WENLOCK HEALTH & SAFETY LTD
WISHES YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY
& HEALTHY CHRISTMAS
WHS CHRISTMAS BREAK
Please note, and tell all relevant staff, that the Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) office will close at midday on Wednesday 23 December 2020 and will reopen at 8 am on Monday 4 January 2021.
For those who may still be at work during this period, your WHS advisor can be contacted in cases of emergency ONLY on his/her mobile.
Despite the current national restrictions, WHS is still able to quite legitimately operate a full training programme, as we have strict covid-related precautions in place. As we are so severely limited to the number of places available due to these restrictions, we must reiterate that it is vitally important to ensure that, once booked, courses and places are not cancelled.
We would also reiterate that these covid precautions for courses run at the WHS facilities have necessitated that neither lunch nor drinks can be provided; candidates are requested to bring their own lunch and refreshments. Full details of the precautions we have taken, and also what is expected from the candidates, are issued with the joining instructions for each course.
Any organisation requiring attendance at their own premises can request a specific course provided that suitable Covid-specific precautions can be agreed at the point of booking.
Courses shown below are for the early part of 2021; further courses will be added shortly and the full 2021 programme will be available on the WHS website: http://wenlockhealthandsafety.co.uk/
As usual, please contact Vicki at Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) on 01952 885885 or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to book places.
WHS 1-day (6 hours) Emergency First-Aid at Work. Demand remains high so book places as soon as possible.
Cost: £85 + VAT per person
WHS SAFETY AWARDS
It’s that time of year again when it gives us great pleasure to recognise the health & safety commitment and achievements of our clients and, despite the extraordinary circumstances we’ve all had to contend with in 2020, this year is no exception. We are therefore delighted to announce the following WHS awards for 2020:
Commitment to Health & Safety Training – Richard Sherratt Builders
Based in Shrewsbury; this commercial and domestic building contractor has always shown an exemplary attitude towards training the entire workforce in health & safety, including utilising any downtime during 2020 to best advantage.
Commitment to Site Safety – Mark Bennett of Morris Property Ltd
Mark is a Site Manager for Shrewsbury-based Morris Property Ltd; he has always demonstrated an exemplary attitude towards health & safety on his sites, with a proactive management approach.
Well done to both our worthy award winners! Both serve as examples of the high standards attainable.
We must also mention that many of our clients have shown a high degree of commitment in establishing good standards of covid protection in their workplaces; this has not gone unnoticed.
ACCIDENT RATE FOR 2020 DISAPPOINTS
Unfortunately, despite the above examples of exemplary standards, WHS has to report that 2020 has been an extremely disappointing year as regards accidents; we have never, in our 18-year history, had so many accidents (let alone the serious accidents involved) reported by our customers.
We have concluded that there are two possible reasons for this; either:
a) the focus on covid, or
b) the high volume of work currently being undertaken in certain areas
has distracted companies from the basic risks we all encounter day in, day out in the workplace – risks that should be controlled by second nature in this day and age. Yes, covid encompasses serious risks – but so does work at height, control of plant and vehicles, etc, etc. And yes, with increased volumes of work comes a corresponding increase in the amount of risks presented and increased pressures on management. But the fact that high-risk/highly-governed fields of work such as work at height and control of plant and vehicles have produced the worst of the accidents reported to us is absolutely inexcusable.
And don’t make the mistake of thinking that HSE inspectors are currently concentrating on covid to the detriment of other risks – they most certainly are not! However, what is likely to happen is that, because of the current volume of the HSE’s work, investigations will take longer, much longer! Which means that the anguish and trauma experienced by any company under investigation will be experienced over 1 year, maybe 2 years, longer than usual (in practice, up to 4 years or so).
Let’s face it, if your workplace has been properly set up to control covid, it should be more, not less, safe overall! So please, don’t lose sight of the basic risks and controls; don’t let standards drop for ANY reason.
COVID & RELATED ISSUES
COVID-19 / CORONAVIRUS
Let’s hope that 2021 allows us all to get back to some semblance of normality before long! However, in the meantime, we would remind all employers and employees that covid must still be taken seriously and all controls under the mantra ‘hands, face, space’ must still be practiced, both at work and at home.
To reinforce the message around your workplaces, the NHS posters are freely available from:
And a very serious reminder (sadly, we need to repeat this because we have seen a significant number of people ignoring this instruction) that, if you have reason, or have been told by the NHS Test & Trace app, to get a covid test, you DO NOT go to work or mix with others whilst you’re waiting for the result!!
A reminder also to employers that they MUST be responsible when it comes to allowing employees time off for self-isolating. You are at liberty to ask for proof of the need to self-isolate, but employees should be encouraged to do the right thing and not pressurised to return to work too soon.
HSE SPOT CHECKS
The HSE is continuing its policy of unannounced spot checks and inspections to make sure that businesses and workplaces are following government covid guidelines – and WHS has seen much evidence of this policy being carried through, so be warned!
The HSE has stated that all visiting personnel will be carrying identification and a letter of authorisation from the HSE, implying that they may not be direct HSE employees. If you wish to verify whether the visitor is legitimate, please call the HSE on 0300 790 6896.
Further details can be found on spot checks and inspections, as well as HSE guidance on being COVID-secure
THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD VENTILATION
We should all know by now about the importance of good ventilation to help in the fight against covid. Of course, working outdoors reduces the risks immeasurably (provided we all practice distancing) but what about indoors? What about aircon, are there risks?
The HSE has issued specific guidance on the subject: https://bit.ly/32O9PIL
OTHER HSE NEWS
The previous WHS newsletter brought to your attention the current nationwide HSE campaign focusing on respiratory health, which obviously now covers the risks and controls relating to covid.
It seems that the HSE has certainly followed through with this campaign; WHS has heard of a good number of our customers receiving both announced and unannounced visits. If you’ve not yet done so, it is in the interests of every business, engineer, workshop, etc to read the specific HSE guidance on controlling respiratory health risks: https://bit.ly/2RStPE4
LOCAL EXHAUST VENTILATION
The HSE has issued its latest Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV) eBulletin which focuses on the key topic of competence.
Obviously, we all have a duty to ensure the relevant competence of those who work for us in whatever guise that may be (including building contractors in our home environment according to CDM 2015!). Hopefully, all businesses would take this duty seriously when it comes to engaging both employees and external contractors such as electricians and gas engineers. But how many businesses think about ensuring the competence of specialists such as maintenance and monitoring engineers, or indeed supply/installers themselves?
It’s obvious that ensuring the competence of electrical and gas engineers, asbestos removal companies, building contractors, etc is vital to the safety of us, our employees and the future of our businesses. But how many of us actually check the qualifications, current trade requirements, and trustworthiness of companies we engage for (e.g.) dust, noise, legionella, equipment, etc maintenance, servicing and equipment supply/installs? Yet this is vital to ensure that all our equipment and systems are equipped to keep us and our employees safe.
As the safety and efficiency of LEV equipment is so important to ensure our respiratory health, this latest HSE ebulletin gives advice and guidance on both the nature of ‘competence’ in general and what is required for LEV engineers: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/UKHSE/bulletins/2ac4af5
Last year, the cross-industry LEV Competency Matrix was launched at the joint ILEVE / BOHS conference. The HSE points out that the Matrix, although aimed primarily at those involved in LEV design, installation, commissioning, thorough examination and testing, would also be very useful for those engaging LEV specialists as it helps the engaging businesses to identify possible knowledge gaps and necessary CPD of the engineers. The Matrix is available via the ILEVE website
The ILEVE website also gives access to accredited LEV engineers. Although it must be said that it is not mandatory, membership of this institute is obviously a good measure of competence and trustworthiness:
As a postscript to the item above about competence, it is worth mentioning that 9 un-registered ‘gas engineers’ have either been sent to prison or received suspended sentences, community service or fines during 2020 to date alone. We have no idea how many are awaiting trial, but this shows just how many unqualified and unsafe gas engineers are still out there, preying on the unsuspecting!
The message must therefore be repeated that gas engineers MUST (by law and for your safety) be Gas Safe registered, both at work and at home, as an assurance to you of their current qualifications and competence; to engage any un-registered engineer is illegal and presents serious risks. You MUST check that the gas engineer you propose to use is currently logged on the Gas Safe Register before you engage him/her:
HIGH-RISK BUILDING SAFETY
In the light of the Grenfell disaster in June 2017, the Construction Industry Council (CIC) has been working with the Government and HSE to produce a draft Building Safety Bill whereby those deemed responsible in law for the safety of higher-risk buildings and their occupants (persons such as landlords) will be required to appoint a Building Safety Manager. Buildings that fall into the ‘higher-risk’ category would include multi-occupancy residential buildings of 18 metres height or more, or six or more storeys.
Under the proposed legislation, the Building Safety Manager would require specific in-depth competencies to equip him/her to look after the day-to-day management of fire and structural safety and provide a clear point of contact for residents when issues arise.
Not a moment too soon. For too long, those responsible for these higher-risk buildings have failed (or been allowed to fail?) in their duties of care towards the occupants; but, as always, it takes a serious incident to wake people up to the deficiencies. The final CIC report ‘Setting the Bar’, together with the annexes and press release, can be found on: http://cic.org.uk/setting-the-bar-annexes.php
A very concise and useful executive summary, which is certainly worth reading, can be found on:
MENTAL HEALTH & STRESS
We must all be aware by now that mental health has become an even more serious issue because of covid. One the one hand, it can affect those under lockdown or prevented from seeing loved ones; at the other end of the spectrum, it can affect those who are under severe strain at work, whether because of longer hours, difficult work situations, lack of company or personal income, etc. Whatever the background to people’s distress, we must all take the issue (or potential for the issue to arise) seriously and keep a watchful eye on employees and colleagues, as well as loved ones, friends, relatives, etc.
Very useful information is, as always, available from the HSE:
However, more specific and targeted tool-kits are available from Mind’s ‘Mental Health at Work’ website for a range of related situations including supporting yourself and colleagues, the challenges of working from home, dealing with staff absences, helping staff with trauma, returning to work after lockdown, etc:
As stressed above, despite covid, HSE enforcement and prosecutions have not ceased; far from it. Not only is there an increased number of spot checks, but you can still be assured that every serious accident (as a minimum) will be investigated by the HSE and prosecutions will follow where breaches of the law are found.
In this issue, we focus (again) on the vital importance of thoroughly training the workforce and the establishment of specifically risk assessed and sound safe systems of work:
The agency worker had been engaged only 2 weeks beforehand but had received no training at all in the safe handling of the extremely heavy loads; a totally avoidable fatality.
• Hi Peak Feeds Ltd was fined a total of over £142,500 after an employee’s arm was severed below the elbow by a moving conveyor. The employee had opened a hatch on a closed conveyor to clear a blockage when the conveyor unexpectedly started to move, severing his arm.
This case starkly shows, yet again, the vital importance of both properly training the workforce and the establishment (and monitoring) of safe systems. No training had been given nor instruction material provided; as a result, the practice of clearing blockages by opening the hatch had ‘developed over time’ and management had failed to monitor the work and rectify the situation.
N.B. An important reminder: AGENCY WORKERS ARE ENTITLED TO THE SAME TRAINING AS PERMANENT EMPLOYEES or you employ those already trained to the correct level if that is possible.
N.B. Another important reminder: high-pressure jetting equipment can be lethal if used incorrectly; thorough task-specific risk assessments must be undertaken, safe systems established and thorough training given.
STAY SAFE – STAY ALERT
FOLLOW THE RULES – DON’T IGNORE ADVICE
SAFEGUARD YOURSELF AND THE LIVES OF THOSE YOU AFFECT
WHS is working for you; help us to help you.
Our aim is to keep people safe and to keep your company working.
To contact WHS, ring: 01952-885885
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