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Work at Height

We are proud of what our clients achieve in their work and would like to share what they do with you. Working at height is an everyday task for some of them.

RF Fixing Ltd has extensive experience in all aspects and systems of curtain wall installation. Providing a professional, reliable service and with an impeccable health and safety record, they pride themselves on delivering projects safely, on time and within budget. We are proud to be a part of their team.

For more information and to see some of the other projects RF Fixing Limited has completed visit their website.

 http://www.rffixing.co.uk/projects/

 

 

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Display Screen Equipment

Display Screen Equipment (DSE) i.e computer workstations, laptops and other VDU’s can sometimes be associated with neck, shoulder, wrist and arm pain. VDU’s can also cause eyestrain and fatigue. In offices and places of work the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 as amended by the Health and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2002 give advice and recommendations on how to use workstations in a way that helps controls the risk to the body and health. Display screen occupations include word processing workers, data imputers, typists, journalists,  financial dealers,  librarians and  web analysts. There are other occupations that involve working with visual display equipment that is a bit different from the normal visual display unit, these include air traffic controllers and security room operatives. Although there may be different kinds of screens used, there is still the risk of strain to the body. Emplyers should ensure that the regulations are adhered to and that the employees understand them.

For the display screen itself the characters should be well-defined and clearly formed. The image on the screen should be stable with no flickering or other forms of instability. The brightness and contrast should be easily controlled by the operator and the screen should swivel and tilt easily. If possible, the screen should be free of reflective glare that could cause discomfort. The keyboard should be tiltable so to avoid fatigue to the arms and hands. The work surface that the computer or laptop is on should be sufficiently large with a low reflective surface. One should be able to arrange their documents and related equipment comfortably around the VDU. The work chair should be stable and allow the user to adjust it with ease. The back of the seat should be adjustable both in tilt and height.

Suitable lighting is necessary for the working environment; there should be appropriate lighting between the background and the screen environment. Workstations should be designed so that sources of light from windows and other openings don’t cause glare on the screen. There should not be continuous disturbing noise from the workstation, for example from a printer nearby. There should not be excessive heat or radiation coming from parts of the workstation. An adequate level of humidity should be established.

One of the main concerns with any workstation is the eyes. The regulations require employers to provide users with eye tests if they so require. Special corrective appliances (ie glasses) should be provided by the employer where it meets the requirements of the DSE regulations in the use of the DSE equipment.

Sources

http://www.hse.gov.uk/

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Work at Height

10 million workers are estimated to be carrying out jobs involved in working at height every year in the UK. Falls are the biggest causes of death and injury. However, if one uses their safety harness and work at height gear properly (see video below!) all should be ok.

There are some very simple approaches to considering whether to work at height in the first place. If it is “reasonably practicable” not to work at height, then one shouldn’t. It work at height is necessary, one should minimise the distance of a possible fall.

The law (Work at Height Regulations 2005) says that ladders can be used for work at height, if a higher level of fall protection is not justified because of the low risk and short duration of use. The ladder must be secured on level and stable ground. If one is required to stay on a leaning ladder for 30 minutes or more, then alternative work at height equipment should be used. There are a few myths surrounding the use of ladders…ladders are not banned from building sites if it’s sensible to use them…one does not have to be qualified to use a ladder, just competent…and walking up and down of stairs in one’s course of work is not working at height…

Fall arrest equipment and safety harnesses can be used on a work site to prevent falls. For example, a lanyard connected to an anchorage point restricting the distance a worker can go, hence preventing him/her from reaching the edge. A lanyard may have a shock absorber attached to it. The best anchorage point for a harness is above head level. If a worker does fall while having a safety harness, he/she must be rescued within an average of 18 minutes or they may suffer health effects due to suspension trauma.

When erecting a scaffolding system, falls can be prevented by erecting an advance guard rail system. This is where temporary guard rail units are locked in place from below. They are in place before the operator accesses the platform to fit the permanent guard rails. If this cannot be done, workers can wear a safety harness to arrest any falls during its construction. If using a scaffold tower, it should have safety features such as an exit and entry door. Guardrails must be fitted with an inbuilt access ladder or staircase. Scaffold towers must be built by a competent person and inspected regularly.

Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (MEWPs), if used, should have guard rails for arresting falls. A harness could also be used by the worker to further protect them. MEWP’s should not be used in extreme weather conditions as they can become unstable. They shouldn’t be operated near overhead cables or power lines.

So, if one is an employer, controls work at height or works for themselves, then they have responsibilities under UK law. All work at height must be properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people. All the appropriate equipment must be used and maintained, the work area risk assessed and hazards mitigated against.

Sources

https://www.gov.uk

www.Slideshare.net

http://www.hse.gov.uk

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Pallet Safety

PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998) covers the safety of work equipment involving pallets and the use of them. The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 is also applicable. These regulations cover the hazards and risks of using pallets in the work place. Pallets consist of a flat platform that are used with forklift trucks or other transportation means. They are used to transport goods between distances and to stack at height.

Incorrect use of pallets and falling pallets can cause many accidents in warehouses and storage facilities. Different pallets need to be used for different loads. For example, pallets used for carrying boxes of pens will be different from pallets needed for carrying heavy electrical equipment. Considerations should be given to the pallet load, i.e will it be liquid, solid or powder. Considerations should be given to the type of restraints used, pallet stacking, the pallet climate (i.e. in a cold warehouse or a hot house) and what the pallet is made out of. Pallets can be moved in different ways, i.e by forklift, cranes, automated equipment and bar slings – these all need to be risk assessed. Pallets need to be properly maintained. Re-usable pallets should be marked as such. Pallets should not be dragged along the ground as this can result in fraying and fatigue cracks. When goods are unloaded from one level to another, and there is a risk of injury, so forklift operators should be protected.

Pallets can be made out of different materials, i.e. wood, plastic, pressed wood, corrugated cardboard, and metal. Wooden pallets should be fastened at each end with two or more nails. The wood should not be rotting or fraying apart. Plastic pallets can be susceptible to brittle fracture in cold environments. They should be checked so that they are not distorted by heat or cold temperatures or chemical environments. Pressed wood and corrugated cardboard pallets should not have signs of water retention or flaking. Metal pallets should not be corroded or damaged in any way.

Pallets handled by a crane should only be fitted by a suitable attachment. Forklift operators should ensure that the forks are spaced so that maximum support is given to the pallet.  Both pedestrians and moving vehicles (i.e forklifts) in a warehouse need to be able to move freely. Warehouses should be designed to reduce the risks from reversing vehicles and driveways should be clear. General health and safety should be clearly communicated for all in these kinds of work environments.

Forklifts out of control!!!

Sources

http://www.hse.gov.uk/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hdz7T3dNlWg

 

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5 Star Certification Success

Success for TEAMFORCE Labour

Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme (RISQS)

Following preparation with our team and an audit by Achilles in June this year, we are pleased to announce that TEAMFORCE Labour (www.teamforcelabour.co.uk) has had its certification against the Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme (RISQS) renewed for another 12 months.

TEAMFORCE supplies and recruits labour and specialists in the following industries, civil, construction and railways. This accreditation enables them to continue to provide  its customers with talented and dedicated people. The TEAMFORCE strong ethos and investment into Health & Safety, advanced systems and processes will ensure that personnel carry out their work safely and effectively.

The audit was particularly successful and resulted in Team Force being awarded a 5 star rating from Achilles, the highest available.

The 5 star rating is designated when the highest standards have been consistently maintained over 2 consecutive years.

Gerry McCarthy (Managing Director) stated, “The five-star rating means that TEAMFORCE Labour continues to be formally recognised as a capable provider of services to the Rail industry. We achieved the highest rating by successfully proving we have robust processes, procedures and documentation in place. This achievement is as a result of the continuous team work in the company.  Achieving this 5-star rating increases our visibility to Network Rail, LUL/Transport for London, passenger, light rail and freight train operators, rolling stock organisations, main infrastructure contractors and other rail products and services providers in the management of supply chain risk”.

What is RISQS?

RISQS, formerly known as Achilles Link-up, has been developed to provide a service for the qualification of suppliers for all products and services that are procured by the industry. RISQS supports Network Rail, LUL/Transport for London, passenger, light rail and freight train operators, rolling stock organisations, main infrastructure contractors and other rail products and services providers in the management of supply chain risk.

For more information about RISQS please contact our team to discuss.

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Respiratory priority areas – workplace awareness

Occupational respiratory disease is a big issue. Every year there are approximately 12 000 deaths due to occupational respiratory diseases. There are many trades and industries where by workers may be putting their lives and health at risk. If not taking precautions and ignoring the fumes within the air around them, workers may be prone to long term illnesses. Although a respiratory disease may arise in any industry, the main sectors include agricultural workers, construction workers, welders, bakery workers and vehicle paint sprayers.

Whilst some illnesses may be clearly linked to work, others may have a ‘latency’ period, some up to 30 years, which can make the link between work and the development of the disease difficult to establish. Respiratory diseases include asthma, COPD (Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and silicosis.

Workers in agriculture can be exposed to high levels of dust and micro-organisms. Grain workers include those who harvest, dry, store and transport grain. Those who look after livestock, are involved in vegetable cultivation and straw bailing are susceptible to contracting respiratory disorders. Bakery workers who work with high levels of flour dust and enzyme improvers are also susceptible.

For quarry and stone workers, the main risks here is exposure to dust and crystalline silica. Key activities of where exposures occur include stone masonry, demolition and stone floor laying. There is much awareness from professional organisations and suppliers about the risks of silica. Interventions have included leaflets outlining the dangers of working with dust, and, there have been events for employers to raise awareness. There is also a foundry worker initiative. Welding can give off airborne gases and very fine particles. If inhaled, can lead to a number of respiratory diseases. If there is mining of high silica stone, working in sand pits and blasting, there can also be health risks. Vehicle paint sprayers may contract occupational paint asthma from isocyanate paints.

Respiratory Protective Equipment

Other reasonable controls must be put in place before resorting to respiratory protective equipment (RPE). RPE should be used for short term and infrequent use only. It must be worn correctly and maintained. If, according to a risk assessment and adhering to the law, RPE must be used, then it must be suitable for the intended use, be right for the wearer, task and environment, and be properly integrated into the normal workplace environment. RPE must be manufactured according to the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002. It must have a CE mark on it; this will indicate that it has met the minimum legal requirements for its design. In addition to the COSHH Regulations 2002, RPE may be needed to comply with other legislation. This may include the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012, Control of Lead at Work Regulations 2002, Ionising Radiations Regulations 1999, Confined Spaces Regulations 1997 and the basic requirement of Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, to which it is always necessary to maintain a safe working environment for employees.

Source  http://www.hse.gov.uk/

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Exercises to help alleviate muscle fatigue in sedentary work

There are many exercises that can be done which may alleviate the discomfort or even eliminate the onset of serious musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s). MSDs cover any injury, damage or disorder to the joints of the upper/lower limbs or the back. Work-related MSDs develop over time and can also result from fractures sustained in an accident. Symptoms include muscle spasms, cramping and stiffness, pain and numbness in the joints, numbness or weakness in one leg, pain in the back or buttocks and repetitive strain injury. Causes of MSD’s include keyboard work and repetitive actions, working in tiring and awkward positions, manual handling (pushing, carrying, lifting), climbing stairs and standing in the same position, such as in retail and conveyor factory work. Repetitive work, without allowing time for sufficient recovery can cause muscle fatigue and inflammation.

Since performing exercises whilst at work is likely to cause interruptions, they would need to be performed during work breaks. Breaks should allow workers to vary their posture and should be taken before workers start getting tired, as it is more difficult to bounce back if one is already severely fatigued. Short, frequent breaks are more satisfactory than prolonged occasional breaks. The prevention of MSD’s could be overcome by appropriate work place design and the scheduling of short breaks and stretches. Task variation during periods of repetitive work, such as postural changes, may significantly help reduce muscle fatigue. Breaks that include physical stretching of the body may be more beneficial than just passive breaks.

Whether using a computer work station or at some other sedentary task, one of the first areas to elicit pain is the eye area, due to straining at the screen or at some close object. Exercises to alleviate pain include blinking the eyes more frequently and focusing on distant objects (causes less strain than focusing on nearer objects). If the neck is kept in a certain position over longer periods, upper limb disorders may develop. Neck glides are suggested to alleviate any discomfort. To do this, one should sit up straight, and glide the head back as far as it will go. Then glide forward and repeat 3 times. Shoulder shrugs can be done to help. To perform a shoulder shrug, one needs to sit up straight and bring the shoulders up towards the ears and repeat 3 times. Upper back stretches consist of raising the hands to rest on the shoulders, using the arms to push shoulders back. Keeping elbows down, this should be help for 15 seconds and repeated 3 times. For the hands, a forward press of the hands include gently unlocking ones’ fingers and keeping the psalms away from the body, gently stretching the forearm muscles, fingers and the muscles between the shoulder blades.

Even though some exercises may result in the work flow being interrupted, it is imperative to consider a way of integrating them into the daily work plan. Even though some of these exercises are conspicuous and may cause some embarrassment  (especially when doing them in a busy office!) there is no doubt that some kind of frequent daily stretching can increase circulation, productivity and alertness.

Sources

http://www.hse.gov.uk/

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Swimming Pool Health and Safety

There are many risks associated with public and private swimming pools. Pool owners (including local authority clients), architects, engineers, designers and pool hirers need to have a vigilant awareness of safety in leisure pool activities. The HSE is the enforcing authority for pools occupied by local authorities, the defence force and educational establishments. All other pool establishments are regulated by local authorities (i.e in accordance with the Health and Safety (Enforcing Authorities) Regulations 1998). Also, the HSWA places duties on all (employers, employees and the self-employed) to ensure that all and the public are not affected adversely. There is much more legislation applicable, from the Diving at Work Regulations 1997 to Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 to RIDDOR, among others. The main parts of all UK law regarding public and employee health and safety can in some way be applied to the operation and management of swimming pools.

As well as a policy statement and risk assessment, a written Pool Safety Operating Procedure (PSOP) should be created. This should set out how the pool operates on a daily basis. It will include details of the equipment, manner of use and any hazards or activity related risks. It should set out what staff should do in the event of an emergency. It should set out how training is done and a record of regular checks to ensure compliance. All operators of pool facilities must report accidents according to RIDDOR.

Lifeguards should be effectively trained in how to carry out their role (preferably hold a qualification awarded by an appropriate national body). Life guards must also have knowledge of the enactment of legislation, e.g COSHH, HSW Act, RIDDOR, PPE, etc. They should understand cleanliness, hygiene, pool cleaning, pool water clarity, blind spots and first aid equipment. Lifeguards should use a facemask to separate themselves from direct contact with the casualty. The air supplied to casualties can be enriched by the supply of oxygen through suitable face masks.

There should be safety signs at appropriate places in the pool. The signs can include mandatory warning signs, emergency escape or first aid signs. Prohibition signs such as used for ‘no diving’ may also be needed in a pool. If there are sudden changes in the depth of the pool this should be clearly marked. The pool tank edge should be colour contrasted with the pool. The pool surrounds should be designed in such a way that the public do not get congested and there is free flow of bathers. If diving is allowed, springboards should only be installed over a separate purpose-designed pool. If pool hoists are part of the pool equipment, they should allow those with a disability to gain access to the pool, either with or without assistance.

Sources

http://www.hse.gov.uk/

 

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Asbestos: How to approach working with it

Working with and managing asbestos containing materials is classified as being either non-licenced work, notifiable non-licenced work or licenced work. To determine whether the work is licensable or non-licensable, a risk assessment needs to be carried out by professionals. The risk assessment should include the details of the type and quantity of the asbestos, the expected level of exposure, how exposure will be reduced (for example, using PPE/RPE, controlled wetting, ventilation), decontamination procedures, how the waste will be managed and emergency procedures.

Licenced higher risk asbestos work includes that where the asbestos is not sporadic and is of low density, i.e it is difficult to control the spread of it while working with it. Higher risk also includes work where the risk assessment cannot clearly demonstrate that the control limit will not exceed 0.1 asbestos fibres per centimetre of air. Licenced work can include, for example, work with asbestos insulation and where the risk assessment demonstrates that the work is not of short duration.

Notifiable non-licenced work (NNLW) is work where the employer / controller must report the work to the relevant authority, must ensure medical examinations are carried out and maintain registers of work. The more friable the material being worked on, the more of a hazard it will be. Most work that involves friable materials will be NNLW and the least friable work will be non-reportable. Friable means where the asbestos is likely to be a powder or expose itself to the air. Examples of notifiable non-licensed work includes that where asbestos insulating boards are removed, work involving asbestos insulation and removal of asbestos cement products. This kind of work can also include the removal of decorative coatings using steaming or gelling methods.

The third type of asbestos removal or working on it, is that which is non-licenced. If the risk assessment dictates that this can be carried out, this work can include cleaning up small quantities of fine debris and short duration work. This work can also include drilling of textured decorative coatings for insulation of fixtures and the maintenance of asbestos products. It can also include maintenance work, example, painting an asbestos board that is in good condition.

The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 outlines how the carefully work with asbestos. These regulation procedures are too exhaustive to mention here but they cover everything from preparing the area worked on to waste disposal. Employers and those in control of managing asbestos have a duty to comply with these regulations. Asbestos awareness training would be mandatory for employees if they are working on a building in such a way that there is a risk of asbestos becoming exposed. Emergency and medical procedures should be in place in case a hazard becomes reality.

Sources

http://www.hse.gov.uk/

Image credit

https://www.morguefile.com/creative/Alvimann

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Environmental Laws

The Environment Agency (EA) was created in 1995. It is sponsored by the UK’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The EA and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) work together to protect the environment, employees and the general public. The EA is one of the regulators under the Environmental Permitting Regulations. The EA has control over issuing permits for waste management, water activities, farming and radioactive substances.

The Environment Agency (EA) is the principal flood risk management operating authority. It uses its resources to reduce the likelihood of flooding. The EA has an important role in conservation and the ecology along the rivers and wetlands. It controls the release of pollutants into the air from industry. The EA works with local authorities, such as the Highways agency, to implement the UK’s air quality strategy as mandated in the Environment Act 1995.

Asbestos regulation, waste management, infectious clinical wastes and harmful chemicals also fall under its regulation. Water quality and water resources are also part of its remit. The EA has the duty to improve and maintain the quality of water in rivers, lakes, and the sea along the shoreline. It also maintains the habitats of the fisheries in the UK.

Together with the Control of Major Accident Hazard Regulations 2015 (COMAH) and the HSE, the EA works in protecting the environment against dangerous substances. Other agencies working together include the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Natural Resources Wales and the Office for Nuclear Regulation. COMAH seeks to protect people and the environment from the risk of major accidents occurring. It ensures that those responsible for creating the risks meet their responsibilities and that emergency arrangements are in place. Dangerous substances can include liquid petroleum gas, explosives and arsenic.

Another of the many environmental laws in the UK includes the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This has responsibility for waste management and control of emissions into the air. Part I of the Act deals with controlling emissions into the environment. Part II regulates and licences the disposal of controlled waste on land. This includes industrial and household waste. Other parts of the Act include the regulation of litter waste, statutory nuisances, risk assessment for genetically modified organisms and nature conservation of the countryside.

There are many European Union Environmental Directives whereby the member countries work together to help maintain the environment. Some of the European directives that the Environment Agency has responsibility for regulating (in the UK) include the Groundwater Directives, Birds Directive, Asbestos Directive and Habitats Directives. There are many others. The EA advises the Government directly on issues regarding the environment.

Sources

www.hse.gov.uk

www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environment_Agency

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_Protection_Act_1990

Image Credit

https://www.morguefile.com/creative/impure_with_memory