COMPANY NEWS

New Course – Lead Awareness

As with asbestos, lead is so hazardous that it requires its own regulations (i.e. the COSHH Regs are insufficient to cover the specific risks and necessary controls). It has become evident to Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) that few contractors realise the serious implications of not establishing effective controls where the use of new, or removal of old, lead products is unavoidable. And, again, exactly as with asbestos, lack of controls places both workers and others in the vicinity in danger, not only at the point of the work being carried out, but also from then onwards.

WHS has therefore developed a short course (3 hours) to warn all those who may come into contact with lead of the facts: the history of its use, lead products that are illegal, where lead products are still legal and why, health implications, and what is expected of employers in respect of legally required controls.

The course is designed for employers and employees alike; all general builders and building maintenance contractors should attend, plus all contractors or workshops who deal directly with the substance. Please contact Head Office on 01952-885885 for a quote (charged per hour as is usual for WHS short courses).

CITB Training Courses

Forthcoming 2018 / 2019 dates currently in place and fees for the CITB courses are as follows. Courses are held at the WHS training rooms and fees include lunch, refreshments and all course literature.

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.

  • Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS)
    Duration: 5 days; 1 day per week
    Dates: 19, 26 November, 3, 10, 17 December 2018 (Mondays)
    BLOCK BOOKING 7 – 11 January 2019 (Monday – Friday)
    Cost: £495 + VAT per person
  • Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) Refresher
    Duration: 2 days
    Dates: 27 & 28 November 2018 (Tuesday & Wednesday)
    Cost: £265 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)
  • Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS)
    Duration: 2 days
    Dates: 12 & 13 December 2018 (Wednesday & Thursday)
    Cost: £230 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)
  • CITB 1-Day Health & Safety Awareness
    Duration: 1 day
    Dates: 15 November 2018 (Thursday)
    Cost: £125 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

 

First Aid Training

Forthcoming 2018 / 2019 dates for the WHS 1-day Emergency First Aid courses, also held at training rooms, are as follows; the fee is just £75 + VAT per person:

  • 24 October 2018     FULLY BOOKED
  • 20 November 2018
  • 19 December 2018
  • 21 January 2019
  • 26 February 2019
  • 27 March 2019

 

As with the CITB courses below, if any organisation requires first-aid for 6 or more employees, a specific course can be arranged at a date, time and location to suit. Please contact the WHS office to discuss your requirements.

HSE NEWS

The Accident Book – Are You GDPR-Compliant?

As you are well aware, the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) came into force in May 2018, governing the way we deal with personal data collection and storage. The HSE has updated its Accident Book format (BI 510 2018 Edition), copies of which can be purchased, singly or in packs of 10, direct from HSE (https://bit.ly/2DWBMUO).

The new-format Accident Book, however, does not differ significantly from the previous version – the one provided by the HSE and WHS – and it is therefore perfectly acceptable to continue using the existing format. What does differ (since May 2018) is the way that the information contained within the Accident Book is gathered and stored; to quote the HSE:

“The Accident Book is designed to support users in being GDPR compliant. Both the 2012 and 2018 versions provide an approved format for recording accident information. This information must then be stored in compliance with GDPR principles. Please be aware that it is the responsibility of the user of the book and their company’s data protection policies to ensure that GDPR is fully complied with.”

So, as we have stressed many times both before and after the May 2018 deadline for GDPR-compliance, your systems must meet the new strict criteria for confidentiality and the provision of essential information to those who may need to know (e.g. the HSE, WHS or insurance providers for accident investigation). It would be worth reviewing your systems.

HSE Inter-Active Catalogue

The HSE issue numerous Approved Codes of Practice, Codes of Practice and general guidance documents covering all types of issues. However, it can take time to find exactly what you need when looking at the general HSE website. So we welcome a new on-line HSE Publications and Products Catalogue which enables very quick and easy navigation through the multitude of guidance and teaching aids (including new sets of playing cards to put ‘fun’ into discussions about health & safety).

The Catalogue can be accessed through:
https://books.hse.gov.uk/gempdf/HSE_Catalogue_2018.pdf

And a handy ‘coming soon’ HSE publications website can be found on:
https://books.hse.gov.uk/Coming-Soon

However, please note that the old Accident Book format is still shown in the Catalogue so you’ll need to use the link quoted previously for the new format!

INDUSTRY NEWS

Scaffolding Again – And a Stark Warning

We have been going on and on about scaffolding recently because we find it totally inexcusable that, in 2018, standards are still so abysmally low in most cases. A further appalling example illustrates the point:

A three year old girl suffered very serious head injuries when she was struck by timber falling from scaffolding. The incident happened in Brighton in July, and two construction workers were arrested at the scene on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm – little comfort to the toddler when she was fighting for her life: https://dailym.ai/2ItIakW

And, to demonstrate just how lethal any dropped item can be, just take a look at the ‘Drops Table’ on:
http://www.dropsonline.org/assets/documents/DROPS-Calculator-Metric-A4.pdf

The Table clearly demonstrates that, for instance, a 0.75kg item dropped from a height of 10m (roughly the height in question in this case) results in a serious injury; a 1kg item dropped 10m results in fatality.

So, again we say to all scaffolders – and those employing them – please make absolutely sure that all scaffolding is designed to TG20 standards and to suit the site environment, and that everyone below, particularly the public, is properly protected. Exclude all pedestrians within the immediate area where at all possible; where this is not possible, install sound debris netting, fans or equivalent and establish an adequate ‘buffer zone’ to provide additional protection for pedestrians against dropped or projectile items.

Post-Grenfell – Lessons to be Learnt in Fire Safety

Following the truly dreadful Grenfell fire disaster a year ago, Judith Hackett’s investigatory report, entitled ‘The Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: final report’ makes for interesting reading:
www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-review-of-building-regulations-and-fire-safety-final-report

It quite rightly highlights decades of poor regulatory requirements and under-enforcement of building control, essentially a ‘dumbing-down’ of standards, together with a culture of inappropriate product testing which, in our view, is all too common throughout the construction products industry.

Designers, in particular, are urged to read the document and then review their currently-accepted specifications – particularly concerning products, traditional standards of products testing, and the design of buildings of 10 or more storeys. But what of buildings lower than 10 storeys? They are surely just as vulnerable – let’s lead the way and improve standards now, not later.

And this dreadful incident should remind all designers, building control officers and contractors that building safety is just as much a part of minor refurbs (e.g. window or door replacement, M&E installations, etc) on existing structures as it is of new build. Pay attention to detail when disturbing a structure e.g. replacement of fire-stopping after disturbance, fire-proofing when asbestos fire-related materials are removed, etc – lay down a fire strategy for fire-proofing ALL buildings during the design and construction stages.

Good Advice from CSCS

Most of you will have taken the CSCS ‘touch-screen test’ at some point – and those who have taken it recently will undoubtedly have read the CSCS Test Questions book. In line with advice given in previous WHS newsletters, there is a very strong message throughout the CITB and CSCS guidance – to “know when to say no”.

The Health & Safety at Work Act (and other legislation, particularly CDM of course) makes it absolutely plain that health & safety is the responsibility of everyone on site; therefore, workers must “say no” when they realise the risks are too high. Unfortunately, far too many accidents that could have been avoided when workers realise the risks, just aren’t – why? There is good advice given in the CSCS book; to quote:

“In our industry, saying no is not easy. We are fixers and do-ers. We can do.

However, a significant number of accidents on sites happen when people are doing things they are not comfortable with.

For example, many workers have been harmed by not knowing how to identify asbestos. If you think there’s any likelihood that there may be asbestos present where you are working, you must stop work and seek advice.

If you’re not properly trained, equipped or briefed, or if the situation around you changes (WHS emphasis), the result could be an accident.

Trust your instinct. If things feel beyond your control or dangerous, or if you see someone else working unsafely, stop the work immediately and inform site management why you have done so. You might prevent an injury or save a life.

Your employer should be supportive if you do this, because you have the right to say no (WHS emphasis) and a responsibility to not walk by.”

The short video called ‘Setting Out’, available on the CITB website and referred to in the CSCS book (https://citbstore.pearsonvue.com/Articles.asp?ID=254) sums up the issues and workers’ responsibilities very succinctly. Can we please urge all of our contractors to show the video to their workers to encourage them never to take risks but to report serious issues to you so that you can action improvements. To carry on regardless risks both the lives of your workers and, ultimately, the life of your company.

KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO!!!

Dangerous Wind Speeds

We’ve been experiencing some very windy conditions recently and, according to the weather forecasters, this is likely to get worse over time. So a reminder that those working at height – roofers or anyone working on multi-storey buildings – must monitor wind speeds, particularly gusting, and stop work when speeds reach unacceptable levels.

Historically, the WHS generic risk assessment for work at height has always recommended stopping work when speeds reach 28mph. However, the National Federation of Roofing Contractors has a freely downloadable guidance document, ‘Roofing & Cladding in Windy Conditions; 3rd Edition’, on their website which gives far more accurate information: https://bit.ly/2zInbb6

The document recommends safe wind speeds at various heights and for various types of work, which is obviously more meaningful than a blanket rule; our risk assessment will be updated accordingly. However, do take note and ensure that you always err on the side of caution during windy conditions. Over the years, we have seen several nasty incidents where high wind speeds had not deterred work at height; many of these resulted from principal contractors pressurising their contractors to continue to work. So, as above…

KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO!!!

Asbestos Removal at Height

Removing asbestos at height is obviously far more hazardous than working on the ground – falls from height will present a very high risk of the uncontrolled release of asbestos fibres from dropped materials. Therefore, it is imperative that all asbestos removal at height is carried out using a stable working platform accessed by stairs rather than ladders, particularly when handling significantly large or awkward ACMs such as panels. Any use of ladders must be justified in the task-specific risk assessment as being totally ‘unavoidable’ and other tight control measures specified to guard against dropped items and fibre release.

Controversially, a misconception seems to have crept into the industry that a ‘licensed’ scaffolder must be used to erect scaffolding for any asbestos removal. This may have appeared because of a 2012 memo from the industry Asbestos Liaison Group which stated, item 5.1, that “In some cases a licensed scaffolder may be necessary”. However, the memo justifies this statement by stating that the scaffolding contractor “will need to be licensed if there is the potential for asbestos to be disturbed during construction of scaffolding” which would always be the case of course.

To clear up any misconceptions, Safety & Access Ltd have issued a succinct advice note:
https://bit.ly/2IuHpId

Expect the Unexpected – a Warning with Old Structures

You may remember the dreadful case of a young female pupil in an Edinburgh school being killed when a ‘modesty wall’ erected in the changing rooms collapsed: https://bit.ly/2P5szdK

The immediate cause of the collapse appears to have been that several pupils were supporting themselves off the floor by bracing their bodies between the modesty wall and the back wall of the changing rooms. But the root of the problem was that the modesty wall was a free-standing structure built in the 1950s when building regulations were not in force. The HSE had highlighted the problem but, although everyone is well aware of the issue with external free-standing walls, it is rarely noted or investigated with internal walls.

This awful, and totally avoidable, incident must therefore serve as a wake-up call to all clients, property managers, building surveyors, designers and contractors alike to be vigilant; warn of any free-standing structures and ensure that additional support is provided before another needless fatality happens.

Checks & Maintenance

Seen recently on a very pertinent warning sign:

IF YOU DON’T SCHEDULE TIME FOR MAINTENANCE,
YOUR EQUIPMENT WILL SCHEDULE IT FOR YOU

How true! How many times have we, at WHS, heard “oh we haven’t got time for that” when we question why checks and maintenance haven’t been done? Apart from the risk of an HSE Prohibition Notice if the legally required (under PUWER) checks and maintenance regimes are not established, employers risk losing time and money or, if that is not enough, lives when machinery goes wrong.

What makes better business sense: a few minutes to carry out checks and a couple of hours for maintenance, or the possibility of lost lives and livelihoods? There is no excuse.

GENERAL NEWS

Digital Tax Systems – IMPORTANT

A reminder for those who may not have heard, the deadline for ensuring that all VAT returns are issued to HMRC through an approved on-line, real-time accounting package is April 2019. The option of using the current HMRC VAT Returns system will be withdrawn at that point.

The Government has been working its way steadily through its policy of ‘Making Tax Digital’ since 2015 (e.g. on-line self-assessment) and intends the entire tax system to be transformed by 2020 to make it “more effective, more efficient, and simpler for taxpayers”. Within the construction industry, the Government has failed to recognise that many who operate above the VAT threshold are self-employed or small businesses who won’t have the time, resources or the IT expertise to operate such a real-time on-line accounting system; therefore, this will probably result in increased costs to the sole-trader or small business as they will inevitably have to out-source their accounts if they are not doing so already.

However, for those who don’t already out-source their accounting, Sage Accounting system and various other systems (e.g. Quick Books Online and Xero) are available and approved by HMRC. It is generally recommended that cloud-based rather than desktop systems are used as these reduce on-going costs, prevent possible internet access problems and allow all accounts to be eventually interlinked in line with the long-term Making Tax Digital strategy, thus saving businesses time and money in the long run.

So view this as a positive step rather than an obstacle,

AND DO BE AWARE OF THE APRIL 2019 DEADLINE
PENALTIES WILL BE APPLIED FOR NON-CONFORMANCE OR VAT ERRORS

Federation of Small Businesses

The Federation of Small Businesses exists to lobby Government policy on behalf of small businesses.

  • Small businesses account for 99.3% of all private sector businesses; small to medium-sized businesses accounted for 99.9%
  • 4.8 million workers in the UK are self-employed, representing 15% of the total workforce
  • Total employment within SMEs (‘small to medium-sized enterprises’) equals 16.1 million, 60% of all private sector employment
  • Combined annual turnover of SMEs = £1.9 trillion, 51% of all private sector turnover

 

Yet SMEs still take second place to the whims of corporations when it comes to assistance and regulation. The FSB does an admirable job in lobbying for change and a fairer deal for SMEs.

Almost all WHS customers are classified as SMEs, and most are small businesses or self-employed status, and WHS itself is no exception. WHS originally became a member of FSB because of the benefits, and membership has literally paid for itself since we joined. We therefore urge our customers to consider how FSB can help them in any number of ways. For a small annual outlay (as little as £129 per year), you can access free debt recovery; employment, legal, cyber and tax investigation insurance and assistance; business advice; employment, tax and pension advice and assistance; business banking; insurance brokerage; and a whole host of other free services to save you time, effort and money.

Should you wish to look into the benefits of membership, Jackie can arrange a no-obligation short meeting with the local representative to explain everything – the FSB realises how busy all SMEs are so the representative won’t take up much of your time, and it will be worth it! Alternatively, find out more on the FSB website: https://www.fsb.org.uk/benefits/package-comparison
or ring FSB direct on 0808-2020888

AND FINALLY

After previously highlighting time and time again the huge number of accidents and prosecutions related to work at height, asbestos, and other high-profile issues, this newsletter is instead focusing on other cases that don’t promote so much exposure but are nonetheless just as important (whichever industry we work in).

Hazardous substances
The following cases are totally inexcusable when you consider that the COSHH Regs have been with us for over 30 years – and common sense doesn’t seem to have come into it in any of the cases.

  • Owner and director of Clearview Design & Construction Ltd, Simon Thomerson, was given an 8 month prison sentence after an explosion and fire killed two labourers; the two had been using highly flammable ‘thinners’ to remove old carpet tile adhesive. Despite warnings on the product labels, several litres had been poured across the floor, the vapours spreading to an area the size of half a tennis court; any number of ignition sources could have caused the explosion. No thought had been given to a safe system of work.
  • Harford Attachments Ltd was fined a total of almost £211,000 after two workers were killed by an explosion in its spray-booth. There was no coherent safe system of work, instruction was not communicated and, as a result, vapour produced during the cleaning of the spray gun was ignited, causing the explosion.
  • Recycling company, Ereco EMEA Corporation Ltd was fined a total of £32,000 after eight workers were injured, 5 seriously, by an explosion from ignited toner cartridge powder. Most airborne dusts can be explosive (remember the Wood Treatment Ltd explosion near Macclesfield in 2015 when 4 workers tragically lost their lives?) and it is essential that this possibility is included in both a COSHH assessment and a premises fire risk assessment, neither of which had been done in this case.
  • Boat maker, Humber Fabrications, was fined a total of over £12,500 after a 19-year old employee lost consciousness and suffered 2nd degree chemical burns from using dichloromethane to clean the inside of a boat hull. No extraction system was in place, no respiratory protection available and no attention had been paid to establishing a safe system of work.
  • Bayham Ltd was fined over £18,000 after an employee developed occupational asthma from unprotected soldering work over decades of employment. No proper extraction system was in place.

 

In addition, never forget that health & safety duties extend to safeguarding ALL those who may be affected by our actions. Risk assessment must (by law) cover ALL persons who MAY be affected; take care of the public:

  • The Western Isles local authority, Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar, was fined a total of £18,000 after the actions of its employees inflicted chemical burns on a child. The steps of a pier had been cleaned using sodium hypochlorite; when children later rested on the public steps, one of the youngsters developed severe chemical burns to his legs and was hospitalised.

 

And while we’re on the subject of public protection…

Public protection

  • Engie Regeneration (Apollo) Ltd was fined over £817,000 and its sub-contractor, Superior Roofing & Building Services Ltd, almost £312,000 after a tenant on the Du Cane Estate in London fell 5.5 metres through a fragile cement sheet walkway, seriously fracturing her pelvis (but being lucky to survive). Despite operatives partially falling through the fragile sheeting previously, no protection measures had been established by either contractor until after the fall through by the tenant! Unbelievable and totally inexcusable complacency for Engie (formerly known as Keepmoat Regeneration (Apollo) Ltd), let alone the sub-contractor.
  • Retail chain, Martin McColl Ltd, was fined a massive total of over £611,000 and shop-fitters, JMS Retail Concepts Ltd, over £43,000 after two elderly shoppers were injured (including broken bones) when they tripped over the construction of a disabled ramp whilst entering a Glamorgan store. The work was being carried out while the store remained open, something that was clearly ill-advised as the ramp under construction led directly to, and across, the store door.

Did the costs of closing the store for a couple of days, phasing the work and providing the necessary barriers really out-way the risk of something going wrong? Clearly the fines imposed sought to send a message – no they didn’t! It was just fortunate that no more serious injuries were sustained.

DON’T FORGET – THE PROSECUTIONS REPORTED IN THESE NEWSLETTERS ARE JUST A FRACTION OF THOSE REPORTED. NON-COMPLIANCE TO HEALTH & SAFETY LAW WILL RESULT IN ENFORCEMENT OR PROSECUTION
AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, RISKS KILLING OR INJURING SOMEONE

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

First Aid Training

Forthcoming 2018 / 2019 dates for the WHS 1-day Emergency First Aid courses, also held at training rooms, are as follows; the fee is just £75 + VAT per person:

  • 24 October 2018     FULLY BOOKED
  • 20 November 2018
  • 19 December 2018
  • 21 January 2019
  • 26 February 2019
  • 27 March 2019

 

If any organisation requires first-aid for 6 or more employees, a specific course can be arranged at a date, time and location to suit. Please contact the WHS office to discuss your requirements.

New Course – Lead Awareness

As with asbestos, lead is so hazardous that it requires its own regulations (i.e. the COSHH Regs are insufficient to cover the specific risks and necessary controls). It has become evident to Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) that few, if any, business managers or their employed contractors realise the serious implications of not establishing effective controls where the use of new, or removal of old, lead products is unavoidable. And, again, exactly as with asbestos, lack of controls places both workers and others in the vicinity in danger, not only at the point of the work being carried out, but also from then onwards.

WHS has therefore developed a short course (3 hours) to furnish all those who may come into contact with, or commission the removal or refurbishment of, lead products with the facts: the history of its use, lead products that are illegal, where lead products are still legal and why, health implications, and what is expected of employers in respect of legally required controls.

The course is designed for employers and employees alike. Managers of any business that works with lead should attend, as well as owners or managers of existing properties (commercial and domestic, particularly those built before the mid-1990s), anyone engaging maintenance contractors or considering new-build of any type.

Please contact Head Office on 01952-885885 for a quote (the course will be charged on an hourly basis as is usual for most WHS short courses).

HSE NEWS

The Accident Book – Are You GDPR-Compliant?

As you are well aware, the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) came into force in May 2018, governing the way we deal with personal data collection and storage. The HSE has updated its Accident Book format (BI 510 2018 Edition), copies of which can be purchased, singly or in packs of 10, direct from HSE (https://bit.ly/2DWBMUO).
The new-format Accident Book, however, does not differ significantly from the previous version – the one provided by the HSE and WHS – and it is therefore perfectly acceptable to continue using the existing format. What does differ (since May 2018) is the way that the information contained within the Accident Book is gathered and stored; to quote the HSE:

“The Accident Book is designed to support users in being GDPR compliant. Both the 2012 and 2018 versions provide an approved format for recording accident information. This information must then be stored in compliance with GDPR principles. Please be aware that it is the responsibility of the user of the book and their company’s data protection policies to ensure that GDPR is fully complied with.”

So, as we have stressed many times both before and after the May 2018 deadline for GDPR-compliance, your systems must meet the new strict criteria for confidentiality and the provision of essential information to those who may need to know (e.g. the HSE, WHS or insurance providers for accident investigation). It would be worth reviewing your systems.

HSE Inter-Active Catalogue

The HSE issue numerous Approved Codes of Practice, Codes of Practice and general guidance documents covering all types of issues. However, it can take time to find exactly what you need when looking at the general HSE website. So we welcome a new on-line HSE Publications and Products Catalogue which enables very quick and easy navigation through the multitude of guidance and teaching aids (including new sets of playing cards to put ‘fun’ into discussions about health & safety).

The Catalogue can be accessed through:
https://books.hse.gov.uk/gempdf/HSE_Catalogue_2018.pdf

And a handy ‘coming soon’ HSE publications website can be found on:
https://books.hse.gov.uk/Coming-Soon

However, please note that the old Accident Book format is still shown in the Catalogue so you’ll need to use the link quoted previously for the new format!

INDUSTRY NEWS

A Plea to all Businesses Engaging Scaffolders

We have been appealing to businesses recently to make absolutely sure that any scaffolders (and contractors working at height) engaged for whatever reason are sufficiently competent to do the work without posing a risk to your workers or the public. It is inexcusable in this day and age, but a fact, that standards are still so abysmally low that risks are all too commonplace. A further appalling example illustrates the point:

A three year old girl suffered very serious head injuries when she was struck by timber falling from scaffolding. The incident happened in Brighton in July, and two construction workers were arrested at the scene on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm – little comfort to the toddler when she was fighting for her life: https://dailym.ai/2ItIakW

And, to demonstrate just how lethal any dropped item can be, just take a look at the ‘Drops Table’ on:
http://www.dropsonline.org/assets/documents/DROPS-Calculator-Metric-A4.pdf

The Table clearly demonstrates that, for instance, a 0.75kg item dropped from a height of 10m (roughly the height in question in this case) results in a serious injury; a 1kg item dropped 10m results in fatality.

So, again, we say to all businesses engaging scaffolders and/or any contractors working at height at your premises – please make absolutely sure that all scaffolders are properly trained and CISRS-carded, that scaffolding is designed to TG20 (industry) standards and to suit the site environment, and that everyone below, particularly your workers and/or the public, is properly protected. They should exclude all pedestrians within the immediate area where at all possible; where this is not possible, they must install sound debris netting, fans or equivalent and establish an adequate ‘buffer zone’ to provide additional protection for pedestrians against dropped or projectile items.

Better still – call WHS well before you engage ANY contractors so that we can help ensure you appoint legally compliant companies. Ring WHS on 01952-885885 – better safe than sorry!

Post-Grenfell – Lessons to be Learnt in Fire Safety

Following the truly dreadful Grenfell fire disaster a year ago, Judith Hackett’s investigatory report, entitled ‘The Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: final report’ makes for interesting reading:
www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-review-of-building-regulations-and-fire-safety-final-report

It quite rightly highlights decades of poor regulatory requirements and under-enforcement of building control, essentially a ‘dumbing-down’ of standards, together with a culture of inappropriate product testing which, in our view, is all too common throughout the construction products industry.

The issues raised in the report obviously mainly concern high-rise construction but (and this should be noted by, and serve as a reminder to, ALL businesses who own or are responsible for maintaining their premises) building safety is just as much a part of minor refurbs (e.g. window replacement, M&E installations, etc) on existing structures as it is of new build.

Ensure that you, and your designers, project managers and contractors, pay attention to detail when disturbing a structure e.g. replacement of fire-stopping, fire-proofing materials where asbestos fire-related materials are removed, etc. Lay down a sound fire strategy for fire-proofing ALL buildings during the construction or refurbishment stages; it may be too late afterwards.

Good Advice – When to Say NO!

The Health & Safety at Work Act (and other legislation) makes it absolutely plain that health & safety is the responsibility of everyone in the workplace, not just employers; therefore, workers have a responsibility to “say no” when they realise the risks are too high. Unfortunately, far too many accidents that could have been avoided when workers realise the risks, just aren’t – why?

Take a look at this good advice from the CITB (a body that works alongside the HSE); to quote:

“… saying no is not easy. We are fixers and do-ers. We can do.

However, a significant number of accidents…happen when people are doing things they are not comfortable with…. If you’re not properly trained, equipped or briefed, or if the situation around you changes (WHS emphasis), the result could be an accident.

Trust your instinct. If things feel beyond your control or dangerous, or if you see someone else working unsafely, stop the work immediately and inform (your) management why you have done so. You might prevent an injury or save a life.

Your employer should be supportive if you do this, because you have the right to say no (WHS emphasis) and a responsibility to not walk by.”

Can we please urge all of our customers to encourage their employees never to take risks but to report serious issues to management so that action can be taken to make improvements. Your Employee Health & Safety Induction (provided by WHS) says as much – but the message must constantly be reiterated to avoid complacency or the ‘pressure of work’ becoming paramount in the eyes of your employees.

Whether you’re an employer or an employee, to carry on regardless of potential risks could cost both the lives of workers and, ultimately, the life of the company.

KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO!!!

Expect the Unexpected – a Warning with Old Structures

You may remember the dreadful case of a young female pupil in an Edinburgh school being killed when a ‘modesty wall’ erected in the changing rooms collapsed: https://bit.ly/2P5szdK

The immediate cause of the collapse appears to have been that several pupils were supporting themselves off the floor by bracing their bodies between the modesty wall and the back wall of the changing rooms. But the root of the problem was that the modesty wall was a free-standing structure built in the 1950s when building regulations were not in force. The HSE had highlighted the problem but, although everyone is well aware of the issue with external free-standing walls, it is rarely noted or investigated with internal walls.

This awful, and totally avoidable, incident must therefore serve as a wake-up call to all property owners or managers, building surveyors, designers and contractors alike to be vigilant; warn of any free-standing structures and ensure that additional support is provided before another needless fatality happens.

Checks & Maintenance

Seen recently on a very pertinent warning sign:

IF YOU DON’T SCHEDULE TIME FOR MAINTENANCE,
YOUR EQUIPMENT WILL SCHEDULE IT FOR YOU

How true! How many times have we, at WHS, heard “oh we haven’t got time for that” when we question why checks and maintenance haven’t been done? Apart from the risk of an HSE Prohibition Notice if the legally required (under PUWER) checks and maintenance regimes are not established, employers risk losing time and money or, if that is not enough, lives when machinery goes wrong.

What makes better business sense: a few minutes to carry out checks and a couple of hours for maintenance, or the possibility of lost lives and livelihoods? There is no excuse.

GENERAL NEWS

Digital Tax Systems – IMPORTANT

A reminder for those who may not have heard, the deadline for ensuring that all VAT returns are issued to HMRC through an approved on-line, real-time accounting package is April 2019. The option of using the current HMRC VAT Returns system will be withdrawn at that point.

The Government has been working its way steadily through its policy of ‘Making Tax Digital’ since 2015 (e.g. on-line self-assessment) and intends the entire tax system to be transformed by 2020 to make it “more effective, more efficient, and simpler for taxpayers”. Within the construction industry, the Government has failed to recognise that many who operate above the VAT threshold are self-employed or small businesses who won’t have the time, resources or the IT expertise to operate such a real-time on-line accounting system; therefore, this will probably result in increased costs to the sole-trader or small business as they will inevitably have to out-source their accounts if they are not doing so already.

However, for those who don’t already out-source their accounting, Sage Accounting system and various other systems (e.g. Quick Books Online and Xero) are available and approved by HMRC. It is generally recommended that cloud-based rather than desktop systems are used as these reduce on-going costs, prevent possible internet access problems and allow all accounts to be eventually interlinked in line with the long-term Making Tax Digital strategy, thus saving businesses time and money in the long run.

So view this as a positive step rather than an obstacle,

AND DO BE AWARE OF THE APRIL 2019 DEADLINE

PENALTIES WILL BE APPLIED FOR NON-CONFORMANCE OR VAT ERRORS

Federation of Small Businesses

The Federation of Small Businesses exists to lobby Government policy on behalf of small businesses.

  • Small businesses account for 99.3% of all private sector businesses; small to medium-sized businesses accounted for 99.9%
  • 4.8 million workers in the UK are self-employed, representing 15% of the total workforce
  • Total employment within SMEs (‘small to medium-sized enterprises’) equals 16.1 million, 60% of all private sector employment
  • Combined annual turnover of SMEs = £1.9 trillion, 51% of all private sector turnover

 

Yet SMEs still take second place to the whims of corporations when it comes to assistance and regulation. The FSB does an admirable job in lobbying for change and a fairer deal for SMEs.

Almost all WHS customers are classified as SMEs, and most are small businesses or self-employed status, and WHS itself is no exception. WHS originally became a member of FSB because of the benefits, and membership has literally paid for itself since we joined. We therefore urge our customers to consider how FSB can help them in any number of ways. For a small annual outlay (as little as £129 per year), you can access free debt recovery; employment, legal, cyber and tax investigation insurance and assistance; business advice; employment, tax and pension advice and assistance; business banking; insurance brokerage; and a whole host of other free services to save you time, effort and money.

Should you wish to look into the benefits of membership, Jackie can arrange a no-obligation short meeting with the local representative to explain everything – the FSB realises how busy all SMEs are so the representative won’t take up much of your time, and it will be worth it! Alternatively, find out more on the FSB website: https://www.fsb.org.uk/benefits/package-comparison
or ring FSB direct on 0808-2020888

AND FINALLY

After previously highlighting time and time again the huge number of accidents and prosecutions related to work at height, asbestos, faulty equipment, fraudulent gas fitters, and other high-profile issues, this newsletter is instead focusing on other cases that don’t promote so much exposure but are nonetheless just as important (whichever industry we work in).

Hazardous substances
The following cases are totally inexcusable when you consider that the COSHH Regs have been with us for over 30 years – and common sense doesn’t seem to have come into it in any of the cases.

  • Owner and director of Clearview Design & Construction Ltd, Simon Thomerson, was given an 8 month prison sentence after an explosion and fire killed two labourers; the two had been using highly flammable ‘thinners’ to remove old carpet tile adhesive. Despite warnings on the product labels, several litres had been poured across the floor, the vapours spreading to an area the size of half a tennis court; any number of ignition sources could have caused the explosion. No thought had been given to a safe system of work.
  • Harford Attachments Ltd was fined a total of almost £211,000 after two workers were killed by an explosion in its spray-booth. There was no coherent safe system of work, instruction was not communicated and, as a result, vapour produced during the cleaning of the spray gun was ignited, causing the explosion.
  • Recycling company, Ereco EMEA Corporation Ltd was fined a total of £32,000 after eight workers were injured, 5 seriously, by an explosion from ignited toner cartridge powder. Most airborne dusts can be explosive (remember the Wood Treatment Ltd explosion near Macclesfield in 2015 when 4 workers tragically lost their lives?) and it is essential that this possibility is included in both a COSHH assessment and a premises fire risk assessment, neither of which had been done in this case.
  • Boat maker, Humber Fabrications, was fined a total of over £12,500 after a 19-year old employee lost consciousness and suffered 2nd degree chemical burns from using dichloromethane to clean the inside of a boat hull. No extraction system was in place, no respiratory protection available and no attention had been paid to establishing a safe system of work.
  • Bayham Ltd was fined over £18,000 after an employee developed occupational asthma from unprotected soldering work over decades of employment. No proper extraction system was in place.

 

In addition, never forget that health & safety duties extend to safeguarding ALL those who may be affected by our actions. Risk assessment must (by law) cover ALL persons who MAY be affected; take care of the public:

  • The Western Isles local authority, Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar, was fined a total of £18,000 after the actions of its employees inflicted chemical burns on a child. The steps of a pier had been cleaned using sodium hypochlorite; when children later rested on the public steps, one of the youngsters developed severe chemical burns to his legs and was hospitalised.

 

And while we’re on the subject of public protection…

Public protection

  • Engie Regeneration (Apollo) Ltd was fined over £817,000 and its sub-contractor, Superior Roofing & Building Services Ltd, almost £312,000 after a tenant on the Du Cane Estate in London fell 5.5 metres through a fragile cement sheet walkway, seriously fracturing her pelvis (but being lucky to survive). Despite operatives partially falling through the fragile sheeting previously, no protection measures had been established by either contractor until after the fall through by the tenant! Unbelievable and totally inexcusable complacency for Engie (formerly known as Keepmoat Regeneration (Apollo) Ltd), let alone the sub-contractor.
  • Retail chain, Martin McColl Ltd, was fined a massive total of over £611,000 and shop-fitters, JMS Retail Concepts Ltd, over £43,000 after two elderly shoppers were injured (including broken bones) when they tripped over the construction of a disabled ramp whilst entering a Glamorgan store. The work was being carried out while the store remained open, something that was clearly ill-advised as the ramp under construction led directly to, and across, the store door.

Did the costs of closing the store for a couple of days, phasing the work and providing the necessary barriers really out-way the risk of something going wrong? Clearly the fines imposed sought to send a message – no they didn’t! It was just fortunate that no more serious injuries were sustained.

And pick any one of a number of prosecutions against poor or fraudulent gas engineers who seem to think nothing of endangering the public:

  • Richard Trezise was sentenced to 16 months in prison for a string of offences relating to unsafe gas work in domestic properties, resulting in gas leaks and dangerous accumulations of combustible products. Fortunately, nobody was harmed but this is yet another case of intentional fraud, with Trezise pretending to be Gas Safe registered.

 

DON’T FORGET – THE PROSECUTIONS REPORTED IN THESE NEWSLETTERS ARE JUST A FRACTION OF THOSE REPORTED. NON-COMPLIANCE TO HEALTH & SAFETY LAW WILL RESULT IN ENFORCEMENT OR PROSECUTION
AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, RISKS KILLING OR INJURING SOMEONE

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

New Course – Lead Awareness

As with asbestos, lead is so hazardous that it requires its own regulations (i.e. the COSHH Regs are insufficient to cover the specific risks and necessary controls). It has become evident to Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) that few contractors realise the serious implications of not establishing effective controls where the use of new, or removal of old, lead products (e.g. lead pipework) is unavoidable. And, again, exactly as with asbestos, lack of controls places both workers and others in the vicinity in danger, not only at the point of the work being carried out, but also from then onwards.

WHS has therefore developed a short course (3 hours) to warn all those who may come into contact with lead of the facts: the history of its use, lead products that are illegal, where lead products are still legal and why, health implications, and what is expected of employers in respect of legally required controls.

The course is designed for employers and employees alike; all general builders and building maintenance contractors should attend, plus all contractors or workshops who deal directly with the substance. Please contact Head Office on 01952-885885 for a quote (charged per hour as is usual for WHS short courses).

CITB Training Courses

Forthcoming 2018 / 2019 dates currently in place and fees for the CITB courses are as follows. Courses are held at the WHS training rooms and fees include lunch, refreshments and all course literature.

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.

  • Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS)
    Duration: 5 days; 1 day per week
    Dates: 19, 26 November, 3, 10, 17 December 2018 (Mondays)
    BLOCK BOOKING 7 – 11 January 2019 (Monday – Friday)
    Cost: £495 + VAT per person
  • Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) Refresher
    Duration: 2 days
    Dates: 27 & 28 November 2018 (Tuesday & Wednesday)
    Cost: £265 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)
  • Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS)
    Duration: 2 days
    Dates: 12 & 13 December 2018 (Wednesday & Thursday)
    Cost: £230 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)
  • CITB 1-Day Health & Safety Awareness
    Duration: 1 day
    Dates: 15 November 2018 (Thursday)
    Cost: £125 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

 

First Aid Training

Forthcoming 2018 / 2019 dates for the WHS 1-day Emergency First Aid courses, also held at training rooms, are as follows; the fee is just £75 + VAT per person:

  • 24 October 2018        FULLY BOOKED
  • 20 November 2018
  • 19 December 2018
  • 21 January 2019
  • 26 February 2019
  • 27 March 2019

 

As with the CITB courses below, if any organisation requires first-aid for 6 or more employees, a specific course can be arranged at a date, time and location to suit. Please contact the WHS office to discuss your requirements.

HSE NEWS

The Accident Book – Are You GDPR-Compliant?

As you are well aware, the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) came into force in May 2018, governing the way we deal with personal data collection and storage. The HSE has updated its Accident Book format (BI 510 2018 Edition), copies of which can be purchased, singly or in packs of 10, direct from HSE (https://bit.ly/2DWBMUO).

The new-format Accident Book, however, does not differ significantly from the previous version – the one provided by the HSE and WHS – and it is therefore perfectly acceptable to continue using the existing format. What does differ (since May 2018) is the way that the information contained within the Accident Book is gathered and stored; to quote the HSE:

“The Accident Book is designed to support users in being GDPR compliant. Both the 2012 and 2018 versions provide an approved format for recording accident information. This information must then be stored in compliance with GDPR principles. Please be aware that it is the responsibility of the user of the book and their company’s data protection policies to ensure that GDPR is fully complied with.”

So, as we have stressed many times both before and after the May 2018 deadline for GDPR-compliance, your systems must meet the new strict criteria for confidentiality and the provision of essential information to those who may need to know (e.g. the HSE, WHS or insurance providers for accident investigation). It would be worth reviewing your systems.

HSE Inter-Active Catalogue

The HSE issue numerous Approved Codes of Practice, Codes of Practice and general guidance documents covering all types of issues. However, it can take time to find exactly what you need when looking at the general HSE website. So we welcome a new on-line HSE Publications and Products Catalogue which enables very quick and easy navigation through the multitude of guidance and teaching aids (including new sets of playing cards to put ‘fun’ into discussions about health & safety).

The Catalogue can be accessed through:
https://books.hse.gov.uk/gempdf/HSE_Catalogue_2018.pdf

And a handy ‘coming soon’ HSE publications website can be found on:
https://books.hse.gov.uk/Coming-Soon

However, please note that the old Accident Book format is still shown in the Catalogue so you’ll need to use the link quoted previously for the new format!

INDUSTRY NEWS

Scaffolding Again – And a Stark Warning

We have been going on and on about scaffolding recently because we find it totally inexcusable that, in 2018, standards are still so abysmally low in most cases. A further appalling example illustrates the point:

A three year old girl suffered very serious head injuries when she was struck by timber falling from scaffolding. The incident happened in Brighton in July, and two construction workers were arrested at the scene on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm – little comfort to the toddler when she was fighting for her life: https://dailym.ai/2ItIakW

And, to demonstrate just how lethal any dropped item can be, just take a look at the ‘Drops Table’ on:
http://www.dropsonline.org/assets/documents/DROPS-Calculator-Metric-A4.pdf

The Table clearly demonstrates that, for instance, a 0.75kg item dropped from a height of 10m (roughly the height in question in this case) results in a serious injury; a 1kg item dropped 10m results in fatality.

So, again we say to all contractors who may engage scaffolders for whatever reason, and all of you who may work at height for any reason, please make absolutely sure that all scaffolding is designed to TG20 standards and to suit the site environment, and that everyone below, particularly the public, is properly protected. Exclude all pedestrians within the immediate area where at all possible; where this is not possible, install sound debris netting, fans or equivalent and establish an adequate ‘buffer zone’ to provide additional protection for pedestrians against dropped or projectile items.

Post-Grenfell – Lessons to be Learnt in Fire Safety

Following the truly dreadful Grenfell fire disaster a year ago, Judith Hackett’s investigatory report, entitled ‘The Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety: final report’ makes for interesting reading:
www.gov.uk/government/publications/independent-review-of-building-regulations-and-fire-safety-final-report

It quite rightly highlights decades of poor regulatory requirements and under-enforcement of building control, essentially a ‘dumbing-down’ of standards, together with a culture of inappropriate product testing which, in our view, is all too common throughout the construction products industry.

Designers, in particular, are urged to read the document and then review their currently-accepted specifications – particularly concerning products, traditional standards of products testing, and the design of buildings of 10 or more storeys. But what of buildings lower than 10 storeys? They are surely just as vulnerable – let’s lead the way and improve standards now, not later.

And this dreadful incident should remind all designers, building control officers and contractors that building safety is just as much a part of minor refurbs (e.g. window or door replacement, M&E installations, etc) on existing structures as it is of new build. Pay attention to detail when disturbing a structure e.g. replacement of fire-stopping after disturbance, fire-proofing when asbestos fire-related materials are removed, etc – lay down a fire strategy for fire-proofing ALL buildings during the design and construction stages.

Good Advice from CSCS

Most of you will have taken the CSCS ‘touch-screen test’ at some point – and those who have taken it recently will undoubtedly have read the CSCS Test Questions book. In line with advice given in previous WHS newsletters, there is a very strong message throughout the CITB and CSCS guidance – to “know when to say no”.

The Health & Safety at Work Act (and other legislation, particularly CDM of course) makes it absolutely plain that health & safety is the responsibility of everyone on site; therefore, workers must “say no” when they realise the risks are too high. Unfortunately, far too many accidents that could have been avoided when workers realise the risks, just aren’t – why? There is good advice given in the CSCS book; to quote:

“In our industry, saying no is not easy. We are fixers and do-ers. We can do.

However, a significant number of accidents on sites happen when people are doing things they are not comfortable with.
For example, many workers have been harmed by not knowing how to identify asbestos. If you think there’s any likelihood that there may be asbestos present where you are working, you must stop work and seek advice.

If you’re not properly trained, equipped or briefed, or if the situation around you changes (WHS emphasis), the result could be an accident.

Trust your instinct. If things feel beyond your control or dangerous, or if you see someone else working unsafely, stop the work immediately and inform site management why you have done so. You might prevent an injury or save a life.

Your employer should be supportive if you do this, because you have the right to say no (WHS emphasis) and a responsibility to not walk by.”

The short video called ‘Setting Out’, available on the CITB website and referred to in the CSCS book (https://citbstore.pearsonvue.com/Articles.asp?ID=254) sums up the issues and workers’ responsibilities very succinctly. Can we please urge all of our contractors to show the video to their workers to encourage them never to take risks but to report serious issues to you so that you can action improvements. To carry on regardless risks both the lives of your workers and, ultimately, the life of your company.

KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO!!!

Dangerous Wind Speeds

We’ve been experiencing some very windy conditions recently and, according to the weather forecasters, this is likely to get worse over time. So a reminder that those working at height – plant installers, maintenance engineers or anyone working on multi-storey buildings – must monitor wind speeds, particularly gusting, and stop work when speeds reach unacceptable levels.

Historically, the WHS generic risk assessment for work at height has always recommended stopping work when speeds reach 28mph. However, the National Federation of Roofing Contractors has a freely downloadable guidance document, ‘Roofing & Cladding in Windy Conditions; 3rd Edition’, on their website which gives far more accurate information: https://bit.ly/2zInbb6

The document recommends safe wind speeds at various heights and for various types of work, which is obviously more meaningful than a blanket rule; our risk assessment will be updated accordingly. However, do take note and ensure that you always err on the side of caution during windy conditions. Over the years, we have seen several nasty incidents where high wind speeds had not deterred work at height; many of these resulted from principal contractors pressurising their contractors to continue to work. So, as above…

KNOW WHEN TO SAY NO!!!

Asbestos Removal at Height

Removing asbestos at height is obviously far more hazardous than working on the ground – falls from height will present a very high risk of the uncontrolled release of asbestos fibres from dropped materials. Therefore, it is imperative that all asbestos removal at height is carried out using a stable working platform accessed by stairs rather than ladders, particularly when handling significantly large or awkward ACMs such as panels. Any use of ladders must be justified in the task-specific risk assessment as being totally ‘unavoidable’ and other tight control measures specified to guard against dropped items and fibre release.

Controversially, a misconception seems to have crept into the industry that a ‘licensed’ scaffolder must be used to erect scaffolding for any asbestos removal. This may have appeared because of a 2012 memo from the industry Asbestos Liaison Group which stated, item 5.1, that “In some cases a licensed scaffolder may be necessary”. However, the memo justifies this statement by stating that the scaffolding contractor “will need to be licensed if there is the potential for asbestos to be disturbed during construction of scaffolding” which would always be the case of course.

To clear up any misconceptions, Safety & Access Ltd have issued a succinct advice note:
https://bit.ly/2IuHpId

Checks & Maintenance

Seen recently on a very pertinent warning sign:

IF YOU DON’T SCHEDULE TIME FOR MAINTENANCE,
YOUR EQUIPMENT WILL SCHEDULE IT FOR YOU

How true! How many times have we, at WHS, heard “oh we haven’t got time for that” when we question why checks and maintenance haven’t been done? Apart from the risk of an HSE Prohibition Notice if the legally required (under PUWER) checks and maintenance regimes are not established, employers risk losing time and money or, if that is not enough, lives when machinery goes wrong.

What makes better business sense: a few minutes to carry out checks and a couple of hours for maintenance, or the possibility of lost lives and livelihoods? There is no excuse.

GENERAL NEWS

Digital Tax Systems – IMPORTANT

A reminder for those who may not have heard, the deadline for ensuring that all VAT returns are issued to HMRC through an approved on-line, real-time accounting package is April 2019. The option of using the current HMRC VAT Returns system will be withdrawn at that point.

The Government has been working its way steadily through its policy of ‘Making Tax Digital’ since 2015 (e.g. on-line self-assessment) and intends the entire tax system to be transformed by 2020 to make it “more effective, more efficient, and simpler for taxpayers”. Within the construction industry, the Government has failed to recognise that many who operate above the VAT threshold are self-employed or small businesses who won’t have the time, resources or the IT expertise to operate such a real-time on-line accounting system; therefore, this will probably result in increased costs to the sole-trader or small business as they will inevitably have to out-source their accounts if they are not doing so already.

However, for those who don’t already out-source their accounting, Sage Accounting system and various other systems (e.g. Quick Books Online and Xero) are available and approved by HMRC. It is generally recommended that cloud-based rather than desktop systems are used as these reduce on-going costs, prevent possible internet access problems and allow all accounts to be eventually interlinked in line with the long-term Making Tax Digital strategy, thus saving businesses time and money in the long run.

So view this as a positive step rather than an obstacle,

AND DO BE AWARE OF THE APRIL 2019 DEADLINE
PENALTIES WILL BE APPLIED FOR NON-CONFORMANCE OR VAT ERRORS

Federation of Small Businesses

The Federation of Small Businesses exists to lobby Government policy on behalf of small businesses.

  • Small businesses account for 99.3% of all private sector businesses; small to medium-sized businesses accounted for 99.9%
  • 4.8 million workers in the UK are self-employed, representing 15% of the total workforce
  • Total employment within SMEs (‘small to medium-sized enterprises’) equals 16.1 million, 60% of all private sector employment
  • Combined annual turnover of SMEs = £1.9 trillion, 51% of all private sector turnover

 

Yet SMEs still take second place to the whims of corporations when it comes to assistance and regulation. The FSB does an admirable job in lobbying for change and a fairer deal for SMEs.

Almost all WHS customers are classified as SMEs, and most are small businesses or self-employed status, and WHS itself is no exception. WHS originally became a member of FSB because of the benefits, and membership has literally paid for itself since we joined. We therefore urge our customers to consider how FSB can help them in any number of ways. For a small annual outlay (as little as £129 per year), you can access free debt recovery; employment, legal, cyber and tax investigation insurance and assistance; business advice; employment, tax and pension advice and assistance; business banking; insurance brokerage; and a whole host of other free services to save you time, effort and money.

Should you wish to look into the benefits of membership, Jackie can arrange a no-obligation short meeting with the local representative to explain everything – the FSB realises how busy all SMEs are so the representative won’t take up much of your time, and it will be worth it! Alternatively, find out more on the FSB website: https://www.fsb.org.uk/benefits/package-comparison
or ring FSB direct on 0808-2020888

AND FINALLY

After previously highlighting time and time again the huge number of accidents and prosecutions related to work at height, asbestos, and other high-profile issues, this newsletter is instead focusing on other cases that don’t promote so much exposure but are nonetheless just as important (whichever industry we work in).

Hazardous substances
The following cases are totally inexcusable when you consider that the COSHH Regs have been with us for over 30 years – and common sense doesn’t seem to have come into it in any of the cases.

  • Owner and director of Clearview Design & Construction Ltd, Simon Thomerson, was given an 8 month prison sentence after an explosion and fire killed two labourers; the two had been using highly flammable ‘thinners’ to remove old carpet tile adhesive. Despite warnings on the product labels, several litres had been poured across the floor, the vapours spreading to an area the size of half a tennis court; any number of ignition sources could have caused the explosion. No thought had been given to a safe system of work.
  • Harford Attachments Ltd was fined a total of almost £211,000 after two workers were killed by an explosion in its spray-booth. There was no coherent safe system of work, instruction was not communicated and, as a result, vapour produced during the cleaning of the spray gun was ignited, causing the explosion.
  • Recycling company, Ereco EMEA Corporation Ltd was fined a total of £32,000 after eight workers were injured, 5 seriously, by an explosion from ignited toner cartridge powder. Most airborne dusts can be explosive (remember the Wood Treatment Ltd explosion near Macclesfield in 2015 when 4 workers tragically lost their lives?) and it is essential that this possibility is included in both a COSHH assessment and a premises fire risk assessment, neither of which had been done in this case.
  • Boat maker, Humber Fabrications, was fined a total of over £12,500 after a 19-year old employee lost consciousness and suffered 2nd degree chemical burns from using dichloromethane to clean the inside of a boat hull. No extraction system was in place, no respiratory protection available and no attention had been paid to establishing a safe system of work.
  • Bayham Ltd was fined over £18,000 after an employee developed occupational asthma from unprotected soldering work over decades of employment. No proper extraction system was in place.

 

In addition, never forget that health & safety duties extend to safeguarding ALL those who may be affected by our actions. Risk assessment must (by law) cover ALL persons who MAY be affected; take care of the public:

  • The Western Isles local authority, Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar, was fined a total of £18,000 after the actions of its employees inflicted chemical burns on a child. The steps of a pier had been cleaned using sodium hypochlorite; when children later rested on the public steps, one of the youngsters developed severe chemical burns to his legs and was hospitalised.

 

And while we’re on the subject of public protection…

Public protection

  • Engie Regeneration (Apollo) Ltd was fined over £817,000 and its sub-contractor, Superior Roofing & Building Services Ltd, almost £312,000 after a tenant on the Du Cane Estate in London fell 5.5 metres through a fragile cement sheet walkway, seriously fracturing her pelvis (but being lucky to survive). Despite operatives partially falling through the fragile sheeting previously, no protection measures had been established by either contractor until after the fall through by the tenant! Unbelievable and totally inexcusable complacency for Engie (formerly known as Keepmoat Regeneration (Apollo) Ltd), let alone the sub-contractor.
  • Retail chain, Martin McColl Ltd, was fined a massive total of over £611,000 and shop-fitters, JMS Retail Concepts Ltd, over £43,000 after two elderly shoppers were injured (including broken bones) when they tripped over the construction of a disabled ramp whilst entering a Glamorgan store. The work was being carried out while the store remained open, something that was clearly ill-advised as the ramp under construction led directly to, and across, the store door.

Did the costs of closing the store for a couple of days, phasing the work and providing the necessary barriers really out-way the risk of something going wrong? Clearly the fines imposed sought to send a message – no they didn’t! It was just fortunate that no more serious injuries were sustained.

And pick any one of a number of prosecutions against poor or fraudulent gas engineers who seem to think nothing of endangering the public:

  • Richard Trezise was sentenced to 16 months in prison for a string of offences relating to unsafe gas work in domestic properties, resulting in gas leaks and dangerous accumulations of combustible products. Fortunately, nobody was harmed but this is yet another case of intentional fraud, with Trezise pretending to be Gas Safe registered.

 

DON’T FORGET – THE PROSECUTIONS REPORTED IN THESE NEWSLETTERS ARE JUST A FRACTION OF THOSE REPORTED. NON-COMPLIANCE TO HEALTH & SAFETY LAW WILL RESULT IN ENFORCEMENT OR PROSECUTION
AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, RISKS KILLING OR INJURING SOMEONE

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

Wenlock Health & Safety Company Changes

Many of you will be aware that our Managing Director, Jackie Horsewood, will be retiring on 31 August 2018, after over 16 years as the driving force behind Wenlock, Health & Safety Ltd. Jackie will retain some company management for a while but will no longer be actively involved in any client interface, site or project related work. We wish her well in her (semi) retirement.

Can you please make a careful note then of the following:

  • Our opening hours at 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Yes, we frequently work beyond these hours but this is strictly by previous arrangement and cannot be ‘expected’
  • The Business Director is Becki Shenton; Becki oversees all WHS-related issues matters, accounts and customer care
  • The Technical Director is Laura Mort; Laura oversees all customer-related and technical matters; Laura also has, and is responsible for, her own allocated customer base

Please also note that, from now on, the out-of-hours mobile number for use for emergency contact only please will be 07791-670987

  • The additional WHS Health & Safety Consultants each have, and are responsible for, their own customer base; please contact them direct for your day-to-day requirements
  • All training bookings, invoicing and document issue is carried out by Vicki Brown
  • Credit control and subscription renewals are under the wing of Jarmila Carmier

 

First Aid Training

Forthcoming dates for the WHS 1-day Emergency First Aid courses, also held at training rooms, are as follows; the fee is just £75 + VAT per person:

  • 23 August 2018
  • 27 September 2018
  • 24 October 2018
  • 20 November 2018
  • 19 December 2018

 

As with the CITB courses below, if any organisation requires first-aid for 6 or more employees, a specific course can be arranged at a date, time and location to suit. Please contact the WHS office to discuss your requirements.

CITB Training Courses

Forthcoming 2018 dates currently in place and fees for the CITB courses are as follows. Courses are held at the WHS training rooms and fees include lunch, refreshments and all course literature.

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.

  • Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS)
    Duration: 5 days; 1 day per week
    Dates: 19, 26 September, 3, 10 & 17 October 2018 (Wednesdays)
    19, 26 November, 3, 10, 17 December 2018 (Mondays)
    BLOCK BOOKING 7 – 11 January 2019 (Monday – Friday)
    Cost: £495 + VAT per person
  • Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) Refresher
    Duration: 2 days
    Dates: 10 & 11 September 2018 (Monday & Tuesday)
    27 & 28 November 2018 (Tuesday & Wednesday)
    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 September (Thursday & Friday)
    12 & 13 December 2018 (Wednesday & Thursday)
    Cost: £230 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)
  • CITB 1-Day Health & Safety Awareness
    Duration: 1 day
    Dates: 24 September 2018 (Monday)
    15 November 2018 (Thursday)
    Cost: £125 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

 

Site Safety – Bad Practices Observed

Our consultants have been extremely disappointed to note an increasing tendency to ignore some of the basics of site safety just recently – and even more disappointed that, in some cases, site management has then seen fit to challenge the consultants on the wisdom of the points they are making.

Can we please remind our customers that we are here to help you – the intention is not to hinder but to make constructive comments that either have a legal basis or highlight industry or HSE recognised best practice. We cannot help our customers if no notice is taken of our remarks, particularly if the sole intention of site management is to insist that their (unsafe) ways of working are justified.

Here are a few points commonly found on sites just recently (and we really can’t believe that we are reporting issues such as this in 2018):

Dogs on site

Can I bring my dog on site? No, this is not acceptable under any circumstances. We appreciate that owners may need to exercise their dogs and therefore an easy solution is to bring them into work. However, if this is unavoidable, the dogs must remain in the site cabin and never be taken into working areas.

Why introduce additional risks of trips and falls into an already very hazardous workplace? If a significant accident happens as a result of a dog on site, the principal contractor, the site manager and the dog owner will be prosecuted – guaranteed! You think it won’t happen? Two months ago, a dog was observed accompanying the site manager up scaffolding (!!); when challenged, the site manager did nothing until the dog fell a considerable distance to the ground. At that point, the site manager was terrified that the dog had died – no mention of the fact that the dog could have tripped, and subsequently seriously injured or killed, a worker.

Dogs must be banned on site, along with all other pets, children, and all persons who do not have a direct need to be in the working area/s

Site dusts

Standards of dust controls and respiratory protection appear to be falling for some reason, despite the HSE’s concentration on this issue and guaranteed enforcement for non-compliance.

A reminder that all potentially hazardous substances require (by law) an appropriate COSHH assessment, and site dusts (predominantly silica-based) are no exception. WHS has previously issued a generic assessment for masonry and silica dusts (refer to your annual pack); however, we now attach with this newsletter an additional risk/COSHH assessment for site dusts in general just to remind everyone of what should be done to combat the health risks.

We also include with this newsletter a generic COSHH assessment for untreated soft woods. Please read both, digest and act on the contents, and ring WHS on 01952-885885 if you have any queries or issues.

Wearing clothes!

Yes, we’ve experienced some record-breaking hot weeks – but that’s no excuse to throw caution to the wind and strip off to next to nothing! PPE is there for a reason – to protect you, whatever the weather. We have been challenged about our comments so, just to clear things up and justify our stance:

Firstly, if the rules for the site dictate the wearing of PPE items, the law says that they must be worn…full stop! The law emphasises that there is no ‘opinion’ with this; site rules must be followed. Neither site management nor workers are legally permitted to ignore these rules unless specifically amended in writing.

Secondly, just ask yourselves why each rule is there. For instance, what’s the purpose of a high-viz vest? To ensure plant and vehicle drivers can see you. Without high-viz, you are no more visible in hot sunny weather than you are in winter – in fact, you are probably even less visible if the driver has the sun in his eyes.

And lastly, it may be ‘attractive’ to get a tan in hot weather but the fact is that construction workers are many, many more times likely to get skin cancer than other workers due to the many hours of exposure to UV – and that’s not very attractive.

Equally, PPE (particularly gloves and long-clothing) is also there to protect the skin against the many hazardous substances ever-present in construction, e.g. cement. Why risk serious skin conditions? Cover up!

It’s common sense; workers run a serious risk of injury or serious long-term health issues without the necessary PPE – and don’t forget that:

  • The company and site management will be blamed (for failing to enforce site rules)
  • Health issues of all types are being targeted by the HSE, so you can expect enforcement (and the resultant costs). Refer to HSE guidance:
    http://www.hse.gov.uk/skin/employ/sunprotect.htm
    http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg147.pdf

 

So, please don’t challenge the recommendations we give about the wearing of PPE. We repeat: we are here to help, not hinder. We are here to safeguard your workers from harm and your company against enforcement. We can’t help deflect blame or enforcement if we are ignored.

There are others way of guarding against heat exhaustion other than stripping to barely nothing!

Scaffolding

As the amount of work available increases within construction, we are seeing a huge reduction in scaffolding safety – both in the standards of scaffold construction and the competence of the scaffolders themselves.

We highlighted this issue (yet again) in the June newsletter but, sad to say, since then we have seen some truly appalling practices, pitiful site management, and a number of injuries (some serious) and near-misses involving scaffolding.

If you are a scaffold company:
Why risk seriously injuring or killing someone – or indeed, killing the company as a result of a prosecution – the availability of work is no excuse for cutting corners.

If you are a principal contractor:
Just remember that you are in charge of ALL contractors brought onto your site, even specialists such as scaffolders; you have the legal responsibility to ensure they are competent and abide by all necessary legal and best practice, and their own RAMSs. You will bear part of the blame if scaffolders are not checked for competence and monitored whenever they are on your site (and, yes, that includes weekend working)

Housekeeping

Too often we hear site management accusing contractors of poor housekeeping – sorry, but this is the site manager’s issue, not just the contractors’. Site managers are there to manage; if they can’t keep a tight ship then they are not of the right calibre to be appointed at that level.

And it’s no good waiting – our consultants commonly hear, “we clear up at the end of the day”. Sorry, but accidents don’t ‘wait’ to happen! Trips, slips and falls happen at any time of the day and the chances of something serious is increased if the ‘clear up as you go’ rule is not applied.

Alternatively, try this (a tip from a larger house builder): re-charge time spent by your workers if they have to clear up the mess from plasterers, carpenters, electricians, tilers, plumbers, and any other trades. We know that time is money and that’s why the trades don’t clear up as they go – so why not charge for any time you have to spend in clearing up after them?!

First-aid and fire

We also seem to be slipping backwards as regards first-aid and fire provision on many sites. There seems to be a tendency to rely on others to provide both, with the result that contractors sit back and ignore the problem when this doesn’t happen. So a reminder:

It doesn’t matter whether you are a principal contractor or a contractor, ALL contractors (even those carrying out brief minor works) have the legal duty to ensure there is sufficient first-aid, fire and welfare provision available at each workplace. So ask the questions during the pre-start stage:

If you are a principal contractor:
Don’t assume that contractors will provide their own; if you expect them to, then say so!!

If you are a contractor:
Don’t assume that all principal contractors are conscientious (they’re not!) and will provide adequate emergency and welfare (they won’t!). Not your problem? It will be when someone gets hurt!

Donated First Aid Supplies

Yet again, a huge ‘thank you’ is extended to all WHS customers who kindly donated their unwanted first-aid materials to a deserving clinic in countries that can ill-afford medical equipment and supplies. On this latest occasion, several large bags were donated to a clinic in the depths of the Mongolia steppes – good timing too as a serious car accident had used their entire stocks a day beforehand!

Thank you to all who contributed; very much appreciated by both staff and patients.

HSE NEWS

New Sentencing Guidelines

New sentencing guidelines come into effect on 1 November 2018 for manslaughter, including cases resulting from gross negligence. Full text can be found on:
https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Manslaughter_Definitive-Guideline_WEB.pdf

 

Accident Statistics 2017/18

The HSE has released the fatality statistics for the year 2017/18, and they make disturbing reading:

  • 144 fatalities across British industry – an increase of 9% on last year
  • 38 fatalities in construction – an increase of 27% on last year!! And 4 x higher than the all-industry fatality rate

 

We all know there has been a huge increase in the amount of work available in construction but, as we’ve said above, that is no excuse for reducing standards and cutting corners. Accidents don’t win you work but will, more often than not, bankrupt the company. Competition for work is fierce; you need to win it by demonstrating high standards of health & safety compliance – not by cutting corners and becoming a liability to your employer!

But, on a more positive note, with our national safety record, we are still the best in the World and it is heartening to hear that the HSE is increasingly being asked by other countries to advise on how to achieve a better standard of health & safety throughout their industries. This is re-assuring because it bucks the current trend by our government in their attempts to downgrade the status, resources allocated and legislative requirements of health & safety in the UK, and sends a positive message that we all need to safeguard our workers as they are our most valuable resource.

INDUSTRY NEWS

The Perils of School Holidays

Apart from parental stress (!!), the school summer holidays also inevitably bring increased risks of child-trespass as construction sites are seen as wonderfully exciting playgrounds full of all sorts of obstacles to be overcome – but those obstacles can be perilous and fatal:

  • Collapsing stockpiles, pallets, stacked pipework, etc
  • Deep water in excavations, tanks, balancing ponds, etc
  • Drainage pipes than can crush or trap
  • Exposed and unprotected edges on scaffolding or structure

 

And much more. None of these hazards should remain in place on any site if uncontrolled. However, all contractors have a clear legal duty to prevent intrusion by effective means – mind those walls, trees, pillar boxes, etc which can make it easy for children to jump over the Heras fencing.

Site security is paramount, and particularly so during these summer months when temptations are at their height for energetic or bored children. The contractor (not the parents) would be held responsible for any injury to, or death of, a child on site.

CSCS Cards

There are major changes to the CSCS card scheme, apparently to fall in line with the requirements of the Construction Leadership Council (although one might question why these changes have been insisted upon at this late stage and how they actually help the industry):

  • Visitors cards are now being removed; the Council insists that people visiting (including WHS staff), rather than actually working on site, should be ‘managed’ by the principal contractor and CSCS cards are therefore not useful or beneficial
  • Black cards, which are based on ‘industry accreditation’ rather than a specific trade or professional qualification are being withdrawn
  • In future, there will be on-line application only as the CSCS call centre (administered by CITB) is being closed down.
  • The cost per card will rise from 1 September 2018 to £36 (incl. VAT); test, etc costs will be payable in addition

 

The huge increase in construction work has been highlighted above, and with it comes a lack of available skills. All contractors and developers are finding it difficult to engage appropriately skilled workers right across the spectrum of trades. As a result, many larger developers (particularly some of the major house builders) are abandoning the CSCS card scheme altogether in favour of alternative competence measures.

However, those of you who work with Highways England will need to be aware that, although HE don’t operate the CSCS card scheme, all contractors are required to hold the HE Safety Passport. Refer to:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/a-passport-to-safety
and
https://www.highwaysmagazine.co.uk/article/detail/3692

An Aging Workforce

Apart from the huge increase in the number of fatalities highlighted above, another very disturbing fact to emerge in 2017-18 is that 40% of all fatalities happen to workers over 60 years old. There may be a number of factors involved here:

  • An aging workforce generally within construction coupled with the difficulty of attracting younger people to the industry
  • Older workers not wishing to retire, or not able to financially
  • The acceptance that people have a ‘right’ to work well into old(er) age, with no appreciation by the employer that the work needs to be managed according to their (deteriorating?) capabilities
  • The worker’s insistence that they are still just as capable, and management’s acceptance of those assurances
  • Compromised ‘perception’ as workers get older – and that’s a fact. Even without visible disabilities, older people cannot see, hear, judge, attune to the hazards of the working environment as quickly as when they were younger, with the possible result that they become a liability to themselves, their colleagues and their employer.

 

So a reminder: if older workers are retained, the employer must be happy to do so. The issue must be risk assessed and managed by the employer. Ascertain their actual capabilities (not what they insist is the case), engaging health surveillance where appropriate, and allocate safe tasks. Then monitor and continue to manage the situation over time – it is the employer’s responsibility to say “yes” or (maybe finally) “no” to continuing employment.

Save Costs on PPE

Here’s a great idea for saving costs with your PPE – clean it for a fraction of the cost of purchasing replacements.

Staysafe PPE Ltd based in Alverley will deep-clean and recondition all types of PPE and materials, including cotton, nylon, polyester, Kevlar, rubber and nitrite, for pence not pounds and, consequently, have built up a huge client base in a very short time. They give free trials (‘Give us a sample of your soiled work gloves or garments and see the results for yourself’) so you’ve got nothing to lose. Refer to:
www.staysafeppe.co.uk
or ring: 01746-781027 for further details and your free trial.

How Not to Save Costs on PPE!

Trading Standards have issued a warning about fake respiratory protection (RPE) filters and the extreme dangers to health from their use. The fake filters are actually labelled 3M and fit snugly on 3M masks – but they allow through dangerous amounts of dusts and particles. So the message is, as always, buy either direct from 3M (www.3M.co.uk) or through a very reputable supplier such as Seton (www.seton.co.uk)

It will be interesting to see whether the new Personal Protective Equipment (Enforcement) Regulations 2018, which came into force on 21 April 2018 (with a transition period until 20 April 2019) has the desired positive effect on the quality of PPE / RPE supplied. The new regulations are aimed at ensuring quality, compliance, testing, labelling and information, and traceability of items supplied to all markets within the UK, Further details can be found on:

New Personal Protective Equipment Regulation


The new regulations apply to all suppliers; internet providers as well as traditional retail and wholesale outlets. They do not affect customers other than to give assurances that what they purchase actually does the job. However, given that Trading Standards are still regularly finding fake items of PPE & RPE, the point has to be raised – regulation is only as good as enforcement and, without the resources to properly monitor the industry, fakes will still creep in all too easily.

A useful ‘complete guide’ to PPE and freely downloadable booklet can be found on:

PPE: Complete guide to Personal Protective Equipment

More Warning of Fakes

And a further warning from Trading Standards – believe it or not, 98% of all non-branded Apple-compatible products have been proved to be dangerous. Vital components might be missing, or un-insulated cables or unsafe batteries used. The result has been a huge number of fires – with the inevitable and often serious consequences where the items were unattended.

Yes, branded products are expensive (and Apple would do well to lead the way towards improved safety by reducing their prices) but a short term saving may result in huge long term costs – or worse.

Employee Wellbeing

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development have opened up their events to non-members and a local one that may interest our customers’ concerns wellbeing. We have discussed stress and mental health in previous newsletters as it recently came to the forefront in construction with the Mates in Mind initiative. This event will discuss these issues in depth, together with effective leadership and financial wellbeing.

The event is half a day, between 9am and 2pm, on 10 October 2018 at the Shrewsbury Town Football Club; the cost is £30 (incl VAT), which includes lunch – so a bargain. Booking (ends on 5 October) is via:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wellbeing-event-registration-45717311710

So, if you are aware of any such problems within your workplace, come along. And, if you’re not, then come along anyway to be forewarned of signs and solutions:

AND FINALLY

Take a look at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LX28NOOm_PU
And ask yourself who is to blame – the telehandler operator, the site manager….the guys who stood around filming rather than trying to stop a potential fatality?

Recent comments from rail investigators, called in to examine a serious near-miss, illustrates the point:

“When the person in charge of a team is … a strong personality …, it can be particularly hard for … workers to challenge unsafe behaviour. We have seen this sort of unsafe behaviour before, where the wish to get the work done quickly overrides common sense and self-preservation. When we see narrowly avoided tragedies of this type it is almost always the result of the adoption of an unsafe method of work and the absence of a challenge from others in the group.” (WHS parenthesis)

If you see something hazardous, do your best to STOP it before someone is hurt or killed!

Hazardous substances

  • Director, Simon Thomerson, of contractor Clearview Design & Construction, has been jailed for 8 years (note this – 8 years) for his “wilful blindness to the risks” involved with paint thinners during refurbishment of several industrial units which resulted in two deaths. Thomerson had employed illegal immigrants to carry out the work and had failed to give any instruction or establish safe working practices, despite the warnings about safe usage being clearly displayed on the containers.

 

Three of the workers had used several litres of paint thinners (with a low flash point of 40°C) to remove old carpet tile adhesive, spreading it to an area half the size of a tennis court. The vapour were somehow ignited and the three men were engulfed in a fire ball – only one survived. A truly horrendous incident, deserving of the harsh prison sentence.

CDM

  • Property developer, Riaz Ahmad, has been jailed for 8 months and ordered to pay £65,000 in costs after the roof and part of a rear wall collapsed during demolition of one of his buildings. Ahmad, who had no previous construction experience, had employed inexperienced workers. A prohibition notice was served by a building inspector when he found the structure in a perilous state, emergency services were called and neighbouring buildings evacuated. However, before demolition could be carried out by the local authority, the building collapsed.

 

N.B. There were no casualties but who knows how many may have been killed if the building inspector had not acted promptly to safeguard lives. But this is a further warning to all those who get involved in construction with no or inadequate experience. This is a complex and dangerous industry; to dabble in it with no qualifications or experience is to invite injury or death, and certain prosecution.

  • Client, Taylor Grange Developments, was fined £4,500, principal contactor, Allied Contracts, fined £6,000 and ‘demolition contractor’, Altan Plant Hire fined £20,000 after a building collapsed during demolition in Inverclyde. All 3 were fined under CDM: the client and principal contractor for not appointing a competent demolition contractor, and the demolition contractor for accepting work for which he was not qualified or experienced, and for carrying out the work in an unsafe manner.

 

N.B. Another warning – clients should not engage plant hire companies (in particular) for demolition unless their qualifications, experience, and track record is proven. There are too many plant hire companies out there purporting to be demolition contractors but who have no idea of how to safely demolish a structure.

Work at height

  • Principal contractor, Grangewood Builders Ltd, and demolition contractor, Trenchco Ltd, were each fined a total of over £277,000 after a worker lost the use of his legs when he fell 3 metres through a fragile roof-light. No protection had been established to the roof-light. No training had been given to the Romanian worker and the company had been reliant on unofficial interpreters to relay instructions.
  • PJ Livesey Living Space (North) Ltd was fined a total of over £63,000 after two joiners fell 6.8 metres from poorly designed scaffolding around a bell tower during refurbishment. The men fell from a 2nd tier platform when it collapsed, landing on the 1st tier which then also collapsed. The HSE found that the site manager had ‘designed’ the platforms, something for which he was neither trained nor competent.

 

N.B. A reminder to everyone – ONLY properly trained and competent scaffolders can design and erect scaffold systems. And ONLY those properly conversant with TG20 can design complex structures.

  • Broadley Roofing Ltd was fined a total of almost £55,500 after a worker sustained serious injuries falling 6 metres through unprotected roof-lights during refurbishment of a warehouse roof. Boards had been ‘placed’ over the fragile roof-lights but not secured, offering little or no protection.
  • Survey Roofing Group Ltd was fined a total of over £65,500 after being observed working unsafely on a high-pitched roof at a height of 12.5 metres (were they mad??!!) during a store refurbishment. They had established no protection against falling through roof-lights or injuring the public with falling objects.
  • Principal contractor, Kier Facilities Services Ltd was fined a total of almost £206,000 and contractor, JHH Engineering Ltd, a total of almost £36,000 after a worker suffered severe injuries falling from a flat roof during refurbishment of a school. No work at height protection measures at all had been established by JHH; access to the roof was from an unsecured, damage ladder of insufficient length (how common is that still?). Kier had not assessed JHH for health & safety competence nor ensured safe working.
  • Scaffolder, Steven Connolly, was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months, subjected to a curfew, tagged and fined £2,000 after being observed erecting scaffold in an unsafe manner. The HSE visited the site but, instead of listening to the inspector, he subjected her to a ‘torrent of abuse’ and left the scaffold in a totally unsafe condition.

 

Well, all we can say is that he certainly invited that prosecution! And how embarrassing is that – a ‘tough’ guy having to admit to his mates down the pub that he’s under curfew and tagged!

Plant & vehicles

  • TJ Smith Contracting was fined a total of £130,000 after failing to maintain their fleet of lorry-mounted MEWPs. Employees and the public had been placed at severe risk because the MEWPs failed to automatically stop before over-slewing, increasing the risk of overturn. No instruction had been given to operators about pre-start checks or maintenance.

 

Asbestos

  • Three directors of Stoke waste management company, Alsager Contractors, were personally fined totals of £46,500, £6,000 and £4,800 and ordered to pay costs of £200,000 between them for “appalling” failures to properly control asbestos waste at three of their facilities. Two of the directors, George Talbot and son, Anthony, were also disqualified as directors for periods of seven and four years respectively.

 

Alsager went into liquidation in 2016 but winding the company up does not prevent those in charge being personally prosecuted – take note! And the judge’s comments should also be noted: “I have to say I was considering a custodial sentence but have been constrained by the guidelines.”

  • SDC Builders was fined a total of over £213,000 for failing to assess, control and/or protect asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) during refurbishment work on a school. Consequently, ACMs were disturbed, potentially placing school staff, pupils, as well as SDC’s own employees, in extreme danger.
  • Thistlemoor Healthcare & Management was fined a total of almost £17,000 for failing to carry out asbestos surveys on two sites ahead of refurbishment, one of which was a medical centre. Rather ironic that a healthcare company was failing to protect people’s health!
  • Aquapac Ltd, manufacturer and distributor of furniture, was fined £6,000 for failing to assess, control, protect and provide information to staff on the presence of ACMs. Note that this was ahead of any disturbance taking place – the legally required investigation work and controls were not in place.
  • Property management consultancy, Vital Property Solutions, was fined a total of over £9,300 and ‘asbestos surveyor’ Home Inspectors Southern, over £5,700 after failing to identify insulation board (brown asbestos) and asbestos cement (white) prior to refurbishment work. Consequently, a non-licensed contractor was engaged and large quantities of ACMs removed without adequate controls.

 

N.B. Yet another warning – there are too many ‘asbestos surveyors’ out there with little or no proper training. The client was prosecuted in this case because he had failed to ask for proof of qualifications from the surveyor. So a warning to everyone who requires an asbestos survey for any reason – ensure you engage qualified, experienced and trustworthy surveyors (we’ve seen some appalling survey reports).

And do ask for our assistance with assessing surveyors and reviewing the asbestos reports; better safe than sorry!

DON’T FORGET – THE PROSECUTIONS REPORTED IN THESE NEWSLETTERS ARE JUST A FRACTION OF THOSE REPORTED. NON-COMPLIANCE WILL RESULT IN ENFORCEMENT OR PROSECUTION – AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, RISKS KILLING OR INJURING SOMEONE.

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

Wenlock Health & Safety Company Changes

Many of you will be aware that our Managing Director, Jackie Horsewood, will be retiring on 31 August 2018, after over 16 years as the driving force behind Wenlock, Health & Safety Ltd. Jackie will retain some company management for a while but will no longer be actively involved in any client interface work. We wish her well in her (semi) retirement.

Can you please make a careful note then of the following:

  • Our opening hours at 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Yes, we frequently work beyond these hours but this is strictly by previous arrangement and cannot be ‘expected’
  • The Business Director is Becki Shenton; Becki oversees all WHS-related issues matters, accounts and customer care
  • The Technical Director is Laura Mort; Laura oversees all customer-related and technical matters; Laura also has, and is responsible for, her own allocated customer base

 

Please also note that, from now on, the out-of-hours mobile number for use for emergency contact only please will be 07791-670987

  • The additional WHS Health & Safety Consultants each have, and are responsible for, their own customer base; please contact them direct for your day-to-day requirements
  • All training bookings, invoicing and document issue is carried out by Vicki Brown
  • Credit control and subscription renewals are under the wing of Jarmila Carmier

 

First Aid Training

Forthcoming dates for the WHS 1-day Emergency First Aid courses, also held at training rooms, are as follows; the fee is just £75 + VAT per person:

  • 23 August 2018
  • 27 September 2018
  • 24 October 2018
  • 20 November 2018
  • 19 December 2018

 

If any organisation requires first-aid for 6 or more employees, a specific course can be arranged at a date, time and location to suit. Please contact the WHS office to discuss your requirements.

Workplace Safety – Bad Practices Observed

Our consultants have been extremely disappointed to note an increasing tendency to ignore some of the basics of workplace safety just recently – and even more disappointed that, in some cases, management has then seen fit to challenge the consultants on the wisdom of the points they are making.

Can we please remind our customers that we are here to help you – the intention is not to hinder but to make constructive comments that either have a legal basis or highlight industry or HSE recognised best practice. We cannot help our customers if no notice is taken of our remarks, particularly if the sole intention of management is to insist that their (unsafe) ways of working are justified.

Here are a few points commonly found just recently (and we really can’t believe that we are reporting issues such as this in 2018):

Dogs in the workplace

Can I bring my dog into the workplace? No, this is not acceptable under any circumstances. We appreciate that owners may need to exercise their dogs and therefore an easy solution is to bring them into work. However, if this is unavoidable, the dogs must remain in an office and never be taken into working areas.

Why introduce additional risks of trips and falls into an already very hazardous workplace? If a significant accident happens as a result of a dog being present, the company, company management and the dog owner will most likely be prosecuted! You think it won’t happen? Two months ago, a dog was observed accompanying the manager up scaffolding (!!); when challenged, the manager did nothing until the dog fell a considerable distance to the ground. At that point, the manager was terrified that the dog had died – no mention of the fact that the dog could have tripped, and subsequently seriously injured or killed, a worker.

Dogs must be banned from the workplace, along with all other pets, children, and all persons who do not have a direct need to be in the working area/s

Wearing clothes!

Yes, we’ve experienced some record-breaking hot weeks – but that’s no excuse to throw caution to the wind and strip off to next to nothing! PPE is there for a reason – to protect you, whatever the weather. We have been challenged about our comments so, just to clear things up and justify our stance:

Firstly, if the company rules dictate the wearing of PPE items, the law says that they must be worn…full stop! The law emphasises that there is no ‘opinion’ with this; rules must be followed. Neither management nor workers are legally permitted to ignore these rules unless specifically amended in writing.

Secondly, just ask yourselves why each rule is there. For instance, what’s the purpose of a high-viz vest? To ensure plant and vehicle drivers can see you. Without high-viz, you are no more visible in hot sunny weather than you are in winter – in fact, you are probably even less visible if the driver has the sun in his eyes.

And lastly, it may be ‘attractive’ to get a tan in hot weather when you’re working outside but the fact is that (as nobody can fail to know these days) you run a very high risk of getting skin cancer with exposure to UV – and that’s really not very attractive.

Equally, PPE is also there to protect the skin against the many hazardous substances we may need to use or encounter. Why risk serious skin conditions? Cover up!

It’s common sense; workers run a serious risk of injury or serious long-term health issues without the necessary PPE – and don’t forget that:

  • The company and management will be blamed (for failing to enforce the rules)
  • Health issues of all types are being targeted by the HSE, so you can expect enforcement (and the resultant costs). Refer to HSE guidance:
    http://www.hse.gov.uk/skin/employ/sunprotect.htm
    http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg147.pdf

 

So, please don’t challenge the recommendations we give about the wearing of PPE. We repeat: we are here to help, not hinder. We are here to safeguard your workers from harm and your company against enforcement. We can’t help deflect blame or enforcement if we are ignored.

There are others way of guarding against heat exhaustion other than stripping to barely nothing!

Housekeeping

Too often we hear management accusing workers of poor housekeeping – sorry, but this is the manager’s issue, not just the workers’. Managers are there to manage; if they can’t keep a tight ship then they are not of the right calibre to be appointed at that level.

And it’s no good waiting – our consultants commonly hear, “we clear up at the end of the day”. Sorry, but accidents don’t ‘wait’ to happen! Trips, slips and falls happen at any time of the day and the chances of something serious is increased if the ‘clear up as you go’ rule is not applied.

Dusts

Standards of dust controls and respiratory protection appear to be falling for some reason, despite the HSE’s concentration on this issue and guaranteed enforcement for non-compliance. A reminder that all potentially hazardous substances require (by law) an appropriate COSHH assessment, and dusts are no exception

We include with this newsletter a generic COSHH assessment for untreated soft woods to add to the generic already issued annually for hardwood dusts. If you work with woods, please read both, digest and act on the contents, and ring WHS on 01952-885885 if you have any queries or issues.

Donated First Aid Supplies

Yet again, a huge ‘thank you’ is extended to all WHS customers who kindly donated their unwanted first-aid materials to a deserving clinic in countries that can ill-afford medical equipment and supplies. On this latest occasion, several large bags were donated to a clinic in the depths of the Mongolia steppes – good timing too as a serious car accident had used their entire stocks a day beforehand!

Thank you to all who contributed; very much appreciated by both staff and patients.

HSE NEWS

Accident Statistics 2017/18

The HSE has released the fatality statistics for the year 2017/18, and they make disturbing reading:

  • 144 fatalities across British industry – an increase of 9% on last year

Healthy order books or budgetary controls are no excuse for reducing standards and cutting corners. Accidents don’t win you work but will, more often than not, bankrupt the company.

But, on a more positive note, with our national safety record, we are still the best in the World and it is heartening to hear that the HSE is increasingly being asked by other countries to advise on how to achieve a better standard of health & safety throughout their industries. This is re-assuring because it bucks the current trend by our government in their attempts to downgrade the status, resources allocated and legislative requirements of health & safety in the UK, and sends a positive message that we all need to safeguard our workers as they are our most valuable resource.

New Sentencing Guidelines

New sentencing guidelines come into effect on 1 November 2018 for manslaughter, including cases resulting from gross negligence. Full text can be found on:
https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Manslaughter_Definitive-Guideline_WEB.pdf

 

INDUSTRY NEWS

The Perils of School Holidays

Apart from parental stress (!!), the school summer holidays also inevitably bring increased risks of child-trespass as industrial premises can be seen as wonderfully exciting playgrounds full of all sorts of obstacles to be overcome – but those obstacles can be perilous and fatal:

  • Collapsing stockpiles, pallets, stacked materials, etc
  • Deep water in excavations, tanks, balancing ponds, etc
  • Exposed and unprotected edges either at height or with tanks, voids, and other drop downwards
    And much more. None of these hazards should remain in place in any workplace if uncontrolled anyway. However, all businesses have a clear legal duty to prevent intrusion by effective means. Ensure you have 2 metre, anti-climb, secure, undamaged fencing and gates are locked overnight – and mind those walls, trees, pillar boxes, etc which can make it easy for children to jump over the perimeter fencing.

 

Security is paramount, and particularly so during these summer months when temptations are at their height for energetic or bored children. The business (not the parents) would be held responsible for any injury to, or death of, a child within its premises.

An Aging Workforce

Apart from the significant increase in the number of fatalities highlighted above, another very disturbing fact to emerge in 2017-18 is that 40% of all fatalities happen to workers over 60 years old. There may be a number of factors involved here:

  • An aging workforce generally coupled with the difficulty of attracting younger people into certain industries
  • Older workers not wishing to retire, or not able to financially
  • The acceptance that people have a ‘right’ to work well into old(er) age, with no appreciation by the employer that the work needs to be managed according to their (deteriorating?) capabilities
  • The worker’s insistence that they are still just as capable, and management’s acceptance of those assurances
  • Compromised ‘perception’ as workers get older – and that’s a fact. Even without visible disabilities, older people cannot see, hear, judge, attune to the hazards of the working environment as quickly as when they were younger, with the possible result that they become a liability to themselves, their colleagues and their employer.

 

So a reminder: if older workers are retained, the employer must be happy to do so. The issue must be risk assessed and managed by the employer. Ascertain their actual capabilities (not what they insist is the case), engaging health surveillance where appropriate, and allocate safe tasks. Then monitor and continue to manage the situation over time – it is the employer’s responsibility to say “yes” or (maybe finally) “no” to continuing employment.

Save Costs on PPE

Here’s a great idea for saving costs with your PPE – clean it for a fraction of the cost of purchasing replacements.

Staysafe PPE Ltd based in Alverley will deep-clean and recondition all types of PPE and materials, including cotton, nylon, polyester, Kevlar, rubber and nitrite, for pence not pounds and, consequently, have built up a huge client base in a very short time. They give free trials (‘Give us a sample of your soiled work gloves or garments and see the results for yourself’) so you’ve got nothing to lose. Refer to:
www.staysafeppe.co.uk
or ring: 01746-781027 for further details and your free trial.

How Not to Save Costs on PPE!

Trading Standards have issued a warning about fake respiratory protection (RPE) filters and the extreme dangers to health from their use. The fake filters are actually labelled 3M and fit snugly on 3M masks – but they allow through dangerous amounts of dusts and particles. So the message is, as always, buy either direct from 3M (www.3M.co.uk) or through a very reputable supplier such as Seton (www.seton.co.uk)

It will be interesting to see whether the new Personal Protective Equipment (Enforcement) Regulations 2018, which came into force on 21 April 2018 (with a transition period until 20 April 2019) has the desired positive effect on the quality of PPE / RPE supplied. The new regulations are aimed at ensuring quality, compliance, testing, labelling and information, and traceability of items supplied to all markets within the UK, Further details can be found on:

New Personal Protective Equipment Regulation

The new regulations apply to all suppliers; internet providers as well as traditional retail and wholesale outlets. They do not affect customers other than to give assurances that what they purchase actually does the job. However, given that Trading Standards are still regularly finding fake items of PPE & RPE, the point has to be raised – regulation is only as good as enforcement and, without the resources to properly monitor the industry, fakes will still creep in all too easily.

A useful ‘complete guide’ to PPE and freely downloadable booklet can be found on:

PPE: Complete guide to Personal Protective Equipment

More Warning of Fakes

And a further warning from Trading Standards – believe it or not, 98% of all non-branded Apple-compatible products have been proved to be dangerous. Vital components might be missing, or un-insulated cables or unsafe batteries used. The result has been a huge number of fires – with the inevitable and often serious consequences where the items were unattended.

Yes, branded products are expensive (and Apple would do well to lead the way towards improved safety by reducing their prices) but a short term saving may result in huge long term costs – or worse.

Employee Wellbeing

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development have opened up their events to non-members and a local one that may interest our customers concerns wellbeing. We have discussed stress and mental health in previous newsletters as it recently came to the forefront nationally. This event will discuss these issues in depth, together with effective leadership and financial wellbeing.

The event is half a day, between 9am and 2pm, on 10 October 2018 at the Shrewsbury Town Football Club; the cost is £30 (incl VAT), which includes lunch – so a bargain. Booking (ends on 5 October) is via:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wellbeing-event-registration-45717311710

So, if you are aware of any such problems within your workplace, come along. And, if you’re not, then come along anyway to be forewarned of signs and solutions:

AND FINALLY

Take a look at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LX28NOOm_PU
And ask yourself who is to blame – the telehandler operator, the site manager….the guys who stood around filming rather than trying to stop a potential fatality?

Recent comments from rail investigators, called in to examine a serious near-miss, illustrates the point:

“When the person in charge of a team is … a strong personality …, it can be particularly hard for … workers to challenge unsafe behaviour. We have seen this sort of unsafe behaviour before, where the wish to get the work done quickly overrides common sense and self-preservation. When we see narrowly avoided tragedies of this type it is almost always the result of the adoption of an unsafe method of work and the absence of a challenge from others in the group.” (WHS parenthesis)

If you see something hazardous, do your best to STOP it before someone is hurt or killed!

Hazardous substances

  • Director, Simon Thomerson, of contractor Clearview Design & Construction, has been jailed for 8 years (note this – 8 years) for his “wilful blindness to the risks” involved with paint thinners during refurbishment of several industrial units, resulting in two deaths. Thomerson had employed illegal immigrants to carry out the work and had failed to give any instruction or establish safe working practices, despite the warnings about usage being clearly displayed on the containers.

 

Three of the workers had used several litres of paint thinners b(with a low flash point of 40 C) to remove old carpet tile adhesive, spreading to an area half the size of a tennis court; something ignited the vapours and three men were engulfed in a fire ball – only one survived. A truly horrendous incident, deserving of the prison sentence.

CDM

  • Client, Taylor Grange Developments was fined £4,500, principal contactor, Allied Contracts, fined £6,000 and ‘demolition contractor’, Altan Plant Hire fined £20,000 after a building collapsed during demolition in Inverclyde. All 3 were fined under CDM: the client and principal contractor for not appointing a competent demolition contractor, and the demolition contractor for accepting work for which he was not qualified or experienced and for carrying out the work in an unsafe manner

 

N.B. Another warning – clients should not engage plant hire companies for demolition unless their qualifications, experience, and track record is proven. There are too many plant hire companies out there purporting to be demolition contractors but who have no idea of how to safely demolish a structure.

Plant & vehicles

  • TJ Smith Contracting was fined a total of £130,000 after failing to maintain their fleet of lorry-mounted MEWPs. Employees and the public had been placed at severe risk because the MEWPs failed to automatically stop before over-slewing, increasing the risk of overturn. No instruction had been given to operators about pre-start checks or maintenance.
  • Bakkavor Foods Ltd was fined £176,000 after an employee died when he was struck by a stack of empty food trays. A fork-lift had made contact with the stack of trays; the company was prosecuted for failing to provide sufficient segregation between plant and employees.
  • Bartram Manufacturing Ltd was fined a total of almost £84,000 after an employee suffered multiple injuries when pinned against a work-bench by a stack of falling wooden trusses. Again, the stack had been struck by a fork-lift and again the company was prosecuted for failing to properly controlling the plant / pedestrian interface.

 

Asbestos

  • Thistlemoor Healthcare & Management was fined a total of almost £17,000 for failing to carry out asbestos surveys on two sites ahead of refurbishment, one of which was a medical centre. Rather ironic that a healthcare company was failing to protect people’s health!
  • Aquapac Ltd, manufacturer and distributor of furniture, was fined £6,000 for failing to assess, control, protect and provide information to staff on the presence of ACMs. Note that this was ahead of any disturbance taking place – the legally required investigation work and controls were not in place.
  • Property management consultancy, Vital Property Solutions, was fined a total of over £9,300 and ‘asbestos surveyor’ Home Inspectors Southern, over £5,700 after failing to identify insulation board (brown asbestos) and asbestos cement (white) prior to refurbishment work. Consequently, a non-licensed contractor was engaged and large quantities of ACMs removed without adequate controls.

 

N.B. Yet another warning – there are too many ‘asbestos surveyors’ out there with little or no proper training. The client was prosecuted in this case because he had failed to ask for proof of qualifications from the surveyor. So a warning to everyone who requires an asbestos survey for any reason – ensure you engage qualified, experienced and trustworthy surveyors (we’ve seen some appalling survey reports).

And do ask for our assistance with assessing surveyors and reviewing the asbestos reports; better safe than sorry!

 

DON’T FORGET – THE PROSECUTIONS REPORTED IN THESE NEWSLETTERS ARE JUST A FRACTION OF THOSE REPORTED. NON-COMPLIANCE WILL RESULT IN ENFORCEMENT OR PROSECUTION – AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, RISKS KILLING OR INJURING SOMEONE.

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

Wenlock Health & Safety Company Changes

Many of you will be aware that our Managing Director, Jackie Horsewood, will be retiring on 31 August 2018, after over 16 years as the driving force behind Wenlock, Health & Safety Ltd. Jackie will retain some company management for a while but will no longer be actively involved in any client interface, site or project related work. We wish her well in her (semi) retirement.

Can you please make a careful note then of the following:

  • Our opening hours at 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday. Yes, we frequently work beyond these hours but this is strictly by previous arrangement and cannot be ‘expected’
  • The Business Director is Becki Shenton; Becki oversees all WHS-related issues matters, accounts and customer care
  • The Technical Director is Laura Mort; Laura oversees all customer-related and technical matters; Laura also has, and is responsible for, her own allocated customer base

 

Please also note that, from now on, the out-of-hours mobile number for use for emergency contact only please will be 07791-670987

  • The additional WHS Health & Safety Consultants each have, and are responsible for, their own customer base; please contact them direct for your day-to-day requirements
  • All training bookings, invoicing and document issue is carried out by Vicki Brown
  • Credit control and subscription renewals are under the wing of Jarmila Carmier

 

First Aid Training

Forthcoming dates for the WHS 1-day Emergency First Aid courses, also held at training rooms, are as follows; the fee is just £75 + VAT per person:

  • 23 August 2018
  • 27 September 2018
  • 24 October 2018
  • 20 November 2018
  • 19 December 2018

 

As with the CITB courses below, if any organisation requires first-aid for 6 or more employees, a specific course can be arranged at a date, time and location to suit. Please contact the WHS office to discuss your requirements.

CITB Training Courses

Forthcoming 2018 dates currently in place and fees for the CITB courses are as follows. Courses are held at the WHS training rooms and fees include lunch, refreshments and all course literature.

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.

  • Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS)
    Duration: 5 days; 1 day per week
    Dates: 19, 26 September, 3, 10 & 17 October 2018 (Wednesdays)
    19, 26 November, 3, 10, 17 December 2018 (Mondays)
    BLOCK BOOKING 7 – 11 January 2019 (Monday – Friday)
    Cost: £495 + VAT per person
  • Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) Refresher
    Duration: 2 days
    Dates: 10 & 11 September 2018 (Monday & Tuesday)
    27 & 28 November 2018 (Tuesday & Wednesday)
    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 September (Thursday & Friday)
    12 & 13 December 2018 (Wednesday & Thursday)
    Cost: £230 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)
  • CITB 1-Day Health & Safety Awareness
    Duration: 1 day
    Dates: 24 September 2018 (Monday)
    15 November 2018 (Thursday)
    Cost: £125 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

 

Site Safety – Bad Practices Observed

Our consultants have been extremely disappointed to note an increasing tendency to ignore some of the basics of site safety just recently – and even more disappointed that, in some cases, site management has then seen fit to challenge the consultants on the wisdom of the points they are making.

Can we please remind our customers that we are here to help you – the intention is not to hinder but to make constructive comments that either have a legal basis or highlight industry or HSE recognised best practice. We cannot help our customers if no notice is taken of our remarks, particularly if the sole intention of site management is to insist that their (unsafe) ways of working are justified.

Here are a few points commonly found on sites just recently (and we really can’t believe that we are reporting issues such as this in 2018):

Dogs on site

Can I bring my dog on site? No, this is not acceptable under any circumstances. We appreciate that owners may need to exercise their dogs and therefore an easy solution is to bring them into work. However, if this is unavoidable, the dogs must remain in the site cabin and never be taken into working areas.

Why introduce additional risks of trips and falls into an already very hazardous workplace? If a significant accident happens as a result of a dog on site, the principal contractor, the site manager and the dog owner will be prosecuted – guaranteed! You think it won’t happen? Two months ago, a dog was observed accompanying the site manager up scaffolding (!!); when challenged, the site manager did nothing until the dog fell a considerable distance to the ground. At that point, the site manager was terrified that the dog had died – no mention of the fact that the dog could have tripped, and subsequently seriously injured or killed, a worker.

Dogs must be banned on site, along with all other pets, children, and all persons who do not have a direct need to be in the working area/s

Site dusts

Standards of dust controls and respiratory protection appear to be falling for some reason, despite the HSE’s concentration on this issue and guaranteed enforcement for non-compliance.

A reminder that all potentially hazardous substances require (by law) an appropriate COSHH assessment, and site dusts (predominantly silica-based) are no exception. WHS has previously issued a generic assessment for masonry and silica dusts (refer to your annual pack); however, we now attach with this newsletter an additional risk/COSHH assessment for site dusts in general just to remind everyone of what should be done to combat the health risks.

We also include with this newsletter a generic COSHH assessment for untreated soft woods. Please read both, digest and act on the contents, and ring WHS on 01952-885885 if you have any queries or issues.

Wearing clothes!

Yes, we’ve experienced some record-breaking hot weeks – but that’s no excuse to throw caution to the wind and strip off to next to nothing! PPE is there for a reason – to protect you, whatever the weather. We have been challenged about our comments so, just to clear things up and justify our stance:

Firstly, if the rules for the site dictate the wearing of PPE items, the law says that they must be worn…full stop! The law emphasises that there is no ‘opinion’ with this; site rules must be followed. Neither site management nor workers are legally permitted to ignore these rules unless specifically amended in writing.

Secondly, just ask yourselves why each rule is there. For instance, what’s the purpose of a high-viz vest? To ensure plant and vehicle drivers can see you. Without high-viz, you are no more visible in hot sunny weather than you are in winter – in fact, you are probably even less visible if the driver has the sun in his eyes.

And lastly, it may be ‘attractive’ to get a tan in hot weather but the fact is that construction workers are many, many more times likely to get skin cancer than other workers due to the many hours of exposure to UV – and that’s not very attractive.

Equally, PPE (particularly gloves and long-clothing) is also there to protect the skin against the many hazardous substances ever-present in construction, e.g. cement. Why risk serious skin conditions? Cover up!

It’s common sense; workers run a serious risk of injury or serious long-term health issues without the necessary PPE – and don’t forget that:

  • The company and site management will be blamed (for failing to enforce site rules)
  • Health issues of all types are being targeted by the HSE, so you can expect enforcement (and the resultant costs). Refer to HSE guidance:
    http://www.hse.gov.uk/skin/employ/sunprotect.htm
    http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg147.pdf

 

So, please don’t challenge the recommendations we give about the wearing of PPE. We repeat: we are here to help, not hinder. We are here to safeguard your workers from harm and your company against enforcement. We can’t help deflect blame or enforcement if we are ignored.

There are others way of guarding against heat exhaustion other than stripping to barely nothing!

Scaffolding

As the amount of work available increases within construction, we are seeing a huge reduction in scaffolding safety – both in the standards of scaffold construction and the competence of the scaffolders themselves.

We highlighted this issue (yet again) in the June newsletter but, sad to say, since then we have seen some truly appalling practices, pitiful site management, and a number of injuries (some serious) and near-misses involving scaffolding.

So, whether you are a principal contractor or contractor engaging scaffolders:
Just remember that you are in charge of ALL contractors brought onto your site, even specialists such as scaffolders; you have the legal responsibility to ensure they are competent and abide by all necessary legal and best practice, and their own RAMSs. You will bear part of the blame if scaffolders are not checked for competence and monitored whenever they are on your site (and, yes, that includes weekend working)

Housekeeping

Too often we hear site management accusing contractors of poor housekeeping – sorry, but this is the site manager’s issue, not just the contractors’. Site managers are there to manage; if they can’t keep a tight ship then they are not of the right calibre to be appointed at that level.

And it’s no good waiting – our consultants commonly hear, “we clear up at the end of the day”. Sorry, but accidents don’t ‘wait’ to happen! Trips, slips and falls happen at any time of the day and the chances of something serious is increased if the ‘clear up as you go’ rule is not applied.

Alternatively, try this (a tip from a larger house builder): re-charge time spent by your workers if they have to clear up the mess from plasterers, carpenters, electricians, tilers, plumbers, and any other trades. We know that time is money and that’s why the trades don’t clear up as they go – so why not charge for any time you have to spend in clearing up after them?!

First-aid and fire

We also seem to be slipping backwards as regards first-aid and fire provision on many sites. There seems to be a tendency to rely on others to provide both, with the result that contractors sit back and ignore the problem when this doesn’t happen. So a reminder:

It doesn’t matter whether you are a principal contractor or a contractor, ALL contractors (even those carrying out brief minor works) have the legal duty to ensure there is sufficient first-aid, fire and welfare provision available at each workplace. So ask the questions during the pre-start stage:

If you are a principal contractor:
Don’t assume that contractors will provide their own; if you expect them to, then say so!!

If you are a contractor:
Don’t assume that all principal contractors are conscientious (they’re not!) and will provide adequate emergency and welfare (they won’t!). Not your problem? It will be when someone gets hurt!

Donated First Aid Supplies

Yet again, a huge ‘thank you’ is extended to all WHS customers who kindly donated their unwanted first-aid materials to a deserving clinic in countries that can ill-afford medical equipment and supplies. On this latest occasion, several large bags were donated to a clinic in the depths of the Mongolia steppes – good timing too as a serious car accident had used their entire stocks a day beforehand!

Thank you to all who contributed; very much appreciated by both staff and patients.

HSE NEWS

New Sentencing Guidelines

New sentencing guidelines come into effect on 1 November 2018 for manslaughter, including cases resulting from gross negligence. Full text can be found on:
https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Manslaughter_Definitive-Guideline_WEB.pdf

Accident Statistics 2017/18

The HSE has released the fatality statistics for the year 2017/18, and they make disturbing reading:

  • 144 fatalities across British industry – an increase of 9% on last year
  • 38 fatalities in construction – an increase of 27% on last year!! And 4 x higher than the all-industry fatality rate

 

We all know there has been a huge increase in the amount of work available in construction but, as we’ve said above, that is no excuse for reducing standards and cutting corners. Accidents don’t win you work but will, more often than not, bankrupt the company. Competition for work is fierce; you need to win it by demonstrating high standards of health & safety compliance – not by cutting corners and becoming a liability to your employer!

But, on a more positive note, with our national safety record, we are still the best in the World and it is heartening to hear that the HSE is increasingly being asked by other countries to advise on how to achieve a better standard of health & safety throughout their industries. This is re-assuring because it bucks the current trend by our government in their attempts to downgrade the status, resources allocated and legislative requirements of health & safety in the UK, and sends a positive message that we all need to safeguard our workers as they are our most valuable resource.

INDUSTRY NEWS

The Perils of School Holidays

Apart from parental stress (!!), the school summer holidays also inevitably bring increased risks of child-trespass as construction sites are seen as wonderfully exciting playgrounds full of all sorts of obstacles to be overcome – but those obstacles can be perilous and fatal:

  • Collapsing stockpiles, pallets, materials, etc
  • Unguarded tanks, boilers, etc
  • Exposed and unprotected edges on scaffolding or structure

 

And much more. None of these hazards should remain in place on any site if uncontrolled. However, all contractors have a clear legal duty to prevent intrusion by effective means – mind those walls, trees, pillar boxes, etc which can make it easy for children to jump over the Heras fencing.

Site security is paramount, and particularly so during these summer months when temptations are at their height for energetic or bored children. The contractor (not the parents) would be held responsible for any injury to, or death of, a child on site.

CSCS Cards

There are major changes to the CSCS card scheme, apparently to fall in line with the requirements of the Construction Leadership Council (although one might question why these changes have been insisted upon at this late stage and how they actually help the industry):

  • Visitors cards are now being removed; the Council insists that people visiting (including WHS staff), rather than actually working on site, should be ‘managed’ by the principal contractor and CSCS cards are therefore not useful or beneficial
  • Black cards, which are based on ‘industry accreditation’ rather than a specific trade or professional qualification are being withdrawn
  • In future, there will be on-line application only as the CSCS call centre (administered by CITB) is being closed down.
  • The cost per card will rise from 1 September 2018 to £36 (incl. VAT); test, etc costs will be payable in addition

 

The huge increase in construction work has been highlighted above, and with it comes a lack of available skills. All contractors and developers are finding it difficult to engage appropriately skilled workers right across the spectrum of trades. As a result, many larger developers (particularly some of the major house builders) are abandoning the CSCS card scheme altogether in favour of alternative competence measures.

However, those of you who work with Highways England will need to be aware that, although HE don’t operate the CSCS card scheme, all contractors are required to hold the HE Safety Passport. Refer to:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/a-passport-to-safety
and
https://www.highwaysmagazine.co.uk/article/detail/3692

An Aging Workforce

Apart from the huge increase in the number of fatalities highlighted above, another very disturbing fact to emerge in 2017-18 is that 40% of all fatalities happen to workers over 60 years old. There may be a number of factors involved here:

  • An aging workforce generally within construction coupled with the difficulty of attracting younger people to the industry
  • Older workers not wishing to retire, or not able to financially
  • The acceptance that people have a ‘right’ to work well into old(er) age, with no appreciation by the employer that the work needs to be managed according to their (deteriorating?) capabilities
  • The worker’s insistence that they are still just as capable, and management’s acceptance of those assurances
  • Compromised ‘perception’ as workers get older – and that’s a fact. Even without visible disabilities, older people cannot see, hear, judge, attune to the hazards of the working environment as quickly as when they were younger, with the possible result that they become a liability to themselves, their colleagues and their employer.

 

So a reminder: if older workers are retained, the employer must be happy to do so. The issue must be risk assessed and managed by the employer. Ascertain their actual capabilities (not what they insist is the case), engaging health surveillance where appropriate, and allocate safe tasks. Then monitor and continue to manage the situation over time – it is the employer’s responsibility to say “yes” or (maybe finally) “no” to continuing employment.

Save Costs on PPE

Here’s a great idea for saving costs with your PPE – clean it for a fraction of the cost of purchasing replacements.

Staysafe PPE Ltd based in Alverley will deep-clean and recondition all types of PPE and materials, including cotton, nylon, polyester, Kevlar, rubber and nitrite, for pence not pounds and, consequently, have built up a huge client base in a very short time. They give free trials (‘Give us a sample of your soiled work gloves or garments and see the results for yourself’) so you’ve got nothing to lose. Refer to:
www.staysafeppe.co.uk
or ring: 01746-781027 for further details and your free trial.

How Not to Save Costs on PPE!

Trading Standards have issued a warning about fake respiratory protection (RPE) filters and the extreme dangers to health from their use. The fake filters are actually labelled 3M and fit snugly on 3M masks – but they allow through dangerous amounts of dusts and particles. So the message is, as always, buy either direct from 3M (www.3M.co.uk) or through a very reputable supplier such as Seton (www.seton.co.uk)

It will be interesting to see whether the new Personal Protective Equipment (Enforcement) Regulations 2018, which came into force on 21 April 2018 (with a transition period until 20 April 2019) has the desired positive effect on the quality of PPE / RPE supplied. The new regulations are aimed at ensuring quality, compliance, testing, labelling and information, and traceability of items supplied to all markets within the UK, Further details can be found on:

New Personal Protective Equipment Regulation


The new regulations apply to all suppliers; internet providers as well as traditional retail and wholesale outlets. They do not affect customers other than to give assurances that what they purchase actually does the job. However, given that Trading Standards are still regularly finding fake items of PPE & RPE, the point has to be raised – regulation is only as good as enforcement and, without the resources to properly monitor the industry, fakes will still creep in all too easily.

A useful ‘complete guide’ to PPE and freely downloadable booklet can be found on:

PPE: Complete guide to Personal Protective Equipment

More Warning of Fakes

And a further warning from Trading Standards – believe it or not, 98% of all non-branded Apple-compatible products have been proved to be dangerous. Vital components might be missing, or un-insulated cables or unsafe batteries used. The result has been a huge number of fires – with the inevitable and often serious consequences where the items were unattended.

Yes, branded products are expensive (and Apple would do well to lead the way towards improved safety by reducing their prices) but a short term saving may result in huge long term costs – or worse.

Employee Wellbeing

Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development have opened up their events to non-members and a local one that may interest our customers’ concerns wellbeing. We have discussed stress and mental health in previous newsletters as it recently came to the forefront in construction with the Mates in Mind initiative. This event will discuss these issues in depth, together with effective leadership and financial wellbeing.

The event is half a day, between 9am and 2pm, on 10 October 2018 at the Shrewsbury Town Football Club; the cost is £30 (incl VAT), which includes lunch – so a bargain. Booking (ends on 5 October) is via:
https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/wellbeing-event-registration-45717311710

So, if you are aware of any such problems within your workplace, come along. And, if you’re not, then come along anyway to be forewarned of signs and solutions:

AND FINALLY

Take a look at this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LX28NOOm_PU
And ask yourself who is to blame – the telehandler operator, the site manager….the guys who stood around filming rather than trying to stop a potential fatality?

Recent comments from rail investigators, called in to examine a serious near-miss, illustrates the point:

“When the person in charge of a team is … a strong personality …, it can be particularly hard for … workers to challenge unsafe behaviour. We have seen this sort of unsafe behaviour before, where the wish to get the work done quickly overrides common sense and self-preservation. When we see narrowly avoided tragedies of this type it is almost always the result of the adoption of an unsafe method of work and the absence of a challenge from others in the group.” (WHS parenthesis)

If you see something hazardous, do your best to STOP it before someone is hurt or killed!

Hazardous substances

  • Director, Simon Thomerson, of contractor Clearview Design & Construction, has been jailed for 8 years (note this – 8 years) for his “wilful blindness to the risks” involved with paint thinners during refurbishment of several industrial units which resulted in two deaths. Thomerson had employed illegal immigrants to carry out the work and had failed to give any instruction or establish safe working practices, despite the warnings about safe usage being clearly displayed on the containers.

 

Three of the workers had used several litres of paint thinners (with a low flash point of 40°C) to remove old carpet tile adhesive, spreading it to an area half the size of a tennis court. The vapour were somehow ignited and the three men were engulfed in a fire ball – only one survived. A truly horrendous incident, deserving of the harsh prison sentence.

Work at height

  • Principal contractor, Grangewood Builders Ltd, and demolition contractor, Trenchco Ltd, were each fined a total of over £277,000 after a worker lost the use of his legs when he fell 3 metres through a fragile roof-light. No protection had been established to the roof-light. No training had been given to the Romanian worker and the company had been reliant on unofficial interpreters to relay instructions.
  • PJ Livesey Living Space (North) Ltd was fined a total of over £63,000 after two joiners fell 6.8 metres from poorly designed scaffolding around a bell tower during refurbishment. The men fell from a 2nd tier platform when it collapsed, landing on the 1st tier which then also collapsed. The HSE found that the site manager had ‘designed’ the platforms, something for which he was neither trained nor competent.

 

N.B. A reminder to everyone – ONLY properly trained and competent scaffolders can design and erect scaffold systems. And ONLY those properly conversant with TG20 can design complex structures.

  • Broadley Roofing Ltd was fined a total of almost £55,500 after a worker sustained serious injuries falling 6 metres through unprotected roof-lights during refurbishment of a warehouse roof. Boards had been ‘placed’ over the fragile roof-lights but not secured, offering little or no protection.
  • Survey Roofing Group Ltd was fined a total of over £65,500 after being observed working unsafely on a high-pitched roof at a height of 12.5 metres (were they mad??!!) during a store refurbishment. They had established no protection against falling through roof-lights or injuring the public with falling objects.
  • Principal contractor, Kier Facilities Services Ltd was fined a total of almost £206,000 and contractor, JHH Engineering Ltd, a total of almost £36,000 after a worker suffered severe injuries falling from a flat roof during refurbishment of a school. No work at height protection measures at all had been established by JHH; access to the roof was from an unsecured, damage ladder of insufficient length (how common is that still?). Kier had not assessed JHH for health & safety competence nor ensured safe working.
  • Scaffolder, Steven Connolly, was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months, subjected to a curfew, tagged and fined £2,000 after being observed erecting scaffold in an unsafe manner. The HSE visited the site but, instead of listening to the inspector, he subjected her to a ‘torrent of abuse’ and left the scaffold in a totally unsafe condition.

Well, all we can say is that he certainly invited that prosecution! And how embarrassing is that – a ‘tough’ guy having to admit to his mates down the pub that he’s under curfew and tagged!

Asbestos

  • SDC Builders was fined a total of over £213,000 for failing to assess, control and/or protect asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) during refurbishment work on a school. Consequently, ACMs were disturbed, potentially placing school staff, pupils, as well as SDC’s own employees, in extreme danger.
  • Thistlemoor Healthcare & Management was fined a total of almost £17,000 for failing to carry out asbestos surveys on two sites ahead of refurbishment, one of which was a medical centre. Rather ironic that a healthcare company was failing to protect people’s health!
  • Aquapac Ltd, manufacturer and distributor of furniture, was fined £6,000 for failing to assess, control, protect and provide information to staff on the presence of ACMs. Note that this was ahead of any disturbance taking place – the legally required investigation work and controls were not in place.

 

DON’T FORGET – THE PROSECUTIONS REPORTED IN THESE NEWSLETTERS ARE JUST A FRACTION OF THOSE REPORTED. NON-COMPLIANCE WILL RESULT IN ENFORCEMENT OR PROSECUTION – AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, RISKS KILLING OR INJURING SOMEONE.

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

CITB Training Courses

Forthcoming 2018 dates currently in place and fees for the CITB courses are as follows. Courses are held at the WHS training rooms and fees include lunch, refreshments and all course literature.

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.

  • Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS)
    Duration: 5 days; 1 day per week
    Dates: 27 July & 3, 10, 17, 24 August (Fridays)
    19, 26 September, 3, 10 & 17 October 2018 (Wednesdays)
    Cost: £495 + VAT per person
  • Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) Refresher
    Duration: 2 days
    Dates: 19 & 20 July 2018 (Thursday & Friday)
    10 & 11 September 2018 (Monday & Tuesday)
    Cost: £265 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)
  • Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS)
    Duration: 2 days
    Dates: 9 & 10 July 2018 (Monday & Tuesday)
    20 & 21 September (Thursday & Friday)
    Cost: £230 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)
  • CITB 1-Day Health & Safety Awareness
    Duration: 1 day
    Dates: 7 August 2018 (Tuesday)
    24 September 2018 (Monday)
    Cost: £125 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

 

First Aid Training

Forthcoming dates for the WHS 1-day Emergency First Aid courses, also held at training rooms, are as follows; the fee is just £75 + VAT per person:

  • 25 June 2018
  • 24 July 2018
  • 23 August 2018
  • 27 September 2018 (note this date has been changed)
  • 24 October 2018
  • 20 November 2018
  • 19 December 2018

 

As with the CITB courses above, if any organisation requires first-aid for 6 or more employees, a specific course can be arranged at a date, time and location to suit. Please contact the WHS office to discuss your requirements.

Defibrillators

As those of you who have recently attended a first-aid course recently, this now includes use of a defibrillator (Automated External Defibrillator, or AED). But what’s the point of that if we don’t provide them in the workplace? We see AEDs in many public places these days – they are very easy to use (even for the untrained) and they have saved countless lives. But few employers provide them and, considering most of us spend more time at work than at home, this is an omission that really should be rectified. The enclosed sheet ‘The benefits of having an AED – the facts’ explains everything.

WHS have taken the lead and, not only will we be purchasing one ourselves, we have negotiated a deal to give our customers significant discounts. The deal is based on ‘the higher the number purchased, the higher the discount’ (5 ordered = 5% discount, 10 ordered = 10%) so, to give you all the best chance of getting decent discounts, we have agreed with Martek (provider of the best model we can find) to amalgamate your orders into one.

A current price list is enclosed for all unit options and consumables. However, this can be confusing so all you need to consider right now is which unit best suits your purposes:

  • Lifeline AED – Semi-Automatic AED – press button to deliver shock (available with a standard or high capacity battery, usually referred to as 5 or 7 year)
  • Lifeline AUTO – Fully Automatic – no shock button to press (available with a standard or high capacity battery, usually referred to as 5 or 7 year)
  • Lifeline VIEW – full colour visual coaching throughout the rescue (comes with a standard 4 year battery)

 

and Martek (who are excellent at advice and customer service) can discuss any further requirements (spares, wall brackets, etc) afterwards if you require them.

Can we ask please that companies who act as PCs or who have a significant number of employees at Head Office, in workshops etc. digest the enclosures and let our office know how many AEDs you would like. We have set a deadline for the initial order of 31 July 2018 which gives you all plenty of time to discuss the benefits and place your order through us. But do consider this seriously – as the enclosure stresses, there are huge benefits to having one or more available in workplaces:

  • Sudden Cardiac Arrest survival rates without an AED average 2-12%
  • Sudden Cardiac Arrest survival rates with an AED average up to 75%

 

And, if money rather than the moral aspect sways your decision, yes the cost of each unit is significant but just think of how much money is saved when the patient survives!! And, of course, that patient could be you!

It must be noted that we are not making any money at all on this deal; we have negotiated the deal purely for the benefit of our customers and their employees. You will be invoiced from, and must pay, Martek direct; we will simply place the order.

For further information, please contact Jackie; for orders, please contact Vicki, both on the usual WHS number: 01952-885885.

16 Years of H&S Assistance

WHS recently celebrated its 16th birthday – which is quite a milestone. Over the 16 years, we’ve have been proud to assist 800 companies right across the construction industry to raise their standards, been actively involved with related safety bodies, and helped formulate improvements to guidance and best practice. We are also pleased to report that we have needed to deal with very few significant accidents or incidents over the years. We like to think that this is the result of our support but maybe that’s only part of the story.

In 2001/02, there were 80 fatalities in the construction industry; in 2002/03 there were 70. 16 years on, the last confirmed figures (for 2016/17) indicate that the industry has reduced the figure to 30. This has been a huge improvement over the decades from the shocking figure of 154 in 1989/1990, and a testament to the efforts across the construction industry to improve the safety culture – of which we, of course, are proud to be a part.

But we can’t take our eyes of the ball. 30 is still 30 to many lives shattered and, as work continues to increase, there is usually a corresponding increase in accidents as standards are allowed to drop. There is an enviable record across our data base of 800 construction-related clients – don’t be the company to spoil it!!!

Take Care of Yourselves First!

WHS is always concerned about the well-being of everyone involved on site, particularly our own customers obviously. And it always disturbs us when we see our customers, in trying their level best to help their clients, putting themselves at risk in the process.

In the infamous words of David Cameron, “we are all in this together” and, if clients won’t play their part to ensure a safe site can be achieved, then contractors should really question why they are putting their own employees at risk for the sake of pleasing the client. There has to come a point where the risk to the contractor’s employees is too high to agree to the work. Yes the client would probably get the majority of the blame if someone is hurt as a result of his/her negligence but that doesn’t help the poor victim.

So, a plea from us – please don’t accommodate the client to the detriment of your employees’ safety; no amount of work is worth a life.

HSE NEWS

Fees For Intervention (FFI)

A timely reminder (see also ‘Public Protection..’ above) that the HSE have the right to, and frequently do, levy charges, for visits and paperwork related to any breach of H&S legislation (‘notices of contravention’), including sometimes what we may perceive as relatively minor transgressions (such as lack of vibration assessments). And that the charges amount to £129 per hour, which must be paid within 30 days.

The HSE has advised that the charges are now being levied against, not only the visit and all follow-up work, but any preparatory or other work carried out by the HSE’s ‘Visiting Officers’ as well. Hourly charges can accumulate and result in £thousands before long.

Currently, the HSE is targeting those employers with less than 10 employees. Why? Because predictably it’s micro-contractors who account for well over 75% of all accidents – lack of knowledge, H&S competence and willingness to place profit over safety. Recent HSE enforcements statistics prove the point:

  • 46% of small sites visited were below legal standards, and as a result:
  • 692 enforcement notices were issued
  • 983 notices of contravention (FFI)
  • average cost per FFI notice = £750

 

This clearly illustrates that the cost of our assistance pales into insignificance when compared to how much a single breach can cost the offending employer! So prevention is better than cure – ask us to carry out site (and workplace) inspection before, not as a result of, the HSE spot check!

What we at WHS find maddening is that the level of fines now levied by courts, and the very-easily-incurred hourly charge of £129 levied by the HSE for transgressions, does seem to hit home. Employers are more scared of incurring costs than harming an employee or ruining a family’s livelihood!

For your information, the following HSE freely downloadable documents help to explain the system:
http://www.hse.gov.uk/fee-for-intervention/ HSE Guidance about FFI
http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/hsc14.pdf When an Inspector Calls
http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/hse41.pdf Enforcement Policy Statement

and what to do if you disagree with any Notification of Contravention (NoC) issued:
http://www.hse.gov.uk/fee-for-intervention/assets/docs/ffi-queries-dispute-process.pdf
– Query & Dispute Process

However, do speak to WHS before you launch into a dispute with the HSE – in our experience, they are usually right so a dispute may just cost you £thousands more! Let us advise you on whether we think your dispute is reasonable.

Welding Fume Targeted

The HSE is now actively targeting fabricating metal workshops due to the increased risk of respiratory disease from welding fumes; welders are 20 times more likely to suffer from occupational asthma.

The HSE have issued guidance on how to protect workers from the effects of welding fume:
advice on how to protect your workers.

An example of what can happen if the risks are ignored:

Design & manufacturing company, Bayham Ltd, was fined a total of over £18,000 when the HSE found that no extraction system was in place to prevent exposure to rosin-based solder flux, a contributory factor for the occupational asthma experienced by employees.

INDUSTRY NEWS

The Legal Requirement for Seat Belts

For the last 20 years, it has been a legal requirement to have seat-belts (lap-belts) fitted to all plant where there is a risk of over-turn and the operator being crushed (forward-tipping dumpers, sit-on rollers, excavators, etc. Operators naturally fall in the direction of the over-turning plant (i.e. underneath it); hence the legal necessity to wear a restraint to hold the operator within the protective roll-bar or cab. So why are so many plant operators ignoring this requirement, why are they so reluctant to wear the seat-belts?

The 2015 HSE report RR1066 (http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr1066.pdf) gives some indication (convenience, having to climb on and off the machine frequently, laziness, lack of instruction and site enforcement) but also recommends that manufacturers go some way to addressing the problem by adding visual safety features to the plant. The result? Most good hire companies and contractors have now fitted green warning lights to the roll-bars or cabs to give a clear visual signal when seat-belts are being worn. An excellent additional feature and one that helps site managers to spot offenders from afar.

But then we get the inevitable queries: why have we got orange and green lights? what are the orange lights for if there are green ones too?! It’s easy:

  • Orange lights are to warn everyone of moving plant in their vicinity
  • Green lights are to show that the plant operator is wearing his seat-belt

 

But, more disturbingly, we also get the inevitable workers who seem determined to go against all instruction and still not wear the seat-belts. WHS has found many instances of operators fastening the seat-belt behind them. This triggers the green light which indicates to the site manager that the belt is being worn when in fact it’s not. What is it with some people?! If they put as much effort into abiding by the law as avoiding it, sites (and people) would be a lot safer!

  • To all site managers: spot check plant operators and discipline offenders
  • To all plant operators: don’t be idiots; buckle up, the law is there to protect your life after all!

 

Safe Scaffolding – a Warning

Alandale Plant & Scaffolding Ltd was recently handed a massive fine of £160,000 + costs and a victim surcharge after a scaffold clip fell 20 metres, seriously injuring a passing member of the public. It appears that the company failed to follow its own risk assessment with the result that only the lower levels of the multi-storey scaffold construction was sheeted.

It is essential that the public (and all others) are properly protected by law. Not only is there an ever present risk of objects falling, but projectiles also must be taken into account – sheeting or netting is the only way to safeguard people below unless they can be held at a safe distance (taking account of those possible projectiles. The mass of a falling object and the height of the fall combine to increase its mass (simple physics). According to the ‘Drops Calculator’:
http://www.dropsonline.org/assets/documents/DROPS-Calculator-Metric-A4.pdf )
a typical scaffold clip at 700gms falling from 15 metres (even if the pedestrian is assumed to be wearing a hard hat as per the calculator) can be deadly.

In June 2017, Zero C Holdings was fined £145,000 + costs after 500 scaffold fittings, each weighing 2kg, fell 10.5 metres from a crane.

And in February 2018, BAM was fined £40,000 + costs after scaffold tubes being lifted by a crane became dislodged and fell, injuring a worker.

This last case was exacted under the Lifting Operations & Lifting Equipment Regs and illustrates the additional necessity to ensure that no lifting takes place over people below.

To sum up then: ALL operations must take account of persons below, whether workers or the public. Ensure people are physically held back at a safe distance or, if this isn’t possible, ensure adequate protection is installed to prevent falling objects. It’s not only common sense, it’s the law (for good reason!)

Note:

Yet another pertinent reminder (as we still see sites where this doesn’t happen) that it is also law to record scaffold (and other work at height equipment) checks at least weekly. Refer to the WHS Health & Safety Manual and generic risk assessments; the law requires recorded checks by competent persons:

  • before first ascent
  • minimum 7 days thereafter
  • following any alteration, modification or reason to be believed the scaffold’s integrity may have been compromised (high winds, contact with plant, etc)

 

And be warned, whoever makes those checks and records, must take it seriously. Last September, two scaffolders were sentenced to 170 hours of community work each and ordered to pay £1,500 costs after falsifying records. The issue came to light when a roofer fell through a gap in the scaffold – the two had not made any checks and the records were therefore found to be fraudulent.

Public Protection & Public Nuisance

As you all know, protection of the public (HSWA(1)(1a) “protecting persons other than persons at work against risks to health or safety arising out of or in connection with the activities of persons at work”) has always been a legal duty on all employers no matter what work is being undertaken or where.

Members of the public very often complain about site works causing nuisance (dusts, muck on the roads, poor fencing, vehicle obstruction, noise and out of hours working, etc) and all contractors must be aware that the public have a right not to be affected by site works.

However, members of the public are often very keen-eyed too and won’t hesitate to report (with photos these days) straight to the HSE without warning. If this happens, consequences can be severe – as our previous newsletters illustrate. The cost of a WHS site inspection pales into insignificance against the cost of an enforcement notice or prosecution!

So, for your own sakes, why hesitate when it comes to site inspections? Many of our customers rarely see us on site, if at all, because they either see it as unnecessary or not worth the expense. But ask yourselves – isn’t it better that we spot and help rectify the faults on site rather than a keen-eyed pedestrian reporting the fault to the HSE?
We are here to help you so use us! And, to those who do have regular site inspections…well done, you are doing what the law expects and we know you can see the benefits.

Who has Responsibility?

The following case is a reminder that ALL those working for a commercial organisation of ANY type fall under the health & safety responsibility of that company; this includes volunteers, work experience and mentored individuals, contracted-in external workers and the self-employed.

Spritual organisation, Science of Soul, based in New Delhi but with a UK HQ in Bedford, was fined a total of almost £500,000 after a volunteer died when he fell 2 metres from an unsafe scaffold tower. Neither the victim nor the 80 year old volunteer ‘supervisor’ had received any form of tower erection, work at height or health & safety training or instruction with the result that the tower was incomplete and unsafe, and a man died.

Councillor, Ian Dalgarno commented that the Science of Soul organisation, had “clearly failed in its legal duty to ensure a safe workplace, resulting in the tragic loss and unnecessary loss of life for one of its volunteers.” (WHS emphasis). The Health & Safety at Work Act (etc) 1974 places responsibility for the health & safety of ALL persons in the employ (whether paid or unpaid) of an organisation on that organisation (regardless of commercial nature, including NGOs, churches and all non-profit making organisations)

It’s ironic that a spiritual organisation whose main objectives are described as “promoting brotherhood and harmony for the betterment of humanity” allowed their health & safety systems to be so lax that this results in the death of someone giving his personal time to that end.

Has CDM 2015 Changed Anything?

Apart from the obvious annoyances from both Designers and Clients about the new role of Principal Designer, the general consensus is that little has improved. One of the reasons the HSE gave for the 2015 changes was to place responsibility for safe ‘design and management’ where it’s due (i.e. with designers in the first instance), that message certainly has not filtered across the industry.

Accident statistics are still appalling within the construction industry:

  • 30 killed in 2016/17 (the last confirmed annual figure)
  • 64,000 non-fatal (but reportable) injuries to workers each year
  • 2.9% of construction workers injured each year

 

And designers still don’t seem to have grasped the nettle with regard to ‘designing out’ health risks (typically overheard: “that’s a contractor problem”); hence there have no improvements at all in the statistics relating to ill-health:

  • 100 construction workers die every week from occupational ill-health
  • 80,000 workers currently suffering from work-related ill-health (those reported only – how many more go undetected?)
  • 1.7 million working days lost due to ill-health (compared to 0.6 million to accidents)
  • 30,000 construction workers consult osteopaths per day (how many others visit physiotherapists, etc?)
  • manual handling cases 90% than UK industry average, accounting for 65% of all harm caused in the construction industry

 

When you consider that 75% of all construction workers are self-employed which, in plain language equates to ‘no work, no pay’. If a self-employed worker has a health issue, he/she is far less likely to own up to it as the result will obviously be less money in the pocket – meaning that self-employed workers tend to struggle on until the health symptom becomes a debilitating occupational disease. Eventually, the worker is forced to give up work altogether, usually well ahead of retirement age

Health problems remove workers from the workplace not only increasing the skill shortage and also, sadly, contributing to the 10 suicides within the construction industry every week.

Hence, the HSE is now looking seriously at how designers undertake their CDM duties (dating back to the advent of CDM in 1994) to ‘design out’ risk issues – particularly risks that are liable to cause health problems for the workforce.

And if money talks, the costs of ill-health to the construction industry are astronomic:

  • £848 million total cost per year of ill-health, of which:
  • £646 million relates to musculoskeletal problems alone
  • £15.9 million to vibration
  • £4.6 million to asbestos (an issue that is hugely under-reported)

 

ALL these costs are reflected in the high levels of insurance we ALL have to pay.

But ‘Another Way is Possible’!

Having said all the above, there are shining examples of excellent commitment and practice out there.

You’ll be familiar with Archway who produce, sell and operate the Roadmaster highway repair vehicle (and have won two of our WHS Safety Awards). The Company has very recently been the proud recipient of the ‘Runner Up’ trophy at the annual Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) awards ceremony.

Readers should note that the award was for ‘Behavioural Safety’ and was well deserved as senior management is exemplary in ensuring the full commitment of the workforce to high standards of safety and efficiency. Well done Archway!!

General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

As you are no doubt aware, the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) came into force on 25 May 2018. To very briefly sum up, the new regulations are mainly about ensuring fair, lawful and relevant collection and use of personal data, with accountability, consent, transparency and proof becoming the main focal points. Customers/consumers also have the ability to request details of all personal data held about them, as well as to ask for it to be deleted/destroyed via a Subject Access Request.

Don’t forget we’re talking about ‘personal’ data, so company information such as addresses or bank details only need to be considered if they’re for a sole trader or a company operating from a home office, for example. Your employees will always be covered by GDPR, and any domestic customers, so ensure you’ve got the relevant items in place to tell everyone what data you collect, why and how you’ll store it.

Your company should have a Data Protection Policy, relevant Privacy Notices, and a Subject Access Request form in place. If you don’t do any kind of marketing, and only use the data for the sole purpose intended by the customer (i.e. the carrying out of your service/business only), then you don’t need explicit consent.

Don’t panic about GDPR, if you weren’t doing anything unfair or unlawful before, then you probably aren’t now! And don’t forget…there are more serious consequences of not abiding by health and safety legislation.

Possible Changes to CSCS

Changes to the CSCS scheme are currently being discussed amongst them the possibility of removing the Visitors Card and, thus, the requirement on sites for any non-worker to have a card. In other words, CSCS would be used to verify the H&S competence of skilled and industry workers only, not those who are accompanied by site management when viewing the site or attend site meetings only.

This makes absolute sense but sites where CSCS is mandatory will need to persuaded…watch this space.

The Changes to CITB Grant Claims

We recently highlighted the changes in the CITB grant scheme which became effective on 3 April 2018.

Basically, CITB is moving towards a totally on-line process which will benefit claimants as, once registered, claims will be automatically processed by the training body. However, there is a transition period of a year b being allowed for both contractors and training bodies to register with CITB and, until the deadline (31 March 2019), grants can be claimed manually.

Do note that, for anyone claiming grants for training completed before 31 March 2018, there is a deadline of 30 June 2018.

The following CITB guidance will be useful to answer any questions:

https://www.citb.co.uk/grant/claiming-short-duration-training-grants/
Claiming the short duration course achievement grants
https://www.citb.co.uk/training-and-courses/construction-training-directory/
Link to the CITB Construction Training Directory – but you don’t have to use that, come to us first!

AND FINALLY

Plant & vehicles

  • S&K Groundwork Solutions Ltd was fined a total of over £28,000 after a worker suffered serious injuries from a ‘run-away’ dumper. The worker was in an excavation when the hand-brake of the dumper, which had been left running with no operator on board, failed allowing it to fall into the trench and pin him against a pile of concrete blocks. SK had failed to maintain the dumper, had not carried out the legally required regular PUWER checks on its equipment, and had not placed stop-blocks or baulks to prevent plant from falling into the excavation.
  • Client and principal contractor, Bellway Homes Ltd, and contractor, AD Bly Construction Ltd, were fined totals of over £80,100 and £31,000 respectively after a worker suffered severe injuries when he was struck by a telehandler. Both companies were found to have failed in their legal duties to “plan, manage and monitor” (to again quote CDM) their work in relation to the risks of plant and pedestrian contact on site.
  • MV Kelly Ltd was fined a total of £530,000 after a worker was struck by a tipper wagon, suffering serious injuries. The worker had been walking along a haul road when he was struck; as with the previous case, the company had failed to plan, manage and monitor the risks of pedestrian contact with plant.
  • Client and principal contractor, Redrow Homes Ltd, and contractor, WPI Civil Engineering Ltd, were fined totals of £601,000 and £317,000 respectively after a scaffolder was crushed and killed under the wheels of a dumper truck. Not only was segregation between plant and pedestrians inadequate (yet again!) but, in addition, reversing had been uncontrolled and the vehicle was found to be unfit for use on site.

 

Work at height

  • HPAS (trading as Safestyle UK) was fined a whopping total of £850,000 + costs after a fitter suffered a fractured knee-cap when he fell over 3 metres whilst installing a first floor window. The worker had been installing windows from an unsecured ladder, apparently a standard method of work for this company but clearly not legally permissible.
  • BAM Nuttall was presented with an even higher fine of £900,000 + costs when a painter fell through the ceiling of a passenger waiting room at East Croyden station and suffered severe ligament damage. Sub-contractor, McNealy Brown was also fined £65,000.

 

Note – fines of this level for non-fatal work at height accidents demonstrate that both the HSE and the courts mean business now! Expect a HUGE fine for any breach of work at height duties.

  • Acorn Scaffolding (Yorkshire) Ltd was fined a total of almost £48,000 after a worker fell 4 metres through an unprotected roof light during scaffold erection.
  • Quality Food Products (Aberdeeen) Ltd was fined £10,000 + costs after the company director and a worker were spotted over several days working on a roof over 5 metres high by “standing on a wooden pallet which was on the prongs of a forklift truck”, sometimes in wet conditions. This method of working is illegal for a very good reason – it’s suicidal!
  • ‘Ethical’ landlord Aster Property Ltd was fined £14,600 + costs, and contractor Stuart Barnes fined £8,000 + costs, after a roofer working for Barnes fell 2 metres through a fragile garage roof.
  • George Hurst & Sons Ltd was prosecuted after an employee was seriously injured falling from scaffolding, landing on the unprotected end of a scaffold pole. The irony with this case is that the employee was removing fall arrest bags from a first floor; the bags were too bulky to take down the stairs so he was throwing them over the scaffold and, when one became caught, it dislodged the scaffolding and took him over the edge protection.

 

Note – as the HPAS prosecution above AND this case demonstrates, ALL tasks must be risk assessed and carried out in a safe manner; clearly, throwing large fall arrest bags to the ground from any platform is NOT a safe way of working.

  • Mager Homes Ltd was fined a total of almost £27,000 after a worker fell through first floor joists and suffered life-changing injuries; no fall prevention or arrest equipment had been installed.
  • Sasie Ltd was fined a total of £16,300 and its director, Een Marsden Kelly, personally fined £500 after a member of the public contacted the HSE about solar panel work on a roof being undertaken with no edge protection. As we keep saying, prosecutions don’t have to be the result of an accident – the public are very keen eyed – and domestic solar panel or roof work is a constant reason for complaint.

 

CDM

  • Coast & Country Construction was fined £15,000, and principal designer Paul Humphries Architects fined £20,000, after an HSE inspection identified “uncontrolled high-risk activities” and “a total disregard for health and safety and site management” during work at a residential home. The risks included fire, falls from height, wood dusts, and slips and trips, all of which, in the opinion of the HSE, were placing workers at serious risk of injury of death. Paul Humphries Architects had failed to consider fire spread when it designed the timber frame extension.

 

Note – as highlighted above, designers (particularly principal designers) are being targeted and prosecuted by the HSE if they fail to undertake their CDM duty to ‘design out risk’

  • Client, Taylor Grange Developments Ltd, principal contractor, Allied Contracts Ltd, and demolition contractor, Altan Plant Hire Ltd, were fined £4,500, £6,000 and £20,000 respectively after the uncontrolled collapse of a 3-storey building during demolition; a worker suffered back injuries as a result. No safe system had been established; hand demolition of internal walls was being undertaken instead of using machines. And both Taylor Grange and Allied Contracts were found to have engaged a contractor (Altan) with inadequate “skills, knowledge, experience and organisational capability” (to quote CDM) to be able to carry out the work safely.

 

Public safety

  • Hugo Boss UK was fined a massive £1.2 million + £47,000 costs after a heavy store mirror fell and crushed and killed a 4 year old. The 114kg 2.1 metre high mirror, rather than being properly fixed into place, was just propped against a changing room wall; the consequences were all too predictable. Boss was found to have systematic failings in health & safety systems despite a turnover (2016) of almost €2,700 million.

 

Note – this is a warning to all those retail outlets and designers who treat health & safety lightly. The risks are just as prevalent in shops as they are elsewhere – maybe even more so because you are dealing directly with the public who are often vulnerable and unpredictable. ALL stores have the legal duty to keep the public (and their staff) safe; ALL designers working in the retail sector have a legal duty to design for safety.

 

Asbestos

  • RF Gardiner Ltd was fined a total of over £29,000 after carrying out unsafe removal of asbestos in a primary school; the company was not licensed and no attempt to mitigate the risks had been established.
  • Carter Brothers (Rochdale) Ltd and Frank Allan (trading as Jet Blast and Maintenance) were fined totals of almost £12,000 and £4,500 respectively after failing to carry out the cleaning of an asbestos cement sheeting roof safely. Carter Brothers had not engaged a suitably specialist contractor to carry out the work, another case demonstrating that the client is ultimately responsible for all work commissioned.
  • Quainton Logistics and Storage Ltd was fined a total of almost £21,000 after unsafe removal of asbestos cement sheeting from a derelict building. Not only was the sheeting found to have been manually broken up but there were multiple additional safety failings relating to unprotected falls into pits, unqualified plant operating, and poor maintenance of MEWPS and forklifts.

 

Electrical services

  • Partners of a Suffolk-based farm, Nicholas and Roger Watts, were each fined a total of £14,200 after a haulage contractor was killed when his tipper wagon made contact with overhead power lines. Despite previous recommendations from the NFU Mutual Risk Management Services, the men had failed to provide a means of ensuring safety when working beneath the cables.
  • BAS Castings Ltd was fined a total of over £61,000 after two employees suffered serious burns from an electrical flash-over during repair work on a furnace. When checking why the original repair failed to work, they by-passed the interlock of the fuse panel with a screwdriver causing the (predictable!) flash-over. The company was found to have no safe systems in place for electrical work, nor had they carried our risk assessments or instigated permits to work.

 

Health hazards

  • Andrena Furniture Ltd was fined a total of over £9,000 after exposing their workers to significant quantities of hardwood dusts on a daily basis. Both the extraction system and the cleaning regime were found to be totally inadequate.
  • Tai Calon Community Housing was fined a total of almost £33,000 after a number of employees were diagnosed with HAVS caused by prolonged exposure to vibration in their day to day work. The company had failed to assess or address the issues of vibration sustained by the use of power tools, and had subsequently failed to instruct employees into safe working methods and controls.

 

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

First Aid Training

Forthcoming dates for the WHS 1-day Emergency First Aid courses, also held at training rooms, are as follows; the fee is just £75 + VAT per person:

  • 25 June 2018
  • 24 July 2018
  • 23 August 2018
  • 27 September 2018 (note this date has been changed)
  • 24 October 2018
  • 20 November 2018
  • 19 December 2018

 

As with the CITB courses above, if any organisation requires first-aid for 6 or more employees, a specific course can be arranged at a date, time and location to suit. Please contact the WHS office to discuss your requirements.

Defibrillators

As those of you who have recently attended a first-aid course recently, this now includes use of a defibrillator (Automated External Defibrillator, or AED). But what’s the point of that if we don’t provide them in the workplace? We see AEDs in many public places these days – they are very easy to use (even for the untrained) and they have saved countless lives. But few employers provide them and, considering most of us spend more time at work than at home, this is an omission that really should be rectified. The enclosed sheet ‘The benefits of having an AED – the facts’ explains everything.

WHS have taken the lead and, not only will we be purchasing one ourselves, we have negotiated a deal to give our customers significant discounts. The deal is based on ‘the higher the number purchased, the higher the discount’ (5 ordered = 5% discount, 10 ordered = 10%) so, to give you all the best chance of getting decent discounts, we have agreed with Martek (provider of the best model we can find) to amalgamate your orders into one.

A current price list is enclosed for all unit options and consumables. However, this can be confusing so all you need to consider right now is which unit best suits your purposes:

  • Lifeline AED – Semi-Automatic AED – press button to deliver shock (available with a standard or high capacity battery, usually referred to as 5 or 7 year)
  • Lifeline AUTO – Fully Automatic – no shock button to press (available with a standard or high capacity battery, usually referred to as 5 or 7 year)
  • Lifeline VIEW – full colour visual coaching throughout the rescue (comes with a standard 4 year battery)

 

and Martek (who are excellent at advice and customer service) can discuss any further requirements (spares, wall brackets, etc) afterwards if you require them.

Can we ask please that companies who act as PCs or who have a significant number of employees at Head Office, in workshops, etc digest the enclosures and let our office know how many AEDs you would like. We have set a deadline for the initial order of 31 July 2018 which gives you all plenty of time to discuss the benefits and place your order through us. But do consider this seriously – as the enclosure stresses, there are huge benefits to having one or more available in workplaces:

  • Sudden Cardiac Arrest survival rates without an AED average 2-12%
  • Sudden Cardiac Arrest survival rates with an AED average up to 75%

 

And, if money rather than the moral aspect sways your decision, yes the cost of each unit is significant but just think of how much money is saved when the patient survives!! And, of course, that patient could be you!

It must be noted that we are not making any money at all on this deal; we have negotiated the deal purely for the benefit of our customers and their employees. You will be invoiced from, and must pay, Martek direct; we will simply place the order.

For further information, please contact Jackie; for orders, please contact Vicki, both on the usual WHS number: 01952-885885.

16 Years of H&S Assistance

WHS recently celebrated its 16th birthday – which is quite a milestone. Over the 16 years, we’ve have been proud to assist 800 companies to raise their standards, been actively involved with related safety bodies, and helped formulate improvements to guidance and best practice. We are also pleased to report that we have needed to deal with very few significant accidents or incidents over the years. We like to think that this is the result of our support but maybe that’s only part of the story.

In 2001/02, there were 251 fatalities in UK industry; in 2002/03 there were 226. 16 years on, the last confirmed figures (for 2016/17) indicate that this figure has almost halved to 137. This has been a huge improvement over the decades (and a reduction of 85%) from the shocking figure of almost 700 per year at the advent of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974; it is a testament to the efforts right across UK industry to improve the safety culture – of which we, of course, are proud to be a part.

But we can’t take our eyes of the ball. 137 still equate to too many lives shattered. There is an enviable record across our data base of 800 clients – don’t be the company to spoil it!!!

HSE NEWS

Fees For Intervention (FFI)

A timely reminder (see also ‘Public Protection..’ above) that the HSE have the right to, and frequently do, levy charges, for visits and paperwork related to any breach of H&S legislation (‘notices of contravention’), including sometimes what we may perceive as relatedly minor transgressions (such as lack of vibration assessments). And that the charges amount to £129 per hour, which must be paid within 30 days.

The HSE has advised that the charges are now being levied against, not only the visit and all follow-up work, but any preparatory or other work carried out by the HSE’s ‘Visiting Officers’ as well. Hourly charges can accumulate and result in £thousands before long.

Currently, the HSE is targeting those employers with less than 10 employees. Why? Because predictably it’s micro-businesses who account for well over 75% of all accidents – lack of knowledge, H&S competence and willingness to place profit over safety. Recent HSE enforcements statistics have produced an average cost per FFI notice of £750

This clearly illustrates that the cost of our assistance pales into insignificance when compared to how much a single breach can cost the offending employer! So prevention is better than cure – ask us to carry out workplace inspection before, not as a result of, the HSE spot check!

What we at WHS find maddening is that the level of fines now levied by courts, and the very-easily-incurred hourly charge of £129 levied by the HSE for transgressions, does seem to hit home. Employers are more scared of incurring costs than harming an employee or ruining a family’s livelihood!

For your information, the following HSE freely downloadable documents help to explain the system:
http://www.hse.gov.uk/fee-for-intervention/ HSE Guidance about FFI
http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/hsc14.pdf When an Inspector Calls
http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/hse41.pdf Enforcement Policy Statement

and what to do if you disagree with any Notification of Contravention (NoC) issued:
http://www.hse.gov.uk/fee-for-intervention/assets/docs/ffi-queries-dispute-process.pdf
– Query & Dispute Process

However, do speak to WHS before you launch into a dispute with the HSE – in our experience, they are usually right so a dispute may just cost you £thousands more! Let us advise you on whether we think your dispute is reasonable.

Welding Fume Targeted

The HSE is now actively targeting fabricating metal workshops due to the increased risk of respiratory disease from welding fumes; welders are 20 times more likely to suffer from occupational asthma.

The HSE have issued guidance on how to protect workers from the effects of welding fume:
advice on how to protect your workers.

An example of what can happen if the risks are ignored:

Design & manufacturing company, Bayham Ltd, was fined a total of over £18,000 when the HSE found that no extraction system was in place to prevent exposure to rosin-based solder flux, a contributory factor for the occupational asthma experienced by employees.

INDUSTRY NEWS

General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

As you are no doubt aware, the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) came into force on 25 May 2018. To very briefly sum up, the new regulations are mainly about ensuring fair, lawful and relevant collection and use of personal data, with accountability, consent, transparency and proof becoming the main focal points. Customers/consumers also have the ability to request details of all personal data held about them, as well as to ask for it to be deleted/destroyed via a Subject Access Request.

Don’t forget we’re talking about ‘personal’ data, so company information such as addresses or bank details only need to be considered if they’re for a sole trader or a company operating from a home office, for example. Your employees will always be covered by GDPR, and any domestic customers, so ensure you’ve got the relevant items in place to tell everyone what data you collect, why and how you’ll store it.

Your company should have a Data Protection Policy, relevant Privacy Notices, and a Subject Access Request form in place. If you don’t do any kind of marketing, and only use the data for the sole purpose intended by the customer (i.e. the carrying out of your service/business only), then you don’t need explicit consent.

Don’t panic about GDPR, if you weren’t doing anything unfair or unlawful before, then you probably aren’t now! And don’t forget…there are more serious consequences of not abiding by health and safety legislation.

The Legal Requirement for Seat Belts

For the last 20 years, it has been a legal requirement to have seat-belts (lap-belts) fitted to all plant where there is a risk of over-turn and the operator being crushed (fork-lifts, etc). Operators naturally fall in the direction of the over-turning plant (i.e. underneath it); hence the legal necessity to wear a restraint to hold the operator within the protective roll-bar or cab. So why are so many plant operators ignoring this requirement, why are they so reluctant to wear the seat-belts?

The 2015 HSE report RR1066 (http://www.hse.gov.uk/research/rrpdf/rr1066.pdf) gives some indication (convenience, having to climb on and off the machine frequently, laziness, lack of instruction and enforcement) but also recommends that manufacturers go some way to addressing the problem by adding visual safety features to the plant. The result? Most good hire companies and owner-operators have now fitted green warning lights to the roll-bars or cabs to give a clear visual signal when seat-belts are being worn. An excellent additional feature and one that helps managers to spot offenders from afar.

But then we get the inevitable queries: why have we got orange and green lights? what are the orange lights for if there are green ones too?! It’s easy:

  • Orange lights are to warn everyone of moving plant in their vicinity
  • Green lights are to show that the plant operator is wearing his seat-belt

 

But, more disturbingly, we also get the inevitable workers who seem determined to go against all instruction and still not wear the seat-belts. WHS has found many instances of operators fastening the seat-belt behind them. This triggers the green light which indicates to the site manager that the belt is being worn when in fact it’s not. What is it with some people?! If they put as much effort into abiding by the law as avoiding it, sites (and people) would be a lot safer!

  • To all managers: spot check plant operators and discipline offenders
  • To all plant operators: don’t be idiots; buckle up, the law is there to protect your life after all!

 

Who has Responsibility?

The following case is a reminder that ALL those working for a commercial organisation of ANY type fall under the health & safety responsibility of that company; this includes volunteers, work experience and mentored individuals, contracted-in external workers and the self-employed.

Spritual organisation, Science of Soul, based in New Delhi but with a UK HQ in Bedford, was fined a total of almost £500,000 after a volunteer died when he fell 2 metres from an unsafe scaffold tower. Neither the victim nor the 80 year old volunteer ‘supervisor’ had received any form of tower erection, work at height or health & safety training or instruction with the result that the tower was incomplete and unsafe, and a man died.

Councillor, Ian Dalgarno commented that the Science of Soul organisation, had “clearly failed in its legal duty to ensure a safe workplace, resulting in the tragic loss and unnecessary loss of life for one of its volunteers.” (WHS parenthesis). The Health & Safety at Work Act (etc) 1974 places responsibility for the health & safety of ALL persons in the employ (whether paid or unpaid) of an organisation on that organisation (regardless of commercial nature, including NGOs, churches and all non-profit making organisations)

It’s ironic that a spiritual organisation whose main objectives are described as “promoting brotherhood and harmony for the betterment of humanity” allowed their health & safety systems to be so lax that this results in the death of someone giving his personal time to that end.

Health Issues

Despite the huge improvement in fatality figures (as above) and work-related injuries over the years, there has been little improvement in the statistics relating to ill-health:

  • 100 workers die every week from occupational ill-health
  • 80,000 workers currently suffering from work-related ill-health (those reported only – how many more go undetected?)
  • 1.7 million working days lost due to ill-health (compared to 0.6 million to accidents)
  • 30,000 workers consult osteopaths per day (how many others visit physiotherapists, etc?)

 

Health problems remove workers from the workplace not only increasing the skill shortage and also, sadly, contributing the huge increase in the number of suicides we are seeing throughout Britain.

The costs of ill-health to the construction industry alone are astronomic:

  • £848 million total cost per year of ill-health, of which:
  • £646 million relates to musculoskeletal problems alone
  • £15.9 million to vibration
  • £4.6 million to asbestos (an issue that is hugely under-reported)

 

Who knows the total figure throughout UK industry. And, of course, ALL these costs are reflected in the high levels of insurance we ALL have to pay.

But ‘Another Way is Possible’!

Having said all the above, there are shining examples of excellent commitment and practice out there.

You’ll be familiar with Archway who produce, sell and operate the Roadmaster highway repair vehicle (and have won two of our WHS Safety Awards). The Company has very recently been the proud recipient of the ‘Runner Up’ trophy at the annual Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) awards ceremony.

Readers should note that the award was for ‘Behavioural Safety’ and was well deserved as senior management is exemplary in ensuring the full commitment of the workforce to high standards of safety and efficiency. Well done Archway!!

AND FINALLY

Work at height

  • HPAS (trading as Safestyle UK) was fined a whopping total of £850,000 + costs after a fitter suffered a fractured knee-cap when he fell over 3 metres whilst installing a first floor window. The worker had been installing windows from an unsecured ladder, apparently a standard method of work for this company but clearly not legally permissible.
  • BAM Nuttall was presented with an even higher fine of £900,000 + costs when a painter fell through the ceiling of a passenger waiting room at East Croyden station and suffered severe ligament damage. Sub-contractor, McNealy Brown was also fined £65,000.

 

Note – fines of this level for non-fatal work at height accidents demonstrate that both the HSE and the courts mean business now! Expect a HUGE fine for any breach of work at height duties.

  • Quality Food Products (Aberdeeen) Ltd was fined £10,000 + costs after the company director and a worker were spotted over several days working on a roof over 5 metres high by “standing on a wooden pallet which was on the prongs of a forklift truck”, sometimes in wet conditions. This method of working is illegal for a very good reason – it’s suicidal!
  • ‘Ethical’ landlord Aster Property Ltd was fined £14,600 + costs, and contractor Stuart Barnes fined £8,000 + costs, after a roofer working for Barnes fell 2 metres through a fragile garage roof.
  • Mager Homes Ltd was fined a total of almost £27,000 after a worker fell through first floor joists and suffered life-changing injuries; no fall prevention or arrest equipment had been installed.
  • Sasie Ltd was fined a total of £16,300 and its director, Een Marsden Kelly, personally fined £500 after a member of the public contacted the HSE about solar panel work on a roof being undertaken with no edge protection. As we keep saying, prosecutions don’t have to be the result of an accident – the public are very keen eyed – and domestic solar panel or roof work is a constant reason for complaint.

 

Construction (Design & Management) Regs (‘CDM’)

  • Client, Taylor Grange Developments Ltd, principal contractor, Allied Contracts Ltd, and demolition contractor, Altan Plant Hire Ltd, were fined £4,500, £6,000 and £20,000 after the uncontrolled collapse of a 3-storey building during demolition; a worker suffered back injuries as a result. No safe system had been established; hand demolition of internal walls was being undertaken instead of using machines. And both Taylor Grange and Allied Contracts were found to have engaged a contractor (Altan) with inadequate “skills, knowledge, experience and organisational capability” (to quote CDM) to be able to carry out the work safely.
  • Coast & Country Construction was fined £15,000, and principal designer Paul Humphries Architects fined £20,000, after an HSE inspection identified “uncontrolled high-risk activities” and “a total disregard for health and safety and site management” during work at a residential home. The risks included fire, falls from height, wood dusts, and slips and trips, all of which, in the opinion of the HSE, were placing workers at serious risk of injury of death. Paul Humphries Architects had failed to consider fire spread when it designed the timber frame extension.

 

Note – as highlighted above, designers AND clients are being targeted and prosecuted by the HSE if they fail to undertake their CDM duties. Everyone commissioning or designing any type of ‘construction’ work (and this term extends to decorating, cabling, repair, maintenance and all sorts of other aspects related to structures. Refer to the Regs themselves (http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l153.htm) or industry guidance (https://bit.ly/2ueEKy1 ) or the detailed information WHS has given all clients within the health & safety packs.

Public safety

  • Hugo Boss UK was fined a massive £1.2 million + £47,000 costs after a heavy store mirror fell and crushed and killed a 4 year old. The 114kg 2.1 metre high mirror, rather than being properly fixed into place, was just propped against a changing room wall; the consequences were all too predictable. Boss was found to have systematic failings in health & safety systems despite a turnover (2016) of almost €2,700 million.

 

Asbestos

  • Carter Brothers (Rochdale) Ltd and Frank Allan (trading as Jet Blast and Maintenance) were fined totals of almost £12,000 and £4,500 respectively after failing to carry out the cleaning of an asbestos cement sheeting roof safely. Carter Brothers had not engaged a suitably specialist contractor to carry out the work – another case demonstrating that the client is ultimately responsible for all work carried out at their premises.

 

Electrical services

  • Partners of a Suffolk-based farm, Nicholas and Roger Watts, were each fined a total of £14,200 after a haulage contractor was killed when his tipper wagon made contact with overhead power lines. Despite previous recommendations from the NFU Mutual Risk Management Services, the men had failed to provide a means of ensuring safety when working beneath the cables.
  • BAS Castings Ltd was fined a total of over £61,000 after two employees suffered serious burns from an electrical flash-over during repair work on a furnace. When checking why the original repair failed to work, they by-passed the interlock of the fuse panel with a screwdriver causing the (predictable!) flash-over. The company was found to have no safe systems in place for electrical work, nor had they carried our risk assessments or instigated permits to work.

 

Plant & vehicles

  • Kitchen manufacturer, Howden Joinery Ltd, was fined £1.2 million plus costs of almost £34,000 after a delivery driver was crushed to death by a fork-lift that overturned whilst lifting worktops from his trailer.
  • Kitchencraft (Wirral) Ltd was fined and ordered to pay compensation to a total of £20,000 after a workers fingers were severed by an unguarded circular saw. And again, no safe method of work had been established to ensure that fingers were never in close proximity to the moving blade.
  • Wicks Office Furniture Ltd was fined a total of almost £111,000 after the HSE found multiple safety failings over several visits, including unguarded machinery and inadequate training and instruction.

 

Note – this safety failings in this prosecution also relate to lack of controls for hazardous substances, including welding fume (see above)

Equipment & materials

  • Pre-cast concrete products manufacture, CPM Group Ltd, was fined a total of over £674,500 after the death of a worker. The worker had been carrying out maintenance on a conveyor when it started moving, trapping the worker; no safe method of work had been established and no means of isolation in place before maintenance.
  • Avon Joinery Ltd was fined a total of almost £232,000 after a worker suffered serious injuries when his hand came into contact with a circular saw; no training had been given and no safe method of work established to ensure that fingers were never in close proximity to the moving blade.
  • K Two Sales Ltd was fined a total of almost £24,000 after a worker suffered two broken legs when a stack of metal sheets fell on his ankles. The worker had been trying to remove a metal sheet from the unstable stack; no safe way of stacking the sheets had been established.

 

Health hazards

  • Andrena Furniture Ltd was fined a total of over £9,000 after exposing their workers to significant quantities of hardwood dusts on a daily basis. Both the extraction system and the cleaning regime were found to be totally inadequate.
  • Tai Calon Community Housing was fined a total of almost £33,000 after a number of employees were diagnosed with HAVS caused by prolonged exposure to vibration in their day to day work. The company had failed to assess or address the issues of vibration sustained by the use of power tools, and had subsequently failed to instruct employees into safe working methods and controls.
  • Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust was fined a total of over £337,000 after a patient died from legionella. The Trust had failed to establish an adequate check and testing regime to detect the bacteria and had also failed to recognise the risk from a specific section of their water system.

 

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

CITB Training Courses

Forthcoming 2018 dates currently in place and fees for the CITB courses are as follows. Courses are held at the WHS training rooms and fees include lunch, refreshments and all course literature.

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.

  • Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS)
    Duration: 5 days; 1 day per week
    Dates: 27 July & 3, 10, 17, 24 August (Fridays)
    19, 26 September, 3, 10 & 17 October 2018 (Wednesdays)
    Cost: £495 + VAT per person
  • Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) Refresher
    Duration: 2 days
    Dates: 19 & 20 July 2018 (Thursday & Friday)
    10 & 11 September 2018 (Monday & Tuesday)
    Cost: £265 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)
  • Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS)
    Duration: 2 days
    Dates: 9 & 10 July 2018 (Monday & Tuesday)
    20 & 21 September (Thursday & Friday)
    Cost: £230 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)
  • CITB 1-Day Health & Safety Awareness
    Duration: 1 day
    Dates: 7 August 2018 (Tuesday)
    24 September 2018 (Monday)
    Cost: £125 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

 

First Aid Training

Forthcoming dates for the WHS 1-day Emergency First Aid courses, also held at training rooms, are as follows; the fee is just £75 + VAT per person:

  • 25 June 2018
  • 24 July 2018
  • 23 August 2018
  • 27 September 2018 (note this date has been changed)
  • 24 October 2018
  • 20 November 2018
  • 19 December 2018

As with the CITB courses above, if any organisation requires first-aid for 6 or more employees, a specific course can be arranged at a date, time and location to suit. Please contact the WHS office to discuss your requirements.

Defibrillators

As those of you who have recently attended a first-aid course recently, this now includes use of a defibrillator (Automated External Defibrillator, or AED). But what’s the point of that if we don’t provide them in the workplace? We see AEDs in many public places these days – they are very easy to use (even for the untrained) and they have saved countless lives. But few employers provide them and, considering most of us spend more time at work than at home, this is an omission that really should be rectified. The enclosed sheet ‘The benefits of having an AED – the facts’ explains everything.

WHS have taken the lead and, not only will we be purchasing one ourselves, we have negotiated a deal to give our customers significant discounts. The deal is based on ‘the higher the number purchased, the higher the discount’ (5 ordered = 5% discount, 10 ordered = 10%) so, to give you all the best chance of getting decent discounts, we have agreed with Martek (provider of the best model we can find) to amalgamate your orders into one.

A current price list is enclosed for all unit options and consumables. However, this can be confusing so all you need to consider right now is which unit best suits your purposes:

  • Lifeline AED – Semi-Automatic AED – press button to deliver shock (available with a standard or high capacity battery, usually referred to as 5 or 7 year)
  • Lifeline AUTO – Fully Automatic – no shock button to press (available with a standard or high capacity battery, usually referred to as 5 or 7 year)
  • Lifeline VIEW – full colour visual coaching throughout the rescue (comes with a standard 4 year battery)

 

and Martek (who are excellent at advice and customer service) can discuss any further requirements (spares, wall brackets, etc) afterwards if you require them.

Can we ask please that companies who act as PCs or who have a significant number of employees at Head Office, in workshops, etc digest the enclosures and let our office know how many AEDs you would like. We have set a deadline for the initial order of 31 July 2018 which gives you all plenty of time to discuss the benefits and place your order through us. But do consider this seriously – as the enclosure stresses, there are huge benefits to having one or more available in workplaces:

  • Sudden Cardiac Arrest survival rates without an AED average 2-12%
  • Sudden Cardiac Arrest survival rates with an AED average up to 75%

 

And, if money rather than the moral aspect sways your decision, yes the cost of each unit is significant but just think of how much money is saved when the patient survives!! And, of course, that patient could be you!

It must be noted that we are not making any money at all on this deal; we have negotiated the deal purely for the benefit of our customers and their employees. You will be invoiced from, and must pay, Martek direct; we will simply place the order.

For further information, please contact Jackie; for orders, please contact Vicki, both on the usual WHS number: 01952-885885.

16 Years of H&S Assistance

WHS recently celebrated its 16th birthday – which is quite a milestone. Over the 16 years, we’ve have been proud to assist 800 companies right across the construction industry to raise their standards, been actively involved with related safety bodies, and helped formulate improvements to guidance and best practice. We are also pleased to report that we have needed to deal with very few significant accidents or incidents over the years. We like to think that this is the result of our support but maybe that’s only part of the story.

In 2001/02, there were 80 fatalities in the construction industry; in 2002/03 there were 70. 16 years on, the last confirmed figures (for 2016/17) indicate that the industry has reduced the figure to 30. This has been a huge improvement over the decades from the shocking figure of 154 in 1989/1990, and a testament to the efforts across the construction industry to improve the safety culture – of which we, of course, are proud to be a part.

But we can’t take our eyes of the ball. 30 is still 30 to many lives shattered and, as work continues to increase, there is usually a corresponding increase in accidents as standards are allowed to drop. There is an enviable record across our data base of 800 construction-related clients – don’t be the company to spoil it!!!

Take Care of Yourselves First!

WHS is always concerned about the well-being of everyone involved on site, particularly our own customers obviously. And it always disturbs us when we see our customers, in trying their level best to help their clients, putting themselves at risk in the process.

In the infamous words of David Cameron, “we are all in this together” and, if clients won’t play their part to ensure a safe site can be achieved, then contractors should really question why they are putting their own employees at risk for the sake of pleasing the client. There has to come a point where the risk to the contractor’s employees is too high to agree to the work. Yes the client would probably get the majority of the blame if someone is hurt as a result of his/her negligence but that doesn’t help the poor victim.

So, a plea from us – please don’t accommodate the client to the detriment of your employees’ safety; no amount of work is worth a life.

HSE NEWS

Fees For Intervention (FFI)

A timely reminder (see also ‘Public Protection..’ above) that the HSE have the right to, and frequently do, levy charges, for visits and paperwork related to any breach of H&S legislation (‘notices of contravention’), including sometimes what we may perceive as relatively minor transgressions (such as lack of vibration assessments). And that the charges amount to £129 per hour, which must be paid within 30 days.

The HSE has advised that the charges are now being levied against, not only the visit and all follow-up work, but any preparatory or other work carried out by the HSE’s ‘Visiting Officers’ as well. Hourly charges can accumulate and result in £thousands before long.

Currently, the HSE is targeting those employers with less than 10 employees. Why? Because predictably it’s micro-contractors why account for well over 75% of all accidents – lack of knowledge, H&S competence and willingness to place safety over profit. Recent HSE enforcements statistics prove the point:

  • 46% of small sites visited were below legal standards, and as a result:
  • 692 enforcement notices were issued
  • 983 notices of contravention (FFI)
  • average cost per FFI notice = £750

 

This clearly illustrates that the cost of our assistance pales into insignificance when compared to how much a single breach can cost the offending employer! So prevention is better than cure – ask us to carry out site (and workplace) inspection before, not as a result of, the HSE spot check!

What we at WHS find maddening is that the level of fines now levied by courts, and the very-easily-incurred hourly charge of £129 levied by the HSE for transgressions, does seem to hit home. Employers are more scared of incurring costs than harming an employee or ruining a family’s livelihood!

For your information, the following HSE freely downloadable documents help to explain the system:
http://www.hse.gov.uk/fee-for-intervention/ HSE Guidance about FFI
http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/hsc14.pdf When an Inspector Calls
http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/hse41.pdf Enforcement Policy Statement

and what to do if you disagree with any Notification of Contravention (NoC) issued:
http://www.hse.gov.uk/fee-for-intervention/assets/docs/ffi-queries-dispute-process.pdf
– Query & Dispute Process

However, do speak to WHS before you launch into a dispute with the HSE – in our experience, they are usually right so a dispute may just cost you £thousands more! Let us advise you on whether we think your dispute is reasonable.

Welding Fume Targeted

The HSE is now actively targeting fabricating metal workshops due to the increased risk of respiratory disease from welding fumes; welders are 20 times more likely to suffer from occupational asthma.

The HSE have issued guidance on how to protect workers from the effects of welding fume:
advice on how to protect your workers.

An example of what can happen if the risks are ignored:
Design & manufacturing company, Bayham Ltd, was fined a total of over £18,000 when the HSE found that no extraction system was in place to prevent exposure to rosin-based solder flux, a contributory factor for the occupational asthma experienced by employees.

INDUSTRY NEWS

General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

As you are no doubt aware, the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) came into force on 25 May 2018. To very briefly sum up, the new regulations are mainly about ensuring fair, lawful and relevant collection and use of personal data, with accountability, consent, transparency and proof becoming the main focal points. Customers/consumers also have the ability to request details of all personal data held about them, as well as to ask for it to be deleted/destroyed via a Subject Access Request.

Don’t forget we’re talking about ‘personal’ data, so company information such as addresses or bank details only need to be considered if they’re for a sole trader or a company operating from a home office, for example. Your employees will always be covered by GDPR, and any domestic customers, so ensure you’ve got the relevant items in place to tell everyone what data you collect, why and how you’ll store it.

Your company should have a Data Protection Policy, relevant Privacy Notices, and a Subject Access Request form in place. If you don’t do any kind of marketing, and only use the data for the sole purpose intended by the customer (i.e. the carrying out of your service/business only), then you don’t need explicit consent.

Don’t panic about GDPR, if you weren’t doing anything unfair or unlawful before, then you probably aren’t now! And don’t forget…there are more serious consequences of not abiding by health and safety legislation.

Public Protection & Public Nuisance

As you all know, protection of the public (HSWA(1)(1a) “protecting persons other than persons at work against risks to health or safety arising out of or in connection with the activities of persons at work”) has always been a legal duty on all employers no matter what work is being undertaken or where.

Members of the public very often complain about site works causing nuisance (dusts, muck on the roads, poor fencing, vehicle obstruction, noise and out of hours working, etc) and all contractors must be aware that the public have a right not to be affected by site works.

However, members of the public are often very keen-eyed too and won’t hesitate to report (with photos these days) straight to the HSE without warning. If this happens, consequences can be severe – as our previous newsletters illustrate. The cost of a WHS site inspection pales into insignificance against the cost of an enforcement notice or prosecution!
So, for your own sakes, why hesitate when it comes to site inspections? Many of our customers rarely see us on site, if at all, because they either see it as unnecessary or not worth the expense. But ask yourselves – isn’t it better that we spot and help rectify the faults on site rather than a keen-eyed pedestrian reporting the fault to the HSE?

We are here to help you so use us! And, to those who do have regular site inspections…well done, you are doing what the law expects and we know you can see the benefits.

Who has Responsibility?

The following case is a reminder that ALL those working for a commercial organisation of ANY type fall under the health & safety responsibility of that company; this includes volunteers, work experience and mentored individuals, contracted-in external workers and the self-employed.

Spritual organisation, Science of Soul, based in New Delhi but with a UK HQ in Bedford, was fined a total of almost £500,000 after a volunteer died when he fell 2 metres from an unsafe scaffold tower. Neither the victim nor the 80 year old volunteer ‘supervisor’ had received any form of tower erection, work at height or health & safety training or instruction with the result that the tower was incomplete and unsafe, and a man died.

Councillor, Ian Dalgarno commented that the Science of Soul organisation, had “clearly failed in its legal duty to ensure a safe workplace, resulting in the tragic loss and unnecessary loss of life for one of its volunteers.” (WHS emphasis). The Health & Safety at Work Act (etc) 1974 places responsibility for the health & safety of ALL persons in the employ (whether paid or unpaid) of an organisation on that organisation (regardless of commercial nature, including NGOs, churches and all non-profit making organisations)

It’s ironic that a spiritual organisation whose main objectives are described as “promoting brotherhood and harmony for the betterment of humanity” allowed their health & safety systems to be so lax that this results in the death of someone giving his personal time to that end.

Has CDM 2015 Changed Anything?

Apart from the obvious annoyances from both Designers and Clients about the new role of Principal Designer, the general consensus is that little has improved. One of the reasons the HSE gave for the 2015 changes was to place responsibility for safe ‘design and management’ where it’s due (i.e. with designers in the first instance), that message certainly has not filtered across the industry.

Accident statistics are still appalling within the construction industry:

  • 30 killed in 2016/17 (the last confirmed annual figure)
  • 64,000 non-fatal (but reportable) injuries to workers each year
  • 2.9% of construction workers injured each year

 

And designers still don’t seem to have grasped the nettle with regard to ‘designing out’ health risks (typically overheard: “that’s a contractor problem”); hence there have no improvements at all in the statistics relating to ill-health:

  • 100 construction workers die every week from occupational ill-health
  • 80,000 workers currently suffering from work-related ill-health (those reported only – how many more go undetected?)
  • 1.7 million working days lost due to ill-health (compared to 0.6 million to accidents)
  • 30,000 construction workers consult osteopaths per day (how many others visit physiotherapists, etc?)
  • manual handling cases 90% than UK industry average, accounting for 65% of all harm caused in the construction industry

 

When you consider that 75% of all construction workers are self-employed which, in plain language equates to ‘no work, no pay’. If a self-employed worker has a health issue, he/she is far less likely to own up to it as the result will obviously be less money in the pocket – meaning that self-employed workers tend to struggle on until the health symptom becomes a debilitating occupational disease. Eventually, the worker is forced to give up work altogether, usually well ahead of retirement age

Health problems remove workers from the workplace not only increasing the skill shortage and also, sadly, contributing to the 10 suicides within the construction industry every week.

Hence, the HSE is now looking seriously at how designers undertake their CDM duties (dating back to the advent of CDM in 1994) to ‘design out’ risk issues – particularly risks that are liable to cause health problems for the workforce.

And if money talks, the costs of ill-health to the construction industry are astronomic:

  • £848 million total cost per year of ill-health, of which:
  • £646 million relates to musculoskeletal problems alone
  • £15.9 million to vibration
  • £4.6 million to asbestos (an issue that is hugely under-reported)

 

ALL these costs are reflected in the high levels of insurance we ALL have to pay.

But ‘Another Way is Possible’!

Having said all the above, there are shining examples of excellent commitment and practice out there.

You’ll be familiar with Archway who produce, sell and operate the Roadmaster highway repair vehicle (and have won two of our WHS Safety Awards). The Company has very recently been the proud recipient of the ‘Runner Up’ trophy at the annual Road Surface Treatments Association (RSTA) awards ceremony.

Readers should note that the award was for ‘Behavioural Safety’ and was well deserved as senior management is exemplary in ensuring the full commitment of the workforce to high standards of safety and efficiency. Well done Archway!!

Possible Changes to CSCS

Changes to the CSCS scheme are currently being discussed amongst them the possibility of removing the Visitors Card and, thus, the requirement on sites for any non-worker to have a card. In other words, CSCS would be used to verify the H&S competence of skilled and industry workers only, not those who are accompanied by site management when viewing the site or attend site meetings only.

This makes absolute sense but sites where CSCS is mandatory will need to persuaded…watch this space.

The Changes to CITB Grant Claims

We recently highlighted the changes in the CITB grant scheme which became effective on 3 April 2018.

Basically, CITB is moving towards a totally on-line process which will benefit claimants as, once registered, claims will be automatically processed by the training body. However, there is a transition period of a year b being allowed for both contractors and training bodies to register with CITB and, until the deadline (31 March 2019), grants can be claimed manually.

Do note that, for anyone claiming grants for training completed before 31 March 2018, there is a deadline of 30 June 2018.

The following CITB guidance will be useful to answer any questions:
https://www.citb.co.uk/grant/claiming-short-duration-training-grants/
Claiming the short duration course achievement grants
https://www.citb.co.uk/training-and-courses/construction-training-directory/
Link to the CITB Construction Training Directory – but you don’t have to use that, come to us first!

AND FINALLY

Work at height

  • HPAS (trading as Safestyle UK) was fined a whopping total of £850,000 + costs after a fitter suffered a fractured knee-cap when he fell over 3 metres whilst installing a first floor window. The worker had been installing windows from an unsecured ladder, apparently a standard method of work for this company but clearly not legally permissible.
  • BAM Nuttall was presented with an even higher fine of £900,000 + costs when a painter fell through the ceiling of a passenger waiting room at East Croyden station and suffered severe ligament damage. Sub-contractor, McNealy Brown was also fined £65,000.

 

Note – fines of this level for non-fatal work at height accidents demonstrate that both the HSE and the courts mean business now! Expect a HUGE fine for any breach of work at height duties.

  • Acorn Scaffolding (Yorkshire) Ltd was fined a total of almost £48,000 after a worker fell 4 metres through an unprotected roof light during scaffold erection.
  • ‘Ethical’ landlord Aster Property Ltd was fined £14,600 + costs, and contractor Stuart Barnes fined £8,000 + costs, after a roofer working for Barnes fell 2 metres through a fragile garage roof.
  • George Hurst & Sons Ltd was prosecuted after an employee was seriously injured falling from scaffolding, landing on the unprotected end of a scaffold pole. The irony with this case is that the employee was removing fall arrest bags from a first floor; the bags were too bulky to take down the stairs so he was throwing them over the scaffold and, when one became caught, it dislodged the scaffolding and took him over the edge protection.

 

Note – as the HPAS prosecution above AND this case demonstrates, ALL tasks must be risk assessed and carried out in a safe manner; clearly, throwing large fall arrest bags to the ground from any platform is NOT a safe way of working.

  • Mager Homes Ltd was fined a total of almost £27,000 after a worker fell through first floor joists and suffered life-changing injuries; no fall prevention or arrest equipment had been installed.
  • Sasie Ltd was fined a total of £16,300 and its director, Een Marsden Kelly, personally fined £500 after a member of the public contacted the HSE about solar panel work on a roof being undertaken with no edge protection. As we keep saying, prosecutions don’t have to be the result of an accident – the public are very keen eyed – and domestic solar panel or roof work is a constant reason for complaint.

 

CDM

  • Coast & Country Construction was fined £15,000, and principal designer Paul Humphries Architects fined £20,000, after an HSE inspection identified “uncontrolled high-risk activities” and “a total disregard for health and safety and site management” during work at a residential home. The risks included fire, falls from height, wood dusts, and slips and trips, all of which, in the opinion of the HSE, were placing workers at serious risk of injury of death. Paul Humphries Architects had failed to consider fire spread when it designed the timber frame extension.

 

Note – as highlighted above, designers (particularly principal designers) are being targeted and prosecuted by the HSE if they fail to undertake their CDM duty to ‘design out risk’

  • Client, Taylor Grange Developments Ltd, principal contractor, Allied Contracts Ltd, and demolition contractor, Altan Plant Hire Ltd, were fined £4,500, £6,000 and £20,000 respectively after the uncontrolled collapse of a 3-storey building during demolition; a worker suffered back injuries as a result. No safe system had been established; hand demolition of internal walls was being undertaken instead of using machines. And both Taylor Grange and Allied Contracts were found to have engaged a contractor (Altan) with inadequate “skills, knowledge, experience and organisational capability” (to quote CDM) to be able to carry out the work safely.

 

Asbestos

  • RF Gardiner Ltd was fined a total of over £29,000 after carrying out unsafe removal of asbestos in a primary school; the company was not licensed and no attempt to mitigate the risks had been established.
  • Carter Brothers (Rochdale) Ltd and Frank Allan (trading as Jet Blast and Maintenance) were fined totals of almost £12,000 and £4,500 respectively after failing to carry out the cleaning of an asbestos cement sheeting roof safely. Carter Brothers had not engaged a suitably specialist contractor to carry out the work – another case demonstrating that the client is ultimately responsible for all work carried out at their premises.

 

Electrical services

  • Partners of a Suffolk-based farm, Nicholas and Roger Watts, were each fined a total of £14,200 after a haulage contractor was killed when his tipper wagon made contact with overhead power lines. Despite previous recommendations from the NFU Mutual Risk Management Services, the men had failed to provide a means of ensuring safety when working beneath the cables.
  • BAS Castings Ltd was fined a total of over £61,000 after two employees suffered serious burns from an electrical flash-over during repair work on a furnace. When checking why the original repair failed to work, they by-passed the interlock of the fuse panel with a screwdriver causing the (predictable!) flash-over. The company was found to have no safe systems in place for electrical work, nor had they carried our risk assessments or instigated permits to work.

 

Health hazards

  • Andrena Furniture Ltd was fined a total of over £9,000 after exposing their workers to significant quantities of hardwood dusts on a daily basis. Both the extraction system and the cleaning regime were found to be totally inadequate.
  • Tai Calon Community Housing was fined a total of almost £33,000 after a number of employees were diagnosed with HAVS caused by prolonged exposure to vibration in their day to day work. The company had failed to assess or address the issues of vibration sustained by the use of power tools, and had subsequently failed to instruct employees into safe working methods and controls.
  • Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust was fined a total of over £337,000 after a patient died from legionella. The Trust had failed to establish an adequate check and testing regime to detect the bacteria and had also failed to recognise the risk from a specific section of their water system.

 

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

General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) Seminar

You’ve probably seen news about upcoming changes in the Data Protection Regulations, and maybe just ignored it, but don’t worry, it’s not too complicated.

The new General Data Protection Regs come into force on 25 May 2018. There will be some additional security and accountability surrounding the usual details we all pass between us on a daily basis, such as employee details and home postal addresses etc; email addresses that begin with your name are also considered ‘personal’ regardless of whether it’s a company email address or not.

What about the necessity to share personal information when it comes to health and safety? For example, medical records, health monitoring, and accident reporting… especially when dealing with sub-contractors’ employees. Well we were asking that question too, so we’ve asked three experts in the new General Data Protection Regulations to hold an open seminar on how the changes will affect your business.

From your websites to your staff, and from your filing to accident reporting systems, we’ll aim to give you clarification on what you need to do next and how to comply with the regulations. It is very important that all our customers are clear about the GDPR requirements, so there is a real need for you to attend:

  • Date: 27 April 2018
  • Time: 9 am to 12 pm
  • Venue: Wenlock Health & Safety Training Room, Jackfield Tile Museum, TF8 7LJ
  • Cost: £30 + VAT per person

 

Please contact Vicki Brown at WHS on 01952-885885 or vicki@wenlockhs.co.uk to book your place/s as soon as possible; places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

CITB Training Courses

PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU READ AND DIGEST THE ARTICLE ABOUT THE SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO CITB GRANTS & LEVIES IN THE ‘INDUSTRY NEWS’ SECTION BELOW

Forthcoming 2018 dates currently in place and fees for the CITB courses are as follows. Courses are held at the WHS training rooms and fees include lunch, refreshments and all course literature.

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.

  • Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS)
    Duration: 5 days; 1 day per week
    Dates: 17 & 24 April and 1, 8 &15 May 2018 (all Tuesdays) – very limited space available
    6, 13, 20, 27 June & 4 July 2018 (all Wednesdays)
    Cost: £495 + VAT per person
  • Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) Refresher
    Duration: 2 days
    Dates: 10 & 11 May 2018 (Thursday & Friday)
    19 & 20 July 2018 (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: 3 & 4 May 2018 (Thursday & Friday)
    9 & !0 July 2018 (Monday & Tuesday)
    Cost: £230 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)
  • CITB 1-Day Health & Safety Awareness
    Duration: 1 day
    Dates: 7 June 2018 (Thursday)
    Cost: £125 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)

 

First Aid Training

Forthcoming dates for the WHS 1-day Emergency First Aid courses, also held at training rooms, are as follows; the fee is just £75 + VAT per person:

  • 24 May 2018
  • 25 June 2018
  • 24 July 2018
  • 23 August 2018
  • 26 September 2018

 

As with the CITB courses above, if any organisation requires first-aid for 6 or more employees, a specific course can be arranged at a date, time and location to suit. Please contact the WHS office to discuss your requirements.

Out-of-Hours Contact

May we remind customers of the arrangements for any urgent and unavoidable (i.e. emergency) contact with Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) during evenings, weekend and public holiday or WHS shut-down periods.

WHS can be contacted on the MD’s mobile number 07866-605920 at any time. During periods of the MD’s unavailability, the mobile is always diverted to another member of staff so that calls can be picked up as reasonably possible. We do not necessarily monitor emails during out-of-hours periods; emails will be actioned as soon as possible on the next working day. Therefore, if very urgent assistance is required (i.e. the matter is serious and cannot wait until the next working day) please ring 07866-605920; the landline answer-phone message reiterates this.

Many thanks.

INDUSTRY NEWS

CITB Changes to Grant System

The CITB levy has been reduced from 0.5% to 0.35% of PAYE. However, the levy is not payable for companies whose PAYE bill is less than £80,000; companies with PAYE £80,001 to £399,000 pay 0.175% only. Note: CIS tax payers are required to contribute net 1.25%.

  • As from the beginning of April, the way in which CITB grants can be claimed is changing significantly, so please take note of the following. Of course, grants are only available to those companies who pay the CITB levy – and, if you do pay the levy, get your money’s worth and carry out adequate training, you’ve paid for it!!!
    Small companies who don’t have to pay the levy (i.e. <£80,000 PAYE) are still eligible for grants
  • The CITB Training Plans have gone
  • Grants can only be claimed if courses are undertaken by a CITB approved training body – an Approved Training Organisation or ATO; WHS is an ATO for the CITB courses we advertise
  • A National Training Directory will detail all ATOs – but there will be a bedding period of 12 months during which you are at liberty to request proof of the training provider that they are ‘applying for registration’
  • All grants will now be paid automatically following verification by the ATO that the course has been completed; you won’t have to do anything except provide your CITB registration number at the time of booking
  • There will be a National Register which logs all CITB attained qualifications for individuals; this can be used to verify or re-issue certification

 

Courses that now attract grants have changed:

  • You can no longer claim grants for first-aid or any other course that is not specifically construction based
  • Grants are payable for NVQs, HNCs, IOSH and other day or block release construction-related courses

 

Your local CITB representative can help, but please feel free to contact WHS if you have any queries

Apprentice Levy

This time last year, the new Apprenticeship Levy came into being for companies whose PAYE bill is greater than £3 million. The idea is to encourage larger companies to take on apprentices to help fill the long-term skill shortage. Grants are payable to off-set the costs of engaging apprentices but, as everyone reading this newsletter will know, receive of a grant goes nowhere need paying for the cost of employing an inexperienced, mostly young person which requires constant supervision and attention. The result?….

We are told that, of the £2 billion currently paid to the Treasury against this levy, only £108 million has been claimed back in grants. Plan for the future…what will be your needs in the coming years, how will you fill the skills gaps? Do you need to take on apprentice/s to train up for your company’s future business plan? There is a 24 month deadline to claiming grants; therefore, the message is…
USE IT OR LOSE IT!

An Important Note to Designers

Architects, Oxford Architects Partnership, and Principal Contractor, Express Park Construction Company (EPCC), were fines totals of £180,000 and £143,000 respectively after a flawed flat roof design led to a fatality. The roof was designed with a parapet which was too low to prevent a worker plunging 9 metres to his death.

This prosecution highlights that designers are totally responsible under CDM for safety in design. WHS would also remind designers that they must be totally up to date with safety duties placed on contractors for work on site; without that, they cannot design for safety.

Building Regs are assumed by designers to cover site and end-users safety requirements; this is not necessarily the case. Part K of the Building Regs specifies a minimum height of edge protection to be 900 mm in a lot of circumstances (although, in this case, a minimum height of 1100 mm would have applied as it was external); however, the minimum safe height for guard rails and other forms of edge protection was raised in the Work at Height Regs from 900 to 950 mm 13 years ago. Building Regs are not the be-all and end-all; all designers must be aware of site safety requirements or they cannot design out or reduce risks (as required by CDM). WHS provides all designers with ample background info about what contractors and end-users are (legally) obliged do for safety; designers must make themselves familiar. This includes work at height, site and end-use layouts, welfare provision, fire avoidance and escape, manual handling, vibration, COSHH, etc, etc

And, as regards the ‘Design of Guarding’ (Part K; section 3.2), our strong recommendation is that the limit of 950 mm should be incorporated into all design regardless of Building Regs’ saying that 900 mm is permissible in a lot of circumstances. The safe ‘work at height’ limit was raised to 950 mm in 2005 under instruction from Europe as we are all getting taller – people were tumbling over the top of 900 mm edge protection. As this was then incorporated into our Work at Height Regs, it follows that the minimum height stated in Part K could be construed as legally incorrect for ‘work’ circumstances, leaving end-users (the client-businesses) and designers open to enforcement.

Asbestos

We’ll say it again….asbestos was not completely banned in the UK until the year 2000. So anyone concerned with any structure built (or begun) pre-2000 runs the distinct risk of containing asbestos.

WHS is still coming across customers of ours and/or their employees who have no basic knowledge about asbestos. We have been running courses and hammering home the messages to our clients ever since we set up 16 years ago – so how is it that this still happens?

The law says that anyone who ‘may’ possibly encounter asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) at any point must carry out asbestos awareness training as a minimum. This includes (obviously) contractors and property owners or managers, but also designers as well; it’s vital that designers know about asbestos to (a) advise their clients and (b) design around any issues.

To all our customers, please: look long and hard at your training matrix and ensure that ALL those who need asbestos awareness have had it at least within the last 2 years (WHS can advise on HSE requirements; contractors are expected to have this annually)

And Another Reminder

WHS is continually still coming across projects where soft-strip, demolition and/or asbestos removal have not been carried out under a Construction Phase Plan or F10

A strong reminder…..ALL work is subject to CDM and you cannot divorce one element of the project from another just to avoid issuing the F10

The Construction Phase Plan MUST be, by law, in place before work starts in ANY SHAPE OF FORM! The F10 MUST be issued for ANY (total) project that may span more than 500 person days – or have more than 20 people on site at any one time.

No, it is not OK to do a bit of prep work without these things being in place; no, it is not OK to do a strip-out or asbestos removal without these things being in place; no, it is absolutely not OK to do any demolition at all without the necessary legal things being in place.

If you’re in doubt at all, ring WHS for clarification. Without these things being in place BEFORE WORK BEGINS, you risk HSE enforcement…and we won’t be able to help you!!

Fire Planning

The vital importance of proper planning to both avoid fire and to safely evacuate if fire should occur was illustrated yet again in February 2018 when a fire broke out in a multi-storey terraced building in Great Portland Street.

72 fire fighters were called to tackle the blaze which broke out during the refurbishment of the building into apartments by a developer. Obviously, an investigation is underway so we can only speculate as to the cause and indeed the controls (or lack of) to prevent the fire taking hold and spreading – potentially, in a situation like this, to neighbouring properties.

The insurance industry’s Joint Code of Practice (9th Edition) lays down strict procedures to both avoid and control fires on construction sites; non-compliance may result in the contractor being uninsured. The guidance is incorporated into the WHS Health & Safety Manual; you all have a copy, make sure you are familiar with the contents and lay down strict rules on site about fire control and evacuation planning.

Footnote:

To make matters worse, the building contained gas cylinders. Can we be clear on this – if you have to use bottled gas, there are strict controls for the use and storage of these things. And take note, fire fighters will not enter if the building contains gas bottles – it’s just too dangerous. Have you ever seen what happens to gas bottles in a fire? Skip the promo and just see how far those lethally hot and sharp projectiles fly see: https://bit.ly/2JnVB62 It wasn’t wise to stand and film from that distance!

Please make sure you contact your WHS consultant to discuss storage, handling and inspections of gas bottles, and how to carry out effective emergency planning for your sites.

Scaffolding Control
See ‘And Finally…’ sections for more prosecutions

It must be realised that anyone engaging scaffolders are totally responsible for safety during erection (etc). Yes, they are the specialists but, under CDM, the engaging party is responsible for (a) engaging competent contractors, and (b) their site – despite the fact that scaffolding may be erected on Sunday or other non-work periods.

WHS customers are supplied with a specific H&S competence questionnaire for scaffolders which is designed to assess whether the company has the very specific knowledge, experience and capabilities to carry out scaffold erection. If a scaffolders in plucked from the internet without sufficient competence checks, then the engaging party (client or contractor) will be liable for prosecution or HSE enforcement.

If the engaging party does not enforce good site-specific risk assessments and method statements from the scaffolders before work is permitted, and adherence to the agreed RAMSs during erection, removal or any alteration by the scaffolder, then the engaging party (client or contractor) will be liable for prosecution or HSE enforcement. And this means proper site management and supervision by the Principal Contractor at all working times, including scaffolding erection (etc).

So you want to erect on a Sunday? Your Site Manager can’t be there? So how will you accommodate this legal duty? Please speak to one of our consultants to ensure adequate arrangements are in place – before it’s too late.

Footnote

And, for those scaffolders reading this article – be warned – there is no excuse for ignoring procedures and safety controls, and the law will catch up with you:

In January 2018, scaffolder Terrance Murray was facing six months in jail after a member of the public photographed him recklessly putting himself and his apprentice working beneath him in danger. He was working at 60 feet up (and above massive void in the flat roof below!) with no harness and no edge protection; presumably he assumed he wouldn’t be spotted as it was to the rear of the office block but….it was overlooked the Crown Prosecution Service!! Never assume you won’t be spotted!!

See the story and tell-tale photo on: https://bit.ly/2uNOSiv

ALL Dusts are Dangerous!!

WHS has been stressing this for years – regardless of known specific, high-profile, high-risk dusts such as asbestos, silica, hard woods, etc, ALL dusts can be dangerous in one way or another, with the consequences ranging from severe health issues to explosion.

Just look at what happened in July 2017 in India when a collapsing grain silo ruptured a power cable:
https://bit.ly/2wlPs2V

The person filming certainly didn’t expect the explosion that followed! This is why awareness that combustible dusts are extremely hazardous is so important; if ignited, they can cause explosion or fire balls.

Unchecked wood dusts resulted in a huge fire and four deaths at Bosley Mill in July 2015: https://bbc.in/1h2z283

Footnote to all woodworking workshops:

So, you may not think that that little bit of wood dust on the floor is risky; you may think that wood dust in the air goes with the job. But think again. Not only does airborne dust severely damage health and risk serious HSE enforcement, it can also cause fire or explosion.

A tidy workplace is a safe workplace – get that dust suppressed or extracted at source!!

Another Illustration of the Perils of Leaving Asbestos in Place

This recent incident in Glasgow yet again demonstrates just how vital it is that all asbestos is removed from buildings: https://bit.ly/2IJg7Ob

Just like 9/11 and its effects on New York, how many people have been unwittingly exposed to asbestos fibres? How long will it take to clean up – can it ever be cleaned up in a city centre situation like this? It is a fact that there has been so much uncontrolled demolition (etc) over the years, particularly in cities, that there are now ever-present airborne asbestos fibres. The area around the Twin Towers has proved to actually be so many times over the legal limit that it’s ‘toxic’. So further instances like this in Glasgow only add to the public health misery.

A reminder that ALL commercial buildings should have had an asbestos survey carried out so that owners/occupiers are at least aware of ACMs that need to be removed or at least avoided. But, if you can, remove all ACMs so that the risk is gone for good … before something unforeseen happens.

Use of Mobiles Whilst Driving

In the US, 95% of drivers disapprove of distracted driving, yet an astonishing 71% admit to using mobiles devices whilst they are driving. Approximately 37,000 people die on US roads each year, a significant proportion of which are killed by drivers using mobiles.

There are no statistics for the UK but no doubt the percentages of those admitting to using mobiles would be the same; just look around you next time you’re behind the wheel to see just how many people ignore the law. And it shouldn’t need a law, it’s obvious…driving whilst distracted KILLS!!

The ‘It Can Wait’ campaign in the US currently has well over £23 million pledges:
https://www.itcanwait.com/pledge
We need a similar campaign in the UK; #itcanwaituk. And if you’re one of the culprits, just think…
Why can’t that call or message? You know it’s illegal, why risk a fine…or worse, why risk a life?

Code of Practice for Pre-Cast Flooring

The Precast Flooring Federation’s Code of Practice for the Safe Installation of Precast Concrete Flooring and Associated Components 4th Edition was published late 2017. With a foreword by the HSE and an accompanying pocket-sized abridged edition, the industry CoP will assist clients, contractors and designers to ensure safe specification of flooring. Information on this and many other industry publications and guidance can be found on the British Precast Flooring Association website: https://bit.ly/2q7qLFP

Use of Suction & Vacuum Excavators

Following a fatality, guidance has been released on the safe us of Suction & Vacuum Excavators (SAVE).

This publication aims to educate owners, operators, hirers, contractors and all others involved in the supply, operation and maintenance of this type of equipment, and covers all types of site circumstances including contaminated ground, lone working and clean-up after encountering asbestos. Essential reading!!
See: https://bit.ly/2GT2U7c for purchase and further information.

Hazardous Household Products

As we have been highlighting during our asbestos awareness training, due to the almost impossible task of checking every item imported into the UK, the potential for asbestos-containing materials to creep into our products is growing. The majority of the World is still involved in the mining of asbestos or production of goods containing asbestos e.g. South Korea, China, India, and other countries that we freely trade with.

But it doesn’t stop there….other hazardous substances are (or always have been?) creeping into our households too e.g. lead and arsenic, including into children’s toys: https://bbc.in/2DDuxfT. With this type of threat to public health, this is not the time for the Government to be cutting back on controls; we now need trading standards organisations even more than ever!

Working Time Regulations

May we add a reminder about the Working Time Regulations which, although a HR matter, also impact on a company’s health & safety for obvious reasons. There are exclusions and provisos but, in general, the law stipulates that employees should work a maximum of 48 hours per week unless an opt-out is agreed and signed by the employee.

In addition, the maximum length of working days, number and timing of breaks, and other issues which directly affect tiredness, well-being and the capabilities (and thus safety) of workers are covered so it’s vital that all employers abide by the rules in a reasonable manner. Find out more:
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1998/1833/contents/made

HSE NEWS

Stricter PPE Regulations

On 21 April 2018, new and much stricter PPE regulations come into force across the EU, placing responsibility for standards compliance on, not just manufacturers, but also importers, distributers and any other involved in the supply chain. This may not affect you but a further requirement will:

Because of the raised importance placed on health issues, the level of conformity assessment and surveillance has been raised to the highest (Cat.3) possible. This, by implication, means that the HSE will be enforcing higher standards of PPE and health surveillance amongst users, including stricter risk assessment and wearer assessment – particularly face fit.

There is a bedding-in period permitted for manufacturers – they have until 21 April 2023 to prove (certify) compliance with new CE standards. However, in the meantime, we have already seen evidence that the HSE is enforcing health surveillance and the standards and maintenance of PPE.

Discuss your needs and current provision with your WHS consultant; as some of our customers have already found, you can’t afford to get this wrong!

AND FINALLY

As usual, it’s asbestos and work at height that account for most prosecutions – astonishing in this day and age! We have included another topical issue – site segregation. But, as always, these are just a snap-shot of recent prosecutions; there are many, many more per month!
Just note how many personal prosecutions are now being enacted.

And, before you start blaming the HSE for (what only amounts to) enforcing the law, just remember that the aim in this country when the HSE was first established was, and still is, to prevent accidents, deaths and injuries, before they happen. Hardly any other countries have this ethos and will only enforce or prosecute once an accident/death/injury has occurred…which is too late.

Asbestos
More evidence of how easy it is to release asbestos fibres into the atmosphere and endanger us all

  • RF Gardiner Ltd was fined a total of over £29,000 after carrying out asbestos removal work without license or adequate controls during the refurbishment of a school. Just imagine how much the de-contamination of the affected area/s would have cost the school – a lesson to all clients!
  • A business, Carter Brothers (Rochdale) Ltd, and contractor, Frank Allan (trading as Jet Blast & Maintenance), were fined totals of almost £12,000 and over £4,000 respectively after the jet washing of an asbestos cement roof which resulted in both asbestos debris being strewn about and asbestos fibres potentially becoming airborne. Yes, even jet washing is subject to the Asbestos at Work Regs!

 

Work at height

  • Bland Scaffolidng Ltd was fined a total of almost £101,000 after an apprentice joiner fell 4 metres fell under a single guard rail on a loading platform; he was lucky to survive a fall from such a height. This is a reminder that all areas of scaffolding must be properly designed and protected by adequate guard rails at all times – including loading bays
  • LS Scaffolding Ltd was fined a total of over £54,000 and its director, Lakhbir Kharh, personally fined £1,700 and given an 18 week jail sentence suspended for 12 months after a scaffolder fell and suffered serious injury during the dismantling a temporary roof structure. The ‘scaffolder’ was untrained and inexperienced.
  • Prior Homes Ltd was fined a total of almost £16,000 and its director, Paul Prior, given an 8 week jail sentence suspended for 12 months and undertake 100 hours of unpaid community work after a worker fell 5 metres through a fragile roof.
  • Advanced Industrial Roofing & Cladding Solutions Ltd was fined a total of over £12,000 and its director, Stephen Ball, £3,500 after a worker fell through an unprotected skylight during the installation of a new roof over existing asbestos cement roof sheeting.
  • Fine Dimensions Ltd was fined a total of over £8,000 after a worker was seriously injured when he fell through a fragile skylight during minor roof work on a farm building. Yes, the law applies to quick works too – the results can be just as catastrophic

 

Public protection

  • Martin McColl Ltd was fined a total of over £600,000 after two members of the public suffered injuries when they fell over construction work being carried out at a store. Work was being carried out during opening hours with wholly inadequate protection (barriers and signage) of the store’s patrons. The size of this fine demonstrates just how important public protection is in the eyes of the law.

 

Plant & vehicle segregation
Remember that segregation is required where at all possible by law – and, yes, it can be done on most sites with a little thought.

  • MV Kelly Ltd was fined a total of over £530,000 after a worker was struck by a tipper wagon on site, resulting in the amputation of his right leg. The worker had been on a haul road when struck; there had been insufficient and uncontrolled haul and walkways for delivery wagons to access off-loading areas.
  • Redrow Homes Ltd was fined a total of over £600,000 and contractor, WPI Civil Engineering Ltd £317,000 after a scaffolder was struck and killed by a reversing dumper truck. Traffic management across the site was found to be very poor, with no banksmen assisting vehicle movement (and no segregation?)
  • Principal Contractor, Bellway Homes, and its sub-contractor, AD Bly Construction, were fined totals of over £80,000 and £31,000 respectively after a worker was run over by a telehandler. He was not seriously hurt because, very luckily, he slid under the machine, not the wheels. The HSE still took a very dim view though about the lack of person/plant segregation; a reminder to all contractors that segregation is law – and, yes, it can be done on most sites with a little thought.

 

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