2021
  • 24 June 2021
  • 27 July 2021
  • 25 August 2021
  • 28 September 2021
  • 29 October 2021
  • 24 November 2021
  • 20 December 2021

Cost: £85 + VAT per person

WHS PARKING ARRANGEMENTS

A reminder about the new parking arrangements when visiting the WHS offices; we made them plain in our last newsletter but several people have not adhered to them and were therefore charged parking fees. The arrangements are reiterated when booking courses but are evidently not being passed on to candidates. Those visiting our offices for ad-hoc reasons also please take note if you want to avoid charges. To reiterate:

WHS has negotiated FREE parking for all our visitors, but this is totally reliant on the following criteria to avoid being charged by Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust (and there’s nothing we can do about it afterwards, sorry!).

  • It is VITAL that you give WHS your car registration number WITHIN 20 MINUTES of arrival at the car park so that we can log it with Ironbridge Gorge to allow for your free parking.
  • If you arrive early and need to bide time, park up elsewhere, NOT in our car park; the clock starts ticking the minute you enter! And obviously, DON’T HANG ABOUT! Make sure you tell us your registration number within that 20 minutes or you will be charged by Ironbridge Gorge.

HSE NEWS

Through the current Covid crisis, the HSE has continued to update its guidance to focus specifically on how best to control commonplace issues in relation to risks posed by the pandemic. A selection of recent HSE bulletins follows; a vast array of further information is available and continually updated on the HSE website:
https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/

COVID RISK ASSESSMENT

As you know (or you should do by now!), the law requires all employers to carry out sufficient risk assessments to cover every risk of element of every task undertaken at work. And, as we have said so many times before, this includes the very high risk of Covid transmission.

The HSE has issued a warning that, if an inspector visits your premises and does not find a specific risk assessment or assessments to cover Covid, enforcement will be issued. In our experience, all too many managers or employers think that issuing a generic Covid assessment is sufficient; it is not and the HSE are coming down heavily where they find this to be the case.

ALL risk assessments must be premises and task specific

WHS has issued guidance as to what is required but please do ring us if you still don’t understand. Do be aware that we can’t help you actually write assessments without visiting your premises, but we can certainly discuss on the phone what is required.

If you need more clarity and/or guidance, go to the HSE’s specific guidance on:
https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/working-safely/risk-assessment.htm

OFFICIAL HSE App

The HSE has released an app designed to help organisations understand health & safety law and legal responsibilities. The app is a good tool for businesses who have little or no knowledge of health & safety law and is cheap, being available from the Apple or Google Play stores at £2.99 via: https://bit.ly/3vbFDUo

But nobody reading this newsletter should need this type of assistance other than for use as a handy reminder; everyone reading this should have been adequately trained by WHS or equivalent, and should have sufficient documentation and systems in place to be legally compliant. If you think you need the app, or feel that you may not know enough to establish compliant documentation and systems, then ring us straight away! Our advisors, as always, are more than happy to discuss requirements with you – but only you can ensure that enough is in place to be both compliant and able to prove compliance to the HSE.

NEAR-MISS BOOK

The HSE has also released a new Near-Miss Book to help record and report near-misses at work. WHS has always issued (free to our clients) our own version of near-miss report sheets to encourage formalisation of near-miss reporting and investigation to prevent future accidents. However, the new HSE book is a positive step towards encouraging a culture of investigation and, thence, improvement. Both Near-Miss Report Books and Accident Books can be purchased online for £8 each including VAT from: https://bit.ly/3qxacjW

And never forget that some serious near-misses are classified as ‘dangerous occurrences’ and MUST legally be reported to the HSE anyway: https://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/dangerous-occurences.htm

GENERAL NEWS

LEGIONELLA – very important

Legionella is a naturally occurring bacteria in watercourses such as rivers and ponds. The bacteria enter a domestic water system and will thrive at temperatures between 20°C and 45°C.
During the Covid lockdown buildings, or parts of buildings, that would normally have a high-water turnover have been left dormant providing an ideal situation for Legionella bacteria to grow and thrive. There is a potential for multiple outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease caused by the Legionella bacteria (which presents similar symptoms to Covid) following the Covid lockdowns if actions taken now are not carefully considered. It is essential that when buildings, or parts of buildings, reopen following the lifting of Covid restrictions water systems are not simply put straight back to use. Simply reopening a building, or part thereof, that has stood idle without addressing the safety of the water system, is unacceptable and is likely to be in breach of the law. A comprehensive action plan should be derived and implemented using the Legionella Risk Assessment and Written Scheme. Should this not be available professional advice should be sought on the best way forward.

Any water system, with the right environmental conditions, could be a source for Legionella bacteria growth and as an employer, business owner, care provider, landlord (and many more) the right precautions need to be taken and implemented to reduce the risks of exposure to legionella. Therefore, under health and safety legislation there is a legal obligation to carry out a legionella risk assessment of the water services in any workplace or business-related premise, including both commercial and domestic rented properties.

For further information, guidance and Legionella surveys, please contact water hygiene specialists, Clira (www.clira.co.uk ), on 01743-247942 or contact Rachel Griffiths direct on rachel@clira.co.uk

MOTORWAY DRIVING

Everyone should know that, when re-joining a motorway from the hard shoulder, it is necessary to speed up to match the speed of the traffic and watch for a safe gap in the traffic before accessing the inside lane (obviously watching out for other vehicles within the hard shoulder whilst doing so). This is enshrined within the Highway Code so must be followed.

However, the advent of so-called ‘smart motorways’ has produced additional risks as the hard shoulder may well now be open for use at certain times and as indicated on the overhead gantries. Emergency areas have been provided for use on smart motorways to avoid risks to those in broken down vehicles within a ‘live’ inside lane. However, it is often impossible to reach one of these emergency areas when a vehicle breaks down; it simply happens too quickly to travel to the safe space. So what should you do?

Highways England have issued the following advice:

  • Try your best to travel safely to the left lane of the motorway
  • Call Highways England on 0300 123 5000, then your breakdown provider for assistance.

This implies that there must be a mobile phone with the vehicle and it is a proposal that having a fully charged mobile phone will be made a legal requirement in the near future, as it is in many other countries already. Apart from any future legal requirement, it is common-sense that drivers should equip themselves with a changed mobile before setting out on any journey.

But what happens when the driver does manage to reach an emergency area? Is it sufficient to contact Highways England using your mobile, and what about re-joining the motorway as there is no safe lane from which to gain speed and feed into the traffic?

Several serious accidents have occurred involving these emergency areas on smart motorways because of their limitations. It is therefore worth pointing out that drivers stopping in one of these must immediately make a call using the emergency telephone provided. This is so that the operator can immediately close off the inside lane (using the gantry signage) to ensure additional safety and to enable the driver to safely exit the emergency area into the (closed) inside lane and gather speed before entering the flow of traffic.

A further change to the Highway Code is being proposed to make it mandatory to use the emergency phone provided but, as this is still in the consultation stage, our advice would be to just do that anyway; the risks of being parked up by, and then re-entering into, live traffic cannot be underestimated.

AND FINALLY

Work at height
The HSE has commented that there were an estimated 36,000 falls from height last year, a shocking 99 per day. Most are found to have been avoidable, resulting from poor training, planning and competent supervision.

  • Country Style Foods Ltd was fined a total of almost £152,000 after a worker was impaled on the handrail of a set of ‘airline style’ steps whilst cleaning ovens, suffering a torn artery and nerve damage. The steps used were found to be totally inappropriate for the work; they had been adapted for a different task. This set of steps had been used in preference to an existing scissor lift because the worker was not trained in its use – one correct conclusion out of two just isn’t good enough.
  • Pearl Food Distribution was fined a total of over £68,000 after a Birmingham City Council safety inspector saw an employee raised to mezzanine level on a pallet balanced on the forks of a fork-lift truck. — Note that this prosecution resulted from observation – there had been no accident (thank goodness!)
  • Pearsons Glass was fined a total of almost £87,000 after a contractor’s worker fell 6 metres to his death through a fragile asbestos roof. No fall arrest equipment had been installed. Note here that, although investigations are ongoing, it was the employing body, Pearson Glass, rather than the contractor who has been prosecuted so far. Under the Health & Safety at Work Act Section 3(1) states that. — “It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”

Clearly, the employing body had failed to ensure that the contractor was both competent for the tasks and properly equipped to undertake the work safely. A salutary lesson for all employers.

  • SolarUK Ltd was fined a total of £42,000 after a worker fell 4 metres through an unprotected skylight, sustaining multiple injuries to his wrist. Despite being fully aware of the risks, the Company had failed to plan, manage or equip the work, with workers being put at risk throughout.

Safe systems of work

  • PCR Steel was fined a total of almost £60,000 after an employee of South East Galvanizers was crushed to death by a 400kg balcony frame that fell from a telehandler during loading. The HSE found that there was no safe system of work in place at all. There was no lifting plan, no competent supervision and nothing to prevent persons from standing in harm’s way; nothing to assess the size, weight and security of the load, and nothing to ensure the safety of employees. The victim had been standing on the trailer bed, which says it all.
  • Calachem Ltd was fined £560,000 after an employee was severely scalded with boiling water during a cleaning operation. Without going into technical detail here, the original safe system of work requiring wash down with clean, cold water had been incrementally altered over time to facilitate a second process, but neither the process nor these changes had ever been re-assessed. The result was that boiling water, related to the second process rushed from the vessel, scalding and disfiguring the employee.

N.B. This case clearly demonstrates that ANY change in the working method, circumstances or environment MUST be re-assessed. Each incremental change will present different and maybe additional risks and, although each may seem insignificant at the time, they may well build up over time to present a severe risk – as in this case. Risk assessment is NOT to be done and left on the shelf; risk assessment requires continual review and revision to be sure that any foreseeable risks are controlled BEFORE they become significant.

Equally, NO method of work can be altered or modified without re-assessment and approval by management. Again, small changes may seem harmless BUT they, all too often, build up to present significant risks which remain unseen and unrecognised because management is unaware.

Identify the hazards – assess the risks – control those risks – then…..
CONTINUALLY REVIEW – RE-ASSESS & CONTROL – CONTINUE TO MONITOR
SUITABILITY & EFFECTIVENESS

WHS is working for you; help us to help you.
Our aim is to keep people safe and to keep your company working.
To contact WHS, ring: 01952-885885

COVID 19 / CORONAVIRUS

CURRENT LOCKDOWN

Well, here we are with the distinct feeling of déjà vu; after almost 10 months, Britain is back in total lockdown – with the exception of a few essential industries such as construction and manufacturing. The difference this time around, though, is that those of us who are still able to work in the field should already have very robust Covid controls in place and we should, therefore, all be very confident that our workplaces are safe.

However, it is extremely important to remember that:

  • Going to and from work can also be a very significant risk, especially for those who have to rely on public transport, particularly in London and other densely populated areas. If you can work from home, do so. But if you have to travel, as many of us do, use your own car wherever possible and avoid car-sharing. Employers are advised to carry out in-depth Covid risk assessments and to transmit all relevant information clearly to employees.
  • If you don’t feel Covid-safe in your workplace, this should be pointed out to your management for action to be taken. This is for the employer’s sake as well as the employee’s; workplaces can and are being shut by the HSE and local authorities if controls are found lacking.
  • Covid is only one of the risks we currently meet in our daily working lives – don’t let your guard drop. All the other ever-present risks will still be there and enforcement, penalties and human costs remain the same as ever.

The construction industry has, throughout this pandemic, continually developed better and more appropriate ways to control Covid risks on site. To that end, the Construction Leadership Council has recently issued an update to its Site Operating Procedures – Version 7. It is extremely important that this, and each new version of the Procedures, is read and followed; the HSE carry out their site checks against these principles:
https://bit.ly/39iU3Id

General guidance and instruction about lockdown can be found on the Government’s websites:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

COMPANY NEWS

TRAINING

Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) is doing its level best to carry out its training programme where and how at all possible. We are very much hoping to get back to relative normality by March but, in the meantime, we do ask you to bear with us should there be any unavoidable disruption to your plans; you will appreciate that the situation is totally out of our hands. We will, of course keep you fully notified of further developments.

Unavoidable changes to our programme are detailed below and will also be personally communicated, both directly and through joining instructions, ahead of planned courses. It is vital that these are understood and relevant information clearly passed to candidates.

First Aid

Because of the unavoidable close contact necessary to undertake any first aid course, our open courses have had to be cancelled till March; WHS will contact those affected and the situation will be closely monitored. As we have yet to hear of any provision for extending expiry dates, managers are advised to review levels of cover to ensure adequate first aid cover in all workplaces.

If you require a First Aid course, it’s been confirmed by the awarding body that we can run these now, however we’d like to limit any mixing of companies to reduce risk where we can, so can only be undertaken for one company until March.

We can run the 1-day (6 hours) Emergency First-Aid at Work courses from March, dates are listed below; very strict Covid-specific controls will apply and no lunch can be offered until further notice. Demand is expected to be high, so book places as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Dates:

  • 16 March 2021 fully booked
  • 30 March 2021 limited spaces available
  • 26 April 2021
  • 26 May 2021
  • 24 June 2021
  • 27 July 2021
  • 25 August 2021
  • 28 September 2021
  • 29 October 2021
  • 24 November 2021
  • 20 December 2021

Cost: £85 + VAT per person

As usual, please contact Vicki at Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) on 01952 885885 or enquiries@wenlockhs.co.uk or vicki@wenlockhs.co.uk to book places

CITB Courses

Until lockdown ceases, and to enable as many people as possible to be able to access training, all CITB and similar classroom-based courses will be conducted by our staff online. Full details will be given in the joining instructions but it must be noted that, as with online courses successfully conducted during the previous lockdown, each candidate must have access to a computer or laptop.

It must be noted that all previous attendance rules apply, reiterated here:

  • CITB specifies that candidates must be available to attend each session within the course; failure to do so may require a repeat course.
  • And booked online attendance is vital: because of CITB rules, we may be forced to cancel a course ON THAT MORNING if some candidates fail to take part, to the detriment of all candidates.

Do note also that CITB are allowing a grace period; anyone with an SMSTS or SSSTS expiring after 1 October 2020 now has until 30 April 2021 to attend a refresher course. Any delegate whose certificate expired before 1 October 2020 will be required to join a full SMSTS or SSSTS course, rather than the refresher equivalent.

Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS)

Duration: 5 days; 1 day per week
Dates:

  • 22, 29 January & 5, 12 & 19 February 2021 (Tuesdays) Online; please note date changes
  • 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29 March 2021 (Mondays)
  • 7, 14, 21, 28 May & 4 June 2021 (Fridays)
  • 5, 12, 19, 26 July & 2 August 2021 (Mondays)
  • 10, 17, 24 September & 1, 8 October 2021 (Fridays)
  • 15, 22, 29 November & 6, 13 December 2021 (Mondays)

Cost: £495 + VAT per person

Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) Refresher

Duration: 2 days
Dates:

  • 8 & 9 February 2021 (Monday & Tuesday) Online
  • 14 & 15 April 2021 (Wednesday & Thursday)
  • 7 & 8 June 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 9 & 10 August 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 4 & 5 October 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 9 & 10 December 2021 (Thursday & Friday)

Cost: £265 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS)

Duration: 2 days
Dates:

  • 10 & 11 March 2021 (Wednesday & Thursday)
  • 24 & 25 May 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 29 & 30 July 2021 (Thursday & Friday)
  • 20 & 21 September 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 25 & 26 November 2021 (Thursday & Friday)

Cost: £230 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS) Refresher

Duration: 1 day
Dates:

  • 19 April 2021 (Monday)
  • 25 June 2021 (Friday)
  • 20 August 2021 (Friday)
  • 18 October 2021 (Monday)

Cost: £160 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

CITB 1-Day Health & Safety Awareness

Duration: 1 day
Dates:

  • 2 March 2021 (Tuesday)
  • 10 May 2021 (Monday)
  • 2 July 2021 (Friday)
  • 6 September 2021 (Monday)
  • 1 November 2021 (Monday)
  • 17 December 2021 (Friday)

Cost: £125 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

UKATA

These two open courses have been postponed until March to enable them to take place at the WHS offices; UKATA does not permit online learning. Places are obviously limited so book early to avoid disappointment, particularly as we have yet to hear whether UKATA will permit extensions to certificate expiry dates.

Duration: 3.5 hours
Dates:

  • 5 March 2021; 2 sessions available, commencing 9 am and 1 pm

Cost: £60 + VAT per person

IOSH Managing Safely

This course is scheduled to take place at the WHS offices if possible; the situation will obviously be closely monitored. Again, please note that lunch cannot be offered until further notice.

Duration: 3 days (Monday to Wednesday)
Dates:

  • 22, 23 & 24 February 2021

Cost: £395 + VAT per person

FACE FIT TESTING

As it can be unavoidable and obviously essential for safe working on site, face-fit testing is still being undertaken at the WHS offices under very strict controls. However, it would obviously be preferrable to postpone face-fit testing where this is at all possible (i.e. where the health of workers is not compromised) until we are no longer under lockdown.

WHS PARKING ARRANGEMENTS

Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust have significantly changed parking payment arrangements at our offices and this will affect all WHS visitors – whether visiting for training, meetings, or any other reason. WHS has negotiated FREE parking for all our visitors, but this is totally reliant on the following criteria:

  • It is vital that you give WHS your car registration number WITHIN 20 MINUTES of arrival at the car park so that we can log it with Ironbridge Gorge Museum to allow for your free parking.
  • If you arrive early and need to bide time, park up elsewhere, not in our car park; the clock starts ticking the minute you enter! Make sure you tell us your registration number within that 20 minutes or you will be charged by Ironbridge Gorge Museum.

Joining instructions will give details but those making ad hoc visits to WHS offices for whatever reason should take note the above or you will be charged by Ironbridge Gorge Museum (and there’s nothing we can do about it, sorry!).

SAFETY AWARDS 2020

With all the doom and gloom about right now, it gives us great pleasure to focus again on the Wenlock Health & Safety Awards 2020. Our two very worthy winners received their certificates at the end of 2020 and we are delighted, once again, to draw attention to their achievements:

Commitment to Site Safety:
Mark Bennett
of Morris Property Ltd

Mark, shown here with his award, is a Site Manager for Shrewsbury-based Morris Property Ltd.

Mark was awarded the certificate because he has always demonstrated an exemplary attitude towards health & safety on his sites, and a proactive management approach.

An excellent example to set for the Morris Property team.

Commitment to Health & Safety Training:
Richard Sherratt Builders Ltd

Based in Shrewsbury; this commercial and domestic building company was given the award on the strength of its exemplary attitude towards training the entire workforce in various health & safety areas, including through the trials of the last year.

Richard is shown here with the award; keep up the excellent work Richard!

HSE NEWS

Through the current Covid crisis, the HSE has continued to update its guidance to focus specifically on how best to control commonplace issues in relation to risks posed by the pandemic. A selection of recent HSE bulletins follows; a vest array of further information is available and continually updated on the HSE website:
https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/

VENTILATION & AIR-CONDITIONING

The law requires all employers to ensure an adequate supply of fresh air in the workplace – and this is even more important during the current pandemic. The HSE’s guidance on ventilation and air conditioning has been updated to reflect the importance during Covid: https://bit.ly/2MTetA2

The guidance includes:

  • Balancing ventilation with the need to keep people warm
  • Identifying poorly ventilated areas
  • Improvements to be made
  • Ventilation in vehicles

LOCAL EXHAUST VENTILATION (LEV)

Another issue that is increasingly important because of the pandemic is adequate LEV. The law requires all employers where dusts, fumes or vapours are produced within enclosed or poorly ventilated areas to:

  • Assess the risks and equipment required to controls the risks to an adequate degree; remember, use of RPE alone is illegal, mechanical extraction (LEV) or similar must be put in place.
  • Maintain LEV in good and efficient order, which includes regular visual checks plus thorough test and inspections by specialists at least every 14 months.

Over and above the HSE’s general guidance available on: https://www.hse.gov.uk/lev/ the HSE has issued specific guidance to ensure that LEV test and inspections remain a high priority and are carried out during the pandemic: https://bit.ly/2XtkC7Q

REDUCING THE NEED FOR RPE

The use of RPE, which has become so essential during the pandemic, has also produced major problems with interrupted supplies of reputably sourced masks and accessories of the types required by law that we are all used to having readily to hand, e.g. for protection against silica dusts, etc.

The HSE has therefore produced new guidance outlining alternative ways of working when using power tools (such as drills, cut-off saws, breakers and angle grinders) through this pandemic which could either reduce or actually remove the need to use RPE: https://bit.ly/39nVh4S . Sound advice for the future too!

AVOIDING MUSCULOSKELETAL DISORDERS

Musculoskeletal disorders remain the single-most harm issue in UK industry (and no doubt worldwide too) despite decades of focus and improvements – and it is still the most common cause of injury, permanent harm and early retirement in the construction industry.

The HSE website holds a multitude of guidance about
musculoskeletal and upper limb disorders, e.g:
https://bit.ly/3nCyWWi
https://bit.ly/35x5E5j
https://bit.ly/35v7nIm

However, even this issue can also relate to Covid (e.g. the comfort of those spending long hours working in uncontrolled conditions at home), so the HSE has updated the information accordingly:
https://bit.ly/3oDukR2

AND A REMINDER – THE HSE CONTINUES WITH SPOT CHECKS

As the Covid restrictions bite ever deeper, the need for strict controls for those businesses that must remain open and working are even more important than ever. Consequently, the HSE (and local authorities) are carrying out even more regular spot checks on sites, shops, offices, workshops and other premises – and they continue to fine or close those businesses who have not established appropriate controls or cannot justify remaining open.

To help, yet more in-depth HSE guidance is available (e.g. https://bit.ly/35yizEe ) which includes:

• cleaning, hygiene and handwashing
• protecting vulnerable workers during the pandemic
• first aid during the pandemic

Covid has been with us for so long now, there is no excuse whatsoever for not controlling your workplace adequately – and also seeking to continually improve those controls where possible.

DRIVING FOR WORK

Notwithstanding the current need to work from home where at all possible, the HSE is in the process of updating its joint (with the DfT) guidance, INDG382: Driving at Work, to help duty holders manage work-related road risk.

Since the original guidance was released in 2014, there have been significant developments in technological and driving practices so the HSE is now asking for feedback across all industries, including construction, to gauge the relevance and accuracy of the current guidance. Please spare a few minutes to take the survey via this link: short survey

INDUSTRY NEWS

ROOFING SAFETY ALERT

Following a recent roof fire that destroyed a school in Nottinghamshire, the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) has issued a safety alert relating to concerns about roof work on the lightweight system-built CLASP (Consortium of Local Authorities Special Programme) schools commonly erected from the 1950s to the 1980s: https://bit.ly/3bseiWD

The design means there is an increased risk of fire breaching into the building itself; therefore, the NFRC strongly recommends that a flame-free waterproofing system should be chosen to avoid this risk.

It is vital that the potential but high risk of fire is recognised at the earliest stage with any necessary roof-work on a CLASP school – i.e. the principal designer, as well as the contractor, must make the client aware of the absolute necessity to address fire risk with the use of flame-free systems throughout the works.

It is essential to read and digest the implication and recommendations of the NFRC safety alert.

WHS might also draw attention to the necessity to include evacuation safety in the risk assessment for any roof-works, regardless of where it is undertaken. Adequate exit points must be built into the access scaffold; a single entry/exit point may not be sufficient to cater for safe evacuation from the roof and/or scaffold; what happened if a fire directly affects that particular area.

INTERNAL SAFE ACCESS TO HEIGHT

Still on the subject of working at height, but internally this time…

A lot of our contractors experience difficulty in relation to working within properties where space is too small for scaffolding or mobile towers to fit. WHS has unfortunately seen a number of incidents on site where contractors (such as plasterers, painters and decorators) have improvised and made their own working platforms to access difficult to reach areas, in some cases with zero edge protection and in one recent case resulting in a fall from height which could very easily have resulted in a fatality.

One of our more responsible contractors has recently found and successfully used systems supplied by MK Engineering Services; details may be of use to others experiencing similar issues on site. The systems are easily erected and can be fully tailored to each specific situation: www.mkeservices.com

Another similar system has been supplied for many years by Lobo: https://www.lobosystems.com/contact/

Unfortunately, these pieces of access and protection equipment are not covered under the PASMA Card. Therefore, it is vital to remember that all users of equipment must be provided with suitable information, instruction and training on erection, use and equipment safely, so training must still be provided by the employer. Both MK Engineering and Lobo provide instruction material; however, as stated in law, the training must be delivered by an adequately experienced person with proven competence.

SAFETY FOR YOUNG PERSONS

You should all know that the law makes special provision for the safety of ‘young persons’ (under 18-year olds) – if not, why not, where have you been??!! The emphasis on young persons was realised decades ago because of their inexperience, incomplete bodily development, lack of maturity, and a tendency to think they are immortal! Special controls to prevent undue risk to this sector of the workforce include a cap on working hours and limitations on the type of tasks that can be allocated.

However, the ‘inexperience’ can also apply to older workers who have only recently entered the construction industry and therefore lack training and the level of hands-on experience necessary to identify and control the risks presented to them on site. The main category we refer to here are apprentices – who are increasingly commonplace throughout the industry and are not always covered by the Young Persons Regs.

WHS training covers the subject of the special provisions necessary for both under-18s and older but inexperienced employees, including apprentices. Disturbingly, WHS has witnessed several situations recently where those appropriate provisions have not been made and the worker has then been subject to undue risk. To illustrate the point, we draw attention to a recent prosecution relating to the endangering of an apprentice:

M&J Engineers of Hitchin was fined a total of over £285,000 after an apprentice fell from the roof of a site cabin, causing back and leg injuries. He had climbed onto the roof to attach lifting chains to a power float and, when the crane boom swung, he jumped to avoid injury. He was very lucky not to have been killed.

The huge fine was levelled against M&J because, not only was the crane driver not properly trained, but also (as was specifically highlighted during the trial) the inexperienced apprentice had not been adequately ‘managed’. i.e. nobody was supervising and instructing him.

It is prudent to reiterate one of the particular issues often discussed during WHS training – the link between ability and confidence during the stages of a worker’s development, something that can be true of many of us!

  • When an employee is initially instructed in a task, he (he/she obviously) thinks he knows it all and this can produce over-confidence.
  • That over-confidence can result in risk taking, whether in relation to physical risks or admin tasks.
  • The over-confidence can then result in taking one too many risks and a potentially serious situation; again, this applies as much to physical tasks as to losing an employer’s money through sloppy accounting!
  • Assuming he survives, the employee is then shocked and embarrassed into realising that his over-confidence almost resulted in a serious incident…so he slips back into the learning stage.
  • He’s learnt his lesson and he now realises that he needs to take more time and effort to learn and to behave more responsibly.

Employers too can easily share the over-confidence in those early stages, failing to grasp that competence relates to experience, continual improvement and trustworthiness, not simply instruction and training. Hence, the law requires that both young persons and inexperienced employees are properly supervised and monitored until such time as the employee can truly be called competent for the task/s.

If you have any queries or would like to give your young or inexperienced workers targeted training, please do contact WHS on the usual number: 01952-885885.

ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS

BAT SURVEYS

Whilst focusing on health & safety, especially during the current pandemic, it is all too easy to forget that environmental care is also absolutely essential in law – and that includes mandatory wildlife surveys ahead of work on all types of existing properties, greenfield and brownfield sites. Ignore the legal requirement to your peril:

The largest ever fine of £600,000 for this offence was levied against house builder, Bellway Homes, plus £30,000 in court costs and a compulsory £20,000 donation to the Bat Conservation Trust. Bellway had demolished a building during the 2018 breeding season where pipistrelle bats (the little creature on the right) had previously been recorded and, in doing so, destroyed the breeding site.

This type of crime is treated so seriously that it was the Metropolitan Police who investigated and prosecuted this case – it should serve as a warning to all developers, contractors and businesses that wildlife protection is vital and required by law from the outset as part of the planning process.

GENERAL NEWS

HAND-ARM VIBRATION SYNDROME

As we have mentioned so many times before, another reminder that combatting Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) must remain high on the health & safety agenda for ANY business where power tools are used. Using the data provided (by law) by the equipment manufacturer, a specific vibration risk assessment must (by law) be carried out that accurately reflects the working day for each operator. We at WHS always recommend carrying out an assessment before purchasing new equipment so that safer items can be purchased and risks reduced from the outset – it’s a bit late once you’re stuck with a high-vibration item!!

The seriousness of the issue is illustrated by yet another high-profile prosecution:

Liverpool housing association, Onward Homes Ltd, was fined a total of over £85,000 after four grounds maintenance employees developed disabling HAVS from regularly using vibrating power tools over several years. The fact that several employees all developed the disease demonstrates the Company’s total disregard for their health. The Company had failed to not provide information and training on the safe use of the tools used, nor had they carried out any (legally required) health surveillance – with life-changing consequences for the workers and their families.

But it shouldn’t be the threat of prosecution that spurs employers into action; as highlighted here, employees who contract HAVS are debilitated for life – that’s the reason for action!!

How many of those reading this article can honestly say they have properly risk assessed their power tools in relation to vibration levels and how they are actually used in the field?

And, those of employers who use tradesmen who provide their own tools, that doesn’t let you off the hook! ALL employers are responsible for ensuring that tools are assessed and used appropriated. The law does not accept the excuse that tradesmen, even self-employed tradesmen, are being put at risk on your sites, you are responsible for safety throughout your sites so make sure those assessments are carried out somehow.

PPE

And, on a similar note, we emphasise yet again the necessity of risk assessing every aspect of every task to ensure that (a) controls are established to eliminate or reduce risks without the need for PPE (which, by law if you remember, must be seen as a last resort only) and (b) if PPE has to be used, the correct type is provided without introducing additional risks to the wearer.

The following recent prosecution amply illustrates the points:

  • PPE is a last resort
  • PPE MUST be suitable

LS Starrett Company Ltd, a precision tool manufacturer, was fined £100,000 after an employee lost a finger when operating a radial arm drilling machine.

No risk assessment had been carried and employees were not appropriately trained. Consequently, no guard was in place and the operator was not told to remove his gloves when using the drill; the gloves became entangled in the drill and a finger was so severely lacerated that it had to be amputated.

ALL tasks must (by law) be fully assessed, appropriate controls established and workers properly trained and instructed – and that includes instruction into the safe use of any necessary PPE.

AND FINALLY

A look at the HSE prosecution statistics (across all industries) for November 2020 alone rams home the point that, despite the emphasis on Covid, the HSE is still just as active in enforcement and prosecution:

  • 20 prosecutions, including 2 fatalities
  • Results included fines included several at or of almost £300,000 and 3 suspended sentences
  • Total fines £1,636,109 plus costs

The current requirements to SAVE LIVES and PROTECT THE NHS apply just as much to all other risk factors as it does to Covid!!

Work at height

  • Michael Devlin, director of Design Roof Systems (DRS) Ltd, was given a 6-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to observe a 20-week curfew for deliberately cutting corners in order to lower costs and win a contract; as a result, a man died when he fell through an unprotected skylight. The Company itself was fined a total of almost £146,000

The contract involved the replacement of 70 skylights; DRS had quoted £7865 + VAT to do the work, a vastly under-costed price because Devlin had not included for any form of fall protection. How could Devlin not see that the saving of £Xs could never justify risking both a man’s life and a prosecution?

And a warning here also for clients commissioning work from any external contractors – in law, you could also be held culpable. Is the quoted price vastly below others? Is it too good to be true? It probably is.

  • Peter Green, director of Home Improvements Ltd, was given an 8-month suspended sentence for his ‘wilful neglect’ in failing to protect those working at height, despite (thankfully) there having been no accident. Green had totally failed to properly plan, supervise and carry out the works on pitched roofs at two separate locations.
  • Builder, Mark Bucknall, was fined a total of almost £4,000 after another worker fell 8 metres (!) from a roof. The two had been installing roof-lights on a flat roof during a loft conversion and, to access the roof, they had climbed out of a window (!!!) onto the roof tiles; scaffold had initially been installed but had been removed. The worker fell and landed on concrete, suffering multiple injuries to his spine and legs; he was extremely lucky to survive. Presumably, the worker in question wasn’t prosected as well as the HSE concluded that he’d already been rewarded for his incompetence!
  • Solar panel installer, Blue Sun Energy Ltd, was fined a total of over £39,000 after a sub-contract employee fell 3.5 metres through an unmarked and unguarded roof-light of a cow-shed; the worker suffered brain as well as other life-changing injuries and was, again, lucky to survive.
  • Conservatory and window fitting company, DNA Home Improvements (Cheshire) ltd, was fined a total of almost £35,000 after a worker fell from a conservatory roof, landed on step-ladders beneath and sustained broken ribs and bruising.

Being February, the roof had been slippery with ice and, not only was there no edge or fall protection installed, nobody had thought to assess weather conditions or instruct workers not to access slippery surfaces.

Plant & vehicles

  • Director of principal contractor, Pro’conn Ltd, Kevin March, received a 32-week suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay £20,000 costs and TSD Group project Manager, Graham Kuhlmann, a 21-week suspended prison sentence and £5,000 costs, after a worker was crushed and killed when the dumper he had been operating rolled over. The operator was untrained and unsupervised, and there had been inadequate traffic routing to prevent plant being driven onto the slopes of spoil heaps. In addition, as particularly highlighted by the HSE, the (legal) requirement to wear seat-belts had not been enforced; when the dumper rolled, the operator was thrown from his seat and crushed beneath the machine.

And again:

  • SM Dixon Building Contractors Ltd was fined a total of over £14,000 after an employee suffered serious crush injuries when the forward-tipping dumper he was operating rolled over. Not only had the operator not been trained adequately or supervised, the requirement to wear seat-belts had not been enforced; gain, when the dumper rolled, the operator was thrown from his seat and crushed beneath the machine.

And yet again:

  • Jim Eliot & Son was fined a total of almost £3,000 after an employee suffered serious crush injuries when the dumper he was operating rolled over; yet again, he had not been wearing a seat-belt and was crushed.

SEAT BELTS MUST BE WORN ON SITE!!!

  • Cheshire Oak Structures Ltd was fined a total of almost £32,500 after an employee was run over by a telehandler, sustaining serious injuries. The telehandler, driven by the Company’s director, was transporting roof rafters down a narrow alley and 2 workers were helping to guide it when the victim was struck and run over. Clearly, such a tricky manoeuvre should have been better assessed and planned.
  • G-Tekt Europe Manufacturing Ltd was fined a total of over £528,000 after an employee was struck by a forklift and suffered serious brain injuries. The accident occurred because there had been a total lack of controls to segregate forklifts and other vehicles from pedestrians – no pedestrian routes or crossing points and insufficient warning signage.
  • Construction logistics provider, Wilson James Ltd, was fined almost £862,000 after a traffic marshal, employed to control large vehicles down a loading bay ramp during the re-development of the former BBC TV Centre, was struck and killed by a reversing 26 tonne waste wagon. Assessment and safe systems were totally inadequate for the extreme risks involved in establishing traffic management by individual workers.

Work equipment

  • Specialist industrial services company, Leadec Ltd, was fined £2 million and £30,000 in costs after an employee was struck by the end of a flexi-lance and killed; he had been using the water jetting equipment to clear paint residues from pipes at a car manufacturer.

Any pressure jetting is very high risk and requires very detailed risk assessment for each new task, a high degree of controls to prevent unintended ejection, and full training and instruction. None of this had been established in this case, with the result that a man lost his life; the seriousness is reflected in the fine.

Risk assessment & planning

  • The Platform Lift Company Ltd was fined a total of over £15,000 and the Director of its specialist sub-contractor, Davey Marcus of Premier Lift Solutions Ltd, a total of almost £1,500, after a worker was paralysed when a heavy component of an external platform being dismantled fell on him.

Neither company had taken the trouble to properly risk assess, plan the work or provide appropriate scaffold equipment to prevent the collapse of the structure; as a result, a worker suffered severe life-changing injuries

Asbestos

  • Prestige EA Ltd was fined a total of £5,000 after failing to commission the appropriate level of asbestos survey ahead of the refurbishment of flats following a gas explosion; the Company has since gone into liquidation.

The HSE did not specify in its press release which level of survey had been carried out – but everyone reading this should know exactly what level is required and at exactly what point in the proceedings it should be undertaken…if you don’t, ring WHS immediately!!!!

WHS is working for you; help us to help you.
Our aim is to keep people safe and to keep your company working.
To contact WHS, ring: 01952-885885

COVID 19 / CORONAVIRUS

CURRENT LOCKDOWN

Well, here we are with the distinct feeling of déjà vu; after almost 10 months, Britain is back in total lockdown – with the exception of a few essential industries such as construction and manufacturing. The difference this time around, though, is that those of us who are still able to work in the field should already have very robust Covid controls in place and we should, therefore, all be very confident that our workplaces are safe.

However, it is extremely important to remember that:

  • Going to and from work can also be a very significant risk, especially for those who have to rely on public transport, particularly in London and other densely populated areas. If you can work from home, do so. But if you have to travel, as many of us do, use your own car wherever possible and avoid car-sharing. Employers are advised to carry out in-depth Covid risk assessments and to transmit all relevant information clearly to employees.
  • If you don’t feel Covid-safe in your workplace, this should be pointed out to your management for action to be taken. This is for the employer’s sake as well as the employee’s; workplaces can and are being shut by the HSE and local authorities if controls are found lacking.
  • Covid is only one of the risks we currently meet in our daily working lives – don’t let your guard drop. All the other ever-present risks will still be there and enforcement, penalties and human costs remain the same as ever.

The construction industry has, throughout this pandemic, continually developed better and more appropriate ways to control Covid risks on site. To that end, the Construction Leadership Council has recently issued an update to its Site Operating Procedures – Version 7. It is extremely important that this, and each new version of the Procedures, is read and followed; the HSE carry out their site checks against these principles:
https://bit.ly/39iU3Id

General guidance and instruction about lockdown can be found on the Government’s websites:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-Covid-19

COMPANY NEWS

TRAINING

Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) is doing its level best to carry out its training programme where and how at all possible. We are very much hoping to get back to relative normality by March but, in the meantime, we do ask you to bear with us should there be any unavoidable disruption to your plans; you will appreciate that the situation is totally out of our hands. We will, of course keep you fully notified of further developments.

Unavoidable changes to our programme are detailed below and will also be personally communicated, both directly and through joining instructions, ahead of planned courses. It is vital that these are understood and relevant information clearly passed to candidates.

First Aid

Because of the unavoidable close contact necessary to undertake any first aid course, our open courses have had to be cancelled till March; WHS will contact those affected and the situation will be closely monitored. As we have yet to hear of any provision for extending expiry dates, managers are advised to review levels of cover to ensure adequate first aid cover in all workplaces.

If you require a First Aid course, it’s been confirmed by the awarding body that we can run these now, however we’d like to limit any mixing of companies to reduce risk where we can, so can only be undertaken for one company until March.

We can run the 1-day (6 hours) Emergency First-Aid at Work courses from March, dates are listed below; very strict Covid-specific controls will apply and no lunch can be offered until further notice. Demand is expected to be high, so book places as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Dates:

  • 16 March 2021 fully booked
  • 30 March 2021 limited spaces available
  • 26 April 2021
  • 26 May 2021
  • 24 June 2021
  • 27 July 2021
  • 25 August 2021
  • 28 September 2021
  • 29 October 2021
  • 24 November 2021
  • 20 December 2021

Cost: £85 + VAT per person

As usual, please contact Vicki at Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) on 01952 885885 or enquiries@wenlockhs.co.uk or vicki@wenlockhs.co.uk to book places

CITB Courses

Until lockdown ceases, and to enable as many people as possible to be able to access training, all CITB and similar classroom-based courses will be conducted by our staff online. Full details will be given in the joining instructions but it must be noted that, as with online courses successfully conducted during the previous lockdown, each candidate must have access to a computer or laptop.

It must be noted that all previous attendance rules apply, reiterated here:

  • CITB specifies that candidates must be available to attend each session within the course; failure to do so may require a repeat course.
  • And booked online attendance is vital: because of CITB rules, we may be forced to cancel a course ON THAT MORNING if some candidates fail to take part, to the detriment of all candidates.

Do note also that CITB are allowing a grace period; anyone with an SMSTS or SSSTS expiring after 1 October 2020 now has until 30 April 2021 to attend a refresher course. Any delegate whose certificate expired before 1 October 2020 will be required to join a full SMSTS or SSSTS course, rather than the refresher equivalent.

Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS)

Duration: 5 days; 1 day per week
Dates:

  • 22, 29 January & 5, 12 & 19 February 2021 (Tuesdays) Online; please note date changes
  • 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29 March 2021 (Mondays)
  • 7, 14, 21, 28 May & 4 June 2021 (Fridays)
  • 5, 12, 19, 26 July & 2 August 2021 (Mondays)
  • 10, 17, 24 September & 1, 8 October 2021 (Fridays)
  • 15, 22, 29 November & 6, 13 December 2021 (Mondays)

Cost: £495 + VAT per person

Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) Refresher

Duration: 2 days
Dates:

  • 8 & 9 February 2021 (Monday & Tuesday) Online
  • 14 & 15 April 2021 (Wednesday & Thursday)
  • 7 & 8 June 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 9 & 10 August 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 4 & 5 October 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 9 & 10 December 2021 (Thursday & Friday)

Cost: £265 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS)

Duration: 2 days
Dates:

  • 10 & 11 March 2021 (Wednesday & Thursday)
  • 24 & 25 May 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 29 & 30 July 2021 (Thursday & Friday)
  • 20 & 21 September 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 25 & 26 November 2021 (Thursday & Friday)

Cost: £230 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS) Refresher

Duration: 1 day
Dates:

  • 19 April 2021 (Monday)
  • 25 June 2021 (Friday)
  • 20 August 2021 (Friday)
  • 18 October 2021 (Monday)

Cost: £160 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

CITB 1-Day Health & Safety Awareness

Duration: 1 day
Dates:

  • 2 March 2021 (Tuesday)
  • 10 May 2021 (Monday)
  • 2 July 2021 (Friday)
  • 6 September 2021 (Monday)
  • 1 November 2021 (Monday)
  • 17 December 2021 (Friday)

Cost: £125 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

UKATA

These two open courses have been postponed until March to enable them to take place at the WHS offices; UKATA does not permit online learning. Places are obviously limited so book early to avoid disappointment, particularly as we have yet to hear whether UKATA will permit extensions to certificate expiry dates.

Duration: 3.5 hours
Dates:

  • 5 March 2021; 2 sessions available, commencing 9 am and 1 pm

Cost: £60 + VAT per person

IOSH Managing Safely

This course is scheduled to take place at the WHS offices if possible; the situation will obviously be closely monitored. Again, please note that lunch cannot be offered until further notice.

Duration: 3 days (Monday to Wednesday)
Dates:

  • 22, 23 & 24 February 2021

Cost: £395 + VAT per person

FACE FIT TESTING

As it can be unavoidable and obviously essential for safe working on site, face-fit testing is still being undertaken at the WHS offices under very strict controls. However, it would obviously be preferrable to postpone face-fit testing where this is at all possible (i.e. where the health of workers is not compromised) until we are no longer under lockdown.

WHS PARKING ARRANGEMENTS

Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust have significantly changed parking payment arrangements at our offices and this will affect all WHS visitors – whether visiting for training, meetings, or any other reason. WHS has negotiated FREE parking for all our visitors, but this is totally reliant on the following criteria:

  • It is vital that you give WHS your car registration number WITHIN 20 MINUTES of arrival at the car park so that we can log it with Ironbridge Gorge Museum to allow for your free parking.
  • If you arrive early and need to bide time, park up elsewhere not in our car park; the clock starts ticking the minute you enter! Make sure you tell us your registration number within that 20 minutes or you will be charged by Ironbridge Gorge Museum.

Joining instructions will give details but those making ad hoc visits to WHS offices for whatever reason should take note the above or you will be charged by Ironbridge Gorge Museum (and there’s nothing we can do about it, sorry!).

SAFETY AWARDS 2020

With all the doom and gloom about right now, it gives us great pleasure to focus again on the Wenlock Health & Safety Awards 2020. Our two very worthy winners received their certificates at the end of 2020 and we are delighted, once again, to draw attention to their achievements:

Commitment to Site Safety:
Mark Bennett of Morris Property Ltd

Mark, shown here with his award, is a Site Manager for Shrewsbury-based Morris Property Ltd.

Mark was awarded the certificate because he has always demonstrated an exemplary attitude towards health & safety on his sites, and a proactive management approach.

An excellent example to set for the Morris Property team.

Commitment to Health & Safety Training:
Richard Sherratt Builders Ltd

Based in Shrewsbury; this commercial and domestic building company was given the award on the strength of its exemplary attitude towards training the entire workforce in health & safety, including through the trials of the last year.

Richard is shown here with the award; keep up the excellent work, Richard!

HSE NEWS

Through the current Covid crisis, the HSE has continued to update its guidance to focus specifically on how best to control commonplace issues in relation to risks posed by the pandemic. A selection of recent HSE bulletins follows; a vest array of further information is available and continually updated on the HSE website:
https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/

VENTILATION & AIR-CONDITIONING

The law requires all employers to ensure an adequate supply of fresh air in the workplace – and this is even more important during the current pandemic. The HSE’s guidance on ventilation and air conditioning has been updated to reflect the importance during Covid: https://bit.ly/2MTetA2

The guidance includes:

  • Balancing ventilation with the need to keep people warm
  • Identifying poorly ventilated areas
  • Improvements to be made
  • Ventilation in vehicles

LOCAL EXHAUST VENTILATION (LEV)

Another issue that is increasingly important because of the pandemic is adequate LEV. The law requires all employers where dusts, fumes or vapours are produced within enclosed or poorly ventilated areas to:

  • Assess the risks and equipment required to controls the risks to an adequate degree; remember, use of RPE alone is illegal, mechanical extraction (LEV) or similar must be put in place.
  • Maintain LEV in good and efficient order, which includes regular visual checks plus thorough test and inspections by specialists at least every 14 months.

Over and above the HSE’s general guidance available on: https://www.hse.gov.uk/lev/ the HSE has issued specific guidance to ensure that LEV test and inspections remain a high priority and are carried out during the pandemic: https://bit.ly/2XtkC7Q

REDUCING THE NEED FOR RPE

The use of RPE, which has become so essential during the pandemic, has also produced major problems with interrupted supplies of reputably sourced masks and accessories of the types required by law that we are all used to having readily to hand, e.g. for protection against silica dusts, etc.

The HSE has therefore produced new guidance outlining alternative ways of working when using power tools (such as drills, cut-off saws, breakers and angle grinders) through this pandemic which could either reduce or actually remove the need to use RPE: https://bit.ly/39nVh4S . Sound advice for the future too!

AVOIDING MUSCULOSKELETAL DISORDERS

Musculoskeletal disorders remain the single-most harm issue in UK industry (and no doubt worldwide too) despite decades of focus and improvements – and it is still the most common cause of injury, permanent harm and early retirement in the construction industry.

The HSE website holds a multitude of guidance about
musculoskeletal and upper limb disorders, e.g:
https://bit.ly/3nCyWWi
https://bit.ly/35x5E5j
https://bit.ly/35v7nIm

However, even this issue can also relate to Covid (e.g. the comfort of those spending long hours working in uncontrolled conditions at home), so the HSE has updated the information accordingly:
https://bit.ly/3oDukR2

AND A REMINDER – THE HSE CONTINUES WITH SPOT CHECKS

As the Covid restrictions bite ever deeper, the need for strict controls for those businesses that must remain open and working are even more important than ever. Consequently, the HSE (and local authorities) are carrying out even more regular spot checks on sites, shops, offices, workshops and other premises – and they continue to fine or close those businesses who have not established appropriate controls or cannot justify remaining open.

To help, yet more in-depth HSE guidance is available (e.g. https://bit.ly/35yizEe ) which includes:

  • cleaning, hygiene and handwashing
  • protecting vulnerable workers during the pandemic
  • first aid during the pandemic

Covid has been with us for so long now, there is no excuse whatsoever for not controlling your workplace adequately – and also seeking to continually improve those controls where possible.

DRIVING FOR WORK

Notwithstanding the current need to work from home where at all possible, the HSE is in the process of updating its joint (with the DfT) guidance, INDG382: Driving at Work, to help duty holders manage work-related road risk.

Since the original guidance was released in 2014, there have been significant developments in technological and driving practices so the HSE is now asking for feedback across all industries, including construction, to gauge the relevance and accuracy of the current guidance. Please spare a few minutes to take the survey via this link: short survey

INDUSTRY NEWS

INTERNAL SAFE ACCESS TO HEIGHT

A lot of our contractors experience difficulty in relation to working within properties where space is too small for scaffolding or mobile towers to fit. WHS has unfortunately seen a number of incidents on site where contractors (such as plasterers, painters and decorators) have improvised and made their own working platforms to access difficult to reach areas, in some cases with zero edge protection and in one recent case resulting in a fall from height which could very easily have resulted in a fatality.

One of our more responsible contractors has recently found and successfully used systems supplied by MK Engineering Services; details may be of use to others experiencing similar issues on site. The systems are easily erected and can be fully tailored to each specific situation: www.mkeservices.com
Another similar system has been supplied for many years by Lobo: https://www.lobosystems.com/contact/

Unfortunately, these pieces of access and protection equipment are not covered under the PASMA Card. Therefore, it is vital to remember that all users of equipment must be provided with suitable information, instruction and training on erection, use and equipment safely, so training must still be provided by the employer. Both MK Engineering and Lobo provide instruction material; however, as stated in law, the training must be delivered by an adequately experienced person with proven competence.

SAFETY FOR YOUNG PERSONS

You should all know that the law makes special provision for the safety of ‘young persons’ (under 18-year olds) – if not, why not, where have you been??!! The emphasis on young persons was realised decades ago because of their inexperience, incomplete bodily development, lack of maturity, and a tendency to think they are immortal! Special controls to prevent undue risk to this sector of the workforce include a cap on working hours and limitations on the type of tasks that can be allocated.

However, the ‘inexperience’ can also apply to older workers who have only recently entered the construction industry and therefore lack training and the level of hands-on experience necessary to identify and control the risks presented to them on site. The main category we refer to here are apprentices – who are increasingly commonplace throughout the industry and are not always covered by the Young Persons Regs.

WHS training covers the subject of the special provisions necessary for both under-18s and older but inexperienced employees, including apprentices. Disturbingly, WHS has witnessed several situations recently where those appropriate provisions have not been made and the worker has then been subject to undue risk. To illustrate the point, we draw attention to a recent prosecution relating to the endangering of an apprentice:

M&J Engineers of Hitchin was fined a total of over £285,000 after an apprentice fell from the roof of a site cabin, causing back and leg injuries. He had climbed onto the roof to attach lifting chains to a power float and, when the crane boom swung, he jumped to avoid injury. He was very lucky not to have been killed.

The huge fine was levelled against M&J because, not only was the crane driver not properly trained, but also (as was specifically highlighted during the trial) the inexperienced apprentice had not been adequately ‘managed’. i.e. nobody was supervising and instructing him.

It is prudent to reiterate one of the particular issues often discussed during WHS training – the link between ability and confidence during the stages of a worker’s development, something that can be true of many of us!

  • When an employee is initially instructed in a task, he (he/she obviously) thinks he knows it all and this can produce over-confidence.
  • That over-confidence can result in risk taking, whether in relation to physical risks or admin tasks.
  • The over-confidence can then result in taking one too many risks and a potentially serious situation; again, this applies as much to physical tasks as to losing an employer’s money through sloppy accounting!
  • Assuming he survives, the employee is then shocked and embarrassed into realising that his over-confidence almost resulted in a serious incident…so he slips back into the learning stage.
  • He’s learnt his lesson and he now realises that he needs to take more time and effort to learn and to behave more responsibly.

Employers too can easily share the over-confidence in those early stages, failing to grasp that competence relates to experience, continual improvement and trustworthiness, not simply instruction and training. Hence, the law requires that both young persons and inexperienced employees are properly supervised and monitored until such time as the employee can truly be called competent for the task/s.

If you have any queries or would like to give your young or inexperienced workers targeted training, please do contact WHS on the usual number: 01952-885885.

GENERAL NEWS

HAND-ARM VIBRATION SYNDROME

As we have mentioned so many times before, another reminder that combatting Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) must remain high on the health & safety agenda for ANY business where power tools are used. Using the data provided (by law) by the equipment manufacturer, a specific vibration risk assessment must (by law) be carried out that accurately reflects the working day for each operator. We at WHS always recommend carrying out an assessment before purchasing new equipment so that safer items can be purchased and risks reduced from the outset – it’s a bit late once you’re stuck with a high-vibration item!!

The seriousness of the issue is illustrated by yet another high-profile prosecution:

Liverpool housing association, Onward Homes Ltd, was fined a total of over £85,000 after four grounds maintenance employees developed disabling HAVS from regularly using vibrating power tools over several years. The fact that several employees all developed the disease demonstrates the Company’s total disregard for their health. The Company had failed to not provide information and training on the safe use of the tools used, nor had they carried out any (legally required) health surveillance – with life-changing consequences for the workers and their families.

But it shouldn’t be the threat of prosecution that spurs employers into action; as highlighted here, employees who contract HAVS are debilitated for life – that’s the reason for action!!

How many of those reading this article can honestly say they have properly risk assessed their power tools in relation to vibration levels and how they are actually used in the field?

And, those of employers who use tradesmen who provide their own tools, that doesn’t let you off the hook! ALL employers are responsible for ensuring that tools are assessed and used appropriated. The law does not accept the excuse that tradesmen, even self-employed tradesmen, are being put at risk on your sites, you are responsible for safety throughout your sites so make sure those assessments are carried out somehow.

PPE

And, on a similar note, we emphasise yet again the necessity of risk assessing every aspect of every task to ensure that (a) controls are established to eliminate or reduce risks without the need for PPE (which, by law if you remember, must be seen as a last resort only) and (b) if PPE has to be used, the correct type is provided without introducing additional risks to the wearer.

The following recent prosecution amply illustrates the points:

  • PPE is a last resort
  • PPE MUST be suitable

LS Starrett Company Ltd, a precision tool manufacturer, was fined £100,000 after an employee lost a finger when operating a radial arm drilling machine.

No risk assessment had been carried and employees were not appropriately trained. Consequently, no guard was in place and the operator was not told to remove his gloves when using the drill; the gloves became entangled in the drill and a finger was so severely lacerated that it had to be amputated.

ALL tasks must (by law) be fully assessed, appropriate controls established and workers properly trained and instructed – and that includes instruction into the safe use of any necessary PPE.

AND FINALLY

A look at the HSE prosecution statistics (across all industries) for November 2020 alone rams home the point that, despite the emphasis on Covid, the HSE is still just as active in enforcement and prosecution:

  • 20 prosecutions, including 2 fatalities
  • Results included fines included several at or of almost £300,000 and 3 suspended sentences
  • Total fines £1,636,109 plus costs

The current requirements to SAVE LIVES and PROTECT THE NHS apply just as much to all other risk factors as it does to Covid!!

Work at height

  • Michael Devlin, director of Design Roof Systems (DRS) Ltd, was given a 6-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to observe a 20-week curfew for deliberately cutting corners in order to lower costs and win a contract; as a result, a man died when he fell through an unprotected skylight. The Company itself was fined a total of almost £146,000

The contract involved the replacement of 70 skylights; DRS had quoted £7865 + VAT to do the work, a vastly under-costed price because Devlin had not included for any form of fall protection. How could Devlin not see that the saving of £Xs could never justify risking both a man’s life and a prosecution?

And a warning here also for clients commissioning work from any external contractors – in law, you could also be held culpable. Is the quoted price vastly below others? Is it too good to be true? It probably is.

  • Peter Green, director of Home Improvements Ltd, was given an 8-month suspended sentence for his ‘wilful neglect’ in failing to protect those working at height, despite (thankfully) there having been no accident. Green had totally failed to properly plan, supervise and carry out the works on pitched roofs at two separate locations.
  • Builder, Mark Bucknall, was fined a total of almost £4,000 after another worker fell 8 metres (!) from a roof. The two had been installing roof-lights on a flat roof during a loft conversion and, to access the roof, they had climbed out of a window (!!!) onto the roof tiles; scaffold had initially been installed but had been removed. The worker fell and landed on concrete, suffering multiple injuries to his spine and legs; he was extremely lucky to survive. Presumably, the worker in question wasn’t prosected as well as the HSE concluded that he’d already been rewarded for his incompetence!
  • Solar panel installer, Blue Sun Energy Ltd, was fined a total of over £39,000 after a sub-contract employee fell 3.5 metres through an unmarked and unguarded roof-light of a cow-shed; the worker suffered brain as well as other life-changing injuries and was, again, lucky to survive.
  • Conservatory and window fitting company, DNA Home Improvements (Cheshire) ltd, was fined a total of almost £35,000 after a worker fell from a conservatory roof, landed on step-ladders beneath and sustained broken ribs and bruising.

Being February, the roof had been slippery with ice and, not only was there no edge or fall protection installed, nobody had thought to assess weather conditions or instruct workers not to access slippery surfaces.

Plant & vehicles

  • Cheshire Oak Structures Ltd was fined a total of almost £32,500 after an employee was run over by a telehandler, sustaining serious injuries. The telehandler, driven by the Company’s director, was transporting roof rafters down a narrow alley and 2 workers were helping to guide it when the victim was struck and run over. Clearly, such a tricky manoeuvre should have been better assessed and planned.
  • G-Tekt Europe Manufacturing Ltd was fined a total of over £528,000 after an employee was struck by a forklift and suffered serious brain injuries. The accident occurred because there had been a total lack of controls to segregate forklifts and other vehicles from pedestrians – no pedestrian routes or crossing points and insufficient warning signage.
  • Construction logistics provider, Wilson James Ltd, was fined almost £862,000 after a traffic marshal, employed to control large vehicles down a loading bay ramp during the re-development of the former BBC TV Centre, was struck and killed by a reversing 26 tonne waste wagon. Assessment and safe systems were totally inadequate for the extreme risks involved in establishing traffic management by individual workers.

Work equipment

  • Specialist industrial services company, Leadec Ltd, was fined £2 million and £30,000 in costs after an employee was struck by the end of a flexi-lance and killed; he had been using the water jetting equipment to clear paint residues from pipes at a car manufacturer.

Any pressure jetting is very high risk and requires very detailed risk assessment for each new task, a high degree of controls to prevent unintended ejection, and full training and instruction. None of this had been established in this case, with the result that a man lost his life; the seriousness is reflected in the fine.

Risk assessment & planning

  • The Platform Lift Company Ltd was fined a total of over £15,000 and the Director of its specialist sub-contractor, Davey Marcus of Premier Lift Solutions Ltd, a total of almost £1,500, after a worker was paralysed when a heavy component of an external platform being dismantled fell on him.

Neither company had taken the trouble to properly risk assess, plan the work or provide appropriate scaffold equipment to prevent the collapse of the structure; as a result, a worker suffered severe life-changing injuries

Asbestos

  • Prestige EA Ltd was fined a total of £5,000 after failing to commission the appropriate level of asbestos survey ahead of the refurbishment of flats following a gas explosion; the Company has since gone into liquidation.

The HSE did not specify in its press release which level of survey had been carried out – but everyone reading this should know exactly what level is required and at exactly what point in the proceedings it should be undertaken…if you don’t, ring WHS immediately!!!!

STAY SAFE – STAY ALERT

FOLLOW THE RULES – DON’T IGNORE ADVICE

SAFEGUARD YOURSELF AND THE LIVES OF THOSE YOU AFFECT

WHS is working for you; help us to help you.
Our aim is to keep people safe and to keep your company working.
To contact WHS, ring: 01952-885885

COVID 19 / CORONAVIRUS

CURRENT LOCKDOWN

Well, here we are with the distinct feeling of déjà vu; after almost 10 months, Britain is back in total lockdown – with the exception of a few essential industries such as construction and manufacturing. The difference this time around, though, is that those of us who are still able to work should already have very robust Covid controls in place and we should, therefore, all be very confident that our workplaces are safe.

However, it is extremely important to remember that:

  • Going to and from work can also be a very significant risk, especially for those who have to rely on public transport, particularly in London and other densely populated areas. If you can work from home, do so. But if you have to travel, as many of us do, use your own car wherever possible and avoid car-sharing. Employers are advised to carry out in-depth Covid risk assessments and to transmit all relevant information clearly to employees.
  • If you don’t feel Covid-safe in your workplace, this should be pointed out to your management for action to be taken. This is for the employer’s sake as well as the employee’s; workplaces can and are being shut by the HSE and local authorities if controls are found lacking.
  • Covid is only one of the risks we currently meet in our daily working lives – don’t let your guard drop. All the other ever-present risks will still be there and enforcement, penalties and human costs remain the same as ever.

General guidance and instruction about lockdown can be found on the Government’s websites:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

COMPANY NEWS

TRAINING

Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) is doing its level best to carry out its training programme where and how at all possible. We are very much hoping to get back to relative normality by March but, in the meantime, we do ask you to bear with us should there be any unavoidable disruption to your plans; you will appreciate that the situation is totally out of our hands. We will, of course keep you fully notified of further developments.

Unavoidable changes to our programme are detailed below and will also be personally communicated, both directly and through joining instructions, ahead of planned courses. It is vital that these are understood and relevant information clearly passed to candidates.

First Aid

Because of the unavoidable close contact necessary to undertake any first aid course, our open courses have had to be cancelled till March; WHS will contact those affected and the situation will be closely monitored. As we have yet to hear of any provision for extending expiry dates, managers are advised to review levels of cover to ensure adequate first aid cover in all workplaces.

If you require a First Aid course, it’s been confirmed by the awarding body that we can run these now, however we’d like to limit any mixing of companies to reduce risk where we can, so can only be undertaken for one company until March.

We can run the 1-day (6 hours) Emergency First-Aid at Work courses from March, dates are listed below; very strict Covid-specific controls will apply and no lunch can be offered until further notice. Demand is expected to be high, so book places as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Dates:

  • 16 March 2021 fully booked
  • 30 March 2021 limited spaces available
  • 26 April 2021
  • 26 May 2021
  • 24 June 2021
  • 27 July 2021
  • 25 August 2021
  • 28 September 2021
  • 29 October 2021
  • 24 November 2021
  • 20 December 2021

Cost: £85 + VAT per person

As usual, please contact Vicki at Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) on 01952 885885 or enquiries@wenlockhs.co.uk or vicki@wenlockhs.co.uk to book places

IOSH Managing Safely

This course is scheduled to take place at the WHS offices if possible; the situation will obviously be closely monitored. Again, please note that lunch cannot be offered until further notice.

Duration: 3 days (Monday to Wednesday)

Dates:

  • 22, 23 & 24 February 2021

Cost: £395 + VAT per person

FACE FIT TESTING

As it can be unavoidable and obviously essential for safe working on site, face-fit testing is still being undertaken at the WHS offices under very strict controls. However, it would obviously be preferrable to postpone face-fit testing where this is at all possible (i.e. where the health of workers is not compromised) until we are no longer under lockdown.

WHS PARKING ARRANGEMENTS

Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust have significantly changed parking payment arrangements at our offices and this will affect all WHS visitors – whether visiting for training, meetings, or any other reason. WHS has negotiated FREE parking for all our visitors, but this is totally reliant on the following criteria:

  • It is vital that you give WHS your car registration number WITHIN 20 MINUTES of arrival at the car park so that we can log it with Ironbridge Gorge Musem to allow for your free parking.
  • If you arrive early and need to bide time, park up elsewhere, not in our car park; the clock starts ticking the minute you enter! Make sure you tell us your registration number within that 20 minutes or you will be charged by Ironbridge Gorge Museum.

Joining instructions will give details but those making ad hoc visits to WHS offices for whatever reason should take note the above or you will be charged by Ironbridge Gorge Museum (and there’s nothing we can do about it, sorry!).

SAFETY AWARDS 2020

With all the doom and gloom about right now, it gives us great pleasure to focus again on the Wenlock Health & Safety Awards 2020. Our two very worthy winners received their certificates at the end of 2020 and we are delighted, once again, to draw attention to their achievements:

Commitment to Site Safety:
Mark Bennett of Morris Property Ltd

Mark, shown here with his award, is a Site Manager for Shrewsbury-based Morris Property Ltd.

Mark was awarded the certificate because he has always demonstrated an exemplary attitude towards health & safety on his sites, and a proactive management approach.

An excellent example to set for the Morris Property team.

Commitment to Health & Safety Training:
Richard Sherratt Builders Ltd

Based in Shrewsbury; this commercial and domestic building company was given the award on the strength of its exemplary attitude towards training the entire workforce in various health & safety areas, including through the trials of the last year.

Richard is shown here with the award; keep up the excellent work Richard!

HSE NEWS

Through the current Covid crisis, the HSE has continued to update its guidance to focus specifically on how best to control commonplace issues in relation to risks posed by the pandemic. A selection of recent HSE bulletins follows; a vest array of further information is available and continually updated on the HSE website:
https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/

VENTILATION & AIR-CONDITIONING

The law requires all employers to ensure an adequate supply of fresh air in the workplace – and this is even more important during the current pandemic. The HSE’s guidance on ventilation and air conditioning has been updated to reflect the importance during Covid: https://bit.ly/2MTetA2

The guidance includes:

  • Balancing ventilation with the need to keep people warm
  • Identifying poorly ventilated areas
  • Improvements to be made
  • Ventilation in vehicles

LOCAL EXHAUST VENTILATION (LEV)

Another issue that is increasingly important because of the pandemic is adequate LEV. The law requires all employers where dusts, fumes or vapours are produced within enclosed or poorly ventilated areas to:

  • Assess the risks and equipment required to controls the risks to an adequate degree; remember, use of RPE alone is illegal, mechanical extraction (LEV) or similar must be put in place.
  • Maintain LEV in good and efficient order, which includes regular visual checks plus thorough test and inspections by specialists at least every 14 months.

Over and above the HSE’s general guidance available on: https://www.hse.gov.uk/lev/ the HSE has issued specific guidance to ensure that LEV test and inspections remain a high priority and are carried out during the pandemic: https://bit.ly/2XtkC7Q

REDUCING THE NEED FOR RPE

The use of RPE, which has become so essential during the pandemic, has also produced major problems with interrupted supplies of reputably sourced masks and accessories of the types required by law that we are all used to having readily to hand, e.g. for protection against silica dusts, etc.

The HSE has therefore produced new guidance outlining alternative ways of working when using power tools (such as drills, cut-off saws, breakers and angle grinders) through this pandemic which could either reduce or actually remove the need to use RPE: https://bit.ly/39nVh4S . Sound advice for the future too!

AVOIDING MUSCULOSKELETAL DISORDERS

Musculoskeletal disorders remain the single-most harm issue in UK industry (and no doubt worldwide too) despite decades of focus and improvements – and it is still the most common cause of injury, permanent harm and early retirement in the construction industry.

The HSE website holds a multitude of guidance about
musculoskeletal and upper limb disorders, e.g:
https://bit.ly/3nCyWWi
https://bit.ly/35x5E5j
https://bit.ly/35v7nIm

However, even this issue can also relate to Covid (e.g. the comfort of those spending long hours working in uncontrolled conditions at home), so the HSE has updated the information accordingly:
https://bit.ly/3oDukR2

AND A REMINDER – THE HSE CONTINUES WITH SPOT CHECKS

As the Covid restrictions bite ever deeper, the need for strict controls for those businesses that must remain open and working are even more important than ever. Consequently, the HSE (and local authorities) are carrying out even more regular spot checks on shops, offices, workshops and other premises – and they continue to fine or close those businesses who have not established appropriate controls or cannot justify remaining open.

To help, yet more in-depth HSE guidance is available (e.g. https://bit.ly/35yizEe ) which includes:

  • cleaning, hygiene and handwashing
  • protecting vulnerable workers during the pandemic
  • first aid during the pandemic

Covid has been with us for so long now, there is no excuse whatsoever for not controlling your workplace adequately – and also seeking to continually improve those controls where possible.

DRIVING FOR WORK

Notwithstanding the current need to work from home where at all possible, the HSE is in the process of updating its joint (with the DfT) guidance, INDG382: Driving at Work, to help duty holders manage work-related road risk.

Since the original guidance was released in 2014, there have been significant developments in technological and driving practices so the HSE is now asking for feedback across all industries, including construction, to gauge the relevance and accuracy of the current guidance. Please spare a few minutes to take the survey via this link: short survey

GENERAL NEWS

SAFETY FOR YOUNG PERSONS

You should all know that the law makes special provision for the safety of ‘young persons’ (under 18-year olds) – if not, why not, where have you been??!! The emphasis on young persons was realised decades ago because of their inexperience, incomplete bodily development, lack of maturity, and a tendency to think they are immortal! Special controls to prevent undue risk to this sector of the workforce include a cap on working hours and limitations on the type of tasks that can be allocated.

However, the ‘inexperience’ can also apply to older workers who have only recently entered the construction industry and therefore lack training and the level of hands-on experience necessary to identify and control the risks presented to them on site. The main category we refer to here are apprentices – who are increasingly commonplace throughout the industry and are not always covered by the Young Persons Regs.

WHS training covers the subject of the special provisions necessary for both under-18s and older but inexperienced employees, including apprentices. Disturbingly, WHS has witnessed several situations recently where those appropriate provisions have not been made and the worker has then been subject to undue risk. To illustrate the point, we draw attention to a recent prosecution relating to the endangering of an apprentice:

M&J Engineers of Hitchin was fined a total of over £285,000 after an apprentice fell from the roof of a site cabin, causing back and leg injuries. He had climbed onto the roof to attach lifting chains to a power float and, when the crane boom swung, he jumped to avoid injury. He was very lucky not to have been killed.

The huge fine was levelled against M&J because, not only was the crane driver not properly trained, but also (as was specifically highlighted during the trial) the inexperienced apprentice had not been adequately ‘managed’. i.e. nobody was supervising and instructing him.

It is prudent to reiterate one of the particular issues often discussed during WHS training – the link between ability and confidence during the stages of a worker’s development, something that can be true of many of us!

  • When an employee is initially instructed in a task, he (he/she obviously) thinks he knows it all and this can produce over-confidence.
  • That over-confidence can result in risk taking, whether in relation to physical risks or admin tasks.
  • The over-confidence can then result in taking one too many risks and a potentially serious situation; again, this applies as much to physical tasks as to losing an employer’s money through sloppy accounting!
  • Assuming he survives, the employee is then shocked and embarrassed into realising that his over-confidence almost resulted in a serious incident…so he slips back into the learning stage.
  • He’s learnt his lesson and he now realises that he needs to take more time and effort to learn and to behave more responsibly.

Employers too can easily share the over-confidence in those early stages, failing to grasp that competence relates to experience, continual improvement and trustworthiness, not simply instruction and training. Hence, the law requires that both young persons and inexperienced employees are properly supervised and monitored until such time as the employee can truly be called competent for the task/s.

If you have any queries or would like to give your young or inexperienced workers targeted training, please do contact WHS on the usual number: 01952-885885.

HAND-ARM VIBRATION SYNDROME

As we have mentioned so many times before, another reminder that combatting Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) must remain high on the health & safety agenda for ANY business where power tools are used. Using the data provided (by law) by the equipment manufacturer, a specific vibration risk assessment must (by law) be carried out that accurately reflects the working day for each operator. We at WHS always recommend carrying out an assessment before purchasing new equipment so that safer items can be purchased and risks reduced from the outset – it’s a bit late once you’re stuck with a high-vibration item!!

The seriousness of the issue is illustrated by yet another high-profile prosecution:

Liverpool housing association, Onward Homes Ltd, was fined a total of over £85,000 after four grounds maintenance employees developed disabling HAVS from regularly using vibrating power tools over several years. The fact that several employees all developed the disease demonstrates the Company’s total disregard for their health. The Company had failed to not provide information and training on the safe use of the tools used, nor had they carried out any (legally required) health surveillance – with life-changing consequences for the workers and their families.

But it shouldn’t be the threat of prosecution that spurs employers into action; as highlighted here, employees who contract HAVS are debilitated for life – that’s the reason for action!!

How many of those reading this article can honestly say they have properly risk assessed their power tools in relation to vibration levels and how they are actually used in the workplace?

PPE

And, on a similar note, we emphasise yet again the necessity of risk assessing every aspect of every task to ensure that (a) controls are established to eliminate or reduce risks without the need for PPE (which, by law if you remember, must be seen as a last resort only) and (b) if PPE has to be used, the correct type is provided without introducing additional risks to the wearer.

The following recent prosecution amply illustrates the points:

  • PPE is a last resort
  • PPE MUST be suitable

LS Starrett Company Ltd, a precision tool manufacturer, was fined £100,000 after an employee lost a finger when operating a radial arm drilling machine.

No risk assessment had been carried and employees were not appropriately trained. Consequently, no guard was in place and the operator was not told to remove his gloves when using the drill; the gloves became entangled in the drill and a finger was so severely lacerated that it had to be amputated.

ALL tasks must (by law) be fully assessed, appropriate controls established and workers properly trained and instructed – and that includes instruction into the safe use of any necessary PPE.

ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS

BAT SURVEYS

Whilst focusing on health & safety, especially during the current pandemic, it is all too easy to forget that environmental care is also absolutely essential in law – and that includes mandatory wildlife surveys ahead of all types of work on existing properties, greenfield and brownfield sites. Ignore the legal requirement to your peril:

The largest ever fine of £600,000 for this offence was levied against house builder, Bellway Homes, plus £30,000 in court costs and a compulsory £20,000 donation to the Bat Conservation Trust. Bellway had demolished a building during the 2018 breeding season where pipistrelle bats (the little creature on the right) had previously been recorded and, in doing so, destroyed the breeding site.

This type of crime is treated so seriously that it was the Metropolitan Police who investigated and prosecuted this case – it should serve as a warning to all developers, contractors and businesses that wildlife protection is vital and required by law from the outset as part of the planning process.

AND FINALLY

A look at the HSE prosecution statistics (across all industries) for November 2020 alone rams home the point that, despite the emphasis on Covid, the HSE is still just as active in enforcement and prosecution:

• 20 prosecutions, including 2 fatalities
• Results included fines included several at or of almost £300,000 and 3 suspended sentences
• Total fines £1,636,109 plus costs

The current requirements to SAVE LIVES and PROTECT THE NHS apply just as much to all other risk factors as it does to Covid!!

Work at height

  • Michael Devlin, director of Design Roof Systems (DRS) Ltd, was given a 6-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to observe a 20-week curfew for deliberately cutting corners in order to lower costs and win a contract; as a result, a man died when he fell through an unprotected skylight. The Company itself was fined a total of almost £146,000

The contract involved the replacement of 70 skylights; DRS had quoted £7865 + VAT to do the work, a vastly under-costed price because Devlin had not included for any form of fall protection. How could Devlin not see that the saving of £Xs could never justify risking both a man’s life and a prosecution?

And a warning here also for clients commissioning work from any external contractors – in law, you could also be held culpable. Is the quoted price vastly below others? Is it too good to be true? It probably is.

  • Peter Green, director of Home Improvements Ltd, was given an 8-month suspended sentence for his ‘wilful neglect’ in failing to protect those working at height, despite (thankfully) there having been no accident. Green had totally failed to properly plan, supervise and carry out the works on pitched roofs at two separate locations.
  • Builder, Mark Bucknall, was fined a total of almost £4,000 after another worker fell 8 metres (!) from a roof. The two had been installing roof-lights on a flat roof during a loft conversion and, to access the roof, they had climbed out of a window (!!!) onto the roof tiles; scaffold had initially been installed but had been removed. The worker fell and landed on concrete, suffering multiple injuries to his spine and legs; he was extremely lucky to survive. Presumably, the worker in question wasn’t prosected as well as the HSE concluded that he’d already been rewarded for his incompetence!
  • Solar panel installer, Blue Sun Energy Ltd, was fined a total of over £39,000 after a sub-contract employee fell 3.5 metres through an unmarked and unguarded roof-light of a cow-shed; the worker suffered brain as well as other life-changing injuries and was, again, lucky to survive.
  • Conservatory and window fitting company, DNA Home Improvements (Cheshire) ltd, was fined a total of almost £35,000 after a worker fell from a conservatory roof, landed on step-ladders beneath and sustained broken ribs and bruising.

Being February, the roof had been slippery with ice and, not only was there no edge or fall protection installed, nobody had thought to assess weather conditions or instruct workers not to access slippery surfaces.

Plant & vehicles

  • Cheshire Oak Structures Ltd was fined a total of almost £32,500 after an employee was run over by a telehandler, sustaining serious injuries. The telehandler, driven by the Company’s director, was transporting roof rafters down a narrow alley and 2 workers were helping to guide it when the victim was struck and run over. Clearly, such a tricky manoeuvre should have been better assessed and planned.
  • G-Tekt Europe Manufacturing Ltd was fined a total of over £528,000 after an employee was struck by a forklift and suffered serious brain injuries. The accident occurred because there had been a total lack of controls to segregate forklifts and other vehicles from pedestrians – no pedestrian routes or crossing points and insufficient warning signage.
  • Construction logistics provider, Wilson James Ltd, was fined almost £862,000 after a traffic marshal, employed to control large vehicles down a loading bay ramp during the re-development of the former BBC TV Centre, was struck and killed by a reversing 26 tonne waste wagon. Assessment and safe systems were totally inadequate for the extreme risks involved in establishing traffic management by individual workers.

Work equipment

  • Specialist industrial services company, Leadec Ltd, was fined £2 million and £30,000 in costs after an employee was struck by the end of a flexi-lance and killed; he had been using the water jetting equipment to clear paint residues from pipes at a car manufacturer.

Any pressure jetting is very high risk and requires very detailed risk assessment for each new task, a high degree of controls to prevent unintended ejection, and full training and instruction. None of this had been established in this case, with the result that a man lost his life; the seriousness is reflected in the fine.

Asbestos

  • Prestige EA Ltd was fined a total of £5,000 after failing to commission the appropriate level of asbestos survey ahead of the refurbishment of flats following a gas explosion; the Company has since gone into liquidation.

The HSE did not specify in its press release which level of survey had been carried out but the case demonstrates just how vital it is that any business carrying out any works on any existing property commissions the appropriate survey. If you’re in doubt or need further advice, please do contact WHS immediately

WHS is working for you; help us to help you.
Our aim is to keep people safe and to keep your company working.
To contact WHS, ring: 01952-885885

WENLOCK HEALTH & SAFETY LTD
WISHES YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY
& HEALTHY CHRISTMAS

COMPANY NEWS

WHS CHRISTMAS BREAK

Please note, and tell all relevant staff, that the Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) office will close at midday on Wednesday 23 December 2020 and will reopen at 8 am on Monday 4 January 2021.

For those who may still be at work during this period, your WHS advisor can be contacted in cases of emergency ONLY on his/her mobile.

TRAINING

Despite the current national restrictions, WHS is still able to quite legitimately operate a full training programme, as we have strict covid-related precautions in place. As we are so severely limited to the number of places available due to these restrictions, we must reiterate that it is vitally important to ensure that, once booked, courses and places are not cancelled.

We would also reiterate that these covid precautions for courses run at the WHS facilities have necessitated that neither lunch nor drinks can be provided; candidates are requested to bring their own lunch and refreshments. Full details of the precautions we have taken, and also what is expected from the candidates, are issued with the joining instructions for each course.

Any organisation requiring attendance at their own premises can request a specific course provided that suitable Covid-specific precautions can be agreed at the point of booking.

Courses shown below are for the early part of 2021; further courses will be added shortly and the full 2021 programme will be available on the WHS website: http://wenlockhealthandsafety.co.uk/
As usual, please contact Vicki at Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) on 01952 885885 or enquiries@wenlockhs.co.uk or vicki@wenlockhs.co.uk to book places.

First Aid

WHS 1-day (6 hours) Emergency First-Aid at Work. Demand remains high so book places as soon as possible.

Dates:

  • 16 December 2020
  • 27 January 2021
  • 25 February 2021
  • 30 March 2021
  • 26 April 2021

Cost: £85 + VAT per person

CITB Courses

IMPORTANT NOTES:

Please be aware that CITB specifies that candidates must be available to attend each session within the course; failure to do so may require a repeat course for the individual.

And attendance is vital, not only because it affects the candidate personally, but also because it can seriously affect others. As highlighted in previous newsletters, because of CITB rules, we may be forced to cancel a course ON THAT MORNING if some candidates don’t turn up.

Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS)

Duration: 5 days; 1 day per week
Dates:

  • 15, 22, 29 January, 5 & 12 February 2021 (Fridays)
  • 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29 March 2021 (Monday)

Cost: £495 + VAT per person

Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) Refresher

Duration: 2 days
Dates:

  • 7 & 8 December 2020 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 8 & 9 February 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 14 & 15 April 2021 (Wednesday & Thursday)

Cost: £265 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS)

Duration: 2 days
Dates:

  • 11 & 12 January 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 10 & 11 March 2021 (Wednesday & Thursday)

Cost: £230 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS) Refresher

Duration: 1 day
Dates:

  • 18 December 2020 (Friday)
  • 13 January 2021 (Wednesday)

Cost: £160 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

CITB 1-Day Health & Safety Awareness

Duration: 1 day
Dates:

  • 14 December 2020 (Monday)
  • 7 January 2021 (Thursday)
  • 2 March 2021 (Tuesday)

Cost: £125 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

A final note:

CITB had previously extended SMSTS and SSSTS expiry dates until 30 November 2020 for any candidates who required refresher courses after 15 March 2020. However, to ensure availability of courses, this has now been extended still further to 31 January 2021. Therefore, if you have been unable to sit the refresher course before 30 November 2020 for whatever reason, you can now do so until the end of January 2021 rather than having to take the full course again. But you are advised not to wait top book; demand is obviously high and CITB has advised that this grace period will not be extended again.

WHS SAFETY AWARDS

It’s that time of year again when it gives us great pleasure to recognise the health & safety commitment and achievements of our clients and, despite the extraordinary circumstances we’ve all had to contend with in 2020, this year is no exception. We are therefore delighted to announce the following WHS awards for 2020:

Commitment to Health & Safety Training – Richard Sherratt Builders Ltd
Based in Shrewsbury; this commercial and domestic building contractor has always shown an exemplary attitude towards training the entire workforce in health & safety, including utilising any downtime during 2020 to best advantage.

Commitment to Site Safety – Mark Bennett of Morris Property Ltd
Mark is a Site Manager for Shrewsbury-based Morris Property Ltd; he has always demonstrated an exemplary attitude towards health & safety on his sites, with a proactive management approach.

Well done to both our worthy award winners! Both serve as examples of the high standards attainable.

We must also mention that many of our clients have shown a high degree of commitment in establishing good standards of covid protection, both on site and in their offices; this has not gone unnoticed.

ACCIDENT RATE FOR 2020 DISAPPOINTS

Unfortunately, despite the above examples of exemplary standards, WHS has to report that 2020 has been an extremely disappointing year as regards accidents; we have never, in our 18-year history, had so many accidents (let alone the serious accidents involved) reported by our contractors.

We have concluded that there are two possible reasons for this; either:

a) the focus on covid, or
b) the high volume of work currently being undertaken

has distracted companies from the basic risks we all encounter day in, day out on site – risks that should be controlled by second nature in this day and age. Yes, covid encompasses serious risks – but so does work at height, excavations, control of plant and vehicles, etc, etc. And yes, with increased volumes of work comes a corresponding increase in the amount of risks presented and increased pressures on site management. But the fact that high-risk/highly-governed fields of work such as work at height, excavations and control of plant and vehicles have produced the worst of the accidents reported to us is absolutely inexcusable.

And don’t make the mistake of thinking that HSE inspectors are currently concentrating on covid to the detriment of other risks – they most certainly are not! However, what is likely to happen is that, because of the current volume of the HSE’s work, investigations will take longer, much longer! Which means that the anguish and trauma experienced by any company under investigation will be experienced over 1 year, maybe 2 years, longer than usual (in practice, up to 4 years or so).

Let’s face it, if your site has been properly set up to control covid, it should be more, not less, safe overall! So please, don’t lose sight of the basic risks and controls; don’t let standards drop for ANY reason.

COVID & RELATED ISSUES

COVID-19 / CORONAVIRUS

Let’s hope that 2021 allows us all to get back to some semblance of normality before long! However, in the meantime, we would remind all employers and employees that covid must still be taken seriously and all controls under the mantra ‘hands, face, space’ must still be practiced, both at work and at home.

To reinforce the message around your workplaces, the NHS posters are freely available from:
https://coronavirusresources.phe.gov.uk/Hands-Face-Space-/resources/posters/
And a very serious reminder (sadly, we need to repeat this because we have seen a significant number of people ignoring this instruction) that, if you have reason, or have been told by the NHS Test & Trace app, to get a covid test, you DO NOT go to work or mix with others whilst you’re waiting for the result!!

A reminder also to employers that they MUST be responsible when it comes to allowing employees time off for self-isolating. You are at liberty to ask for proof of the need to self-isolate, but employees should be encouraged to do the right thing and not pressurised to return to work too soon.

HSE SPOT CHECKS

The HSE is continuing its policy of unannounced spot checks and inspections to make sure that businesses and workplaces are following government covid guidelines – and WHS has seen much evidence of this policy being carried through, so be warned!

The HSE has stated that all visiting personnel will be carrying identification and a letter of authorisation from the HSE, implying that they may not be direct HSE employees. If you wish to verify whether the visitor is legitimate, please call the HSE on 0300 790 6896.

Further details can be found on spot checks and inspections, as well as HSE guidance on being COVID-secure

FURTHER IMPORTANT COVID GUIDANCE

In addition, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) regularly updates its construction-specific guidance on how to interpret government guidance on construction sites or when working in people’s homes.

The CLC’s Site Operating Procedures Version 6 is now available:
https://www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Site-Operating-Procedures-Version-6.pdf

Please make sure that you read it and put the required systems into practice as it is considered the definitive guidance for construction sites, site management and individual workers.

It makes interesting reading, particularly the often-confusing issue of the wearing of face coverings on site:
https://builduk.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/The-Use-of-Face-Coverings-in-Construction-during-Coronavirus.pdf

THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD VENTILATION

We should all know by now about the importance of good ventilation to help in the fight against covid. Of course, working outdoors reduces the risks immeasurably (provided we all practice distancing) but what about indoors? What about aircon, are there risks?

The HSE has issued specific guidance on the subject: https://bit.ly/32O9PIL

OTHER HSE NEWS

RESPIRATORY INSPECTIONS

The previous WHS newsletter brought to your attention the current nationwide HSE campaign focusing on respiratory health, which obviously now covers the risks and controls relating to covid.

It seems that the HSE has certainly followed through with this campaign; WHS has heard of a good number of our customers receiving both announced and unannounced visits.

If you’ve not yet done so, it is in the interests of every contractor, engineer, workshop, etc to read the specific HSE guidance on controlling respiratory health risks: https://bit.ly/2RStPE4

LOCAL EXHAUST VENTILATION

The HSE has issued its latest Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) eBulletin which focuses on the key topic of competence.

Obviously, we all have a duty to ensure the relevant competence of those who work for us in whatever guise that may be (including building contractors in our home environment according to CDM 2015!). Hopefully, all businesses would take this duty seriously when it comes to engaging both employees and external contractors such as electricians and gas engineers. But how many businesses think about ensuring the competence of specialists such as maintenance and monitoring engineers, or indeed supply/installers themselves?

It’s obvious that ensuring the competence of electrical and gas engineers, asbestos removal companies, building contractors, etc is vital to the safety of us, our employees and the future of our businesses. But how many of us actually check the qualifications, current trade requirements, and trustworthiness of companies we engage for (e.g.) dust, noise, legionella, equipment, etc maintenance, servicing and equipment supply/installs? Yet this is vital to ensure that all our equipment and systems are equipped to keep us and our employees safe.

As the safety and efficiency of LEV equipment is so important to ensure our respiratory health, this latest HSE ebulletin gives advice and guidance on both the nature of ‘competence’ in general and what is required for LEV engineers: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/UKHSE/bulletins/2ac4af5

Last year, the cross-industry LEV Competency Matrix was launched at the joint ILEVE / BOHS conference. The HSE points out that the Matrix, although aimed primarily at those involved in LEV design, installation, commissioning, thorough examination and testing, would also be very useful for those engaging LEV specialists as it helps the engaging businesses to identify possible knowledge gaps and necessary CPD of the engineers. The Matrix is available via the ILEVE website

The ILEVE website also gives access to accredited LEV engineers. Although it must be said that it is not mandatory, membership of this institute is obviously a good measure of competence and trustworthiness:
https://www.cibse.org/institute-of-local-exhaust-ventilation-engineers/ileve-accredited-members

INDUSTRY NEWS

SEAT-BELTS

In addition to the need to stay focused on basic site safety and health issues as highlighted above, WHS would add yet another plea – this time about the wearing of seat-belts on plant.

Despite being legally required from 1998, the wearing of seat-belts on mobile plant has never been universally observed despite our many warnings. However, this is another area where things seem to be getting much worse, including the deliberate by-passing of alert systems.

So, before yet another serious accident is reported to WHS, a reminder that all site managers MUST enforce the wearing of seat-belts on plant (and in vehicles). Without being firmly held within the roll-bar or cab by the belt, a driver will be at extreme risk if the plant overturns or encounters sloped or uneven terrain. He may think he can jump away from a roll, but he can’t; he will be crushed under the equipment, and the site manager will run the risk of prosecution for not enforcing the legally binding rules. It has been law for over 20 years for a very good reason!!!

GENERAL NEWS

HIGH-RISK BUILDING SAFETY

In the light of the Grenfell disaster in June 2017, the Construction Industry Council (CIC) has been working with the Government and HSE to produce a draft Building Safety Bill whereby those deemed responsible in law for the safety of higher-risk buildings and their occupants (persons such as landlords) will be required to appoint a Building Safety Manager. Buildings that fall into the ‘higher-risk’ category would include multi-occupancy residential buildings of 18 metres height or more, or six or more storeys.
Under the proposed legislation, the Building Safety Manager would require specific in-depth competencies to equip him/her to look after the day-to-day management of fire and structural safety and provide a clear point of contact for residents when issues arise.

Not a moment too soon. For too long, those responsible for these higher-risk buildings have failed (or been allowed to fail?) in their duties of care towards the occupants; but, as always, it takes a serious incident to wake people up to the deficiencies. The final CIC report ‘Setting the Bar’, together with the annexes and press release, can be found on: http://cic.org.uk/setting-the-bar-annexes.php

A very concise and useful executive summary, which is certainly worth reading, can be found on:
http://cic.org.uk/admin/resources/setting-the-bar-exec-summary-final.pdf

MENTAL HEALTH & STRESS

We must all be aware by now that mental health has become an even more serious issue because of covid. One the one hand, it can affect those under lockdown or prevented from seeing loved ones; at the other end of the spectrum, it can affect those who are under severe strain at work, whether because of longer hours, difficult work situations, lack of company or personal income, etc.

Whatever the background to people’s distress, we must all take the issue (or potential for the issue to arise) seriously and keep a watchful eye on employees and colleagues, as well as loved ones, friends, relatives, etc.

Two very useful construction-specific resources have been added recently to the plethora of previously issued general advice; both are worth reading:

  • The CONIAC Tackling Ill Health Working Group has issued a draft ‘Talking Toolkit’ Preventing Work-Related Stress in Construction, freely downloadable from: https://bit.ly/3lCxfIo
  • Building Mental Health, a construction-industry initiative group, has freely downloadable resources, including a tool-box talk and ‘5 steps to building a successful mental health culture’; available from: https://www.buildingmentalhealth.net/resources.html

AND FINALLY

With thanks to the HSE for the photographs

As stressed above, despite covid, HSE enforcement and prosecutions have not ceased; far from it. Not only is there an increased number of spot checks, but you can still be assured that every serious accident (as a minimum) will be investigated by the HSE and prosecutions will follow where breaches of the law are found.

The Vital Importance of Training & Safe Systems

  • Formula Scaffolding (London) Ltd was fined a total of over £171,500 following a scaffolding collapse in Maidenhead in April 2018. An inadequately trained worker was removing scaffold ties when high winds caused the scaffold to ‘act as a giant sail’.

Luckily, nobody was hurt. However, this was evidently yet another accident that could have been prevented if the legal duties to properly train the workforce and organise a safe system of work had been followed.

  • Reason Transport UK was prosecuted and is now in liquidation after an agency worker was fatally crushed by a pallet of tiles weighing 1400kg. The worker had been struggling to manoeuvre the pallet onto the tail-lift of the truck he was driving when he lost control; the pallet fell on him and he died from his injuries.

The agency worker had been engaged only 2 weeks beforehand but had received no training at all in the safe handling of the extremely heavy loads; a totally avoidable fatality.

  • Hi Peak Feeds Ltd was fined a total of over £142,500 after an employee’s arm was severed below the elbow by a moving conveyor. The employee had opened a hatch on a closed conveyor to clear a blockage when the conveyor unexpectedly started to move, severing his arm.

Not a construction accident but this case starkly shows, yet again, the vital importance of both properly training the workforce and the establishment (and monitoring) of safe systems. No training had been given nor instruction material provided; as a result, the practice of clearing blockages by opening the hatch had ‘developed over time’ and management had failed to monitor work and rectify the situation.

  • Novaflex Ltd was fined a total of over £29,000 after an agency worker’s sleeve was pulled into a spinning lathe, resulting in serious open fractures to his right arm.

Yet again, there had been no training given, nor a safe system of work established. And another case involving an agency worker. AGENCY WORKERS ARE ENTITLED TO THE SAME TRAINING AS PERMANENT EMPLOYEES; the alternative being, as in the case of construction, ONLY properly trained employees are to be hired.

  • Axio (Special Works) Ltd was fined a total of over £25,000 after the boom of a concrete pump struck a worker, causing life-changing serious injuries, including brain damage. Concrete was being poured using a 52 metre boom when the ground beneath one of the pump outriggers gave way, causing the boom to swing and strike the worker.

No checks had been made to ensure the ground conditions could take the loadings, nor had the type and size of the spreader plates beneath the outriggers been considered. Another case of assumptions being made rather than planning and establishing a sound safe system of work. ALL site-specific issues MUST be considered when risk assessing EVERY operation; clearly, the vitally important issue of ground conditions had not been adequately considered in this case.

  • Three contractors involved in the demolition of a house, Ryde Demolition Ltd, HJ Bennett Ltd and Stoneham Construction Ltd were fined totals of over £92,000, £132,000 and £58,600 respectively after a gable wall partially collapsed, causing a worker’s death when he fell backwards.

Not one of the contractors had properly planned or managed the work on this seemingly simple job, with the result that timbers were removed out of sequence and the brick gable was left unsupported. Another totally avoidable death.

N.B. A reminder here that DEMOLITION is still ‘CONSTRUCTION’ and is covered by CDM; it requires the same planning, management systems, competent personnel, monitoring, etc as any other form of construction.

  • Specialist industrial services company, Leadec Ltd, was fined £2 million plus £30,000 in costs after an employee suffered fatal injuries whilst cleaning waste-water pipes. The worker was using high-pressure jetting equipment to clear paint residue from pipes when he was struck by the end of the flexi-lance.

N.B. Another reminder: high-pressure jetting equipment can be lethal if used incorrectly; thorough task-specific risk assessments must be undertaken, safe systems established and thorough training given.

STAY SAFE – STAY ALERT
FOLLOW THE RULES – DON’T IGNORE ADVICE
SAFEGUARD YOURSELF AND THE LIVES OF THOSE YOU AFFECT

WHS is working for you; help us to help you.
Our aim is to keep people safe and to keep your company working.
To contact WHS, ring: 01952-885885

WENLOCK HEALTH & SAFETY LTD
WISHES YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY
& HEALTHY CHRISTMAS

COMPANY NEWS

WHS CHRISTMAS BREAK

Please note, and tell all relevant staff, that the Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) office will close at midday on Wednesday 23 December 2020 and will reopen at 8 am on Monday 4 January 2021.

For those who may still be at work during this period, your WHS advisor can be contacted in cases of emergency ONLY on his/her mobile.

TRAINING

Despite the current national restrictions, WHS is still able to quite legitimately operate a full training programme, as we have strict covid-related precautions in place. As we are so severely limited to the number of places available due to these restrictions, we must reiterate that it is vitally important to ensure that, once booked, courses and places are not cancelled.

We would also reiterate that these covid precautions for courses run at the WHS facilities have necessitated that neither lunch nor drinks can be provided; candidates are requested to bring their own lunch and refreshments. Full details of the precautions we have taken, and also what is expected from the candidates, are issued with the joining instructions for each course.

Any organisation requiring attendance at their own premises can request a specific course provided that suitable Covid-specific precautions can be agreed at the point of booking.

Courses shown below are for the early part of 2021; further courses will be added shortly and the full 2021 programme will be available on the WHS website: http://wenlockhealthandsafety.co.uk/
As usual, please contact Vicki at Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) on 01952 885885 or enquiries@wenlockhs.co.uk or vicki@wenlockhs.co.uk to book places.

First Aid

WHS 1-day (6 hours) Emergency First-Aid at Work. Demand remains high so book places as soon as possible.

Dates:

  • 16 December 2020
  • 27 January 2021
  • 25 February 2021
  • 30 March 2021
  • 26 April 2021

Cost: £85 + VAT per person

CITB Courses

IMPORTANT NOTES:


Please be aware that CITB specifies that candidates must be available to attend each session within the course; failure to do so may require a repeat course for the individual.

And attendance is vital, not only because it affects the candidate personally, but also because it can seriously affect others. As highlighted in previous newsletters, because of CITB rules, we may be forced to cancel a course ON THAT MORNING if some candidates don’t turn up.

Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS)

Duration: 5 days; 1 day per week
Dates:

  • 15, 22, 29 January, 5 & 12 February 2021 (Fridays)
  • 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29 March 2021 (Monday)

Cost: £495 + VAT per person

Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) Refresher

Duration: 2 days
Dates:

  • 7 & 8 December 2020 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 8 & 9 February 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 14 & 15 April 2021 (Wednesday & Thursday)

Cost: £265 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS)

Duration: 2 days
Dates:

  • 11 & 12 January 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 10 & 11 March 2021 (Wednesday & Thursday)

Cost: £230 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS) Refresher

Duration: 1 day
Dates:

  • 18 December 2020 (Friday)
  • 13 January 2021 (Wednesday)

Cost: £160 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

CITB 1-Day Health & Safety Awareness

Duration: 1 day
Dates:

  • 14 December 2020 (Monday)
  • 7 January 2021 (Thursday)
  • 2 March 2021 (Tuesday)

Cost: £125 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

A final note:


CITB had previously extended SMSTS and SSSTS expiry dates until 30 November 2020 for any candidates who required refresher courses after 15 March 2020. However, to ensure availability of courses, this has now been extended still further to 31 January 2021. Therefore, if you have been unable to sit the refresher course before 30 November 2020 for whatever reason, you can now do so until the end of January 2021 rather than having to take the full course again. But you are advised not to wait top book; demand is obviously high and CITB has advised that this grace period will not be extended again.

WHS SAFETY AWARDS

It’s that time of year again when it gives us great pleasure to recognise the health & safety commitment and achievements of our clients and, despite the extraordinary circumstances we’ve all had to contend with in 2020, this year is no exception. We are therefore delighted to announce the following WHS awards for 2020:

Commitment to Health & Safety Training – Richard Sherratt Builders
Based in Shrewsbury; this commercial and domestic building contractor has always shown an exemplary attitude towards training the entire workforce in health & safety, including utilising any downtime during 2020 to best advantage.

Commitment to Site Safety – Mark Bennett of Morris Property Ltd
Mark is a Site Manager for Shrewsbury-based Morris Property Ltd; he has always demonstrated an exemplary attitude towards health & safety on his sites, with a proactive management approach.

Well done to both our worthy award winners! Both serve as examples of the high standards attainable.

We must also mention that many of our clients have shown a high degree of commitment in establishing good standards of covid protection, both on site and in their offices; this has not gone unnoticed.

ACCIDENT RATE FOR 2020 DISAPPOINTS

Unfortunately, despite the above examples of exemplary standards, WHS has to report that 2020 has been an extremely disappointing year as regards accidents; we have never, in our 18-year history, had so many accidents (let alone the serious accidents involved) reported by our contractors.

We have concluded that there are two possible reasons for this; either:

a) the focus on covid, or
b) the high volume of work currently being undertaken

has distracted companies from the basic risks we all encounter day in, day out on site – risks that should be controlled by second nature in this day and age. Yes, covid encompasses serious risks – but so does work at height, excavations, control of plant and vehicles, etc, etc. And yes, with increased volumes of work comes a corresponding increase in the amount of risks presented and increased pressures on site management. But the fact that high-risk/highly-governed fields of work such as work at height, excavations and control of plant and vehicles have produced the worst of the accidents reported to us is absolutely inexcusable.

And don’t make the mistake of thinking that HSE inspectors are currently concentrating on covid to the detriment of other risks – they most certainly are not! However, what is likely to happen is that, because of the current volume of the HSE’s work, investigations will take longer, much longer! Which means that the anguish and trauma experienced by any company under investigation will be experienced over 1 year, maybe 2 years, longer than usual (in practice, up to 4 years or so).

Let’s face it, if your site has been properly set up to control covid, it should be more, not less, safe overall! So please, don’t lose sight of the basic risks and controls; don’t let standards drop for ANY reason.

COVID & RELATED ISSUES

COVID-19 / CORONAVIRUS

Let’s hope that 2021 allows us all to get back to some semblance of normality before long! However, in the meantime, we would remind all employers and employees that covid must still be taken seriously and all controls under the mantra ‘hands, face, space’ must still be practiced, both at work and at home.

To reinforce the message around your workplaces, the NHS posters are freely available from:
https://coronavirusresources.phe.gov.uk/Hands-Face-Space-/resources/posters/
And a very serious reminder (sadly, we need to repeat this because we have seen a significant number of people ignoring this instruction) that, if you have reason, or have been told by the NHS Test & Trace app, to get a covid test, you DO NOT go to work or mix with others whilst you’re waiting for the result!!

A reminder also to employers that they MUST be responsible when it comes to allowing employees time off for self-isolating. You are at liberty to ask for proof of the need to self-isolate, but employees should be encouraged to do the right thing and not pressurised to return to work too soon.

HSE SPOT CHECKS

The HSE is continuing its policy of unannounced spot checks and inspections to make sure that businesses and workplaces are following government covid guidelines – and WHS has seen much evidence of this policy being carried through, so be warned!

The HSE has stated that all visiting personnel will be carrying identification and a letter of authorisation from the HSE, implying that they may not be direct HSE employees. If you wish to verify whether the visitor is legitimate, please call the HSE on 0300 790 6896.

Further details can be found on spot checks and inspections, as well as HSE guidance on being COVID-secure

FURTHER IMPORTANT COVID GUIDANCE

In addition, the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) regularly updates its construction-specific guidance on how to interpret government guidance on construction sites or when working in people’s homes.

The CLC’s Site Operating Procedures Version 6 is now available:
https://www.constructionleadershipcouncil.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Site-Operating-Procedures-Version-6.pdf

Please make sure that you read it and put the required systems into practice as it is considered the definitive guidance for construction sites, site management and individual workers.

It makes interesting reading, particularly the often-confusing issue of the wearing of face coverings on site:
https://builduk.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/The-Use-of-Face-Coverings-in-Construction-during-Coronavirus.pdf

OTHER HSE NEWS

RESPIRATORY INSPECTIONS

The previous WHS newsletter brought to your attention the current nationwide HSE campaign focusing on respiratory health, which obviously now covers the risks and controls relating to covid.

It seems that the HSE has certainly followed through with this campaign; WHS has heard of a good number of our customers receiving both announced and unannounced visits.

If you’ve not yet done so, it is in the interests of every contractor, engineer, workshop, etc to read the specific HSE guidance on controlling respiratory health risks: https://bit.ly/2RStPE4

LOCAL EXHAUST VENTILATION

The HSE has issued its latest Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) eBulletin which focuses on the key topic of competence.

Obviously, we all have a duty to ensure the relevant competence of those who work for us in whatever guise that may be (including building contractors in our home environment according to CDM 2015!). Hopefully, all businesses would take this duty seriously when it comes to engaging both employees and external contractors such as electricians and gas engineers. But how many businesses think about ensuring the competence of specialists such as maintenance and monitoring engineers, or indeed supply/installers themselves?

It’s obvious that ensuring the competence of electrical and gas engineers, asbestos removal companies, building contractors, etc is vital to the safety of us, our employees and the future of our businesses. But how many of us actually check the qualifications, current trade requirements, and trustworthiness of companies we engage for (e.g.) dust, noise, legionella, equipment, etc maintenance, servicing and equipment supply/installs? Yet this is vital to ensure that all our equipment and systems are equipped to keep us and our employees safe.

As the safety and efficiency of LEV equipment is so important to ensure our respiratory health, this latest HSE ebulletin gives advice and guidance on both the nature of ‘competence’ in general and what is required for LEV engineers: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/UKHSE/bulletins/2ac4af5

Last year, the cross-industry LEV Competency Matrix was launched at the joint ILEVE / BOHS conference. The HSE points out that the Matrix, although aimed primarily at those involved in LEV design, installation, commissioning, thorough examination and testing, would also be very useful for those engaging LEV specialists as it helps the engaging businesses to identify possible knowledge gaps and necessary CPD of the engineers. The Matrix is available via the ILEVE website

The ILEVE website also gives access to accredited LEV engineers. Although it must be said that it is not mandatory, membership of this institute is obviously a good measure of competence and trustworthiness:
https://www.cibse.org/institute-of-local-exhaust-ventilation-engineers/ileve-accredited-members

GENERAL NEWS

HIGH-RISK BUILDING SAFETY

In the light of the Grenfell disaster in June 2017, the Construction Industry Council (CIC) has been working with the Government and HSE to produce a draft Building Safety Bill whereby those deemed responsible in law for the safety of higher-risk buildings and their occupants (persons such as landlords) will be required to appoint a Building Safety Manager. Buildings that fall into the ‘higher-risk’ category would include multi-occupancy residential buildings of 18 metres height or more, or six or more storeys.
Under the proposed legislation, the Building Safety Manager would require specific in-depth competencies to equip him/her to look after the day-to-day management of fire and structural safety and provide a clear point of contact for residents when issues arise.

Not a moment too soon. For too long, those responsible for these higher-risk buildings have failed (or been allowed to fail?) in their duties of care towards the occupants; but, as always, it takes a serious incident to wake people up to the deficiencies. The final CIC report ‘Setting the Bar’, together with the annexes and press release, can be found on: http://cic.org.uk/setting-the-bar-annexes.php

A very concise and useful executive summary, which is certainly worth reading, can be found on:
http://cic.org.uk/admin/resources/setting-the-bar-exec-summary-final.pdf

MENTAL HEALTH & STRESS

We must all be aware by now that mental health has become an even more serious issue because of covid. One the one hand, it can affect those under lockdown or prevented from seeing loved ones; at the other end of the spectrum, it can affect those who are under severe strain at work, whether because of longer hours, difficult work situations, lack of company or personal income, etc.

Whatever the background to people’s distress, we must all take the issue (or potential for the issue to arise) seriously and keep a watchful eye on employees and colleagues, as well as loved ones, friends, relatives, etc.

Two very useful construction-specific resources have been added recently to the plethora of previously issued general advice; both are worth reading:

  • The CONIAC Tackling Ill Health Working Group has issued a draft ‘Talking Toolkit’ Preventing Work-Related Stress in Construction, freely downloadable from: https://bit.ly/3lCxfIo
  • Building Mental Health, a construction-industry initiative group, has freely downloadable resources, including a tool-box talk and ‘5 steps to building a successful mental health culture’; available from: https://www.buildingmentalhealth.net/resources.html

AND FINALLY

As stressed above, despite covid, HSE enforcement and prosecutions have not ceased; far from it. Not only is there an increased number of spot checks, but you can still be assured that every serious accident (as a minimum) will be investigated by the HSE and prosecutions will follow where breaches of the law are found.

In this issue, we focus (again) on the vital importance of thoroughly training the workforce and the establishment of specifically risk assessed and sound safe systems of work:

  • Hi Peak Feeds Ltd was fined a total of over £142,500 after an employee’s arm was severed below the elbow by a moving conveyor. The employee had opened a hatch on a closed conveyor to clear a blockage when the conveyor unexpectedly started to move, severing his arm.

Not a construction-related accident but this case starkly shows, yet again, the vital importance of both properly training the workforce and the establishment (and monitoring) of safe systems. No training had been given nor instruction material provided; as a result, the practice of clearing blockages by opening the hatch had ‘developed over time’ and management had failed to monitor work and rectify the situation.

  • Reason Transport UK was prosecuted and is now in liquidation after an agency worker was fatally crushed by a pallet of tiles weighing 1400kg. The worker had been struggling to manoeuvre the pallet onto the tail-lift of the truck he was driving when he lost control; the pallet fell on him and he died from his injuries.

The agency worker had been engaged only 2 weeks beforehand but had received no training at all in the safe handling of the extremely heavy loads; a totally avoidable fatality.

  • Novaflex Ltd was fined a total of over £29,000 after an agency worker’s sleeve was pulled into a spinning lathe, resulting in serious open fractures to his right arm.

Yet again, there had been no training given, nor a safe system of work established. And another case involving an agency worker. AGENCY WORKERS ARE ENTITLED TO THE SAME TRAINING AS PERMANENT EMPLOYEES; the alternative being, as in the case of construction, ONLY properly trained employees are to be hired.

STAY SAFE – STAY ALERT
FOLLOW THE RULES – DON’T IGNORE ADVICE
SAFEGUARD YOURSELF AND THE LIVES OF THOSE YOU AFFECT

WHS is working for you; help us to help you.
Our aim is to keep people safe and to keep your company working.
To contact WHS, ring: 01952-885885

WENLOCK HEALTH & SAFETY LTD
WISHES YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY
& HEALTHY CHRISTMAS

COMPANY NEWS

WHS CHRISTMAS BREAK

Please note, and tell all relevant staff, that the Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) office will close at midday on Wednesday 23 December 2020 and will reopen at 8 am on Monday 4 January 2021.

For those who may still be at work during this period, your WHS advisor can be contacted in cases of emergency ONLY on his/her mobile.

TRAINING

Despite the current national restrictions, WHS is still able to quite legitimately operate a full training programme, as we have strict covid-related precautions in place. As we are so severely limited to the number of places available due to these restrictions, we must reiterate that it is vitally important to ensure that, once booked, courses and places are not cancelled.

We would also reiterate that these covid precautions for courses run at the WHS facilities have necessitated that neither lunch nor drinks can be provided; candidates are requested to bring their own lunch and refreshments. Full details of the precautions we have taken, and also what is expected from the candidates, are issued with the joining instructions for each course.

Any organisation requiring attendance at their own premises can request a specific course provided that suitable Covid-specific precautions can be agreed at the point of booking.

Courses shown below are for the early part of 2021; further courses will be added shortly and the full 2021 programme will be available on the WHS website: http://wenlockhealthandsafety.co.uk/
As usual, please contact Vicki at Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) on 01952 885885 or enquiries@wenlockhs.co.uk or vicki@wenlockhs.co.uk to book places.

First Aid

WHS 1-day (6 hours) Emergency First-Aid at Work. Demand remains high so book places as soon as possible.

Dates:

  • 16 December 2020
  • 27 January 2021
  • 25 February 2021
  • 30 March 2021
  • 26 April 2021

Cost: £85 + VAT per person

WHS SAFETY AWARDS

It’s that time of year again when it gives us great pleasure to recognise the health & safety commitment and achievements of our clients and, despite the extraordinary circumstances we’ve all had to contend with in 2020, this year is no exception. We are therefore delighted to announce the following WHS awards for 2020:

Commitment to Health & Safety Training – Richard Sherratt Builders
Based in Shrewsbury; this commercial and domestic building contractor has always shown an exemplary attitude towards training the entire workforce in health & safety, including utilising any downtime during 2020 to best advantage.

Commitment to Site Safety – Mark Bennett of Morris Property Ltd
Mark is a Site Manager for Shrewsbury-based Morris Property Ltd; he has always demonstrated an exemplary attitude towards health & safety on his sites, with a proactive management approach.

Well done to both our worthy award winners! Both serve as examples of the high standards attainable.

We must also mention that many of our clients have shown a high degree of commitment in establishing good standards of covid protection in their workplaces; this has not gone unnoticed.

ACCIDENT RATE FOR 2020 DISAPPOINTS

Unfortunately, despite the above examples of exemplary standards, WHS has to report that 2020 has been an extremely disappointing year as regards accidents; we have never, in our 18-year history, had so many accidents (let alone the serious accidents involved) reported by our customers.

We have concluded that there are two possible reasons for this; either:

a) the focus on covid, or
b) the high volume of work currently being undertaken in certain areas

has distracted companies from the basic risks we all encounter day in, day out in the workplace – risks that should be controlled by second nature in this day and age. Yes, covid encompasses serious risks – but so does work at height, control of plant and vehicles, etc, etc. And yes, with increased volumes of work comes a corresponding increase in the amount of risks presented and increased pressures on management. But the fact that high-risk/highly-governed fields of work such as work at height and control of plant and vehicles have produced the worst of the accidents reported to us is absolutely inexcusable.

And don’t make the mistake of thinking that HSE inspectors are currently concentrating on covid to the detriment of other risks – they most certainly are not! However, what is likely to happen is that, because of the current volume of the HSE’s work, investigations will take longer, much longer! Which means that the anguish and trauma experienced by any company under investigation will be experienced over 1 year, maybe 2 years, longer than usual (in practice, up to 4 years or so).

Let’s face it, if your workplace has been properly set up to control covid, it should be more, not less, safe overall! So please, don’t lose sight of the basic risks and controls; don’t let standards drop for ANY reason.

COVID & RELATED ISSUES

COVID-19 / CORONAVIRUS

Let’s hope that 2021 allows us all to get back to some semblance of normality before long! However, in the meantime, we would remind all employers and employees that covid must still be taken seriously and all controls under the mantra ‘hands, face, space’ must still be practiced, both at work and at home.

To reinforce the message around your workplaces, the NHS posters are freely available from:
https://coronavirusresources.phe.gov.uk/Hands-Face-Space-/resources/posters/
And a very serious reminder (sadly, we need to repeat this because we have seen a significant number of people ignoring this instruction) that, if you have reason, or have been told by the NHS Test & Trace app, to get a covid test, you DO NOT go to work or mix with others whilst you’re waiting for the result!!

A reminder also to employers that they MUST be responsible when it comes to allowing employees time off for self-isolating. You are at liberty to ask for proof of the need to self-isolate, but employees should be encouraged to do the right thing and not pressurised to return to work too soon.

HSE SPOT CHECKS

The HSE is continuing its policy of unannounced spot checks and inspections to make sure that businesses and workplaces are following government covid guidelines – and WHS has seen much evidence of this policy being carried through, so be warned!

The HSE has stated that all visiting personnel will be carrying identification and a letter of authorisation from the HSE, implying that they may not be direct HSE employees. If you wish to verify whether the visitor is legitimate, please call the HSE on 0300 790 6896.

Further details can be found on spot checks and inspections, as well as HSE guidance on being COVID-secure

THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD VENTILATION

We should all know by now about the importance of good ventilation to help in the fight against covid. Of course, working outdoors reduces the risks immeasurably (provided we all practice distancing) but what about indoors? What about aircon, are there risks?

The HSE has issued specific guidance on the subject: https://bit.ly/32O9PIL

OTHER HSE NEWS

RESPIRATORY INSPECTIONS

The previous WHS newsletter brought to your attention the current nationwide HSE campaign focusing on respiratory health, which obviously now covers the risks and controls relating to covid.

It seems that the HSE has certainly followed through with this campaign; WHS has heard of a good number of our customers receiving both announced and unannounced visits. If you’ve not yet done so, it is in the interests of every business, engineer, workshop, etc to read the specific HSE guidance on controlling respiratory health risks: https://bit.ly/2RStPE4

LOCAL EXHAUST VENTILATION

The HSE has issued its latest Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) eBulletin which focuses on the key topic of competence.

Obviously, we all have a duty to ensure the relevant competence of those who work for us in whatever guise that may be (including building contractors in our home environment according to CDM 2015!). Hopefully, all businesses would take this duty seriously when it comes to engaging both employees and external contractors such as electricians and gas engineers. But how many businesses think about ensuring the competence of specialists such as maintenance and monitoring engineers, or indeed supply/installers themselves?

It’s obvious that ensuring the competence of electrical and gas engineers, asbestos removal companies, building contractors, etc is vital to the safety of us, our employees and the future of our businesses. But how many of us actually check the qualifications, current trade requirements, and trustworthiness of companies we engage for (e.g.) dust, noise, legionella, equipment, etc maintenance, servicing and equipment supply/installs? Yet this is vital to ensure that all our equipment and systems are equipped to keep us and our employees safe.
As the safety and efficiency of LEV equipment is so important to ensure our respiratory health, this latest HSE ebulletin gives advice and guidance on both the nature of ‘competence’ in general and what is required for LEV engineers: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/UKHSE/bulletins/2ac4af5

Last year, the cross-industry LEV Competency Matrix was launched at the joint ILEVE / BOHS conference. The HSE points out that the Matrix, although aimed primarily at those involved in LEV design, installation, commissioning, thorough examination and testing, would also be very useful for those engaging LEV specialists as it helps the engaging businesses to identify possible knowledge gaps and necessary CPD of the engineers. The Matrix is available via the ILEVE website

The ILEVE website also gives access to accredited LEV engineers. Although it must be said that it is not mandatory, membership of this institute is obviously a good measure of competence and trustworthiness:
https://www.cibse.org/institute-of-local-exhaust-ventilation-engineers/ileve-accredited-members

GENERAL NEWS

GAS SAFETY

As a postscript to the item above about competence, it is worth mentioning that 9 un-registered ‘gas engineers’ have either been sent to prison or received suspended sentences, community service or fines during 2020 to date alone. We have no idea how many are awaiting trial, but this shows just how many unqualified and unsafe gas engineers are still out there, preying on the unsuspecting!

The message must therefore be repeated that gas engineers MUST (by law and for your safety) be Gas Safe registered, both at work and at home, as an assurance to you of their current qualifications and competence; to engage any un-registered engineer is illegal and presents serious risks. You MUST check that the gas engineer you propose to use is currently logged on the Gas Safe Register before you engage him/her:
https://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/find-an-engineer/

HIGH-RISK BUILDING SAFETY

In the light of the Grenfell disaster in June 2017, the Construction Industry Council (CIC) has been working with the Government and HSE to produce a draft Building Safety Bill whereby those deemed responsible in law for the safety of higher-risk buildings and their occupants (persons such as landlords) will be required to appoint a Building Safety Manager. Buildings that fall into the ‘higher-risk’ category would include multi-occupancy residential buildings of 18 metres height or more, or six or more storeys.

Under the proposed legislation, the Building Safety Manager would require specific in-depth competencies to equip him/her to look after the day-to-day management of fire and structural safety and provide a clear point of contact for residents when issues arise.

Not a moment too soon. For too long, those responsible for these higher-risk buildings have failed (or been allowed to fail?) in their duties of care towards the occupants; but, as always, it takes a serious incident to wake people up to the deficiencies. The final CIC report ‘Setting the Bar’, together with the annexes and press release, can be found on: http://cic.org.uk/setting-the-bar-annexes.php
A very concise and useful executive summary, which is certainly worth reading, can be found on:
http://cic.org.uk/admin/resources/setting-the-bar-exec-summary-final.pdf

MENTAL HEALTH & STRESS

We must all be aware by now that mental health has become an even more serious issue because of covid. One the one hand, it can affect those under lockdown or prevented from seeing loved ones; at the other end of the spectrum, it can affect those who are under severe strain at work, whether because of longer hours, difficult work situations, lack of company or personal income, etc. Whatever the background to people’s distress, we must all take the issue (or potential for the issue to arise) seriously and keep a watchful eye on employees and colleagues, as well as loved ones, friends, relatives, etc.

Very useful information is, as always, available from the HSE:
https://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/mental-health.htm
However, more specific and targeted tool-kits are available from Mind’s ‘Mental Health at Work’ website for a range of related situations including supporting yourself and colleagues, the challenges of working from home, dealing with staff absences, helping staff with trauma, returning to work after lockdown, etc:
https://www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk/toolkit/

AND FINALLY

As stressed above, despite covid, HSE enforcement and prosecutions have not ceased; far from it. Not only is there an increased number of spot checks, but you can still be assured that every serious accident (as a minimum) will be investigated by the HSE and prosecutions will follow where breaches of the law are found.

In this issue, we focus (again) on the vital importance of thoroughly training the workforce and the establishment of specifically risk assessed and sound safe systems of work:

  • Reason Transport UK was prosecuted and is now in liquidation after an agency worker was fatally crushed by a pallet of tiles weighing 1400kg. The worker had been struggling to manoeuvre the pallet onto the tail-lift of the truck he was driving when he lost control; the pallet fell on him and he died from his injuries.

The agency worker had been engaged only 2 weeks beforehand but had received no training at all in the safe handling of the extremely heavy loads; a totally avoidable fatality.

• Hi Peak Feeds Ltd was fined a total of over £142,500 after an employee’s arm was severed below the elbow by a moving conveyor. The employee had opened a hatch on a closed conveyor to clear a blockage when the conveyor unexpectedly started to move, severing his arm.

This case starkly shows, yet again, the vital importance of both properly training the workforce and the establishment (and monitoring) of safe systems. No training had been given nor instruction material provided; as a result, the practice of clearing blockages by opening the hatch had ‘developed over time’ and management had failed to monitor the work and rectify the situation.

  • Novaflex Ltd was fined a total of over £29,000 after an agency worker’s sleeve was pulled into a spinning lathe, resulting in serious open fractures to his right arm. Yet again, there had been no training given, nor a safe system of work established (the machine had unprotected moving parts). And another case involving an agency worker.

N.B. An important reminder: AGENCY WORKERS ARE ENTITLED TO THE SAME TRAINING AS PERMANENT EMPLOYEES or you employ those already trained to the correct level if that is possible.

  • Specialist industrial services company, Leadec Ltd, was fined £2 million plus £30,000 in costs after an employee suffered fatal injuries whilst cleaning waste-water pipes. The worker was using high-pressure jetting equipment to clear paint residue from pipes when he was struck by the end of the flexi-lance.

N.B. Another important reminder: high-pressure jetting equipment can be lethal if used incorrectly; thorough task-specific risk assessments must be undertaken, safe systems established and thorough training given.

STAY SAFE – STAY ALERT
FOLLOW THE RULES – DON’T IGNORE ADVICE
SAFEGUARD YOURSELF AND THE LIVES OF THOSE YOU AFFECT

WHS is working for you; help us to help you.
Our aim is to keep people safe and to keep your company working.
To contact WHS, ring: 01952-885885

COMPANY NEWS

TRAINING

It is prudent to repeat the provisos that are currently essential for us, at Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS), to be able to hold our usual full complement of courses, so please take careful note of the following:

  • Maximum 6 delegates per course
  • Lunch cannot be provided
  • Full details of both the precautions we have taken and what is expected from the candidates are issued with the joining instructions for each course

Please be reassured that we have established strict measures within the building and training room to reduce risks. As they have been kept fully informed of these measures, CITB and the awarding body for first aid courses have given their full consent for all courses to take place in person.

In return, we would ask the following: As we are so severely limited to the reduced number of places for the foreseeable future, it is important for WHS to ensure full attendance. We therefore ask please that, once booked, courses and places are not cancelled.

In addition, if any organisation requires attendance at their own premises for 6 or more employees, a specific course can be arranged at a date and time to suit provided that suitable Covid-specific precautions can be agreed at the point of booking.

First Aid

WHS 1-day (6 hours) Emergency First-Aid at Work courses, run with very strict Covid-specific controls, are scheduled as follows; those who need to attain or renew first-aid certification are advised to book places as quickly as possible as, although we have included additional dates, demand will obviously be high.

Dates:

  • 15 October 2020 FULLY BOOKED
  • 27 October 2020 FULLY BOOKED
  • 25 November 2020
  • 16 December 2020
  • 27 January 2021
  • 25 February 2021
  • 30 March 2021

Cost: £85 + VAT per person

As usual, please contact Vicki at Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) on 01952 885885 or enquiries@wenlockhs.co.uk or vicki@wenlockhs.co.uk to book places

CITB Courses

IMPORTANT NOTES:
Please be aware that CITB specifies that candidates must be available to attend each session within the course; failure to do so may require a repeat course.

And attendance is vital, not only because it affects the candidate personally, but also because it can seriously affect others. As highlighted in the previous newsletters, because of CITB rules, we may be forced to cancel a course ON THAT MORNING if some candidates don’t turn up.

Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS)

Duration: 5 days; 1 day per week
Dates:

  • 13, 20, 27 November, 4 & 11 December 2020 (Fridays) FULLY BOOKED
  • 15, 22, 29 January, 5 & 12 February 2021 (Fridays)
  • 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29 March 2021 (Monday)

Cost: £495 + VAT per person

Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) Refresher

Duration: 2 days
Dates:

  • 22 & 23 October 2020 (Thursday & Friday) FULLY BOOKED
  • 7 & 8 December 2020 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 8 & 9 February 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 14 & 15 April 2021 (Wednesday & Thursday)

Cost: £265 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS)

Duration: 2 days
Dates:

  • 20 & 21 October 2020 (Monday & Tuesday) FULLY BOOKED
  • 2 & 3 November 2020 (Monday & Tuesday) FULLY BOOKED
  • 11 & 12 January 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 10 & 11 March 2021 (Wednesday & Thursday)

Cost: £230 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS) Refresher

Duration: 1 day
Dates:

  • 23 November 2020 (Monday)
  • 13 January 2021 (Wednesday)

Cost: £160 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

CITB 1-Day Health & Safety Awareness

Duration: 1 day
Dates:

  • 16 November 2020 (Monday)
  • 7 January 2021 (Thursday)
  • 2 March 2021 (Tuesday)

Cost: £125 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

IOSH Managing Safely

Duration: 3 days (Wednesday to Friday)
Dates:

  • 7, 8 & 9 October 2020

Cost: £395 + VAT per person

Mental Health

Duration; 1 day

Dates:

  • 2 October 2020

Cost: £75 + VAT per person

COSHH / EH40

EH40, the HSE document detailing exposure limits for hazardous substances and upon which COSHH data sheets and assessments are reliant, was updated earlier this year. WHS has now reviewed all generic COSHH assessments and an updated version of the assessment for Hardwood Dust is attached to this newsletter.

Those WHS customers who have requested specific COSHH assessments in the past will need to be guided by their WHS advisor at the point of their annual documents review; some may need a complete revision to ensure legal compliance with current COSHH standards.

COVID & RELATED ISSUES

COVID-19 / CORONAVIRUS

As you’ve obviously understood from the ever-changing Government guidance and restrictions, Covid HAS NOT GONE AWAYI!!

At this point, who can be blamed for allowing the pandemic to take such a hold in the UK is irrelevant; the facts are that the infection and death rates are still rising and likely to rapidly rise still further as the cold weather approaches. If any of you has had personal experience of a relative or friend hospitalised because of Covid, you will know just how awful this virus can be. It is NOT ‘just another flu’ and no way can patients ‘pull themselves together’ to get well; such casual talk is, not only totally inaccurate, it is hurtful to those who have lost people they love.

So let’s just get a grip; follow what the Government says (a lot of which is legally binding), but also use your common sense. The basic rules of:

  • wash hands
  • cover the face
  • leave space

STILL apply, both at work and in public places. To assist employers, ample guidance is given on the HSE’s website: https://bit.ly/3j5bNdy

Follow the guidance; if you don’t, you now run the very real risk of being shut down either by the authorities or because a Covid outbreak results; spot checks are being carried out nationwide – you have been warned!

REPORTING COVID-19 UNDER RIDDOR

Understandably, there is a lot of confusion over when to report Covid cases within the workforce under RIDDOR. The first thing to stress is that RIDDOR applies to workplace accidents, incidents and ill health; if Covid (or any other disease) is contracted from within an employee’s private environment, RIDDOR is not applicable. Having said that, if other employees then contract Covid within the workplace, RIDDOR most definitely applies.
The rules, as laid down by the HSE, for the RIDDOR reporting of Covid are summarised as follows:

  • an accident or incident at work has, or could have, led to the release or escape of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2); this must be reported as a dangerous occurrence
  • a person at work (a worker) has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 attributed to an occupational exposure to coronavirus; this must be reported as a case of disease
  • a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus; this must be reported as a work-related death due to exposure to a biological agent

Further details can be found on the HSE’s website: https://bit.ly/2FMxNMe

COVID ISN’T THE ONLY THING THAT CAN KILL!

It has become evident that the emphasis on Covid has been to the detriment of other health & safety considerations. WHS has had to deal with many more accidents (some very serious) since March, and the increase in the accident rate appears to be gathering pace, particularly relating to work at height. And we’re highlighting this from our experience only; if this pattern is repeated throughout the construction industry, the number of fatalities and serious injuries will prove to be catastrophic for 2020/21.

WHS is seeing faults that hark back to 30 or 40 years ago – e.g. missing handrails and boards on scaffold, broken and slippery ladders, unsupported excavations. May we remind you that, yes, Covid is serious but so is general health & safety; the HSE is still prevalent and you will still be prosecuted if there is a serious accident. And, let’s face it, sites should now actually be safer than ever before because of the thought that’s had to go into organising the work to be Covid-safe!

LEGIONELLA

And another issue that’s reared its head in relation to Covid is Legionella. We have warned in previous newsletters that, if premises have been left empty and/or unattended because of Covid (or any other reason), it is a legal requirement incumbent on those in control of the buildings (including landlords) to ensure that it is safe to return; water systems (such as hot & cold water and air-conditioning systems) may have to be purged or otherwise checked to ensure the Legionella bacterium isn’t present. And predictably, there have now been outbreaks of legionella in the West Midlands and elsewhere, e.g: https://bit.ly/2Hgc4fN

The danger here is that Legionella symptoms are almost the same as for Covid, and therefore cases may well be wrongly diagnosed. So extra care must be taken to ensure that the risks of this equally dangerous disease are properly controlled. The HSE has issued specific guidance on their website: https://bit.ly/2HiJQB5

It reiterates quite clearly that (quote):

If your building has been closed or had reduced occupancy during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, water system stagnation can occur due to lack of use, increasing the risks of Legionnaires’ disease.
You should review your risk assessment and manage the legionella risks when you:

  • reinstate a water system or start using it again
  • restart some types of air conditioning units

If the water system is still used regularly, maintain the appropriate measures to prevent legionella growth.

Footnote:

And let’s not hear any of the ridiculous chat that has subsequently circulated on social media – that you can contract Legionella from the wearing of masks ‘because they can become damp’. There is absolutely no basis whatsoever to this ‘theory’ and this type of loose talk can only hinder the efforts to combat both Legionella and Covid. Legionella comes from a bacterium that can propagate when water systems are allowed to sit undisturbed at certain temperatures; it cannot develop on masks unless infected droplets have landed on them in the first place (i.e. from an infected water system.

Having said that, masks should not be allowed to get damp, that’s just common sense; change them regularly!

HSE NEWS

HSE INSPECTION INITIATIVE

The HSE will be carrying out targeted nationwide inspections between 5 and 30 October 2020 as part of a wider initiative to support the HSE’s strategy towards better employee health, and to help get people safely back to work and thereby support our economic recovery.

As with previous health initiatives, the focus of the inspections will be respiratory risks; however, this particular initiative will also cover Covid-security as the disease is obviously viewed as a major health risk. A specific section related to both the current initiative and to health risks in construction can be found on the HSE’s website; it is in your interests to read the contents and to download and follow all relevant guidance:
https://bit.ly/2RStPE4

SAFETY ALERT

The HSE has issued a Safety Alert concerning the use of gas detector sample tubes following a recent incident that resulted in an explosion and a fatality. Preceding hot works, a gas detector had failed to detect a flammable atmosphere because the wrong tube had been selected. Full details of the case, including action required to avoid such accidents, can be found on the HSE’s website:
https://www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins/failure-to-detect-dangerous-gas.htm

If you have need to use gas detection equipment, it is vital that you read the document and consult the additional guidance documents specified, particularly: https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/gasdetector.pdf

ACCIDENT STATISTICS 2019/20

The HSE has released the final UK fatality statistics for 2019/20, and they show the lowest number of fatalities since records began; a total of 111, down from 147 the previous year.

So we should be patting ourselves on the back yes? NO, not in construction! 30 people died within the construction industry during 2018/19; but this last year showed a huge 33% increase to 40, 36% of the total (up from 20% the previously year), which is absolutely inexcusable!

And, predictably, the most common cause for fatalities was work at height.

If our observations about increasingly lax general safety standards on site (see above) are correct, we are heading for a further massive increase in construction fatalities which will, inevitably, result in more misery in terms of both human life and business costs. After all the construction industry has done since the advent of CDM (1994) to vastly improve project planning and safety standards, it is absolutely shameful that we’ve gone so drastically backwards.

METALWORKING FLUIDS

In conjunction with the UKLA, the HSE has issued a revised Good Practice Guide for the Safe Handling and Disposal of Metalwork Fluids, giving comprehensive advice on preventing ill-health, maintaining health surveillance, acting on dipslide results and much more. The guidance document is freely downloadable from: https://bit.ly/2RWwNYk

But don’t overlook the fact that any such guidance is intended for use alongside a specific COSHH assessment which must relate to how metalworking fluids are used, handled and stored safely within your premises; no generics please!

INDUSTRY NEWS

FREE PASMA TRAINING

In partnership with PASMA, One Call Training Ltd are offering anyone on Job Seekers allowance or receiving Universal Credits FREE PASMA training on any of its courses until 30 December 2020. There are no strings attached; all that is required is proof of the candidate’s situation and that there are spaces still available.

Please note though, that the company is based in Derby so location may be an issue. However, this is an altruistic and welcome offer so, if anyone is interested, please contact Doug Ball direct on 07814-422362.

ADJUSTABLE TRANSOMS

As we have highlighted above, scaffolding standards appear to have slipped dramatically even amongst some of our contractors. It is pertinent therefore to take note of the following scaffold system that aims to make work at height easier to accommodate and therefore safer.

The adjustable transom was developed to enable safe alterations to the inside edge of scaffolds in order to prevent falls of objects and people. This allows trades to continue to work on the scaffold with minimum numbers of alterations and enables inside boards to be easily added and removed by the scaffolder.

Industry leader, the NASC, has provided guidance SG32:17 Provision of Extended and Telescopic Transoms and Board Brackets which is freely downloadable from: https://bit.ly/32XWZbe

The document gives an overview of existing products and work methods available for providing an inside platform on scaffolding, and information and instruction to ensure they are used correctly. Use this guidance to decide on the appropriate method for the work required to the façade of the building and what permissible gap is required from the inside board to the façade (and if this gap needs a guardrail/toe board).

A number of scaffolders, but not all, offer this provision; shop around.

Footnote:
The inside boards should only be loaded to a maximum of 0.75 kN / m2. This allows for personnel with tools and light materials but does NOT allow materials to be stored on the boards.

OUR AGING WORKFORCE

With the advances of medical science and the loosening of retirement age restrictions, we are inevitably working longer. Employees may welcome this as a way to retain an income for longer; employers may welcome this as a way to retain skills. However, we need to be fully aware of the potential drawbacks.

All employers are duty-bound to ensure employees are ‘fit for work’, in other words they are fit and capable enough to carry out the tasks required without risks to themselves or others. If an employee develops a medical condition, inhibited eyesight or hearing, loss of strength, loss of perception, etc, this will obviously impact on his or her ability to work safely and tasks will have to be re-assessed.

Within construction, this is a particular issue as, not only do the tasks generally require a good level of fitness and capabilities, but also because almost half (47%) of the workforce is now over 45. And it’s a fact that, the older an employee is, the more likely he/she is to die at work; those between 60 and 65 are twice as likely to be killed in the workplace. And the disturbing fact is that many site workers are now aged over 65.

We all understand the sensitivity of telling an older, possibly very loyal, employee that it’s time for him/her to retire. But never forget that the employer owes the employee a legal duty of care to safeguard his/her wellbeing. So, if it is impossible to find safer tasks and retirement is the only option because of inhibited capabilities, then it has to be so. Be realistic; carry out a personal risk assessment for the employee. An accident resulting from an employee’s inhibited capabilities will result in prosecution of the employer.

THIS IMPORTANCE OF COMPETENT ADVICE

A safety consultant, Clive Weal, has been prosecuted and ordered to pay £1400 for not being suitably qualified or competent to give advice on noise, vibration and hazardous substances. Weal failed to advise that paints containing isocyanates can cause asthma and that exposure to vibration was a significant issue (recommending anti-vibration gloves as an appropriate control measure); this ‘poor and incompetent advice’ resulted in the lack of meaningful remedial action and significantly risked the health of workers.

The HSE inspector stated that how those with health & safety responsibilities “achieve competence is up to them. However, they will have to be able to satisfy employers that they have a sufficient level of competence for the job in hand”. Qualifications, membership of professional bodies and regular CPD are all essentials, and the lack of any such proof would leave the individual open to HSE criticism or (as in this case) prosecution.

WHS obviously acts externally on your behalf to establish suitable and appropriate health & safety systems; we are all highly qualified and members of relevant professional bodies, and we take great pains to keep up our CPD to enable us to do so. But engaging WHS is not the only legal responsibility that you, as the employer, have; you must:

  • Follow our guidance
  • Continually engage with us to ensure we are able to adequately advise you
  • Ensure that your own personnel are adequately trained in health & safety; this applies particularly to the person responsible within your company, whether this be a director or a specifically appointed health & safety manager

Take another look internally; is your internal health & safety management suitably competent to carry out the necessary legal duties, does he/she know what those duties are, or at least what to ask of us and when? WHS can only go so far; the rest is (under the law) up to you.

GENERAL NEWS

BLEACH

A 34-year-old cleaner, Celia Seymour, died after breathing in bleach fumes whilst cleaning the upstairs bathroom of her own property; she collapsed as her friend arrived and, despite CPR, died 4 days later. It is believed that she may have mixed two cleaning products, with the result that the fumes were found to be ‘overpowering’ and triggering a severe asthma attack.

So how is that relevant to you? Despite this being a tragic death in a domestic property, such dangers exist at work as well. We have warned many times before about the dangers of bleach and the mixing of cleaning products, and have always advised that bleach is not used at all to avoid such risks; all our customers have a COSHH assessment to that effect in their health & safety pack. And, now that we are all cleaning our workplaces more frequently (or we should be!!), there is a huge risk that such tragedies will happen at work.

This recent case should serve as a poignant warning to everyone; serious risks exist even with the most basic day-to-day functions such as cleaning, and risk assessments are legally required for ALL work for very valid reasons. Take another look at your cleaning cupboards; ensure there is no bleach, and no cleaning chemicals that can be hazardous when mixed; and ensure all cleaners are properly trained and instructed.

CARBON MONOXIDE

A colleague of ours recently highlighted just how easy it is for carbon monoxide to kill when the public are unaware of the dangers. A couple he knew had mentioned that an alarm kept going off in their caravan and, when he took a look, he found soot stains up the wall and 40,000 ppm of carbon monoxide coming from their gas fridge; it had obviously been the carbon monoxide monitor trying its best to warn them!

So, we say yet again – carbon monoxide monitors are a life-saving investment wherever there are gas appliances within any premises, particularly smaller enclosed spaces such as bedrooms, living rooms and caravans. But please do make sure the users realise what the warning alarm actually means!

And a further warning to get all gas appliances regularly serviced and certificated, particularly if Covid has prompted a lengthy period of neglect.

LOCAL AEDs

Previously notified websites advising nationwide locations of AEDs (automated external defibrillators) may no longer be functioning (because of Covid?). Unfortunately, it will be down to local knowledge alone for the moment to locate your nearest AED at any given site, so do ask around – or, better still, provide your own!

AND FINALLY

With thanks to the HSE for the photographs

Given the emphasis on work at height failings and the resultant increase in fatalities as discussed above, we concentrate (yet again) on this issue alone below. However, the threat of prosecution cannot be the only motivation for complying to the Work at Height Regulations; a life and a family are destroyed each time a worker is killed or maimed, just bear that in mind.

A timely reminder: Only a thorough and competent risk assessment will identify correct controls. WHS still sees too many generic risk assessments on site; a generic risk assessment will not keep you out of court.

Work at height

  • BAM Nuttall was fined £900,000 and sub-contractor, McNealy Brown, £65,000 (both plus costs) after a painter from a further sub-contractor, DRH, fell 3 metres through a suspended ceiling at East Croydon railway station during refurbishment work. The painter had been given induction before starting but not briefed on the risk assessments which required full body harnesses for ceiling work, nor that the materials in question were fragile. Crash decking previously installed had been removed to allow finishing work but no alternative risk mitigation measures had been established.
  • Crystal Architectural Aluminium Ltd was fined a total of over £49,000 after an employee fell from a tower scaffold whilst removing a large window frame at a school hall, knocking another off a ladder; both suffered serious injuries but survived. The tower had not been properly erected and the ladder was not suitable for the tasks in hand.
  • Colin Marshall, founder of Colin Marshall Scaffolding, and his son and business partner, James, were prosecuted after an employee fell 7 metres to his death from a flat roof whilst dismantling scaffolding. It was found that the Company wasn’t qualified for scaffolding erection, scaffolding didn’t meet safety standards, and there were no harnesses provided. Colin Marshall was given suspended 4-month prison sentence, James a suspended 8-month sentence, and both ordered to pay the costs of almost £26,000.
  • Jason Lycett, director of principal contractor Brooke Ren, was fined a total of over £37,000 after the partial collapse of the roof of a two-storey residential block, endangering several workers who luckily had only just descended from the area. Lycett had ignored pre-construction instructions that the development’s roof structure required specialist design; he engaged a specialist designer only after the incident which could have cost 3 workers their lives.

This case is just beyond belief…

  • JR Scaffold Services Ltd, was prosecuted after an employee fell 8 metres from this ‘cantilevered scaffold tower’, suffering severe and life-changing injuries.

Properly constructed towers can be cantilevered if properly designed; contact PASMA for its training course: Towers with Cantilevers.

This Company had apparently carried out a risk assessment before erecting this Third World contraption (see photo)! Clearly, the risk assessment didn’t reach the correct (and legal) conclusion!

And, just in case anyone is tempted to forge evidence…

  • Contracts manager, Mark Bray, was jailed for 2 years for, not only for failing to take reasonable care of persons on his site, but also for perverting the course of justice by forging the signature of a worker who had fallen to his death through a fragile rooflight. Bray had insisted that netting wasn’t required; the netting, which would have cost a mere £1,250 to install, would have saved Drake’s life. Bray had forged Drake’s signature to make it appear that the poor man had agreed to the work procedures.

In addition to Bray’s prison sentence, fines totalling £130,000 were levied against his employer, Roofing Consultants Ltd, and £45,000 against High Ridge Roofing Solutions Ltd who controlled the work.

And no business is immune; the Work at Height Regulations apply to ALL companies…

  • Window cleaner, Ronnie Brown (trading as Ronnie Brown Window Cleaning) was fined £20,000 plus costs after he and his employees were observed carrying out unsafe work at height 5 metres off the ground at a hair dressing salon.

The word ‘suicidal’ springs to mind!!

  • Haulage specialist, Speed Drop Logistics, was fined a total of over £81,500 after being spotted putting their own workers at risk by carrying out roof work on their factory with no protection against falls through the fragile roof sheeting.

Note that both these prosecutions resulted from observations alone; there had been no accidents.

  • Both company director of Quartz 23, Mark Harrison, and manager, Gemma Williams, were given community orders of 2 years, including 120 hours of unpaid work, after an intoxicated customer fell 40 feet to his death from an elevated service yard of Quartz Nightclub in Cannock.

Quartz 23 was also fined a total of £24,000 for obvious safety failings. The Company was found to have a poor safety culture which, amongst other failings, allowed customers to use the undesignated exit onto the service yard area which lacked appropriate controls.

  • The operator of Aberdeen Market, The Market Village Company Ltd, was fined £80,000 after an elderly man was found dead at the bottom of a fire escape stairwell. The Company had failed to maintain the lighting to the stairwell and this was found to have resulted in the gentleman’s death.

STAY SAFE – STAY ALERT

FOLLOW THE RULES – DON’T IGNORE ADVICE

SAFEGUARD YOURSELF AND THE LIVES OF THOSE YOU AFFECT

WHS is working for you; help us to help you.
Our aim is to keep people safe and to keep your company working.
To contact WHS, ring: 01952-885885

COMPANY NEWS

TRAINING

It is prudent to repeat the provisos that are currently essential for us, at Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS), to be able to hold our usual full complement of courses, so please take careful note of the following:

  • Maximum 6 delegates per course
  • Lunch cannot be provided
  • Full details of both the precautions we have taken and what is expected from the candidates are issued with the joining instructions for each course

Please be reassured that we have established strict measures within the building and training room to reduce risks. As they have been kept fully informed of these measures, CITB and the awarding body for first aid courses have given their full consent for all courses to take place in person.

In return, we would ask the following: As we are so severely limited to the reduced number of places for the foreseeable future, it is important for WHS to ensure full attendance. We therefore ask please that, once booked, courses and places are not cancelled.

In addition, if any organisation requires attendance at their own premises for 6 or more employees, a specific course can be arranged at a date and time to suit provided that suitable Covid-specific precautions can be agreed at the point of booking.

First Aid

WHS 1-day (6 hours) Emergency First-Aid at Work courses, run with very strict Covid-specific controls, are scheduled as follows; those who need to attain or renew first-aid certification are advised to book places as quickly as possible as, although we have included additional dates, demand will obviously be high.

Dates:

  • 15 October 2020 FULLY BOOKED
  • 27 October 2020 FULLY BOOKED
  • 25 November 2020
  • 16 December 2020
  • 27 January 2021
  • 25 February 2021
  • 30 March 2021

Cost: £85 + VAT per person

As usual, please contact Vicki at Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) on 01952 885885 or enquiries@wenlockhs.co.uk or vicki@wenlockhs.co.uk to book places

CITB Courses

IMPORTANT NOTES:
Please be aware that CITB specifies that candidates must be available to attend each session within the course; failure to do so may require a repeat course.

And attendance is vital, not only because it affects the candidate personally, but also because it can seriously affect others. As highlighted in the previous newsletters, because of CITB rules, we may be forced to cancel a course ON THAT MORNING if some candidates don’t turn up.

Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS)

Duration: 5 days; 1 day per week
Dates:

  • 13, 20, 27 November, 4 & 11 December 2020 (Fridays) FULLY BOOKED
  • 15, 22, 29 January, 5 & 12 February 2021 (Fridays)
  • 1, 8, 15, 22 & 29 March 2021 (Monday)

Cost: £495 + VAT per person

Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) Refresher

Duration: 2 days
Dates:

  • 22 & 23 October 2020 (Thursday & Friday) FULLY BOOKED
  • 7 & 8 December 2020 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 8 & 9 February 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 14 & 15 April 2021 (Wednesday & Thursday)

Cost: £265 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS)

Duration: 2 days
Dates:

  • 20 & 21 October 2020 (Monday & Tuesday) FULLY BOOKED
  • 2 & 3 November 2020 (Monday & Tuesday) FULLY BOOKED
  • 11 & 12 January 2021 (Monday & Tuesday)
  • 10 & 11 March 2021 (Wednesday & Thursday)

Cost: £230 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS) Refresher

Duration: 1 day
Dates:

  • 23 November 2020 (Monday)
  • 13 January 2021 (Wednesday)

Cost: £160 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

CITB 1-Day Health & Safety Awareness

Duration: 1 day
Dates:

  • 16 November 2020 (Monday)
  • 7 January 2021 (Thursday)
  • 2 March 2021 (Tuesday)

Cost: £125 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

IOSH Managing Safely

Duration: 3 days (Wednesday to Friday)
Dates:

  • 7, 8 & 9 October 2020

Cost: £395 + VAT per person

Mental Health

Duration: 1 day
Dates:

  • 2 October 2020

Cost: £75 + VAT per person

COSHH / EH40

EH40, the HSE document detailing exposure limits for hazardous substances and upon which COSHH data sheets and assessments are reliant, was updated earlier this year. WHS has now reviewed all generic COSHH assessments and an updated version of the assessment for Hardwood Dust is attached to this newsletter.

Those WHS customers who have requested specific COSHH assessments in the past will need to be guided by their WHS advisor at the point of their annual documents review; some may need a complete revision to ensure legal compliance with current COSHH standards.

COVID & RELATED ISSUES

COVID-19 / CORONAVIRUS

As you’ve obviously understood from the ever-changing Government guidance and restrictions, Covid HAS NOT GONE AWAYI!!

At this point, who can be blamed for allowing the pandemic to take such a hold in the UK is irrelevant; the facts are that the infection and death rates are still rising and likely to rapidly rise still further as the cold weather approaches. If any of you has had personal experience of a relative or friend hospitalised because of Covid, you will know just how awful this virus can be. It is NOT ‘just another flu’ and no way can patients ‘pull themselves together’ to get well; such casual talk is, not only totally inaccurate, it is hurtful to those who have lost people they love.

So let’s just get a grip; follow what the Government says (a lot of which is legally binding), but also use your common sense. The basic rules of:

  • wash hands
  • cover the face
  • leave space

STILL apply, both at work and in public places. To assist employers, ample guidance is given on the HSE’s website: https://bit.ly/3j5bNdy

Follow the guidance; if you don’t, you now run the very real risk of being shut down either by the authorities or because a Covid outbreak results; spot checks are being carried out nationwide – you have been warned!

REPORTING COVID-19 UNDER RIDDOR

Understandably, there is a lot of confusion over when to report Covid cases within the workforce under RIDDOR. The first thing to stress is that RIDDOR applies to workplace accidents, incidents and ill health; if Covid (or any other disease) is contracted from within an employee’s private environment, RIDDOR is not applicable. Having said that, if other employees then contract Covid within the workplace, RIDDOR most definitely applies.
The rules, as laid down by the HSE, for the RIDDOR reporting of Covid are summarised as follows:

  • an accident or incident at work has, or could have, led to the release or escape of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2); this must be reported as a dangerous occurrence
  • a person at work (a worker) has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 attributed to an occupational exposure to coronavirus; this must be reported as a case of disease
  • a worker dies as a result of occupational exposure to coronavirus; this must be reported as a work-related death due to exposure to a biological agent

Further details can be found on the HSE’s website: https://bit.ly/2FMxNMe

COVID ISN’T THE ONLY THING THAT CAN KILL!

It has become evident that the emphasis on Covid has been to the detriment of other health & safety considerations. WHS has had to deal with many more accidents (some very serious) since March, and the increase in the accident rate appears to be gathering pace, particularly relating to work at height. And we’re highlighting this from our experience only; if this pattern is repeated throughout the construction industry, the number of fatalities and serious injuries will prove to be catastrophic for 2020/21.

WHS is seeing faults that hark back to 30 or 40 years ago – e.g. missing handrails and boards on scaffold, broken and slippery ladders, unsupported excavations. May we remind you that, yes, Covid is serious but so is general health & safety; the HSE is still prevalent and you will still be prosecuted if there is a serious accident. And, let’s face it, sites should now actually be safer than ever before because of the thought that’s had to go into organising the work to be Covid-safe!

LEGIONELLA

And another issue that’s reared its head in relation to Covid is Legionella. We have warned in previous newsletters that, if premises have been left empty and/or unattended because of Covid (or any other reason), it is a legal requirement incumbent on those in control of the buildings (including landlords) to ensure that it is safe to return; water systems (such as hot & cold water and air-conditioning systems) may have to be purged or otherwise checked to ensure the Legionella bacterium isn’t present. And predictably, there have now been outbreaks of legionella in the West Midlands and elsewhere, e.g: https://bit.ly/2Hgc4fN

The danger here is that Legionella symptoms are almost the same as for Covid, and therefore cases may well be wrongly diagnosed. So extra care must be taken to ensure that the risks of this equally dangerous disease are properly controlled. The HSE has issued specific guidance on their website: https://bit.ly/2HiJQB5

It reiterates quite clearly that (quote):

If your building has been closed or had reduced occupancy during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, water system stagnation can occur due to lack of use, increasing the risks of Legionnaires’ disease.
You should review your risk assessment and manage the legionella risks when you:

  • reinstate a water system or start using it again
  • restart some types of air conditioning units

If the water system is still used regularly, maintain the appropriate measures to prevent legionella growth.

Footnote:

And let’s not hear any of the ridiculous chat that has subsequently circulated on social media – that you can contract Legionella from the wearing of masks ‘because they can become damp’. There is absolutely no basis whatsoever to this ‘theory’ and this type of loose talk can only hinder the efforts to combat both Legionella and Covid. Legionella comes from a bacterium that can propagate when water systems are allowed to sit undisturbed at certain temperatures; it cannot develop on masks unless infected droplets have landed on them in the first place (i.e. from an infected water system.

Having said that, masks should not be allowed to get damp, that’s just common sense; change them regularly!

HSE NEWS

HSE INSPECTION INITIATIVE

The HSE will be carrying out targeted nationwide inspections between 5 and 30 October 2020 as part of a wider initiative to support the HSE’s strategy towards better employee health, and to help get people safely back to work and thereby support our economic recovery.

As with previous health initiatives, the focus of the inspections will be respiratory risks; however, this particular initiative will also cover Covid-security as the disease is obviously viewed as a major health risk. A specific section related to both the current initiative and to health risks in construction can be found on the HSE’s website; it is in your interests to read the contents and to download and follow all relevant guidance:
https://bit.ly/2RStPE4

SAFETY ALERT

The HSE has issued a Safety Alert concerning the use of gas detector sample tubes following a recent incident that resulted in an explosion and a fatality. Preceding hot works, a gas detector had failed to detect a flammable atmosphere because the wrong tube had been selected. Full details of the case, including action required to avoid such accidents, can be found on the HSE’s website:
https://www.hse.gov.uk/safetybulletins/failure-to-detect-dangerous-gas.htm

If you have need to use gas detection equipment, it is vital that you read the document and consult the additional guidance documents specified, particularly: https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/gasdetector.pdf

ACCIDENT STATISTICS 2019/20

The HSE has released the final UK fatality statistics for 2019/20, and they show the lowest number of fatalities since records began; a total of 111, down from 147 the previous year.

So we should be patting ourselves on the back yes? NO, not in construction! 30 people died within the construction industry during 2018/19; but this last year showed a huge 33% increase to 40, 36% of the total (up from 20% the previously year), which is absolutely inexcusable!

And, predictably, the most common cause for fatalities was work at height.

If our observations about increasingly lax general safety standards on site (see above) are correct, we are heading for a further massive increase in construction fatalities which will, inevitably, result in more misery in terms of both human life and business costs. After all the construction industry has done since the advent of CDM (1994) to vastly improve project planning and safety standards, it is absolutely shameful that we’ve gone so drastically backwards.

INDUSTRY NEWS

BRITISH STANDARDS CONSULTATION

British Standards are inviting comments on the proposed changes to BS7671:2018 Requirements for Electrical Installations IET Wiring Regulations (Chapters 1-45). It is proposed that Regulation 133.1.3 (selection of equipment) be modified and that certain usage of equipment will need to be recorded of the appropriate electrical certification in Part 6. The deadline for comments is 11 December 2020.

FREE PASMA TRAINING

In partnership with PASMA, One Call Training Ltd are offering anyone on Job Seekers allowance or receiving Universal Credits FREE PASMA training on any of its courses until 30 December 2020. There are no strings attached; all that is required is proof of the candidate’s situation and that there are spaces still available.

Please note though, that the company is based in Derby so location may be an issue. However, this is an altruistic and welcome offer so, if anyone is interested, please contact Doug Ball direct on 07814-422362.

OUR AGING WORKFORCE

With the advances of medical science and the loosening of retirement age restrictions, we are inevitably working longer. Employees may welcome this as a way to retain an income for longer; employers may welcome this as a way to retain skills. However, we need to be fully aware of the potential drawbacks.

All employers are duty-bound to ensure employees are ‘fit for work’, in other words they are fit and capable enough to carry out the tasks required without risks to themselves or others. If an employee develops a medical condition, inhibited eyesight or hearing, loss of strength, loss of perception, etc, this will obviously impact on his or her ability to work safely and tasks will have to be re-assessed.

Within construction, this is a particular issue as, not only do the tasks generally require a good level of fitness and capabilities, but also because almost half (47%) of the workforce is now over 45. And it’s a fact that, the older an employee is, the more likely he/she is to die at work; those between 60 and 65 are twice as likely to be killed in the workplace. And the disturbing fact is that many site workers are now aged over 65.

We all understand the sensitivity of telling an older, possibly very loyal, employee that it’s time for him/her to retire. But never forget that the employer owes the employee a legal duty of care to safeguard his/her wellbeing. So, if it is impossible to find safer tasks and retirement is the only option because of inhibited capabilities, then it has to be so. Be realistic; carry out a personal risk assessment for the employee. An accident resulting from an employee’s inhibited capabilities will result in prosecution of the employer.

THIS IMPORTANCE OF COMPETENT ADVICE

A safety consultant, Clive Weal, has been prosecuted and ordered to pay £1400 for not being suitably qualified or competent to give advice on noise, vibration and hazardous substances. Weal failed to advise that paints containing isocyanates can cause asthma and that exposure to vibration was a significant issue (recommending anti-vibration gloves as an appropriate control measure); this ‘poor and incompetent advice’ resulted in the lack of meaningful remedial action and significantly risked the health of workers.

The HSE inspector stated that how those with health & safety responsibilities “achieve competence is up to them. However, they will have to be able to satisfy employers that they have a sufficient level of competence for the job in hand”. Qualifications, membership of professional bodies and regular CPD are all essentials, and the lack of any such proof would leave the individual open to HSE criticism or (as in this case) prosecution.

WHS obviously acts externally on your behalf to establish suitable and appropriate health & safety systems; we are all highly qualified and members of relevant professional bodies, and we take great pains to keep up our CPD to enable us to do so. But engaging WHS is not the only legal responsibility that you, as the employer, have; you must:

  • Follow our guidance
  • Continually engage with us to ensure we are able to adequately advise you
  • Ensure that your own personnel are adequately trained in health & safety; this applies particularly to the person responsible within your company, whether this be a director or a specifically appointed health & safety manager

Take another look internally; is your internal health & safety management suitably competent to carry out the necessary legal duties, does he/she know what those duties are, or at least what to ask of us and when? WHS can only go so far; the rest is (under the law) up to you.

GENERAL NEWS

BLEACH

A 34-year-old cleaner, Celia Seymour, died after breathing in bleach fumes whilst cleaning the upstairs bathroom of her own property; she collapsed as her friend arrived and, despite CPR, died 4 days later. It is believed that she may have mixed two cleaning products, with the result that the fumes were found to be ‘overpowering’ and triggering a severe asthma attack.

So how is that relevant to you? Despite this being a tragic death in a domestic property, such dangers exist at work as well. We have warned many times before about the dangers of bleach and the mixing of cleaning products, and have always advised that bleach is not used at all to avoid such risks; all our customers have a COSHH assessment to that effect in their health & safety pack. And, now that we are all cleaning our workplaces more frequently (or we should be!!), there is a huge risk that such tragedies will happen at work.

This recent case should serve as a poignant warning to everyone; serious risks exist even with the most basic day-to-day functions such as cleaning, and risk assessments are legally required for ALL work for very valid reasons. Take another look at your cleaning cupboards; ensure there is no bleach, and no cleaning chemicals that can be hazardous when mixed; and ensure all cleaners are properly trained and instructed.

LOCAL AEDs

Previously notified websites advising nationwide locations of AEDs (automated external defibrillators) may no longer be functioning (because of Covid?). Unfortunately, it will be down to local knowledge alone for the moment to locate your nearest AED at any given site, so do ask around – or, better still, provide your own!

AND FINALLY

With thanks to the HSE for the photographs

Given the emphasis on work at height failings and the resultant increase in fatalities as discussed above, we concentrate (yet again) on this issue alone below. However, the threat of prosecution cannot be the only motivation for complying to the Work at Height Regulations; a life and a family are destroyed each time a worker is killed or maimed, just bear that in mind.

A timely reminder: Only a thorough and competent risk assessment will identify correct controls. WHS still sees too many generic risk assessments on site; a generic risk assessment will not keep you out of court.

Work at height

  • BAM Nuttall was fined £900,000 and sub-contractor, McNealy Brown, £65,000 (both plus costs) after a painter from a further sub-contractor, DRH, fell 3 metres through a suspended ceiling at East Croydon railway station during refurbishment work. The painter had been given induction before starting but not briefed on the risk assessments which required full body harnesses for ceiling work, nor that the materials in question were fragile. Crash decking previously installed had been removed to allow finishing work but no alternative risk mitigation measures had been established.
  • Crystal Architectural Aluminium Ltd was fined a total of over £49,000 after an employee fell from a tower scaffold whilst removing a large window frame at a school hall, knocking another off a ladder; both suffered serious injuries but survived. The tower had not been properly erected and the ladder was not suitable for the tasks in hand.

No business is immune; the Work at Height Regulations apply to ALL companies…

  • Window cleaner, Ronnie Brown (trading as Ronnie Brown Window Cleaning) was fined £20,000 plus costs after he and his employees were observed carrying out unsafe work at height 5 metres off the ground at a hair dressing salon.

The word ‘suicidal’ springs to mind!!

  • Haulage specialist, Speed Drop Logistics, was fined a total of over £81,500 after being spotted putting their own workers at risk by carrying out roof work on their factory with no protection against falls through the fragile roof sheeting.

Note that both these prosecutions resulted from observations alone; there had been no accidents.

And, just in case anyone is tempted to forge evidence…

  • Contracts manager, Mark Bray, was jailed for 2 years for, not only for failing to take reasonable care of persons on his site, but also for perverting the course of justice by forging the signature of a worker who had fallen to his death through a fragile rooflight. Bray had insisted that netting wasn’t required; the netting, which would have cost a mere £1,250 to install, would have saved Drake’s life. Bray had forged Drake’s signature to make it appear that the poor man had agreed to the work procedures.

In addition to Bray’s prison sentence, fines totalling £130,000 were levied against his employer, Roofing Consultants Ltd, and £45,000 against High Ridge Roofing Solutions Ltd who controlled the work.

We’ll leave you with this case, which is just beyond belief…

  • JR Scaffold Services Ltd, was prosecuted after an employee fell 8 metres from this ‘cantilevered scaffold tower’, suffering severe and life-changing injuries.

Properly constructed towers can be cantilevered if properly designed; contact PASMA for its training course: Towers with Cantilevers.

This Company had apparently carried out a risk assessment before erecting this Third World contraption (see photo)! Clearly, the risk assessment didn’t reach the correct (and legal) conclusions!

STAY SAFE – STAY ALERT

FOLLOW THE RULES – DON’T IGNORE ADVICE

SAFEGUARD YOURSELF AND THE LIVES OF THOSE YOU AFFECT

WHS is working for you; help us to help you.
Our aim is to keep people safe and to keep your company working.
To contact WHS, ring: 01952-885885