Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) is now holding our usual full complement of courses; however, due to the necessary Covid-19 restrictions, it is important to note the following:
Please be reassured that we have established strict measures within the building and training room to reduce risks. As they have been kept fully informed of these measures, awarding bodies have given full consent for all courses to take place in person.
In return, we would ask the following. As we are so severely limited to the number of places for the foreseeable future, it is important for WHS to ensure full attendance. We therefore ask please that, once booked, courses or places are not cancelled.
In addition, if any organisation requires attendance at their own premises for 6 or more employees, a specific course can be arranged at a date and time to suit provided that suitable Covid-specific precautions can be agreed at the point of booking.
Please note that all certificates expiring on or after 16 March 2020 will have their expiry dates extended until 30 September 2020 to give everyone a fair chance to attend a course.
WHS 1-day (6 hours) Emergency First-Aid at Work courses, run with very strict Covid-specific controls, are scheduled as follows; those who need to attain or renew first-aid certification are advised to book places as quickly as possible as, although we have included additional dates, demand will obviously be high.
Cost: £85 + VAT per person
As usual, please contact Vicki at Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) on 01952 885885 or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to book places
IOSH Managing Safely
Duration: 3 days (Wednesday to Friday)
Dates: 7, 8 & 9 October 2020
Cost: £395 + VAT per person
Covid-19 / Coronavirus
No, the serious and life-threatening issue of Covid-19 has not gone away, and is unlikely to disappear worldwide in the foreseeable future. So the message is: we must ALL get used to the ‘new normal’ and carry on taking sensible precautions, even though the infection rate is diminishing.
‘Necessity is the mother of invention’, as they say. And we have certainly seen some very innovative and pro-active systems established on site to reduce the risk of contracting Covid to a minimum. For example:
In general, WHS has found a good 85% of our customers doing their best to comply with both the Government and industry guidelines, and seeking advice when they are unsure. Most have put the relevant paperwork in place including the legally required documents being risk assessments). However, our consultants have found the following tendencies to be increasingly prevalent:Risk assessments are not specific, they tend to be too generic. WHS has issued a short-form generic assessment, but this is only intended as a starting point. ALL risk assessments must, BY LAW, be operation- or premises-specific, and dealing with Covid is no exception. There has been ample guidance issued by WHS and the HSE to help employers build on the generics, and WHS is here to help as always. But we repeat, anything short of specific is NOT adequate
The vast majority of businesses have done the right thing through the Covid pandemic; most have written risk assessments and trained their staff into the dangers of the virus and necessary control systems – all for the well-being of their employees.
So why is it that we still don’t find the same level of effort and commitment in controlling the risks from asbestos? Covid is a pandemic that will eventually diminish, if not disappear completely. Asbestos is out there perennially and potentially kills up to 10,000 people a year in the UK alone; nothing short of an epidemic. Yet we still find employers of all types either paying lip-service to commissioning surveys and establishing controls, or just ignoring the issue completely.
Wake up! Covid will pass; asbestos won’t for decades, if at all. You MUST properly assess and control the risks from asbestos as required by law. Contact WHS for advice and assistance.
Many old or unkempt buildings suffer from mould, generally due to damp (e.g. flooding or poor damp-proofing). All moulds have the capacity to harm, usually through the spores attacking the respiratory system, particularly those who are asthmatic or have respiratory issues. This is not uncommon (and suggests a possible cause for the so-called ‘sick building syndrome’) but does not detract from the necessity to ensure occupants’ (and others’) wellbeing by remedying the situation.
However, there are some moulds that can be extremely dangerous by producing mycotoxins, potentially causing serious damage to neurological systems and possibly death. There is also some suggestion that the mycotoxins can also cause cancers, but evidence for this is weak.
WHS will be issuing a full risk assessment in due course but, in the meantime, all premises owners and managers should be aware that a full environmental (safety) survey will be required if there is any evidence of significant black mould, and possibly a specialist clean. Most cases will remain relatively harmless with a thorough clean and the use of respiratory protection, but other cases may require a lot more; let the experts ascertain the degree of risk. Don’t take this issue lightly
Covid HSE news & guidance
The HSE has, over the months, built up a strong portfolio of information and guidance to assist businesses to control the risk of contracting Covid-19 whilst still being able to work. Some examples are as follows; these and many more can be found on www.hse.gov.uk:
There is also specific guidance, as the procedure can be potentially extremely dangerous, on the restarting of pressure system after being left dormant: https://bit.ly/3ewizWS
See also the Government’s advice on Gov.uk:
https://bit.ly/390cml2 (for vehicles)
https://bit.ly/2DKSy9C (for offices)
As we have highlighted previously, and many of you will have heard through media, the HSE has been given additional funds with which to enforce Covid-19 regulation in the workplace. A full press release was issued in early July drawing attention to the expectations of the HSE towards Covid-secure compliance, and the warning of enforcement for any transgressors:
Face Masks & Coverings
The HSE has stated that ‘face coverings…are not an effective way to manage the risks from Covid-19 and you should not rely on them’. HSE stresses that face coverings ‘are not classified as PPE’ for obvious reasons, and therefore the risk of infection should be controlled by social distancing, hand washing and other means.
The HSE has also stated that ‘surgical face masks….are not generally considered to be PPE in non-healthcare situations’ as they are designed to ‘limit the spread of infection’ only.
WHS agrees with all these comments. Nothing short of the full FFP3 and other risk-appropriate masks are considered PPE, and face-fit testing is mandatory for the use of these to ensure a tight seal and their effectiveness. In addition, a reminder that ANY PPE is considered a ‘last resort’ in the hierarchy of controls in the workplace. Therefore, surgical face masks and face coverings cannot ever be considered the only solution to controlling the risk of infection in the workplace. Additional Covid-specific controls must be established such as distancing, one-way systems, hand washing, placing sanitisers close to hand, etc.
However, in exactly the same way as use of FFP3 masks are advantageous even where engineering controls are in place (damping down, particle collection, etc), our professional recommendation is that, unless employees are working by themselves or at some distance (2+ metres) in the open air, it is still wise to further protect them by the use of masks.
One word of warning though, improvised face coverings can present risks in themselves; any excess material (e.g. scarves tied around the face) may well present snagging hazards. Managers must ensure that there is no improvisation and that any face masks are worn correctly.
The HSE has issued the accident statistics for 2019/20 which show a very encouraging downward trend with UK industry as a whole: 111 workers were killed – a reduction of 24.5% on 2018/19
An A-Z of the latest statistics, to enable you to check your own industry, can be found on:
Further more detailed will obviously be issued once full analysis has been completed.
And the current emphasis on Covid-19 will not, and cannot be allowed to, detract from the need for exemplary safety standards on site; do NOT let your guard down. You have legal duties against which you can, and will, be prosecuted after a fatality; but more importantly, you have a moral duty to ensure your employees go home safely at night. We are here to help; allow us to help.
Health & Safety – the Financial Case
And, if you’re still thinking about money over people’s wellbeing, the HSE has put the case for the financial health of businesses being a sound reason for complying with health & safety law in its HSG245 document:
The document clearly shows that, for every £1 spent on insurance by a business, it stands to lose between £8 and £36 in uninsured costs. Take a look at your insurance documents and do the maths – commitment to health & safety makes economic as well as moral sense!
Stress & Anxiety
Claims have been made that the rate of suicides has increased by 200% during the Covid lockdown compared to previous years. Whilst this claim is completely unsubstantiated, there is no doubt that stress and anxiety levels have risen in general because of a wide variety of factors affecting people’s personal lives, and we should all be sensitive to the needs of those around us who may be finding current conditions difficult to cope with.
However, as the threat of redundancy looms ever larger for a significant proportion of the population, there is quite likely to be a repeat of the additional stresses experienced when so many lost their jobs in the economic crash of 2008. We all have a part to play in helping support family, friends and work colleagues experiencing hardship and mental distress during this time. Keep a watch at work and at home for tell-tale signs and lend a hand before, not as a result of, things going too far.
And a plea to employers – if redundancies are eventually unavoidable, do it with care not belligerence. It doesn’t take much to tip someone over the edge in normal times; in current circumstances, it will be worse. Please do contact WHS for advice on both mental awareness and HR at the first sign it may be needed.
Obviously, the number of cases going through court has been minimal over recent months because of Covid-19 restrictions. However, that doesn’t mean that there are fewer prosecutions in the pipeline; it just means that the agony of going through the investigation and waiting for the court appearance is prolonged!! The following are a snapshot of recent cases:
(with thanks to the HSE for the photographs)
Work at height
This may have appeared to be a quick job so why go the expense of providing appropriate access equipment? Because there is no justification at all for risking a man’s life and costing the company well over £1.1 million, no matter how quick the work, that’s why!
So first floor level isn’t that high, is it? There’s no need to erect handrails to that platform, is there? Yes, there is a real need to erect fall protection in a situation like this, of course there is! That floor is hard and 2.5 metres is a long drop! Again, there is no justification at all for risking a man’s life and costing the company, what would have been to them, a significant fine, no matter what the height!
It can be seen from the photo just how flimsy and degraded the roof-light was; it should have been evident to Phoenix that, regardless of the legal requirement to do so, covering or barriers were required to prevent falls through.
A reminder that risk assessment is mandatory for ALL businesses, of sufficient detail and number to cover all aspects of their work.
The investigation found that the design was poor; the mechanism to prevent the sliding gate from overrunning was insufficient for the purpose and there were no end-stops. Consequently, at the time of the incident, the gate had disengaged from the rollers; what the HSE called ‘an accident waiting to happen’.
A reminder to all designers and manufacturers of their legal duty to ensure safety through design.
The Company had failed to provide guarding to dangerous parts of the machine, costing a man his life.
For a serious accident to happen once is bad enough; for the same thing to happen twice (i.e. management have demonstrated no commitment at all to the welfare of employees) is nothing short of indefensible.
STAY SAFE – STAY ALERT
FOLLOW THE RULES – DON’T IGNORE ADVICE
HELP SAFEGUARD THE LIVES OF THOSE YOU AFFECT
WHS is working for you; help us to help you.
Our aim is to keep people safe and to keep your company working.
To contact WHS, ring: 01952-885885
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