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.
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
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 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 premises 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 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
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 has commented that there were an estimated 36,000 falls from height last year, a shocking 99 per day. Most are found to have been avoidable, resulting from poor training, planning and competent supervision.
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.
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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