WHS has highlighted the issue of mental health many times in the past, a condition that is particularly acute in the construction industry. Each year approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health condition and at least 1 in 6 employees experience common mental health problems in the workplace; figures are much higher in construction, often due to the perceived stigma and fear of discrimination. The culture of fear and silence around mental health can prove costly to employers.
WHS can now offer a new course, an FAA Award in First Aid for Mental Health. This 6-hour, Level 2 qualification is suitable for managers and supervisors, and provides the knowledge of how to recognise a range of mental health conditions, how to start a supportive conversation, and when and how to signpost a person to seek appropriate professional help. Attendees will learn how to recognise and manage stress, and understand the impact of substance abuse. They will learn about the first aid action plan for mental health, how to implement the plan, and how to promote a positive mental health culture within the workplace.
Details of this new FAA Award in First Aid for Mental Health (Level 2 RQF) are as follows; the course will take place at the Wenlock H&S Ltd offices in Jackfield, Telford:
Dates: 3 June 2019 (Monday)
Duration: 1 day (6 hours)
Cost: £75 + VAT per person
Lunch and refreshments included
Book early! Spaces are limited. Contact Vicki on 01952-885885 or via email@example.com
IOSH Managing Safely
Following the previous IOSH Managing Safely course run at the WHS offices, and in response to demand, we are pleased to offer the following dates for further courses:
Duration: 3 days
Dates: 9, 10 & 11 July (Tuesday – Thursday)
22, 23 & 24 October (Tuesday – Thursday)
Cost: £395 + VAT per person
Lunch and refreshments included
CITB Training Courses
Forthcoming dates and fees for the CITB courses are as follows. As always, courses are held at the WHS training rooms and fees include lunch, refreshments and all course literature.
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.
With all the CITB courses mentioned above and the first aid course below, if any organisation requires attendance by 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.
First Aid Training
Forthcoming dates for the WHS 1-day Emergency First Aid courses for the remainder of 2019 (to enable you to plan well ahead) are as follows.
Courses are also held at WHS training rooms, at just £75 + VAT per person However, please note that refreshments only are included with these courses; no lunch is provided.
Over the coming months, WHS will be issuing additional templates and guidance for a range of safety issues, all of which will be free of charge to subscribers; cover letters will explain.
However, in the meantime, there are plenty of additional templates available on-line to help with a range of specific needs. For instance, ladder inspections and tagging systems can be purchased from:
Can we remind all our clients to notify us please of all accidents and incidents immediately. All too often we are informed only after the HSE or insurance company gets involved, and at that late stage we can’t help you significantly as we won’t have carried out any investigation. We can’t assist if we’re not told!
FFI Fee Rate Rise – TAKE NOTE!
The HSE has raised (from 6 April 2019) the hourly rate levied against its ‘Fees For Intervention’ visits to…wait for it…
£154 per hour!
The fee can be levied by HSE inspectors or ‘visiting officers’ where they find a breach of legislation – and, from experience, some are far more stringent than others. Don’t forget that housekeeping, controlled site access, segregation, inspections, vibration, noise, and other basic issues, which many perceive as relatively low risk, are still subject to long-standing legal requirements and MUST be followed correctly. Failure to do so constitutes a ‘breach’ of the law and FFI will apply. In severe cases of course, such breaches could also result in enforcement or prosecution.
So get your act together before it costs you dear!
HSE 2019 Campaigns
This list may not be exhaustive but the HSE have informed us of the following nationwide campaigns. Health remains the big issue and two campaigns will target:
These campaigns apply to ALL industries, will cover ALL types or premises as well as sites, and will be carried out by both the HSE AND the local authority enforcing bodies. In addition, any company can request assistance from a visiting officer free of charge. The VO can visit the premises and give advice to help towards compliance. VOs have no powers of enforcement so these visits will not result in enforcement against the company – unless, of course, the advice is not followed, then the company is asking for it!
HSE Safety Bulletins
The HSE has issued two very important safety bulletins in relation to specific health & safety issues; therefore, all HSE inspectors have been instructed to look for these issues when making site or premises visits. Both are common sense but you’d be well advised to double-check that sufficient controls are in place; non-compliance would result in at least FFI being levied, at worse, enforcement:
The HSE provides very sound guidance on their website about woodworking and joinery, both in terms of health & safety; indeed there is a specific and very valuable ‘Woodworking eBulletin’ on:
As above, health is now a major priority for the HSE and, as wood dusts are obviously very high-risk, a series of in-depth COSHH advice sheets has been produced specifically for the woodworking industries and are freely available to download from: https://bit.ly/2P1FH4q
WHS frequently hears reluctance of employers to properly control wood dusts (typically: “it’s impossible, you know what it’s like”!!) but there really is no excuse in this day and age for ignoring the issue. And the advice sheets are a valuable resource to demonstrate both why this is necessary and how to achieve compliance – although there should never be any doubt these days as to WHY we need to comply! All workers deserve both a safe and a HEALTHY environment in which to work, simple.
Scaffold Advice from the HSE
The HSE also provides very sound guidance on their website about scaffolding, which is particularly useful for those engaging and, thus being responsible for, scaffolders:
The ‘Scaffold Checklist’ covers, in great detail, both the legal requirements and recognised industry expectations with regard to:
Any contractor or business engaging scaffolders should not do so on price alone. Use the HSE’s checklist to guide your decision based on the proven competence of both scaffolders and scaffold designers; you must have evidence. So a timely reminder that ANY engaging party is responsible in law (particularly CDM) for ensuring that those appointed are appropriately trained and competent, and that they provide, and adhere to, good site-specific design and risk assessments.
WHS has seen some appalling scaffolding practices recently (are standards being allowed to slip to save money?) including unsafe ladders, lack of inspections, inadequate training, unauthorised alterations, and even unsecured planks flying off in high winds.
This is very serious stuff, so please do contact WHS whenever you have need to engage scaffolders and we can assist to ensure compliance….
before it’s too late, as this clearly illustrates: https://bit.ly/2VPK1Gh
Changes to CSCS cards – IMPORTANT
Significant changes are currently taking place within the CSCS card scheme – and all holders, and those wishing to go for a card, must take note of the following.
And to be clear – the card belongs to the INDIVIDUAL, it does NOT belong to the employer. It’s tough on employers who spend money on training and then see their employees leave, but it’s a fact. Employers cannot retain the card. However, a tip, employers can quite legitimately put a ‘training policy’ in place to enable them to claw back wasted money. Speak to WHS for assistance with this.
Changes to the CITB Touch Screen Test – IMPORTANT
As you know, nobody can gain or renew a CSCS card without passing the CITB touch screen test. And there are important changes taking place with this also, aimed at making the test both more user-friendly and valuable. The aim is to ensure test questions are phrased to promote meaningful learning rather than just learning the questions in the book parrot-fashion as happens all too often.
WHS has been asked to take part in future reviews so, as many of you work in very specialist fields, can we ask that you relay any complaints about the wording of questions to Becki in the WHS office and we will relay your comments to CITB. Equally, if specialists identify an area of their work that doesn’t seem to be adequately covered by the test questions, please again can you let us know.
On 26 June 2019, CITB is launching a new-formal touch screen test to remove any ambiguity or misunderstanding and assist applicants to understand how to answer the questions more easily. This is a positive step, and plenty of help is at hand on-line to help applicants prepare in advance and get used to the new format. Refer to: https://bit.ly/2Uxa0pP for further details, and: https://bit.ly/2OXMXOP for examples of the new test questions and format. Other on-line, App or hard copy revision material can be purchased from:
IMPORTANT NOTE: Those of you who have booked tests over the next few months MUST check which revision material is relevant to the date of the tests. As the website clearly states, any tests to be taken before 26 June will need the old (2018) revision material; any tests to be taken on or after 26 June 2019 will need new (2019) material. So CHECK which you need BEFORE you purchase!
Pay to be Paid?!
It has come to our attention that some local authorities are now asking contractors to pay extra to be ‘paid early’ and this is being included in tenders with a scored response! This totally unethical practice, which is apparently becoming widespread, actually means that contractors are being asked to pay extra to be paid on time!
We appreciate that local authorities are scratching around for funds to pay for essential work, but this is not the way to do it; if a council can’t afford to pay on time, then it can’t afford to commission the work, end of story. If any of our customers are asked to do this, please do let WHS know immediately. We have access to various pressure bodies who can name and shame, and hopefully get this practice stopped; your company name will not be mentioned to avoid black marks (another unethical practice).
We mention wood dusts above and the need to comply with the law. As with ALL dusts, the law says (quite rightly) that we should:
The vast majority of sites visited by WHS understand this now, although some still have woefully inadequate or non-existent controls; you have been warned, the HSE will take action if they spot non-compliance.
However, what most companies fail to realise is that inhalation of dusts must be prevented in ALL circumstances. This includes sweeping up of sawdust, plaster dusts, and (yes!) general site dusts deposited in the site office!! Respiratory problems can happen to anyone exposed, even those not involved in the work itself, and WHS has examples of occupational asthma and other ailments resulting purely from the dry-sweeping of dusts.
Suppress (damp down) or vacuum ALL unavoidable dusts; dry-sweeping is unacceptable and (by implication) illegal. Better still, as the law says, don’t produce them in the first place!!
Drain Cleaner – a Warning
It has been brought to our attention that some drain cleaners, which are readily available on the internet or over-the-counter, would be highly dangerous if used incorrectly or by inexperienced people. Some of these are highly concentrated sulphuric acid which is highly corrosive and can cause burns to skin burns or worse.
As an example, we know first-hand of one such product, bought in B&Q, that was so strong that it not only dissolved the blockage, it dissolved the drain cover as well!
Although some of these products do state on their websites that they are for ‘trade and professional use only’ many others do not display any such warnings nor do they have downloadable MSDS data sheets detailing the hazards and describing essential precautions. And, as we’ve said above, even those with website warnings and data sheets are being freely sold over the counter in general DIY stores such as B&Q for anyone to buy (which is unbelievable).
Our advice to anyone requiring an industrial-strength drain un-blocker is to (a) allow WHS to assess the proposed product thoroughly before purchase so that we can recommend the safest, and (b) use it only under the STRICTLY controlled conditions proscribed in our assessment, and only by STRICTLY authorised personnel.
Apart from the obvious hazards with these products, there are also risks of producing hydrogen in extreme circumstances and the subsequent risk of explosion, mixing with other cleaning chemicals and the subsequent risk of eruption, and leaving unseen residues around the drain cover which others could touch later (e.g. in showers). These are SERIOUSLY hazardous products which, we reiterate, are made all the more dangerous because they are freely available to anyone to buy on-line or in-store.
The other worrying aspect of this is that some bodies (e.g. housing associations and building managers) are leaving these products on the premises for general use. This is a HIGHLY DANGEROUS practice as, in untrained hands and without SPECIFIC PPE, these products can obviously cause severe injury or harm. Even similar products intended for domestic use (e.g. Mr Muscle) have strict controls printed on the packaging so, even these, could prove extremely dangerous in unauthorised hands so should never be held for general use.
ALWAYS assess any such products before purchase (and contact WHS for assistance). Our advice would be to ban products with high concentrations altogether and strictly control the rest, and NEVER leave them on the premises for cleaners or general use.
Employee or Contractor?
Public bodies (such as local authorities and the BBC) can check the tax status of their workers by using the Government’s CEST (Check Employments Status for Tax) digital on-line tool:
The HRMC states (on the gov.uk website (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cest-tool-tested-against-tax-cases) that the system “was rigorously tested during development in conjunction with HMRC’s lawyers against live and settled cases and reflects employment status case law.” In fact, only 24 test cases were used! And this, of course, has resulted in numerous anomalies and incorrect decisions.
The issue was brought to light recently when Lorraine Kelly won her case against HRMC who said she owed £1.2 million in back tax because she was not (according to CEST) genuinely ‘freelance’. Lorraine was able to fight the decision, but it is estimated that CEST gets it wrong in a whopping 42% of cases (!!) and we haven’t all got the funds to fight HMRC through the courts.
The system is due to be rolled out to non-public bodies shortly – so the problem is likely to be compounded. Already, numerous people have been hit with seemingly incorrect decisions; they have been deemed employees of an organisation rather than contractors. HMRC’s response (rather than fixing the problem) is to excuse it by saying the CEST is ‘guidance’ and not intended to be definitive. Try telling that to contractors who have received letters stating that HMRC will “contact you again to find out what action you’ve taken”.
Our advice to anyone genuinely hit by this is to fight the decision by (a) contacting HMRC and (b) pointing out to the employing organisation that CEST is, in HMRC’s words, ‘guidance’ only and that the conclusion is incorrect.
Just look at this warning from the Police: https://bit.ly/2Kr140v
Who would have thought that a simple item like a lanyard, something that so many of us wear, could cause so much damage? So, our advice to all readers is to remove all large objects, such as lanyards, chunky necklaces and brooches, etc, from your person before driving to avoid additional injury in crash situations, or even a lesser situation where air-bags are deployed.
Even spectacles can cause severe injury to the head in such situations – but, if you need them for driving, the risk of removing them is greater than the risks resulting from contact with air bags!
A reminder that the following national minimum wage per hour rates apply from 1 April:
As always, the following prosecutions represent only a small percentage of those that successfully go through court each month. And never forget, even if the HSE doesn’t prosecute, the knock on effects of enforcement (prohibition and improvement notices) can be phenomenal.
And don’t forget the £154 per hour for merely a telling off too!
Work at height
N.B. These last three cases are an important reminder that the Work at Heights Regs relate to ALL UK industry, NOT JUST CONSTRUCTION!! All employers must assess the risk, pass on the information and provide adequate protection against falls down or (as in this case) through.
The importance of competent design
Retaining walls are ‘structures’ that need to be designed correctly to withstand projected loadings and stresses; was it not obvious that this imposes severe stress on the wall and the likely risk of collapse? Clearly, a structural engineer should have been engaged.
N.B. Again, another case illustrating the point that legislation applies to ALL UK industry
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
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