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Happy New Year 2016 from Protectus Consulting

A very happy and fruitful new year to all our readers. 2015 has had many changes to health and safety legislation.

Some changes over the past year…

From June 2015, DSEAR (Dangerous Substances and Explosives Atmospheres Regulations 2002) has placed a formal requirement on employers to assess the risks for substances if these are classified as dangerous/explosive. However, this change will most likely have a minimal effect as these changes to DSEAR are already covered under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Other changes have included the Offshore Installations (Offshore Safety Directive)(Safety Case etc.) regulations 2015, that came into force in July 2015. They replace the Offshore Installations (Safety Case) regulations 2005. These new changes apply to oil and gas operations in external waters, i.e. the territorial area adjacent to Great Britain. Their primary aim is to reduce the risks from hazards to the health and safety of the workforce employed in offshore installations.

The Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) Regulations 2015 came into force in June 2015. Some changes include substances covered by the regulations being updated, and, there has also been some definitions changed. There have been changes to emergency planning and there is a stronger requirement for public information. Local authorities must now inform people likely to be affected by a major accident.

The Mines Regulations 2015 came into force in April 2015. The main focus here has been on the control of the risks from major hazards in mines. The Principal duty holder is now the mine operator and not the mine manager. All persons working in mines also need to have relevant qualifications.

Other changes over the past year include the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 that came into force in April 2015. It contained various changes to its legislation involving responsibilities.

The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 is now updated with references to legislation and standards have been amended to mirror the changes made by the classification, Labelling and Packaging of Chemicals Regulations 2015.

Sources

www.hse.gov.uk

Image Credit

http://www.morguefile.com/creative/richard_b

 

 

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Safety over the Holiday Season

With fireworks reigning in the New Year 2016 in just over one month’s time, firecracker safety is paramount so that everyone enters the next year safely. Before that, Christmas is on its way, the time when lights, trees, candles and other emblems of display define this festive time.

According to the Fire Statistics Great Britain office, in 2011/12, candles sparked around 1000 UK house fires which caused casualties. Fairy lights and Christmas trees are also a risk over this time. However, with careful planning, accidents can be avoided.

One should never leave burning candles unattended and candles should never be put on Christmas trees as they could ignite. They should always be placed on a heat resistant surface and in a proper holder so that they won’t fall over. Fairy lights should comply with safety standards. Trailing cables and wires in the house should be kept securely away, as they may pose a trip hazard. Decorations and cards should be kept away from fireplaces and sources of heat. Christmas tree lights should be switched off when going to bed or not in the house.

Careful selection should be made of the Christmas tree itself. The needles on a fresh tree should be green and hard to pull back from the branches. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. If the needles easily fall off, the tree may have dried out and will be a fire hazard. If ignited, a fresh tree can burn quite profusely (as the video below shows). The stand should be well watered and the tree kept away from heat sources.

Sparklers and fireworks should be used with caution over the New Year. Fireworks should be kept in a closed box, only used one at a time and kept away from heat sources. They should be lit at arm’s length with a taper. The person using the fireworks should distance themselves and others well away from them. Rocket fireworks should be directed away from spectators. If a bonfire is part of the festivities, petrol/paraffin should not be thrown into it.

With the extra potential hazards over the holiday season, it is pertinent that smoke alarms are working. The kitchen is also a potential hazard area; care should be taken when basting turkeys with hot oil. Of one wishes to light up the house from the outside, a residual current device on outdoor electrical equipment should be used. Children should always be protected by buying gifts for the correct age groups. Baubles and bulbs can pose a choking hazard for young children; these should be kept high on the tree out of reach.

Adults need to be responsible for themselves as well. Although one should never drink and drive at any time of the year, the holiday season may pose extra incidences of when alcohol is consumed. Extra vigilance should be kept and travelling by taxi/public transport should be part of the plan.

Sources

http://www.rospa.com/

http://www.fireservice.co.uk/

http://www.twfire.gov.uk/

Video source
YouTube

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Safeguarding against Papermaking Machinery

The Paper and Board Industry Advisory Committee (PABIAC) was formed in 1979. Its function is committed to helping industries experience a safer paper industry environment which includes a health and safety charter. In conjunction with the HSE, the objectives contained within the PABIAC’s strategy focus on occupational health management, slips and trips prevention and machinery safety. The papermaking and paper recycling industries have traditionally suffered from high accident rates due to occupational health (for example, dust generated in the workplace), trips and slips, work at height, noise, manual handling, falls from heights and work involving machinery. Paper mills and the machinery they use are covered by the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) and Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER).

All papermaking machinery should comply with the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations 2008 and the relevant British standards. Machinery should be safe guarded according to PUWER regulations. A risk assessment should be done when applying safe guarding measures for paper working machines. However, the safety measures should not be difficult to use or slow down production, beyond what is reasonably practical. Guards prevent people from accessing danger zones of machinery. They should be high enough so people cannot climb over them and be close to the ground so they cannot be crawled under. Guards can be fixed or movable. Guards have limited access but can have openings for paper feeding, cleaning and operating switches on machinery. An ‘interlocking guard’ is one which prevents the hazardous machine starting up if the guard is not in place. Guard locking ensures that the guard cannot be opened until the machine have finished operating; this prevents any residual motion causing a hazard.

There are some jobs such as removing broke, felt straightening and other maintenance work that can only be done when the machine is operating at crawl speed. These tasks must be combined with a safe system of work. ‘Broke’ is waste paper that is gathered up and recycled back into the process. Some machines have two switches which requires both to be pressed in order for the machine to operate. This is a safety measure. Rotating shafts and transmission machinery pose entanglement, crushing, shearing and impact hazards. The right type of equipment should be selected for the task. If the equipment is modified in any way, for example, adapted to perform new tasks, the risk assessment should be re-done.

However, the use of guards and control measures are only as effective as the training given to the operators. In these work situations there must be heavy protocol processes in place by which employees must strictly adhere to, so that the guards are most efficiently used and provide maximum protection.

Sources

http://www.paper.org.uk/

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

 

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Safety Footwear at Work

Footwear that is slip resistant and protects the feet from falling objects is a must for working in the construction and any related hazardous environment. In addition, safety footwear must be durable, comfortable, practical and easy to work in.

Slips

Slip resistant footwear should have been tested according to a coefficient of friction (CoF) test and have a marked value as such. The higher the CoF, the less likely one will slip when wearing. Footwear should be labelled with ‘CE’ and comply with the requirements of the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002.

A closely packed thread pattern works best with fluid contaminants and indoor environments. A more open pattern is better outdoors or on solid ground. Sip resistant properties can wear away over time, so, footwear needs to be replaced as this happens. Rigger boots (a looser fit than standard safety footwear) are sometimes worn. Even though these are easier to put on than standard safety boots, (because they are a looser fit), the wearer can more easily sustain a sprained ankle. Lace up boots are not suitable for work with asbestos. For some work, for example when working with cement, wellington boots may provide the best protection.

Toe protection

The bones in the foot are quite delicate, as are the muscles and tendons, so suitable protection is necessary to protect from falling hazards or entrapment. Steel toecaps protect against falling objects and mid toe protection protect against puncture (for example, if one treads on a nail).

Even though footwear may be tested in a laboratory, it isn’t always a substitute for wearing them in real work conditions. One should consider asking a supplier for trial pairs of footwear before they make their final decision to buy. The employer, before buying, could also specify the main surface and contaminants used in the workplace, and so ensure that the most suitable footwear is purchased for the job. Suppliers can offer advice on the best footwear for the job.

In addition to wearing the correct footwear, there are other factors that can cause hazards. If there is too little light people may not see hazards on the stairs or floor. Condensation, collecting frost and rainwater from an outside source may cause a floor to become more slippery. Human factors can also contribute to hazards. There should be protocol in place whereby every spillage is cleaned up as soon as. Unexpected loud noises, rushing around and being distracted can contribute to slips, falls, trips and unexpected falling hazards.

Sources

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

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Today is World No Tobacco Day 2015

The World Health Organisation marks today, 31st May 2015, as being World No Tobacco Day. What does this mean? The WHO and partners highlight the risks with using tobacco and are an advocate for the awareness of reducing tobacco consumption. This includes putting an end to the illicit trade of tobacco products. It is estimated that one in every ten cigarettes consumed globally is from the illegal tobacco market. The trade of illegal tobacco goods may not honour tobacco control policies, like increased tax and prices and pictorial health warnings. Illicit tobacco products entice young people into tobacco experimentation and it’s use because they are cheaper. Such illicit products also mislead young tobacco users by not displaying health warnings. This bad trade of tobacco products also strengthens corruption.

Tobacco kills nearly 6 million people every year, and 600,000 due to second hand tobacco smoke. There are 4000+ chemicals in tobacco smoke, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful and more than 50 are known to cause cancer. More than 80% of these are preventable deaths. One person dies every six seconds due to tobacco. In some countries, children are employed in harvesting tobacco leaves; this creates nicotine that can be absorbed into their skin and cause sickness.

What is being done

  • Days like today raise awareness of the illegal trade of tobacco around the world. The WHO is committed to fighting the tobacco epidemic and have founded the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which is committed towards controlling tobacco and is a milestone in the promotion of health.
  • Increases taxes and pictorial warnings can persuade smokers to stop or at least protect the health of those around them
  • Banning tobacco advertising and sponsorship

The costs of tobacco to the public and society can be enormous in terms of disease, suffering and stress. Gradually helping phase out its use through awareness and campaigns such as that of the WHO will gradually make for a greener and sustainable future for our generations.

Sources

http://www.who.int/campaigns/no-tobacco-day/2015/event/en/

Video – WHO: World No Tobacco Day

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Fire Risk Assessment in Residential Care Homes

There have been many instances of fires or fire related accidents in residential care homes. It is imperative to carry out a clear, concise and manageable risk assessment that is regularly reviewed and updated as required. The HSE have produced a step by step fire risk assessment process for residential care homes. These fundamentals can be applied to any residential or working establishment. The main steps of the risk assessment include identifying the fire hazards and identifying the people at risk. Following on from this, it includes evaluating, reducing and removing the risks so far as is practically possible. Also, how people in the care home will be protected. There is then a section on recording, planning, informing, training and reviewing.

  1. Identify the Hazards in the Care Home

In order for a fire to start it needs a source of ignition. This is a source of heat which can include smoking materials and naked flames.Other sources include electrical circuits, cooking equipment, faulty equipment, lighting equipment, hot surfaces, malicious damage and equipment owned or used by residents. All sources of ignition need to be identified. The next thing that needs to be identified are sources of fuel. This includes anything that will burn well including laundry, wood, flammable products, plastics, rubber, waste products, hardboard and chipboard. Nearly everything could be included as a source of fuel. Sources of oxygen include the natural airflow, mechanical air conditioning systems, some chemicals (oxidising materials) and oxygen supplies in cylinders.

  1. Identify the people at risk in the Care Home

Those people that are at risk from fire need to be identified. They include the service users and the working staff. It should also be considered who else may be at risk, for example, visitors, contractors etc. Staff who work in isolated areas, for example contractors overseeing maintenance works should be taken into account. Other people at risk include children and visitors who are elderly with limited abilities. As regards the service users, their conditions must be accurately taken into account, for example, those impaired due to medication, those who will need their mobility equipment and level of sensory and cognitive awareness.

  1. Evaluate, remove and reduce and protect those at risk

The risk of a fire starting should be evaluated. This will include whether accidental, by omission or deliberate. An example of ‘by omission’ could be where electrical equipment is not properly maintained. The premises should also be examined for accidents ‘waiting to happen’. Fire can spread by convection, conduction and radiation. Convection is the movement of fire through air, whilst conduction is the movement of fire through materials. The sources of ignition, fuel and oxygen should be reduced to what is practical or completely removed if possible. Fire protection measures should be put in place such as  warning systems. Escape routes should not be blocked and staff should be fully trained in emergency procedures.

  1. Record, plan, inform, instruct and train

The care home providers should be able to satisfy the enforcing authority. Keeping records, having a detailed risk assessment plan, controlling those risks and training staff will result in the adequate control of the risks in case of fire.

  1. Review

One should review the risk assessment periodically or as appropriate. If there are new changes introduced into the care home, these factors should now be part of the risk assessment.

Sources

https://www.gov.uk/

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Transitioning to the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) came into force on 6 April 2015. This replaced the CDM 2007. For projects that have started before this date, there are transitional arrangements that that would need to be in place in the near future. One such change is where the construction phase of a project has not yet started. If this is the case and there is no CDM coordinator appointed, then the client must appoint a principal designer. However, if the coordinator has already been appointed he/she must be replaced by a principal designer by the 6th of October this year. If it takes a while to replace the CDM coordinator with the principal designer, the CDM coordinator must comply with the duties of Schedule 4 of CDM 2015. These reflect the duties placed on the coordinator under CDM 2007. This should occur until the principal designer is appointed. The principal designer has responsibility for co-coordinating the health and safety during the pre-construction phase/design phase.

Because the principal designer is the “designer” of the project/construction works or is someone who has first-hand knowledge of it, they are the only ones that will really understand the health and safety of the construct itself because they are inherently involved in it. So, therefore they have the best knowledge of leading and influencing the health and safety of the project. In the previous regulations, i.e CDM 2007, the role was often contracted out, which often lead to the individual not being able to influence the design according to health and safety standards. Under the new changes, the principal designer can be an organisation or an individual with sufficient knowledge, experience and ability to carry out the role. This may be combined with other roles such as architect or project leader. Some other changes to CDM 2015 include any project being notified under CDM 2007 is now notified under CDM 2015. The principal contractor appointed under CDM 2007 is now considered the same as under the CDM 2015 regulations.

Complying with CDM 2015 will help ensure that no one is unnecessarily injured in their working environment.  If more than one contract is involved in the project, the client will need to appoint a principal designer and a principal contractor. The principal designer will plan, organise and coordinate the design work. The principal contractor will plan, organise and coordinate the construction work. There are many resources for choosing reputable architects and designers, for example Safety Schemes in Procurement (SSIP) lists businesses that have a good track record in safety. A contractor may be a member of a trade organisation. The main considerations of a project are listed below (as listed by the HSE):

  1. Appoint the right people at the right time
  2. Ensure there are arrangements in place for managing and organising the project
  3. Allow adequate time, otherwise work may be unsafe and of poor quality
  4. Provide information to your designer and contractor
  5. Communicate with your designer and building contractor
  6. Ensure adequate welfare facilities on site
  7. Ensure a construction phase plan is in place
  8. Keep the health and safety file
  9. Protect members of the public, including your employees
  10. Ensure workplaces are designed correctly

 

Sources

http://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/CDM_2015_principal_designer_duties

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

 

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The Construction Worker – Vibration and Hazardous Substances

The biggest health risks for the construction engineer can result from manual handling, vibration, biological hazards, dust/fumes, being injured/loss of life due to machinery and noise pollution. This article addresses vibration and hazardous substances.

Vibration

Hand held and machinery operated tools used in construction can cause permanent injury to the hands and arms and even the whole body if not used correctly. The Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 regulates the use of vibrating tools. Vibration affects the nerves, blood vessels, wrists, joints of the hand and arms. This can lead to Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). Vibrating machines include sanders, grinders, drills, chainsaws, needle guns and concrete breakers. Working in cold weather can increase the severity of HAVS. How one can be affected includes difficulty with simple things like closing buttons on clothes, typing and holding things. In carrying out a risk assessment on vibrating equipment one should consider who will be using what equipment. Persons at high risk would be those that regularly use hammer action tools for more than an hour a day (or 15 mins for medium risk) or rotary tools for more than 4 hours a day (or 1 hour a day for medium risk). Simple ways of controlling risk include eliminating unnecessary vibrating tasks at the design stage or using an alternative process that does not expose workers to vibration. Jigs and suspension systems can be used to take the weight and vibration of the tools away from the worker. Other control measures are rotating workers and making sure they have minimum exposure to vibrating tools. Gloves and warm clothing will keep the worker comfortable. Doing a health surveillance and observing workers will all help to establish safe working practices.

Hazardous Substances

Construction dust is a big risk to one’s lungs. COSHH imposes regulations on employers to mitigate against the risk of hazardous substances to their workers. Ailments include asthma, lung cancer and silicosis. Cement based products like concrete can cause skin problems. Cement powder is also a respiratory irritant. Control measures include using pre-mixed concrete to avoid air borne dust. Gloves, footwear, waterproof trousers and skin care products should all be provided. Lead can be found in construction environments. Lead can be found in existing paintwork (especially in paint materials before the 1980’s) and on lead roofs. Using respiratory protective equipment, disposable overalls and disposable gloves can all help to control the risks against lead. Solvents and isocyanates used on construction sites can also pose hazards. Solvents include volatile compounds such as paints, thinners and glues. Isocyanates are present in polyurethane paints, coatings, foams, glues and flooring. Solvent risks should be reduced where possible, for example, using water based paint and using respiratory protective equipment when spraying. Also, using products that do not contain isocyanates or at least less volatile forms.

Sources

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

 

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Protecting the Environment against Hazardous Substances

Climate change, air and water pollution are all the underlying concern of our ever evolving planet. There are regulations and laws about controlling the contamination or our air, water supply, soil, conservation and wildlife.

In the UK, the Environmental Agency’s (EA) remit covers the whole of England, the rivers and 2 million hectares of coastal waters. It has a sharing arrangement with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). The purpose of EA is to protect, enhance and take the best care of the environment as a whole. Its vision is one of a “rich, healthy and diverse environment.” The EA and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) work together under the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. This includes the sharing of information on activities that relate to the environment and promoting better public awareness. The EA has responsibility for issuing permits for certain industrial, farming, waste management, water activities, radioactive substances and mining waste activities. The HSE works together with the EA in the regulation of oil and gas establishments. Under the Nuclear Installations Act, the HSE regulates duty holders of nuclear establishments. The EA also works with the HSE in this area.

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) is the authority for waste management and control of emissions into the environment. Part I of this Act deals with emissions into the environment. Part II sets out the regulation of the acceptable disposal of controlled waste on land. There are other parts of the EPA that deal with other aspects of the environment, from statutory nuisances to litter. Other environmental regulations include the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, Climate Change Act 2008, Environment Act 1995 and the Badgers Act 1991.

One set of regulations that keep industries aware of their responsibilities to people and the environment include the Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 (COMAH). Although principally concerned with regulating the storing and handling of large amounts of hazardous industrial chemicals, these regulations help keep the public and the environment safe by modulating the handling of these hazardous chemicals. The aim of the regulations is to prevent the effects on people and the environment of major accidents involving dangerous substances. However, new COMAH Regulations will come into force in Great Britain on 1 June 2015. The main regulations will remain the same but there will be some changes, particularly on how dangerous substances are classified and how information is made available to the public. New or changed duties to COMAH will include a change in definitions, there are also transition arrangements for safety reports and changes in emergency planning. There are also other changes expected in COMAH 2015.

Sources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_environmental_law

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l111.htm

http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/howwework/framework/aa/hse-ea-nov12.pdf

 

 

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World Health Day 2015

Today is World Health Day 2015. What does this mean? The World Health Organisation (WHO) has nominated today as that day and highlights the challenges and opportunities associated with food safety with the slogan “From farm to plate, make food safe.” Foodborne illnesses are a global threat in many regions and there is the need to maintain a safe food supply chain. Examples of unsafe food include undercooked foods of animal origin, fruits and vegetables contaminated with faeces, and shellfish containing marine biotoxins. In 2010 there were an estimated 582 million cases of 22 different foodborne diseases and 351,000 associated deaths. E. Coli, Norovirus and Salmonella are responsible for most deaths. The WHO-FAO International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) is there to ensure effective and rapid communication during food safety emergencies.

Of course, the customer who is going to eat the food must practice good hygiene. Meet should be cooked thoroughly and food used within date. The WHO is working to ensure adequate, safe and nutritious food for everyone.

The WHO has developed the WHO Five Keys to Safer Food

  1. Keep Clean

One should wash their hands before handling food and often during food preparation. One should wash their hands after going to the toilet. One should wash and sanitise all surfaces and equipment used for food preparation. One should protect the kitchen areas from insects, pests and other animals

  1. Separate raw and cooked food

One should separate raw food, poultry and seafood from other foods. One should use separate equipment and utensils such as knives and cutting boards for handling raw foods. One should store food in containers to avoid contact between raw and prepared foods.

  1. Cook thoroughly

One should cook food thoroughly especially meat, poultry, eggs and seafood. One should bring foods like soups and stews to boiling point to make sure they have reached 70 degrees Celsius. For meat and poultry one should make sure that the juices are clear, not pink. Ideally, a thermometer should be used. One should reheat cooked food thoroughly

  1. Keep food at safe temperatures

One should not leave cooked food at room temperature for more than 2 hours. One should promptly refrigerate all cooked and perishable food (preferably below 5 degrees Celsius). One should keep cooked food piping hot (more than 60 degrees Celsius) prior to serving. One should not store food too long, even in the refrigerator. One should not thaw frozen food at room temperature

  1. Use safe water and raw materials

One should use safe water or treat it to make it safe. Only select fresh and wholesome foods. Choose foods processed for safety, such as processed milk. One should wash fruits and vegetables, especially if they are eaten raw. One should not use food beyond its expiry date.

WHO video – 7th April 2015

Sources

Video https://youtu.be/8saaEsV0Th4

http://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2015/en/