We at Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd realise that you must be sick of hearing about Covid and the legal restrictions that still apply. However, we have to highlight here an issue that is so vitally important to everyone’s safety but that we, to be quite honest, are sick of encountering both on site and at fixed premises.
If anyone has reason to, or is told to, get tested for Covid for any reason whatsoever, that person cannot come into work until the test result is received and is negative; that person MUST self-isolate in the meantime.
It is unbelievable just how many times our advisors have come across workers, and often management themselves, who are at work awaiting test results thus putting, not only their fellow workers at risk, but our advisors too. This is both unacceptable and illegal and employers, management and the workers involved can all be prosecuted if they ignore this legal (and common sense!) instruction.
Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) is running a full programme of classroom-based courses at our offices or, upon request, at customers’ premises provided they can meet the necessary Covid-related controls. The courses are restricted to a maximum attendance of 8 candidates (for social-distancing) but 6 for first-aid courses with no mouth-to-mouth practical work. With severely restricted numbers, early booking is vital.
Any necessary criteria and restrictions will be personally communicated, both directly at the time of booking and again through joining instructions, ahead of planned courses. It is vital that these are understood and relevant information clearly passed to candidates.
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 is holding an open Legionella Awareness Course:
27th April, 9am – 1pm
£95 + VAT per person
After a period of closure, businesses need to think about a potential risk of legionella in buildings or parts of buildings that have been left dormant, as well as the ongoing risks. This is also particularly applicable for house builders who leave properties unoccupied while completing sales, as well as landlords both commercial and domestic. It is important that those people involved in assessing risk and applying precautions are competent, trained and aware of their responsibilities. Refer to the specific article later in this newsletter.
This course will cover the background of the bacteria and disease, where and how it occurs, and your legal obligations. To book a place, please email Vicki on firstname.lastname@example.org
It is widely known that the problems over the last year, compounded in particular with the January – March 2021 lockdown, have produced a profound amount of emotional distress amongst people of all walks of life, whether employed or not. To assist our clients in dealing with possible mental health issues amongst the workforce (and also at home), WHS is also holding an open Mental Health First Aid Course:
Date: 21st May, 9am – 4pm
Cost: £75 + VAT per person
This 6-hour qualification is aimed at managers and supervisors, and provides learners with the knowledge to recognise a range of mental health conditions, how to start a supportive conversation, and when and how to help a person to seek appropriate professional help.
Please note that strict Covid-specific controls will apply as always and, thus, no lunch can be offered.
1-day (6 hours) Emergency First-Aid at Work course dates are listed below; very strict Covid-specific controls will apply and no lunch can be offered until further notice. Demand is expected to be high, so book places as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
Cost: £85 + VAT per person
It must be noted that CITB attendance rules are very strict; they MUST be understood and are reiterated here:
Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS)
Duration: 5 days; 1 day per week
Cost: £495 + VAT per person
Site Management Safety Training Scheme (SMSTS) Refresher
Duration: 2 days
Cost: £265 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)
Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS)
Duration: 2 days
Cost: £230 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)
Site Supervisors Safety Training Scheme (SSSTS) Refresher
Duration: 1 day
Cost: £160 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)
CITB 1-Day Health & Safety Awareness
Duration: 1 day
Cost: £125 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)
WHS PARKING ARRANGEMENTS
A reminder about the new parking arrangements when visiting the WHS offices; we made them plain in our last newsletter but several people have not adhered to them and were therefore charged parking fees. The arrangements are reiterated when booking courses but are evidently not being passed on to candidates. Those visiting our offices for ad-hoc reasons also please take note if you want to avoid charges. To reiterate:
WHS has negotiated FREE parking for all our visitors, but this is totally reliant on the following criteria to avoid being charged by Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust (and there’s nothing we can do about it afterwards, sorry!).
Through the current Covid crisis, the HSE has continued to update its guidance to focus specifically on how best to control commonplace issues in relation to risks posed by the pandemic. A selection of recent HSE bulletins follows; a vast array of further information is available and continually updated on the HSE website:
COVID RISK ASSESSMENT
As you know (or you should do by now!), the law requires all employers to carry out sufficient risk assessments to cover every risk of element of every task undertaken at work. And, as we have said so many times before, this includes the very high risk of Covid transmission.
The HSE has issued a warning that, if an inspector visits your site or premises and does not find a specific risk assessment or assessments to cover Covid, enforcement will be issued. In our experience, all too many managers or employers think that issuing a generic Covid assessment is sufficient; it is not and the HSE are coming down heavily where they find this to be the case.
ALL risk assessments must be site and task specific
WHS has issued guidance as to what is required but please do ring us if you still don’t understand. Do be aware that we can’t help you actually write assessments without visiting your site or premises, but we can certainly discuss on the phone what is required.
If you need more clarity and/or guidance, go to the HSE’s specific guidance on:
OFFICIAL HSE App
The HSE has released an app designed to help organisations understand health & safety law and legal responsibilities. The app is a good tool for businesses who have little or no knowledge of health & safety law and is cheap, being available from the Apple or Google Play stores at £2.99 via: https://bit.ly/3vbFDUo
But nobody reading this newsletter should need this type of assistance other than for use as a handy reminder; everyone reading this should have been adequately trained by WHS or equivalent, and should have sufficient documentation and systems in place to be legally compliant. If you think you need the app, or feel that you may not know enough to establish compliant documentation and systems, then ring us straight away! Our advisors, as always, are more than happy to discuss requirements with you – but only you can ensure that enough is in place to be both compliant and able to prove compliance to the HSE.
The HSE has also released a new Near-Miss Book to help record and report near-misses at work. WHS has always issued (free to our clients) our own version of near-miss report sheets to encourage formalisation of near-miss reporting and investigation to prevent future accidents. However, the new HSE book is a positive step towards encouraging a culture of investigation and, thence, improvement. Both Near-Miss Report Books and Accident Books can be purchased online for £8 each including VAT from: https://bit.ly/3qxacjW
And never forget that some serious near-misses are classified as ‘dangerous occurrences’ and MUST legally be reported to the HSE anyway: https://www.hse.gov.uk/riddor/dangerous-occurences.htm
LEGIONELLA – very important
Legionella is a naturally occurring bacteria in watercourses such as rivers and ponds. The bacteria enter a domestic water system and will thrive at temperatures between 20°C and 45°C.
During the Covid lockdown buildings, or parts of buildings, that would normally have a high-water turnover have been left dormant providing an ideal situation for Legionella bacteria to grow and thrive. There is a potential for multiple outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease caused by the Legionella bacteria (which presents similar symptoms to Covid) following the Covid lockdowns if actions taken now are not carefully considered. It is essential that when buildings, or parts of buildings, reopen following the lifting of Covid restrictions water systems are not simply put straight back to use. Simply reopening a building, or part thereof, that has stood idle without addressing the safety of the water system, is unacceptable and is likely to be in breach of the law. A comprehensive action plan should be derived and implemented using the Legionella Risk Assessment and Written Scheme. Should this not be available professional advice should be sought on the best way forward.
Any water system, with the right environmental conditions, could be a source for Legionella bacteria growth and as an employer, business owner, care provider, landlord (and many more) the right precautions need to be taken and implemented to reduce the risks of exposure to legionella. Therefore, under health and safety legislation there is a legal obligation to carry out a legionella risk assessment of the water services in any workplace or business-related premise, including both commercial and domestic rented properties.
For further information, guidance and Legionella surveys, please contact water hygiene specialists, Clira (www.clira.co.uk ), on 01743-247942 or contact Rachel Griffiths direct on email@example.com
All contractors reading this must, by now, be aware of the absolute need to ensure those who erect tower scaffolds (of all types) are properly trained and competent, and that it has been generally accepted for several decades now, both by the industry and the HSE, that this means taking a PASMA course. A quick 5-minute briefing by the supplier or a read of the instruction manual is NOT acceptable as it will not cover, amongst other things, the correct method of erection necessary to satisfy the Work at Height Regulations 2005.
We trust that everyone out there who has need to erect, alter or dismantle a tower scaffold therefore has a PASMA card – yes? Maybe not – we know from experience that many have not and therefore risk being shut down by the HSE. But how many contractors and site management realise that managers also must, by law, be trained and competent to the correct level?
It is worth reminding everyone that both the Work at Height Regulations and CDM state quite clearly that all work must be properly planned, organised and supervised by a competent person or persons, which means that any manager or supervisor in charge of those erecting, dismantling or using scaffolding must, by law, be appropriately competent and qualified to be able to supervise the work – and that includes tower scaffolds.
It is therefore prudent, if not essential, for site managers and/or supervisors to undertake the 1-day PASMA Towers for Managers course; find a course near you via: https://pasma.co.uk/training/towers-for-managers/
The course, which can be taken with or without holding a PASMA tower erection card, is aimed at ensuring managers and supervisors can recognise ‘good’ practice; it is totally insufficient (and illegal) to rely solely on the competence of the contractors or workers involved, and any site that cannot demonstrate management/supervisory competence as well will attract enforcement from the HSE.
So, what does ‘good’ look like? The course teaches managers/supervisors the principles of safe erection/dismantling including assessing ground conditions and the site environment, potential loadings, understanding the many different configurations and categories, choosing appropriate equipment, ensuring workers have the correct training and competence, and other important factors such as current and possible weather conditions. We can’t go into too much detail in this newsletter, space doesn’t permit, which is why attendance at the Towers for Managers course is vital. But several key points to note:
Those working on the towers but who have not been involved with the erection, etc., don’t have to have a PASMA card. However, everyone working at height must be suitably trained to ‘work at height’ and PASMA also has a very useful half-day Work at Height Novice course which covers, not only use of mobile towers, but an insight into the use of all forms of access equipment: https://pasma.co.uk/training/work-at-height-novice/
A few final points which are worth mentioning:
And lastly, just one recent accident and resultant prosecution resulting from a fall from a tower is highlighted at the end of this newsletter; be warned, be alert and get trained.
There has been an extremely disturbing increase over recent years in the number of ‘safety related incidents’ concerning cable strikes, joint or link box damage, etc. Between July and September 2020 alone, there were 475 reports of cable damage compared to 395 for the same period in 2019 and, over the last 6 years, there was a massive 700% increase in safety-related incidents reported to the HSE. We have to question why this is happening; the legal requirements haven’t changed and there is still a strict necessity for site operatives and management to be NRSW trained to the appropriate level. Therefore, the increase must be as a result of poor management on site and/or potentially from the outset. And every incident could potentially result in a fatality.
To help the situation, the Highways Authorities & Utilities Committee, HAUC(UK), has issued a useful app to help road contractors and workers to avoid damage to underground services. The app, which includes a simple, searchable copy of the Red Book, an interactive checklist and latest updates and advice from the HAUC(UK), is free from: https://app.hauc-uk.org.uk/guidance-on-use-of-the-app
Unfortunately, we are still yet to see a comprehensive, open and easy-to-access central data base of all underground services to make life so much safer, but we live in hope!
FALLOUT FROM GRENFELL
One of the aspects which attracted severe criticism during the ongoing Grenfell Tower Inquiry (https://www.grenfelltowerinquiry.org.uk/ ) is that of poor or fraudulent compliance testing. In this case, the Inquiry focused on the Building Research Establishment (BRE), an organisation responsible on behalf of the Government for certifying the safety of construction materials, which had ‘failed to report’ that fire tests on the
Kingspan insulation used at Grenfell had actually failed. In addition, Kingspan itself had used the erroneous report to write 29 desk-top studies/assessments into the use of the material – desk-top studies, not in-situ, not in the field. Therefore, failed and unreported BRE testing, in conjunction with unsupported Kingspan assessments, appear to have contributed to the 74 deaths at Grenfell.
There are several reasons for reporting this to our clients. Firstly, all parties responsible for designing and installing safety and/or quality related construction materials must be up to date with the latest requirements and must insist on seeing current and appropriate certification. All too often, WHS has witnessed project teams settling for certification which either does not cover the specific materials involved or is several years out of date. When unsure, challenge the materials suppliers; if you need safety-related advice, contact WHS.
Secondly, over recent years, testing and certification has been downgraded in many people’s minds, allowing self-certification to seep in (resulting in a number of serious accidents) and, where external verification is sought, a culture within some testing houses of ‘what result would you like?’ Testing and certification does cost money – but the consequences of going without, or accepting unchallenged what’s provided, can be dire.
The message is, therefore, that designers, project managers, contractors and installers must be properly aware of what certification and testing is required and must critically read what’s given; if in doubt about dates, content or suitability, challenge and seek expert assistance. To not do so can land some or all parties in court.
And do be aware that poor past certification can affect refurbishment of existing structures. The Health & Safety File for each structure built since CDM was enacted in 1994 should contain all relevant certification. If in doubt about the age or relevance of the existing certification (bearing in mind the many changes in Building Regulations and industry standards over the years) or, indeed, if there is no certification for whatever reason, further expert analysis may be required. The team undertaking the current refurbishment is responsible for ensuring safety and this may well include critical analysis of existing materials and upgrading where necessary.
Everyone should know that, when re-joining a motorway from the hard shoulder, it is necessary to speed up to match the speed of the traffic and watch for a safe gap in the traffic before accessing the inside lane (obviously watching out for other vehicles within the hard shoulder whilst doing so). This is enshrined within the Highway Code so must be followed.
However, the advent of so-called ‘smart motorways’ has produced additional risks as the hard shoulder may well now be open for use at certain times and as indicated on the overhead gantries. Emergency areas have been provided for use on smart motorways to avoid risks to those in broken down vehicles within a ‘live’ inside lane. However, it is often impossible to reach one of these emergency areas when a vehicle breaks down; it simply happens too quickly to travel to the safe space. So what should you do?
Highways England have issued the following advice:
This implies that there must be a mobile phone with the vehicle and it is a proposal that having a fully charged mobile phone will be made a legal requirement in the near future, as it is in many other countries already. Apart from any future legal requirement, it is common-sense that drivers should equip themselves with a changed mobile before setting out on any journey.
But what happens when the driver does manage to reach an emergency area? Is it sufficient to contact Highways England using your mobile, and what about re-joining the motorway as there is no safe lane from which to gain speed and feed into the traffic?
Several serious accidents have occurred involving these emergency areas on smart motorways because of their limitations. It is therefore worth pointing out that drivers stopping in one of these must immediately make a call using the emergency telephone provided. This is so that the operator can immediately close off the inside lane (using the gantry signage) to ensure additional safety and to enable the driver to safely exit the emergency area into the (closed) inside lane and gather speed before entering the flow of traffic.
A further change to the Highway Code is being proposed to make it mandatory to use the emergency phone provided but, as this is still in the consultation stage, our advice would be to just do that anyway; the risks of being parked up by, and then re-entering into, live traffic cannot be underestimated.
Work at height
The HSE commented that there were an estimated 36,000 falls from height last year, a shocking 99 per day. Invariably they are found to have been avoidable; most, as with this case, resulted from lack of training, planning and competent supervision.
Note here that, although investigations are ongoing, it was the employing body, Pearson Glass, rather than the contractor who has been prosecuted so far. Under the Health & Safety at Work Act Section 3(1) states that:
“It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”
Clearly, the employing body had failed to ensure that the contractor was both competent for the tasks and properly equipped to undertake the work safely. A salutary lesson for all employers.
A reminder that all scaffold must be properly designed to TG20:13, including provision for wind loadings:
N.B. This is an issue that WHS advisors see on site all the time – Principal Contractors ignoring the content of contractors’ risk assessments (if, indeed, they ask for them at all!) with the result that the work cannot possibly be planned, managed or supervised properly. It is just not good enough to assume that contractors’ risk assessments are adequate – and how can Principal Contractors properly manage the site and tasks if they don’t know how contractors intend to do or control the work?!
Safe systems of work
N.B. This case clearly demonstrates that ANY change in the working method, circumstances or environment MUST be re-assessed. Each incremental change will present different and maybe additional risks and, although each may seem insignificant at the time, they may well build up over time to present a severe risk – as in this case.
Risk assessment is NOT to be done and left on the shelf; risk assessment requires continual review and revision to be sure that any foreseeable risks are controlled BEFORE they become significant.
Equally, NO method of work can be altered or modified without re-assessment and approval by management. Again, small changes may seem harmless BUT they, all too often, build up to present significant risks which remain unseen and unrecognised because management is unaware.
Identify the hazards – assess the risks – control those risks – then…..
CONTINUALLY REVIEW – RE-ASSESS & CONTROL – CONTINUE TO MONITOR
SUITABILITY & EFFECTIVENESS
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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