Content that will appear in the News Letter

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The owner of a Leicester care home has been fined £100,000 after a vulnerable 85-year-old resident died from serious burns. The elderly are at risk of injuries from burn incidents. To avoid the risk of burns the care home should carry out a risk assessment identify the areas that potentially lead to an elderly person being exposed to high temperatures. When conducting a risk assessment the following should be considered:


  • Hot running tap water
  • Radiators and Heaters
  • Hot pipework in any room
  • Kitchen – all areas
  • Hair tongs
  • Hot water bottles
  • Electric blankets
  • Baths and showers
  • Hair dryers


If hot water used for showering or bathing is above 44 °C there is increased risk of serious injury or fatality. Contact with surfaces above 43 °C can lead to serious injury.

The risk assessment of the building should identify the controls to be put in place to prevent potential burn risks to the elderly. Engineering controls can include: thermostatic mixing valves (TMVs); temperature-restricted, instant water heaters.


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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.



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The Construction Worker – Manual Handling and Noise

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 manual handling and noise.

Manual Handling

Even though manual handling is a part of the construction environment, there is no reason for one to injure oneself. All it takes is a little bit of planning and time to set things up properly so that the workers are not at risk. Handling things incorrectly can lead to musculoskeletal disorders. These disorders are mostly non-fatal, however, they cause much discomfort with many days being taken off work. There is no ‘safe’ weight limit for any one person; it is advised to seek guidance for weight lifting procedures from the Manual Handling Operations Regulations (MHOR) as outlined by the HSE. The employer should not leave it up to the employee to decide whether they should lift the weight. There are duties on the employer under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations to ensure that there are controls in place to minimize the risk to workers. Trolleys, cranes, lifting trucks, leverage devices, pulleys and other aids are all available to be used on the work site so that manual handling is not necessary. Manual handling does not only apply to lifting and lowering but also to pushing and pulling. The workers must be trained in how to lift stuff correctly using these manual aids. If suitable and light loads are ok to be lifted manually, the workers must know how to lift correctly by bending the knees and beginning in the squatting position etc.


How does ones assess if there is a high noise level? If one has to raise their voice to have a normal conversation when standing about 2 metres apart, for at least part of the day, then noise levels on the site may be at a level which could damage health. Noise can result in many distressing conditions such as tinnitus, difficulty having a conversation or using the phone and general hearing loss. If it is not possible to remove the construction worker from the noisy area or provide them with quieter equipment, then hearing protection and hearing protection zones may be appropriate. However, hearing protection should not be the solution for extended use and over long periods of time. Construction workers should be frequently rotated to other less noisy areas and the work alternated between workers. Workers should be trained in how and when to use the hearing protectors and the aim should be at least below 85 dB of noise at the ear. On a noisy construction site or oneone where it may become a risk to health, a noise risk assessment should be carried out. This may include measuring the noise exposure over the day and observing the working patterns.


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Time Out – Managing Stress in the Workplace

According to the HSE, the total number of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2013/14 was 487 000 out of a total of 1 241 000 cases for all work-related illnesses. The industries that reported that highest rates of work related stress included the human health and social work industries, education, public administration and defence. Nurses, teaching/educational occupations and health/social care professionals reported the highest incidences of work related stress.

The things that people have the most stress about in life are the things that they have no control over or think they have no control over. Whilst a healthy amount of stress can increase productivity, be motivating and improve performance, too much over long periods of time is unhealthy for the mind and body. Mental symptoms can include difficult sleeping, anxiety attacks, difficulty concentrating, sweating, lack of appetite, anger, changes in behaviour, crying, food cravings and generally feeling anxious all the time. Physical symptoms can include diarrhoea, dizziness, cramps, and spasms, biting one’s nails, nervous twitches, feeling restless and being breathless. One should not keep these things internal hoping they will go away. Rather than trying to cope on one’s own one should go to their GP and if possible talk to a supportive friend.

NHS Video – Coping with Stress

Time Out

Things you can do to help you when feeling anxious or overwhelmed with stress at work…

  1. Take time for exercise, this is really time out and will allow the body to expel and express itself physically in a harmless environment. It will also raise the happy hormones. Outlets like playing sports, swimming and joining yoga classes are very good distractions from the work environment. Whilst exercising, especially running, one may be able to think through the problems more clearly and find a solution
  2. Engage in relaxation techniques outside of work, for example, listening to soft music, meditating or going for a quiet drive can do wonders for recharging the body and soul
  3. Drinking plenty of water and generally eating well. Dehydration can make one irritable and make a potential problem worse or even cause stress. Eating less sugary, salty and processed foods will help clear the body of toxins and allow it to be as nature intended. Good food will naturally decrease fatigue and make one feel more alert and able to deal better with stressful situations
  4. Act rather than react in a work situation. One should try to let go of what they cannot control or at least try to escalate the problem to their line manager or HR who may be better able to deal with the situation. Situations that can be controlled by the worker should be managed in a positive manner as far as possible
  5. Interruptions at work can cause stress and cause one to be less productive. One should prioritise tasks such as answering phone calls and emails at a set time, if other work is a priority. However, if answering emails and phone calls cannot wait these should be prioritised over other work. Multitasking and juggling different things all together can overwhelm the individual. This prioritising also needs to be brought over into the home life so there is a life balance.
  6. Be what you think. Research has shown that thoughts can cause a person to be happy or not. Whilst there are often life circumstances out of our control, one can at least try to have some kind of positive thinking that hopefully will make them feel better in the long run by producing a proactive attitude to problematic situations




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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.


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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.


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Managing change and leadership

In today’s fast paced environment the ability to manage change is increasingly becoming more and more the norm. However, it can be still quite difficult in practice to guarantee successful changes. Change is necessary, at the very least, if businesses want to hold onto their share of the marketplace. Change management skills are a necessary skill of health and safety management. Imagination and human talent can be a more sought after commodity than capital resources. In a rapidly changing environment health and safety personnel are required to work under pressure as there will most always be time, cost and resource constraints.

Leadership skills will range from the practical management of tasks, boundaries and roles to fine social networking and relationship skills. Being able to manage emotionally challenging feelings (for example defensiveness, disagreements, anxiety) from ones counterparts, to produce a happy and progressive workplace will be one of the highest attributes of any leader today. These soft skills are necessary for any business, and health and safety in particular, due to resource and project changes that can occur on a daily basis. Managers and supervisors need to be emotionally intelligent as they will need to manage any negativity or conflict from other personnel and from any outside influences.

Health and safety personnel may need to manage risk in ever changing environments and be able to demonstrate their authority in communicating the requirements of the law and best practice. They may also need to set out strategy, policy and targets and monitor progress. They will need to engage all staff in health and safety matters within the day to day operations; this is vital for the work or project to progress successfully. They must empower employees to develop their skills further and encourage educational standards.

Building and keeping a safety culture can be complex. The leadership within the organisation must be committed to safety, there must be employee involvement and motivation, the employee’s perception and values of safety within the workplace must be positive, supervisor priorities must be positive and policies/procedures must have the necessary health and safety best practice included in them. A strong health and safety culture will have the information, have reporting procedures in place and promote learning and flexibility in line with a demanding work environment. A strong health and safety culture within a business can be led by one who has credibility, vision, accountability, is communicative, and takes responsibility for safety critical activities and gives just and constructive feedback to encourage safe behaviour. The business and culture must be sustainable for the future generations.


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Eye and Face Safety

The Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 and the Personal Protective Equipment at Work regulations 1992 contain the guidelines for protecting the body, including the face and eyes. Hazards to the eyes and face include chemical/metal splashes, dust, projectiles, gas/vapour, radiation, temperature extremes, hair tangled in machinery and the risk of the head being knocked. The protection with safety goggles, face screens, safety helmets and hairnets are vital. Neck protection should also be considered, for example, using scarves when welding. Full face respirators may be required when one is working in gaseous/asbestos and fine dust particle environments.

In welding and flame cutting, operators must use specific eye protection that conform to the relevant standards. Protection includes filters (auto-darkening and fixed) as well as impact resistance protectors. Spot welding is the more controllable task and therefore only a safeguard against splatter is required. Safeguards should also protect against UV light. Eyes should be covered at all stages of the work. Goggles should be worn when dusting down chipping.

The protective equipment used for face protection in welding and other hazardous work should have European and British Standards makings. This is denoted by a series of numbers/lettering. A guard used in welding, for example, will contain letters that denote its mechanical strength, and, whether, for example, it is resistant to hot solids or molten splashes. If a darkened face shield is required, then the shield will have markings for this. There can be other properties of face and eye protectors, for example, mechanical strength, resistance to abrasion, mechanical and electrical properties. For fire-fighters and emergency services, faceguards that are resistant to extremes of temperature are specifically relevant. There are also eye protectors for colder extremes, for example, snowmobile drivers. The eye/face protection must have the right combination of protective qualities for the situation in which it is being used, for example, special protectors for dust, splashes and temperatures. Protectors must fit the user correctly.

Regular monitoring and having replacement parts at the ready, if required, should be part of the management and caring for all PPE. A qualified person should check everything is working OK and report any signs of wear, broken parts and ill-fitting PPE. Operators need to be well trained and report any PPE issues that may occur. If in doubt what PPE to select, the supplier/manufacturer will be able to advise what to use for the specific task. Also, a health and safety professional will be able to direct what to use to comply with the law.


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Safety in Surface Engineering

Surface engineering involves altering the properties of solid surfaces to enhance their preservation and/or design. This includes plating technologies. Examples include preventing corrosion, making items more aesthetic to the eye, making surfaces non-stick and lubricity enhancement. These technologies are used in the automotive, electronic, biomedical, steel, power and road surfacing environments. Most types of materials, i.e. metals, ceramics, polymers etc. can be coated onto similar or dissimilar materials to preserve them. Otherwise, environmental erosion will cause wear, fatigue and corrosion.

There are many technologies and nano technologies used in surface engineering that are hazardous to health. These include chromium and nickel plating technologies. Nickel and chromium acid mist can be detrimental to health. These mists can be breathable when dispersed into the air. These substances can cause lung cancer, occupational asthma, occupational dermatitis and burns. These chemicals are classified by REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) as being of very high concern and they require authorisation under these regulations. COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health) requires one to substitute these more dangerous chemicals with less hazardous alternatives. If this is not possible, it is necessary to control the risks. Local exhaust ventilation and ways of reducing mist levels, for example, the use of chroffles can help control these chemical mists. ‘Chroffles’ look like ping pong balls that form a floating layer on the surface of the electrolyte. Chromic mist is corrosive to equipment so this should be monitored regularly.

Depending on the risk assessment, operators may also be required to wear the appropriate PPE/RPE. Gloves which resist the permeation of chromium/nickel should be used. Floors, walls and other surfaces should be cleaned regularly to prevent contamination. Eye protection and full face visors are necessary where there is a risk of splashing. Coveralls, impervious aprons and regular hand washing is vital. A health surveillance can be in operation in these environments. Emergency showers and emergency eye wash stations are required to be in the immediate vicinity of these work areas.

All should be trained in the risks, understand the correct maintenance of control measures, undergo work practices that prevent/reduce exposure and be aware of emergency procedures.


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Chemicals and the Law

REACH is a European set of regulations that is concerned with the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals. Basically the REACH regulations help protect people and the environment from the risks and the hazardous effects of chemicals being produced, distributed and for sale on the market. The manufacturers and the distributers are required to manage the risks of the chemical products they produce. Some substances are not regulated by REACH, these include radioactive materials, human and veterinary medicines, waste, food and substances at customs. These are regulated wholly or in part by a different set of regulations.

It is an obligation under REACH regulation to register with them if an entity is producing and distributing a chemical substance. This also applies to importers. REACH researches the properties and hazardous effects of chemicals. The authorities can decide to restrict or ban the use of products on the market. Each member country of REACH must appoint a competent authority (CA) to manage the enforcement within its country. It must ensure compliance, inspections, monitoring and penalties within its country/region. REACH requires that there is co-operation between member states.

In the UK, it is DEFRA who loads on the policy of REACH. Other REACH co-ordinators in the UK include the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The REACH Enforcement Regulations were established in 2008. These regulations are enforced by the HSE (and HSE Northern Ireland), the Environment Agency, the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and Local Government Associations.

There are penalties for non-compliance with REACH regulations. Businesses that manufacture 1 tonne or more of chemicals per year are required to be registered with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), who manage REACH. ECHA help businesses comply with legislation. It is only the chemicals themselves that need to be registered, not the mixtures. Registration includes providing the technical information on the chemical and its hazards. Registration is based on tonnage and can take place over a number of years, however, the chemicals themselves need to be pre-registered from the beginning.

If a chemical substance is imported from outside the EU, the importer will need to register with the ECHA. Companies outside the EU cannot register chemicals themselves, but they can place an EU based representative to act on their behalf. If a manufacturer has not registered a chemical and a business is importing it, in most cases it will be illegal for the manufacturer and the importer to continue with the supply of that chemical. If certain substances are of very high concern, it may be the case that such substances will eventually be phased out from non-essential uses.


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