It is with heartfelt thanks and gratitude for his service with Wenlock Health & Safety Ltd (WHS) that we say a fond farewell to Health & Safety Consultant, Charles Yates.
Charles joined our team in September 2018 and rapidly became a well-respected and valued advisor to his personal clients. He retired on 30 April 2021 but might well be seen occasionally delivering a first-aid course or two. In the meantime, all Charles’s clients will be re-allocated to either Laura (07791-670987) or Emma (07811-417888) who will become their main points of contact from now on; please ring the office (01952-885885) if you’re in any doubt.
We wish Charles a very happy and safe retirement, and sincerely thank him for the very valuable contribution he has made to the continuing and admirable reputation of WHS.
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 any necessary Covid-related controls.
WHS has taken the decision to retain some restrictions until at least June; 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, particularly for the First Aid and CITB courses, 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.
Please enquire about other courses available, both classroom and non-classroom based; the full range is also detailed on our website:
*Some companies have evidently failed to pass on relevant covid-related information to their employees in the past about what they need to bring with them when attending courses; as a result, some candidates have been without refreshments etc. Please do ensure joining instructions are passed on to the candidates.
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 expected to be high, so book places as soon as possible to avoid disappointment:
Cost: £85 + VAT per person
A 3-day IOSH Managing Safely course:
Cost: £395 + VAT per person
RESTRICTIONS STILL APPLY!
It is important to reiterate that, despite the general feeling that things may be getting back to some normality with the declining Covid death and hospitalisation rates, some restrictions (very sensibly) still apply; any hasty loosening of controls will invite another wave, which is something that everyone is desperate to avoid.
WHS has seen a general decline in the implementation and enforcement of controls across sites – the general perception seems to be that, with the very successful and rapid roll-out of the vaccination programme, vaccinated individuals no longer need to be careful. Firstly, large numbers of workers have still not yet been vaccinated so are still vulnerable. Secondly, even those who have received the second dose can still contract and pass on the virus so colleagues, friends and family can still be vulnerable
Having both doses of the vaccine does not mean the guidelines and controls don’t apply; they do, and the law can still be brought to bear for violations. It’s vital that employers continue to implement and enforce the necessary controls in and around any workplace until the government advice changes; the HSE and local councils are still monitoring premises and enforcing where necessary.
To quote an excerpt from the Government website:
*After you’ve had the vaccine will you still need to follow all the infection control advice?
The vaccine cannot give you COVID-19 infection, and 2 doses will reduce your chance of becoming seriously ill. No vaccine is completely effective and it will take a few weeks for your body to build up protection.
So, you will still need to follow the guidance in your workplace, including wearing the correct personal protection equipment and taking part in any screening programmes.
To continue to protect yourself, your patients, your family, friends and colleagues you should follow the general advice at work, at home and when you are out and about:
Always refer to the Government website before both establishing and/or modifying controls:
HSE COVID UPDATES & ADVICE
The HSE has published a range of Covid-related guidance and information to help keep workplaces Covid-secure as restrictions are eased and we try and get back to some semblance of normality.
And the HSE would like to remind all businesses that there is still a need for Covid to be addressed in the legally required risk assessments which must cover ALL areas of work in ALL work premises, including offices; the HSE is out enforcing this right now.
STRESS TALKING TOOLKIT
Developed specifically for the construction industry, the HSE has published a Work-Related Stress Talking Toolkit* as a valuable and user-friendly first step to promoting positive mental health, supporting those in need and preventing a potentially destructive decline in well-being.
*The Toolkit doesn’t literally talk; it’s published in pdf but encourages help through a series of face-to-face structured discussions and support.
This is the first product introduced to help with the specific issues within various industries in mind and is aimed primarily at small to medium-sized businesses.
CAMPAIGN ON WELDING FUME etc
And continuing its current emphasis on the prevention of lung disease and damage, the HSE is drawing attention to the following in-depth information and guidance. Bearing in mind that the current HSE campaign can target any industry, business and/or premises where work could potentially pose a risk to the respiratory health or workers (obviously including the construction industry), it would be prudent to review all your systems and controls to ensure you and/or your sites won’t be caught out should the HSE visit.
The HSE has recently revised its noise exposure and hearing protection calculators which are designed to help work out how much workers are or may be exposed to on a daily and weekly basis, estimate the performance of hearing protection and thereby assess/re-assess necessary controls to keep within legal limits. The ready-reckoners can be printed for easy completion by hand.
ASBESTOS CONTINUES TO KILL
Following on from the references to lung cancer and respiratory diseases above, it is absolutely astonishing to realise that work-related cancers claim at least 742,000 lives a year worldwide (bearing in mind this is only a conservative estimate as, of course, many countries don’t document work-related deaths at all).
And even more disturbing that upward of 230,000 of these deaths relate to exposure to asbestos.
This figure, first published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in 2018, dwarfs the previous estimate of 107,000 and, not only proves that the figure cannot be substantiated (again, this has to be a very conservative estimate as many countries still continue to extract the mineral, manufacture asbestos-based products and totally fail to control exposure), but also draws attention to the immeasurable harm done to workers and the public alike from an issue which can easily to controlled if governments and businesses have the will.
All WHS contractors, designers and developers (unless they can honestly say, hand on heart, that they will never come into contact with asbestos-related materials, ACMS, e.g. road contractors) should have, by now, have established a regular programme of asbestos awareness training (minimum) as required by the HSE; if not, ring the WHS office immediately on 01952-885885.
Training into the legally required controls and awareness of the life-threatening issues is the best way to ensure the safety of workers and those members of the public affected, and the HSE reflect this with the very high level of enforcement and prosecutions.
To help with this, and to ensure the spotlight stays on this issue of asbestos (an issue that is unlikely to go away for decades, if at all), the Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (IOSH) launched its No Time to Lose Campaign in 2018 with the aim of raising awareness throughout UK industry and beyond. The Campaign also provides very valuable and freely downloadable resources and advice about asbestos and harm prevention:
A survey conducted on the third anniversary of the Campaign found that a third of tradespeople contracted never checked the asbestos register before starting work, and half of those weren’t even aware that there has to (legally) be an asbestos register at each commercial premises and that they would be responsible for a survey when working in domestic premises.
No wonder 5,000 people die each year in this country from mesothelioma alone; total figures for deaths from all asbestos-related diseases aren’t available but are estimated at around 10,000. And all asbestos-related diseases are incurable but totally preventable. In the 21st century, it is inexcusable that anyone (worker or public) is exposed to asbestos when all the specific legislation and mechanisms for safe working have been in place for decades. Remember (to quote IOSH):
Prevention remains the only cure
WORK AT HEIGHT
We drew attention in the April newsletter to the No Fall Foundation, a new charitable body that aims to promote education and awareness of the safety issues and best practice relating to work at height, promote the work of the HSE and related industry bodies such as the NASC, IPAF, PASMA and the Ladder Association, and to support those whose lives have been changed by falls.
The latest Foundation newsletter also highlighted the very disturbing story of Suffolk County Council Trading Standards’ recent interception of a very dangerous and illegal batch of imported telescopic standing ladders.
Although the ladders appeared to have the correct EN131 and some other correct safety labels, others were either missing or incorrect, prompting investigation and testing – with quite horrendous results!
This story just goes to prove that all safety-related items, whether it be plant, equipment, PPE or materials, must be purchased through reputable dealers. NEVER cut corners; NEVER be tempted to buy cheap. Low prices will mean low standards and probably illegal items: low standards will risk serious harm or death.
A guide to the single legal standard for ladders, EN131, can be found on the Ladder Association’s website:
ACCESS SAFETY IN TIGHT SPACES
Do you need to access a tight space? Do you have difficulty working out what access equipment is appropriate? The new Ecolift from JLG fits the bill perfectly, is reasonably priced and, alternatively, is widely available from plant hirers:
Coming in at just 0.7m width and 1.28m length, the Ecolift can reach a platform height of up to 2.2m, giving access to heights of up to 4.2m – sufficiently small to slip into those really tight spaces. In addition, it’s called the Ecolift for very good reasons because it’s battery, power and oil free, so virtually maintenance- and running-cost-free.
It is prudent to use ‘push around vertical equipment’ where possible (to avoid the risks associated with mechanised equipment) and this, again, fits the bill perfectly being lightweight and easy to manually manoeuvre but with a safe working load of 150kg (1 person + tools). And, as an added bonus, IPAF (the International Powered Access Federation, the industry leader in powered access to height) has a specific Push Around Vertical Course (IPAF-PAV) for users.
With the advent of the Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (not to mention the general health & safety duties within the Health & Safety at Work Act going way back to 1974), occupational hearing loss and tinnitus should be a thing of the past. Sadly, it isn’t and many are still subjected to unreasonably high levels of noise of spells of exposure. Obviously, noise exposure can occur at home as well as at work (rock concerts can still break the sound barrier!) and it’s up to all of us to take care of ourselves. But there’s no excuse these days for legal requirements to be ignored or unenforced (refer to the article above about the HSE Noise Calculator).
Noise exposure can result in, not only deafness, but a range of other debilitating conditions as well such as tinnitus (ringing in the ears). It may sound improbable but tinnitus can become so intense that it’s becomes all-consuming and, in at least one case, has resulted in suicide.
Chris Martin of Coldplay spoke out last year about how debilitating his tinnitus had become over the years. He had apparently ignored the initial signs of tinnitus, developed as a young lad listening to loud rock music, and then performed without hearing protection when he joined Coldplay in 1996. Like with so many musicians, hearing loss isn’t taken seriously but the consequences have been profound for Chris and he’s now an advocate for spreading awareness of the issue within the industry.
Admittedly, rock music is perhaps an extreme example of exposure to unreasonable noise levels – but there are still regular prosecutions against business for failing to assess and control noise exposure for their employees. Now may the time to go back and review what you have in place before it’s too late. Make sure you know the noise levels for all equipment – but also make sure you know the likely total noise levels when several pieces are working at once. How long is each employee exposed to noise and what controls are in place (remember that, legally, PPE is a ‘last resort’ only)? And is health surveillance in place?
As highlighted before, the HSE has a long-term campaign to enforce health surveillance so take notice of the HSE advice about what’s required relating to noise, as well as COSHH and vibration:
COVID FINANCIAL SUPPORT
For those self-employed workers who haven’t yet received financial support when their work has ceased due to Covid, it may be advisable to log into the Government’s gov.uk website to see whether you can claim a grant against the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS):
This tranche of the grant will cover 80% of 3 months’ average trading profit and can be claimed from April 2021. If this doesn’t affect you, maybe you know of friends or relatives who could benefit? It covers all industries.
In addition, for workers who have to work from home (either normally or due to Covid) can claim tax relief of £6 per week to cover costs. Not a huge amount but every little helps, as they say!
NATIONAL LIVING WAGE
There are a few increases in statutory rates from April 2021 of which everyone should be aware.
New National Living Wage (NLW) for:
23+ year olds – £8.91/hour – note the threshold has decreased to include 23 and 24 year-olds
21-22 years – £8.36/hour
18-20 years – £6.56/hour
16-17 years – £4.62/hour
New maternity/paternity/etc – £151.97/week
New sick pay – £96.35/week
New max limit for redundancy calculations – £544/week
The Government’s Kickstart Scheme (which aims to give young people a helping hand because of obstacles through Covid) currently runs to 31 December 2021. It provides 100% NLW, NI and pension contributions for 25 hours a week work by 16-24 year-olds; employers can pay more voluntarily. However, the posts must be new; they cannot be existing roles or vacancies.
As an interesting footnote, NASC report than over 400 Kickstart places have been successfully provided by 77 of its members – a great example of the huge potential of this scheme in the construction industry:
Work at height…as usual
We usually concentrate on prosecutions; however, these alone don’t give a fair picture of just how bad the situation still is after so many years of specific work at height legislation, developed best practice and HSE campaigns. So, this time we begin by including a number (but not an exhaustive list – there are many, many more) of recent deaths and serious injuries related to work at height which are pending HSE investigation.
Although the majority of these cases relate to construction, it must be reiterated that health & safety legislation, including the Work at Height Regulations 2005, applies to ALL industries. So, just stop and think before you send someone up to the gutters to inspect them, up a ladder to erect a sign, onto the roof to find that leak, onto that piece of plant for cleaning, etc., etc. Every task off the ground is covered by legislation, and prosecution will result from an accident in any industry.
Work at height…and still the prosecutions keep coming
And in April alone:
Just note how many of these prosecutions have resulted from observations, not accidents.
During April 2021 alone, there were 9 prosecutions with a total of £1,189,219 in fines alone being levied, plus significant HSE and court costs attached to each. An accident may result, not only in a death, it may also result in the death of the offending company.
And just a final note of warning, just in case anyone is tempted not to report an accident:
Paul Adams, trading as Surrey Conversions, was jailed for 24 weeks and ordered to pay costs of over £2,000 for failing to report an accident on his site that resulted in an amputation.
This case demonstrates both the legal responsibility to report and the high importance placed on investigation to prevent recurrence.
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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