It is prudent to repeat the provisos that are currently essential for us, at Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS), to be able to hold our usual full complement of courses, so please take careful note of 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, CITB and the awarding body for first aid courses have given their 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 reduced number of places for the foreseeable future, it is important for WHS to ensure full attendance. We therefore ask please that, once booked, courses and 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.
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)
Cost: £395 + VAT per person
Duration: 1 day
Cost: £75 + VAT per person
COSHH / EH40
EH40, the HSE document detailing exposure limits for hazardous substances and upon which COSHH data sheets and assessments are reliant, was updated earlier this year. WHS has now reviewed all generic COSHH assessments; an updated version of the assessment for Hardwood Dust is attached to this newsletter for those who may require it. Those WHS customers who have requested specific COSHH assessments in the past will need to be guided by their WHS advisor at the point of their annual documents review; some may need a complete revision to ensure legal compliance with current COSHH standards.
COVID & RELATED ISSUES
COVID-19 / CORONAVIRUS
As you’ve obviously understood from the ever-changing Government guidance and restrictions, Covid HAS NOT GONE AWAYI!!
At this point, who can be blamed for allowing the pandemic to take such a hold in the UK is irrelevant; the facts are that the infection and death rates are still rising and likely to rapidly rise still further as the cold weather approaches. If any of you has had personal experience of a relative or friend hospitalised because of Covid, you will know just how awful this virus can be. It is NOT ‘just another flu’ and no way can patients ‘pull themselves together’ to get well; such casual talk is, not only totally inaccurate, it is hurtful to those who have lost people they love.
So let’s just get a grip; follow what the Government says (a lot of which is legally binding), but also use your common sense. The basic rules of:
STILL apply, both at work and in public places. To assist employers, ample guidance is given on the HSE’s website: https://bit.ly/3j5bNdy
Follow the guidance; if you don’t, you now run the very real risk of being shut down either by the authorities or because a Covid outbreak results; spot checks are being carried out nationwide – you have been warned!
REPORTING COVID-19 UNDER RIDDOR
Understandably, there is a lot of confusion over when to report Covid cases within the workforce under RIDDOR. The first thing to stress is that RIDDOR applies to workplace accidents, incidents and ill health; if Covid (or any other disease) is contracted from within an employee’s private environment, RIDDOR is not applicable. Having said that, if other employees then contract Covid within the workplace, RIDDOR most definitely applies.
The rules, as laid down by the HSE, for the RIDDOR reporting of Covid are summarised as follows:
Further details can be found on the HSE’s website: https://bit.ly/2FMxNMe
COVID ISN’T THE ONLY THING THAT CAN KILL!
It has become evident that the emphasis on Covid has been to the detriment of other health & safety considerations. WHS has had to deal with many more accidents (some very serious) since March, and the increase in the accident rate appears to be gathering pace, particularly relating to work at height. And we’re highlighting this from our experience only; if this pattern is repeated throughout UK industry, the number of fatalities and serious injuries will prove to be catastrophic for 2020/21.
May we remind you that, yes, Covid is serious but so is general health & safety; the HSE is still prevalent and you will still be prosecuted if there is a serious accident. And, let’s face it, workplaces should now actually be safer than ever before because of the thought that’s had to go into organising the work to be Covid-safe!
And another issue that’s reared its head in relation to Covid is Legionella. We have warned in previous newsletters that, if premises have been left empty and/or unattended because of Covid (or any other reason), it is a legal requirement incumbent on those in control of the buildings (including landlords) to ensure that it is safe to return; water systems (such as hot & cold water and air-conditioning systems) may have to be purged or otherwise checked to ensure the Legionella bacterium isn’t present. And predictably, there have now been outbreaks of legionella in the West Midlands and elsewhere, e.g: https://bit.ly/2Hgc4fN
The danger here is that Legionella symptoms are almost the same as for Covid, and therefore cases may well be wrongly diagnosed. So extra care must be taken to ensure that the risks of this equally dangerous disease are properly controlled. The HSE has issued specific guidance on their website: https://bit.ly/2HiJQB5
It reiterates quite clearly that (quote):
If your building has been closed or had reduced occupancy during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, water system stagnation can occur due to lack of use, increasing the risks of Legionnaires’ disease.
You should review your risk assessment and manage the legionella risks when you:
If the water system is still used regularly, maintain the appropriate measures to prevent legionella growth.
And let’s not hear any of the ridiculous chat that has subsequently circulated on social media – that you can contract Legionella from the wearing of masks ‘because they can become damp’. There is absolutely no basis whatsoever to this ‘theory’ and this type of loose talk can only hinder the efforts to combat both Legionella and Covid. Legionella comes from a bacterium that can propagate when water systems are allowed to sit undisturbed at certain temperatures; it cannot develop on masks unless infected droplets have landed on them in the first place (i.e. from an infected water system.
Having said that, masks should not be allowed to get damp, that’s just common sense; change them regularly!
HSE INSPECTION INITIATIVE
The HSE will be carrying out targeted nationwide inspections between 5 and 30 October 2020 as part of a wider initiative to support the HSE’s strategy towards better employee health, and to help get people safely back to work and thereby support our economic recovery.
As with previous health initiatives, the focus of the inspections will be respiratory risks; however, this particular initiative will also cover Covid-security as the disease is obviously viewed as a major health risk. Go to the HSE’s website for specific advice on respiratory safety, Covid and all other health issues: hse.gov.uk
In conjunction with the UKLA, the HSE has issued a revised Good Practice Guide for the Safe Handling and Disposal of Metalwork Fluids, giving comprehensive advice on preventing ill-health, maintaining health surveillance, acting on dipslide results and much more. The guidance document is freely downloadable from: https://bit.ly/2RWwNYk
But don’t overlook the fact that any such guidance is intended for use alongside a specific COSHH assessment which must relate to how metalworking fluids are used, handled and stored safely within your premises; no generics please!
OUR AGING WORKFORCE
With the advances of medical science and the loosening of retirement age restrictions, we are inevitably working longer. Employees may welcome this as a way to retain an income for longer; employers may welcome this as a way to retain skills. However, we need to be fully aware of the potential drawbacks.
All employers are duty-bound to ensure employees are ‘fit for work’, in other words they are fit and capable enough to carry out the tasks required without risks to themselves or others. If an employee develops a medical condition, inhibited eyesight or hearing, loss of strength, loss of perception, etc, this will obviously impact on his or her ability to work safely and tasks will have to be re-assessed.
And it’s a fact that, the older an employee is, the more likely he/she is to die at work; those between 60 and 65 are twice as likely to be killed in the workplace. And the disturbing fact is that many workers are now aged well over 65.
We all understand the sensitivity of telling an older, possibly very loyal, employee that it’s time for him/her to retire. But never forget that the employer owes the employee a legal duty of care to safeguard his/her wellbeing. So, if it is impossible to find safer tasks and retirement is the only option because of inhibited capabilities, then it has to be so. Be realistic; carry out a personal risk assessment for the employee. An accident resulting from an employee’s inhibited capabilities will result in prosecution of the employer.
THIS IMPORTANCE OF COMPETENT ADVICE
A safety consultant, Clive Weal, has been prosecuted and ordered to pay £1400 for not being suitably qualified or competent to give advice on noise, vibration and hazardous substances. Weal failed to advise that paints containing isocyanates can cause asthma and that exposure to vibration was a significant issue (recommending anti-vibration gloves as an appropriate control measure); this ‘poor and incompetent advice’ resulted in the lack of meaningful remedial action and significantly risked the health of workers.
The HSE inspector stated that how those with health & safety responsibilities “achieve competence is up to them. However, they will have to be able to satisfy employers that they have a sufficient level of competence for the job in hand”. Qualifications, membership of professional bodies and regular CPD are all essentials, and the lack of any such proof would leave the individual open to HSE criticism or (as in this case) prosecution.
WHS obviously acts externally on your behalf to establish suitable and appropriate health & safety systems; we are all highly qualified and members of relevant professional bodies, and we take great pains to keep up our CPD to enable us to do so. But engaging WHS is not the only legal responsibility that you, as the employer, have; you must:
Take another look internally; is your internal health & safety management suitably competent to carry out the necessary legal duties, does he/she know what those duties are, or at least what to ask of us and when? WHS can only go so far; the rest is (under the law) up to you.
A 34-year-old cleaner, Celia Seymour, died after breathing in bleach fumes whilst cleaning the upstairs bathroom of her own property; she collapsed as her friend arrived and, despite CPR, died 4 days later. It is believed that she may have mixed two cleaning products, with the result that the fumes were found to be ‘overpowering’ and triggering a severe asthma attack.
So how is that relevant to you? Despite this being a tragic death in a domestic property, such dangers exist at work as well. We have warned many times before about the dangers of bleach and the mixing of cleaning products, and have always advised that bleach is not used at all to avoid such risks; all our customers have a COSHH assessment to that effect in their health & safety pack. And, now that we are all cleaning our workplaces more frequently (or we should be!!), there is a huge risk that such tragedies will happen at work.
This recent case should serve as a poignant warning to everyone; serious risks exist even with the most basic day-to-day functions such as cleaning, and risk assessments are legally required for ALL work for very valid reasons. Take another look at your cleaning cupboards; ensure there is no bleach, and no cleaning chemicals that can be hazardous when mixed; and ensure all cleaners are properly trained and instructed.
A colleague of ours recently highlighted just how easy it is for carbon monoxide to kill when the public are unaware of the dangers. A couple he knew had mentioned that an alarm kept going off in their caravan and, when he took a look, he found soot stains up the wall and 40,000 ppm of carbon monoxide coming from their gas fridge; it had obviously been the carbon monoxide monitor trying its best to warn them!
So, we say yet again – carbon monoxide monitors are a life-saving investment wherever there are gas appliances within any premises, particularly smaller enclosed spaces such as bedrooms, living rooms and caravans. But please do make sure the users realise what the warning alarm actually means!
And a further warning to get all gas appliances regularly serviced and certificated, particularly if Covid has prompted a lengthy period of neglect.
Previously notified websites advising nationwide locations of AEDs (automated external defibrillators) may no longer be functioning (because of Covid?). Unfortunately, it will be down to local knowledge alone for the moment to locate your nearest AED at any given premises, so do ask around – or, better still, provide your own!
With thanks to the HSE for the photographs
As the vast majority of occupational fatalities and serious injuries still result from work at height failings, we concentrate (yet again) on this issue alone below. However, it must be said that the threat of prosecution cannot be the only motivation for complying to the Work at Height Regulations; a life and a family are destroyed each time a worker is killed or maimed, just bear that in mind.
And no business is immune; the Work at Height Regulations apply to ALL companies…
Work at height
Note that the first 2 prosecutions resulted from observations alone; there had been no accidents.
Note that the first 2 prosecutions resulted from observations alone; there had been no accidents.
Quartz 23 was also fined a total of £24,000 for obvious safety failings. The Company was found to have a poor safety culture which, amongst other failings, allowed customers to use the undesignated exit onto the service yard area which lacked appropriate controls.The operator of Aberdeen Market, The Market Village Company Ltd, was fined £80,000 after an elderly man was found dead at the bottom of a fire escape stairwell. The Company had failed to maintain the lighting to the stairwell and this was found to have resulted in the gentleman’s death
And, just in case anyone is tempted to forge evidence…
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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