A belated happy New Year to all our clients. As we slowly recover from the effects of the pandemic (although still be on your guard, it’s certainly not over yet!), let’s reset the clock and concentrate on the important issues of general health & safety within our industry. Statistics show that the concentration on covid controls has had a detrimental effect on safety standards on site; fatality and injury rates have risen significantly. Covid is a killer, yes, but so are falls from height, plant and vehicles, unsupported excavations, buried services, asbestos, dusts and fumes, and all the other issues encountered on site on a daily basis.
If nothing else, the last two difficult years (compounding the current severe staff shortages within construction) will have taught everyone just how vitally important it is to safeguard our valuable workforce. So let’s make 2022 a year to remember by improving health & safety standards right across the industry.
Requirements for the safety of all courses are still evolving so it remains very important that these are followed by all participants. All necessary criteria and restrictions will be personally communicated, both directly at the time of booking and again through joining instructions ahead of all planned courses. It is vital that these are understood and, particularly for the First Aid and CITB courses, relevant information clearly passed to candidates.
And do please be sure to inform us ahead of the course date of any candidate who may require assistance in any way, especially with reading or writing; we need advance notice to be able to provide this help.
Please contact Vicki at Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) on 01952 885885 or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to book places.
In addition to those below, please enquire about other courses available, both classroom and non-classroom based; the full range is also detailed on our website: https://wenlockhealthandsafety.co.uk/
1-day Emergency First-Aid at Work course dates are listed below; strict Covid-specific controls will still apply for the moment and will be advised within the joining instructions. Demand is always high, so book places as soon as possible to avoid disappointment:
28 February 2022 (Monday) – limited space available
24 March 2022 (Thursday)
27 April 2022 (Wednesday)
26 May 2022 (Thursday)
27 June 2022 (Monday)
Cost: £85 + VAT per person
MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID
1-day FAA Award in First Aid for Mental Health (Level 2 RQF), providing the knowledge to recognise a range of mental health conditions, start a supportive conversation and assist to seek professional help.
Date: 7 March 2022 (Monday)
Cost: £85 + VAT per person
UKATA ASBESTOS AWARENESS
Two half-day UKATA asbestos awareness open courses; a.m. and p.m. sessions
Important note: Those who currently hold a UKATA certificate must undertake a further course within the following 12 months, before the certificate expiry date.
Date: 4 March 2022 (Friday)
Cost: £60 + VAT per person
IOSH MANAGING SAFELY
Duration: 3 consecutive days
Dates: 9, 10 & 11 May 2022 (Monday – Wednesday)
Cost: £395 + VAT per person
Duration: 1 day
Date: 28 April 2022 (Thursday)
Cost: £165 + VAT per person
It must be noted that CITB attendance rules are very strict; they must be understood and are reiterated here:
Candidates must arrive by 8.15*am for registration; all courses start at 8.30 am and finish at 4.30 pm.
* Please reiterate to all candidates the absolute need to make their way up to the WHS offices and log in immediately upon arrival to avoid being charged for parking.
Duration: 5 days; 1 day per week
11, 18, 25 March & 1, 8 April 2022 (Fridays)
29 April & 6, 13, 20 & 27 May 2022 (Friday)
22, 29 June & 6, 13, 20 July 2022 (Wednesday)
Cost: £495 + VAT per person
Duration: 2 days
10 & 11 February 2022 (Thursday & Friday)
11 & 12 April 2022 (Monday & Tuesday)
13 & 14 June 2022 (Monday & Tuesday)
Cost: £265 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)
Duration: 2 days
28 & 29 March 2022 (Monday & Tuesday)
16 & 17 May 2022 (Monday & Tuesday)
14 & 15 July 2022 (Thursday & Friday)
Cost: £230 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)
Duration: 1 day
18 February 2022 (Friday)
25 April 2022 (Monday)
20 June 2022 (Monday)
Cost: £160 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)
Duration: 1 day
4 February 2022 (Friday) – fully booked
4 April 2022 (Monday)
10 June 2022 (Friday)
Cost: £125 + VAT per person (10% discount when booking 2 or more people)
A NOTE ABOUT THE MENTAL HEALTH COURSE
In general, the construction industry is still slow to view a deterioration in mental health as a serious condition and, despite the efforts of leading organisations to highlight the issue, many employers will continue to make heavy demands on their employees despite evident signs of stress. In such circumstances, a deterioration in an individual’s mental health can become life-threatening and, it is sad to report, that the statistics speak for themselves. Suicide accounted for 27% of the total number of deaths within the construction industry in 2021.
Mental health conditions are often hidden by individuals due to stigma and the fear of discrimination and this can then lead to a deterioration in efficiency and capability, both of which can prove costly to the employer. It therefore makes absolute sense to safeguard the workforce by being aware of the early signs of a deterioration in the mental health of employees and offering a sympathetic stance to help remedy these situations.
The 1-day FAA Award in First Aid for Mental Health (Level 2 RQF) offered by WHS (see above) provides employers and managers with the knowledge to be able to recognise a range of mental health conditions, start that all-important supportive conversation, help direct a person to seek appropriate professional help, and understand the impact of substance abuse. The course includes a first aid action plan for mental health and gives guidance on how to implement a positive mental health culture within the workplace.
Do book places before it’s too late; it’s worth investing a little time and money to safeguard your workforce.
N.B. See also the HSE’s ‘Working Minds’ website to find out how to protect workers, reduce sickness absences and improve productivity: https://bit.ly/3H8WRHx
WHS SAFETY AWARDS
As we were happy to announce in the December newsletter, two WHS safety awards were presented for 2021, both for Commitment to Site Safety by individual site managers. Here are the winners accepting their awards:
Darren Hands, Site Manager for the Shingler Group Ltd, seen here accepting his award from WHS Consultant, Mark Roberts.
Richard Rees, Site Manager for Fletcher Homes (Shropshire) Ltd, seen here accepting his award from WHS Director and Consultant, Laura Mort.
Both Darren and Richard have worked hard to develop proactive site management on their sites; they are totally committed to improvement, maintaining standards and ensuring the workforce goes home safely at night and they are an absolute credit to our industry. Well done to both of you!
Should you require further information and/or guidance on any of the following items, or wish to discuss how the issues affect your business and/or how best to protect employees, please do contact your WHS consultant or ring the office on 01952-885885; we would be only too pleased to assist.
COVID – IT’S STILL WITH US!
With the Government reducing covid restrictions rapidly over recent weeks, the perception within the general public is that the pandemic is all but over – it isn’t. While it’s certainly true that we all have to get on with our lives, we must still take reasonable precautions and not let our guard drop. And what is increasingly overlooked right now is that those ‘reasonable’ precautions are still a legal requirement at work.
So the HSE, Local Authorities and we at WHS are reminding all employers that it remains a legal requirement to enable adequate ventilation throughout the workplace (according to the size of rooms, number of people, etc), continue to provide sanitiser alongside welfare, and to write that all important covid risk assessment to decide the best approach for your company and to make it plain to employees exactly what is required of them.
The HSE and Local Authorities are still spot-checking businesses, so don’t let your guard down; covid is still with us.
N.B. The HSE has produced guidance on how to balance the need for ventilation against keeping workers warm; simple tips to help employers comply with the law through the cold months: https://bit.ly/3tVimrE
And, as always, the latest Government guidance (which is continually updated) can be found on:
CHANGES TO PPE REGS.
We have highlighted the issue of health & safety for casual workers and volunteers many times within these newsletters; the need to treat ALL persons working for you or under your instruction in whatever guise, paid or unpaid, in the same manner as your own workers. The Health & Safety at Work Act makes all employers responsible for all persons in their ‘employment’ in whatever form that takes.
The current Personal Protective Equipment Regulations will be changing as from 6 April 2022 to reflect this; specifically, the issue of who is responsible for the provision of PPE to casual workers, i.e. those directly engaged by employers but not currently specifically covered by the 1992 Regs. WHS includes unpaid and volunteer workers in this category.
The self-employed are not covered by the new requirements as they are deemed to be contractors (i.e. businesses) in their own right.
The nature of the changes is made plain in HSE guidance:
To check whether individuals engaged by yourselves are included within the new requirements, go to:
And the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations (Amendment) Regulations 2022 themselves are found at:
To make things simple though, the rule of thumb is:
With covid prompting the emphasis on working from home where possible, something that is now likely to stay with us across many UK industries, the HSE reminds all employers that their legal health & safety duties extend to the home occupational workplace. All employers must legally ensure healthy and safe working conditions whenever individuals are carrying out tasks required by that employment within the company premises, external sites, work-related vehicles and at home.
To remind employers of their legal duties, and to assist them in ensuring health & safety for home workers, the HSE has issued general guidance: https://bit.ly/3Azeyh0
which includes guidance on display screen equipment: https://bit.ly/3r27whJ
musculoskeletal disorders: https://bit.ly/3H6iGaD and https://bit.ly/3qYFnIi
stress and mental health (a huge issue when workers are confined to the home):
and, as usual, the vital need for appropriate risk assessment:
There is also guidance for home workers themselves, and it is strongly recommended that these links be passed to the relevant employees and verification kept on file that the documents and video have been viewed and understood by all home workers: https://bit.ly/3ACevRt
including good posture when working with display screen equipment:
https://bit.ly/3rbg1qV and https://bit.ly/3r0OzMc
The HSE has also updated its advice on lone working, something which is prevalent throughout the construction industry and its ancillary occupations, and can of course include home working.
General advice can be found on the HSE’s website: https://bit.ly/3H4bYSJ
and is supported by a freely downloadable leaflet: https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg73.pdf
and a short video: https://bit.ly/3fWNHlB
The HSE has issued a call to all contractors involved in demolition and refurbishment to be exemplary in thoroughly planning, managing and controlling the works. There was a period not long ago where, with the advent of the British Standard for Demolition BS 6187 and the focus placed on the industry by the HSE, planning and management standards increased dramatically, resulting far fewer accidents and a generally far safer industry. Unfortunately, standards seem to have lapsed dramatically recently, resulting in a number of prosecutions during the past year alone involving fatalities and severe injuries during demolition work.
One such prosecution resulted from the tragic death of an employee through nothing short of a total disregard for the safety of anyone in the site area:
Paramjit Singh of SAB Builders had been hired to clear the garden and demolish a garage at a private dwelling to make way for an extension. All but one side of the garage had been demolished; the remaining wall was then left overnight in an unsupported state and without any exclusion zone or signage to warn of its potential instability. Singh returned next morning to demolish the final wall, completely unaware that other employees were on the other side; when he started up his digger, the vibration led to the wall collapsing on an employee who died of severe crush injuries at the scene.
Obviously there had been absolutely no planning, management or control of the site, let alone the risks of the demolition, and Singh was subsequently sentenced to 3 years and 3 months in jail for gross negligence manslaughter.
Unfortunately, with the current demand for construction and demolition work being so high, it does seem to be ‘open house’ for poorly equipped, untrained and unskilled contractors to enter the market – particularly with domestics (where householders would not realise the importance of checking competence) but also evidently in the commercial field because of the enormous gap in the skills market.
Principal contractors and clients should never be tempted to engage those who are not properly trained, health & safety aware, and sufficiently skilled to be able to plan and manage their own work, no matter how urgent the need is; the work will cease altogether if any accident results from poor practices so it’s never ever worth the risk.
To illustrate the last point, WHS was involved many years ago with a site in Wales where a serious accident occurred; the accident happened in August one year and the site wasn’t allowed by the HSE to re-start until the end of January the following year, resulting in huge additional costs for both the client and the contractors.
MOTOR VEHICLE PAINT STRIPPING
The HSE produces a wide range of guidance material for those of you who operate your own vehicle workshops: https://bit.ly/3IEoPLH
In addition, it has also recently updated its guidance for the use of dichloromethane in paint stripping:
and produced two specific advice sheets, DCM0 and DCM3 which are freely downloadable from:
https://bit.ly/3ABtaMF and https://bit.ly/3IEpTiF respectively.
ASBESTOS – THE BELGIAN APPROACH
The Government of Belgium has taken the commendable decision to become ‘asbestos-safe’ by 2040. The Public Waste Agency of Flanders foresees a ‘second wave’ of asbestos-related deaths due to home-DIY (up to now, legal obligations regarding asbestos have only applied to the commercial sector) and also to the deteriorating condition of existing materials which have now been in place for decades.
The Flemish Government issued a decree obliging public authorities to, where possible, remove asbestos from all public buildings constructed before 2001 and to ensure that any remaining asbestos remains in very good condition, properly documented and monitored for deterioration.
Note that the aim is for the country to become ‘asbestos-safe’ rather than asbestos-free and, to that end, there is now an obligation on house owners to establish inventories of where there may be asbestos in their own homes. This is a huge step forward – and one which other countries should introduce given the still prevalent lack of knowledge amongst both contractors in the domestic market and house holders themselves.
It is a sad fact that members of the public are all too easily, and unwittingly, affected by exposure to asbestos. For instance, the very sad case of a 35-year-old woman diagnosed with mesothelioma apparently picked up as a baby when she crawled on an asbestos/dust covered floor during house renovation. Asbestos is an extremely serious issue and our Government should be looking to follow Belgium’s lead to safeguard everyone.
DUSTS – A PRO-ACTIVE APPROACH
Following on from above, ALL types of dusts are potential health hazards, some (like silica, flour and wood dusts) being more hazardous than others. Many industries (construction, wood working, fabricating, milling, baking, etc) have to deal with significantly high levels of dusts and many legal requirements are in place to ensure the safety of workers within those industries.
Pulsar Instruments Plc (www.pulsarinstruments.com) has produced a new, wearable, self-contained personal dust monitoring device to enable employers to protect their employees against hazardous dust levels before it’s too late. The XD One is easy to use, durable and delivers real-time detection of dust harmful particles:
It may be viewed as a fairly expensive piece of kit but in many working environments (such as wood working and flour mills), the expense is far outweighed by peace of mind; where this device is used, there will be no claims for respiratory disease and no HSE enforcement!
THE HIGHWAY CODE – IMPORTANT CHANGES
Important changes have been made to the Highway Code with the main aim of giving greater protection to pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. Changes have been introduced in eight important areas:
1. A new hierarchy of road users; those most vulnerable (pedestrians, cyclists, etc) are given
2. Crossing the road at junctions *
3. Walking, cycling or riding in shared spaces
4. Positioning in the road when cycling
5. Overtaking when driving or cycling
6. Cycling at junctions
7. People cycling, riding horses and driving horse-drawn vehicles on roundabouts
8. Parking and exiting vehicles **, charging and leaving electrical vehicles
* (Item 2) The updated code requires that:
* (Item 8; parking and exiting vehicles) The updated code requires that:
The two items highlighted above involve the greatest change to our way of thinking; pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, horse riders and other vulnerable road and pavement users are given priority in all cases. It is vital that all drivers and motorcyclists understand exactly what all the changes entail and adhere strictly to the new rules; to ignore them may (and most certainly will in the case of a resulting accident) result in prosecution.
Make yourself and your employees fully aware of ALL of these new rules: https://bit.ly/3o2JBNk
Firstly, we highlight a case that clearly demonstrates where the responsibility for site safety lies.
A recent prosecution arose from a worker suffered serious head injuries when he fell from an existing factory mezzanine floor. Guardrails were already in place along one section of the mezzanine, with a barrier rail also in place to prevent access to an unguarded section; further guardrails were to be installed along that barriered section to provide additional storage space. The factory manager had engaged a contractor to carry out the work; the contractor had then sub-contracted the work to another company. The work included lifting wooden boards to stack on the unguarded section; to do that, the sub-contractor and his worker removed the barrier rail, resulting in the worker falling from this unguarded section.
As the work involved three parties (the client, the main contractor and the sub-contractor), the question is, who is responsible for the accident? Was it the client who had clearly failed to engage a competent contractor? Was it the main contractor who had been directly engaged to carry out the work? Or was it the sub-contractor who actually carried out the work?
The judge cleared the client of any breach of health & safety law because he had no knowledge of construction and, although all clients have a duty of care towards all indirectly employed persons, he had no idea that the barrier was going to be removed.
The main contractor, who should have taken up the appointment as principal contractor and was therefore in overall charge of safety on site, was certainly liable because he had failed to plan, manage and monitor the work as is his strict legal (CDM) duty.
However, the sub-contractor had also failed to plan and manage the work safely and in accordance with the Work at Height Regs; it was his decision to remove the barrier rail.
The judge therefore apportioned blame equally to both contractors because neither had carried out their legal duties to plan a safe system of work, manage safety and, in the case of the main contractor, monitor what was happening at the workface.
In our experience, the blurring of the lines of responsibility (i.e. the presumed dissemination of responsibility down the chain) is all too common. Contractors at all levels must take their legal duties seriously and plan, manage and monitor the works themselves; contractors cannot divorce themselves from their legal duties by engaging others to do the work.
So, on to examples of other recent prosecutions and, as usual, the issues of work at height and asbestos still predominate:
Work at height
In addition, the building owner, Pearsons Glass, had been previously found guilty under the Health & Safety at Work etc Act (Section 3) for not taking reasonable care to ensure the safety of indirectly employed persons; the company was fined a total of almost £87,000. This was because Pearsons would (or should) have had full knowledge of the fragility of the roof and it would, therefore, have been reasonable to expect the company to ensure that AJM established appropriate safety measure.
The scale of the fine reflected the fact that the resultant health conditions became permanent and life-changing for the employees involved; vibration is a very serious health risk and must be properly controlled.
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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