CORONAVIRUS / COVID-19
Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd has previously issued advice and links to all clients to keep you abreast of industry guidance related to Covid-19; refer in particular to the interim short-form ‘newsletter’ issued in April and subsequent emails which gave further sound advice on how to approach Covid-19 risk assessment and management. It does appear (judging by phone calls received) that few clients are reading these communications; it is important that you take note of all past and future communications from WHS to ensure that you are completely up to date with what is expected of both employers and employees.
In addition, it is vital at this point that you also log into the ‘Clients Area’ of our website (using your specific company log-in details) to access the following very important Covid-related documents:
A wealth of additional information and general guidance is available from the HSE on:
https://bit.ly/2Bbvvn5 (relating the use of PPE and face masks)
https://bit.ly/2ZQUTcd (relating to the use of hand sanitisers and surface cleaners)
Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) is available to advise on how to organise and run your premises in accordance with the current, very comprehensive, guidance issued by industry bodies; please contact Laura Mort on 07791-670987.
However, as with all risk issues, we must remind all clients that we cannot advise on specific procedures unless we actually see the premises and working areas for ourselves. During April and most of May, to ensure that we have not put our staff at risk during the peak of the epidemic, we have been carrying out ‘virtual inspections’ only. We have now returned to carrying out actual premises visits; again, please contact Laura.
Despite falling infection and death rates, the virus is still out there and will carry on killing people unless we are all careful. To this end, we will currently only agree to inspections and/or visits to any premises if:
We respectfully ask for your co-operation in helping to reduce the risk of virus transmittal to WHS staff, as far as possible, by adhering to the following:
This is worth re-emphasising the point that the virus produces a much greater risk of death in those who have previous respiratory issues. So this suggests, yet again, that failing to take care of your health and the health of your employees may well produce, not only the risks of occupational diseases, but also other knock-on effects in the future. So employers – provide good, appropriate and face-fitted masks for work with dusts and/or fumes. And employees – wear those masks and stop smoking!!
And, on that note, use of masks to help control dust/fume inhalation still requires face-fit testing; contact WHS to arrange testing, under strictly controlled conditions, either on site or at our premises.
The Government has reiterated that businesses can organise online training for employees, whether furloughed or not, during the lock-down to ensure that valuable productive time isn’t lost to essential training once we’re all back at work. To that end, WHS is running a number of essential courses, as detailed below.
Asbestos Awareness On-Line
Asbestos Awareness on-line course (2.5 – 3 hours)
Monday 22 June at 1pm; £40 + VAT per person
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to book places as soon as possible; places are obviously limited due to the logistics of online training.
We are advised by our first-aid awarding body, Nuco, that we still cannot resume first-aid courses until the Government announces that the ‘Coronavirus Threat Level’ is at level 3 in England (expected early June if all goes well. However, Nuco have stated that all certificates that expire 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.
To that end, WHS 1-day (6 hours) Emergency First-Aid at Work courses, to be 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
Courses will be held at our offices in Jackfield, Telford. However, if any organisation requires attendance by 6 or more employees, a specific course can be arranged at a date, time and location to suit provided that suitable Covid-specific precautions can be agreed at the point of booking.
IOSH Managing Safely
Please note that the IOSH Managing Safely 3-day course due to take place 14-16 July 2020 has been postponed and will be re-scheduled at a later date.
Businesses (including landlords) may be unaware that Covid-19 can produce secondary effects such as a very real risk of legionella within premises or equipment not occupied or operated through the lockdown. Examples would include hot and cold water systems, air-conditioning units, water features, spas, hot tubs and showers.
As this is such as serious issue, the HSE has issued specific guidance to remind those responsible of their duties. The bulletins and advice must be read and followed, particularly if equipment has been shut down for a week or more, to avoid resultant health issues (and possible deaths) for which the business would be held fully responsible:
Safety Alert – Air Suspension Systems
Following several accidents, the HSE has issued a safety alert for the motor vehicle and roadside recovery industries concerning work on vehicle air suspension systems: https://bit.ly/3emrXwo
The very detailed alert concerns the potential collapse of vehicles during repair work, mainly due to the combination of unintended rupture or release of components from air suspension systems whilst the vehicle is inadequately supported. So the conclusion is obviously not to attempt such work unless the vehicle is in properly appointed workshop environment and appropriately supported; never by the roadside, and never without adequate supporting equipment for that type of vehicle.
COSHH – Isocyanates
We covered welding and welding fume in the April 2020 newsletter following the issue of updated of the HSE advice and guidance. The HSE and the HSE Science & Research Centre have now issued updated advice regarding the control of the very real risks from isocyanates:
The information covers, not just the facts about health risks and the required control measures, but also the consequences of cutting corners such as ‘visor flipping’ (https://bit.ly/2Acb74T) and the need to observe clearance times in spray booths (https://bit.ly/2TLkuiK).
And prosecutions can be severe, for example: Car retailer Harwood Ltd was fined a total of almost £123,000 after an employee who worked in a spray booth developed occupational asthma.
To quote the investigating HSE inspector: “This serious health condition could so easily have been avoided by simply implementing correct control measures and appropriate working practices. Controlling employee exposure to hazardous substances is a legal requirement on employers and HSE provides guidance on how control can be achieved. “Appropriate controls could include use of a spray booth to carry out the paint spraying, use of a suitable air-fed respirator, checks to ensure equipment was adequately maintained and training provided to ensure the employee knew the risks and how to control them.”
Covid Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme
On 26 May, the Government launched its Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, which allows employers to recover Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payments made to their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. It will allow small and medium-sized employers to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related SSP.
Employers are eligible to receive repayments at the relevant rate of SSP (paid to current, or former employees) on or after 13 March 2020 if they operate a PAYE payroll scheme started before 28 February 2020 and had fewer than 250 employees at that point. The repayment can cover up to two weeks of SSP if an employee has been unable to work because they either have COVID-19 or are legitimately self-isolating.
Definitive information from gov.uk can be found on: https://bit.ly/3gxXxcs
EA Annual Report
The latest Environment Agency’s (EA) annual Regulating for People, Environment and Growth (RPEG) report states that greenhouse gas emissions from industry have been cut by half in the last 10 years and compliance rates of energy efficiency and emissions trading schemes are above 98%: https://bit.ly/2ztx7rZ
However, waste crime (which seems to be endemic within a certain ‘cowboy’ sector in construction) continues to blight communities, cause environmental harm, and undercut legitimate business. The EA continues to target and prosecute those who flout the rules with enforcement action. The report highlights the need for businesses to do more, citing for 2018:
Brexit & 2020 Legislation
A new Environmental Bill is currently going through Parliament although the current Covid crisis has postponed the Committee Stage report until late June 2020. The Bill includes legally binding environmental improvements targets and a new independent Office for Environmental Protection which will scrutinise environmental policy and law, investigate complaints and take enforcement action against public authorities, if necessary, to uphold our environmental standards. The office’s powers will cover all climate change legislation and hold the Government to account on its commitment to reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Other new pieces of legislation, mostly mirroring existing regulations, are currently sitting in the wings waiting to be triggered when we leave the EU. The Government has also said that there will be consultations on various legislation for England, such as WEEE, waste tracking, food waste collection, deposit return schemes and a new Waste Management Plan. We suspect that these have also stalled but will, no doubt, come to fruition in due course.
The majority of environmental prosecutions during 2019 appear to have been waste management offences, and sentencing has been severe; for example:
Yes, the UK waste management and permitting regulations apply to EVERYONE, not just big business; do NOT be tempted to bury or ‘manage’ any waste without knowing what you are doing!
STAY SAFE – STAY ALERT
FOLLOW THE RULES – DON’T IGNORE ADVICE
HELP SAFEGUARD THE LIVES OF THOSE YOU AFFECT
(after all – it is, and always has been, written into the Health & Safety at Work Act!!)
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
Get in touch today to discuss
your Health & Safety needs.