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Burns

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.

Sources

http://press.hse.gov.uk/2015/care-home-owner-in-court-over-death-of-vulnerable-resident/

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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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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.

Sources

www.hse.gov.uk

Image Credit

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

 

 

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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.

Sources

www.echa.europa.eu

www.hse.gov.uk

Image Source

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

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Asbestos: Prevalence and Effect on Health

Towards the end of the 19th century, asbestos had widespread uses. It was used in the making of concrete, pipes, bricks, cement, pipe insulation, ceiling insulation, flooring and roofing. Its fire-retardant properties were used in many materials that required fire resistant coatings.

The inhalation and close proximity of working with asbestos can cause serious health problems. The first death related to asbestos occurred in 1906. Over the centuries, 1000’s of people have died as a result of exposure to asbestos. This life threatening illnesses affected those who worked in asbestos mines, were involved in the spinning of raw asbestos into yarn, worked in textile factories and were involved in building and construction. Over the war years many died as a result of working on asbestos containing materials that were prevalent on ships, for examples in the pipes and ship fittings. Even persons who were not directly working with asbestos were affected. This included those living in the vicinity of an asbestos factory or even those living with family members who worked with asbestos.

The chemical structure of asbestos is that of fibrous crystals that are naked to the human eye. Asbestos can be classified according to its color, i.e. blue, brown, white and green. In 1985, blue and brown asbestos materials were banned in the UK. White asbestos was outlawed in 1999. In 2011, it has been reported that over half of all UK households contain asbestos. This is because these buildings were most likely built before the 1980’s, before asbestos was first outlawed.

If asbestos in homes and industrial premises is not disturbed and it is left well concealed, it should not pose a major problem. However, if it becomes disturbed, for example, in renovation or when knocking an older building down, it may become a health hazard as the asbestos particles could be free in the air. In these cases it should either be managed by wearing PPE/RPE and following safety guidelines. If it is termed a major hazard, it should only be managed and removed by licenced professionals. Construction companies must ensure their workers understand the risks associated with asbestos should they come in contact with it.

Common places where asbestos can be found (in both industrial and residential buildings) include the lagging in pipes, asbestos containing boards in the ceiling, in older fire blankets, sprayed coatings in ceilings/walls, in gutters and in bath and cistern panels. It should be noted that by removing asbestos containing materials, its fire-retardant properties may also be removed. So, substitute fire protection will need to replace these.

Mesothelioma and asbestosis have been observed in persons who are occupationally exposed to asbestos. Asbestosis is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes scarring to the tissue of the lungs. This is caused by the inhalation and settling of the asbestos fibres in the lungs. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs and lower digestive tract. Pleural thickening of the lungs can also occur. This can cause shortness of breath and discomfort in the chest. All cases of asbestos poisoning can be fatal.

Sources

www.wikipedia.org/wiki/asbestos

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

Image credit

https://www.morguefile.com/creative/Melodi2

 

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Controlling Risk in Construction

Assessing risk, controlling and reviewing it are the main elements to working safely on any construction site.

Assessing the work area involves investigating the hazards, i.e who could be harmed (including the environment), how somebody could be harmed and to what extent harm could occur. Common health hazards can come from working with dust, asbestos, noise, vibrating equipment, cement and lead. The consequences of manual handling, and slip and trip hazards are also risks to one’s health. Occupational diseases include asthma, musculoskeletal disorders, occupational cancer and asbestosis and noise related hearing impairments.

In the assessment of risk on a construction project, the mitigation of risks should be part of the construction plans from the beginning. When doing so, one must consider the aims of the project, the amount of people employed, the length (in terms of weeks and even years) and the size of the project. The hazards and their consequences must all be assessed as part of the whole. The workers must be well trained so that they can work in cooperation with management. Both must comply with the law and the onus is on both to report any threatening issues.

Controlling the risks in construction involves completely eliminating them or diminishing them to an acceptable level that is reasonably practical, and complies with the law. This involves working with the safest equipment available, providing appropriate protective equipment (including respiratory) for workers. Other controls may include allowing limited access to hazardous work areas (where only qualified personnel are allowed), rotating the workers that are doing the hazardous tasks and allowing frequent breaks. Having strong protocol and work processes in place, by which workers must adhere to, will result in a ‘work trail’ whereby the risks to health is diminished. In this case, should an investigation be required later, one would be able to identify the likely cause of the situation that has occurred. A lot of responsibility depends on the training of staff, the hiring of competent workers and the preservation of a communicative and progressive work environment amongst them.

As with any work place, especially construction, the work environment is subject to change. Therefore, the risks need to be reviewed at regular intervals, and, most urgently as new changes occur. Changes can include new staff, the introduction of new equipment, new job roles and new changes to the construction phases of the project. Even a change in the weather can have an effect. Consideration must be given to temporary workers, shift workers, young workers and staff whose first language is not English. Temporary or young workers may not be experienced with procedures and so should be competently trained and supervised. Equipment should be tested for safety features and be well maintained. Maintenance work should be carried out safely. Any incidences of ill health should be investigated and a health surveillance system would be advisable. Formal audits may be useful in tackling ‘gap areas’.

Sources

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

Image Credit

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

 

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Risk Assessment and Managment

Risk Management is assessing the risks and controlling them on a daily basis. Risk assessment is a systematic approach to hazard identification and control. It is a process that helps identify what elements of an activity can cause injury to people. It introduces control measures that will reduce the risk of injury to an acceptable level. Risk assessment is not a process that eliminates all hazards in the workplace. What risk assessment as a process does is ensure that we do all we can to reduce the risk of injury to as low a level as is reasonably practicable. It is a legal requirement and may prevent a death or major injury/incident.

Management of Regulations

There is a duty on every employer to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of their employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work. Also, the risks to the health and safety of persons not in their employment arising out of or in connection with the conduct by them. Where the employer employs five or more employees, the significant findings of the assessment should be recorded.  Any group of employees identified by them as being especially at risk e.g pregnant women, young persons, contractors, agency workers and vulnerable persons should be protected. Employers must complete risk assessments on pregnant and nursing mums. One must consider the environment of expectant mums, for example, is there a risk, by reason of her condition, to the health and safety to her or the foetus, from any processes or working conditions, or physical, biological or chemical agents. As regards young persons, an employer must not employ a young person unless the employer, has, in relation to risks to young persons, made or reviewed an assessment.

The employer has a duty to ensure that any person appointed by them who is not in their employment is informed of the factors known by them to affect health and safety. Every employer should provide his employees with comprehensible and relevant information on the risks to their health and safety identified by the assessment. Preventative and protective measures must be taken.

Employees also have responsibilities. Every employee must use any machinery, equipment, dangerous substances, and transport equipment, means of production or safety devices provided to them in accordance with their training. Every employee should inform their employer and their colleagues of any work situation which a person would reasonably consider represented a serious and immediate danger to health and safety.

It is imperative that every employer appoint one or more competent persons to assist them in undertaking the measures needed to comply with the requirements. A person would be regarded as competent where they have sufficient training and experience.

With regard to capabilities and training, every employer must ensure that his employees are provided with adequate health and safety training on their being recruited. This should also be the case on their being exposed to new or increased risks because of their being transferred or given a change of responsibilities. Every employer must ensure that his employees are provided with a health surveillance as is appropriate. This could include, for example, a health questionnaire, blood tests when working with lead etc.

A review of the risk assessment should be carried out periodically. Any assessment should be reviewed if there is reason to suspect that it is no longer valid and /or there has been a significant change in the matters to which it relates. As a result of any such review, changes to an assessment that are required, should be undertaken by the employer or self-employed person concerned shall make them.

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Risk

All workplaces need to control the risks to their workers, visitors and the public. If an organisation has 5 or more employees, it must document the risk assessment. If less than 5 employees, a risk assessment still has to be carried out, however it does not have to be recorded. It may be communicated verbally. There are 5 steps to controlling risks in the workplace, (1) Identify the hazards, (2) Decide who might be harmed and how, (3) Evaluate the risks, (4) Record the findings, (5) Review and update the assessment.

  • Identify the hazards

To help identify the hazards, one must walk around the workplace and also ask employees what they consider the hazards are. If equipment is being used, one must check the manufacturers’ sheets so that employees are aware of the hazards. Previous ill health records and near misses should be re-visited so that lessons can be learned. This then can be part of the risk assessment in moving forward. Other non-routine functions such as maintenance and cleaning can also pose their own risks, so these must be part of the risk assessment as well.

  • Decide who might be harmed and how

It is necessary to converse with employees at this stage, as most often they will be able to more easily identify the risks. This is because they are in direct contract with materials and work processes. Some workers may be more at risk due to the circumstances surrounding their employment. These include temporary workers, people with disabilities, persons whose first language is not English, young workers, isolated workers, expectant and new mothers. People who are also not regular visitors to the workplace such as maintenance workers and the public should be part of the risk assessment and control measures in place. These persons, not being part of the regular workforce, may not be aware of the risks/hazards.

  • Evaluate the risks

The risk assessment will include what an employer / the self-employed are reasonably expected to know. The control measures include diminishing the risk with a less risky process. For example, substituting the use of a piece of equipment for a less dangerous piece of equipment to do the same job. Hazards can also be controlled by preventing access to them, i.e. access to certain areas by only trained personnel. Other ways of controlling the hazards include issuing protective equipment to workers, having welfare and fire stations nearby and organising the workplace so that exposure to the hazards are minimised. Involving workers is vital, as they can have quite a lot of information on daily work activities.

  • Record the significant findings

A good way to record the risk assessment is to use a risk assessment template. This is a document with check boxes and areas for recording the risks and what’s to be done to control them. There are also on-line risk assessment tools that people can use.

  • Renew/updating of the assessment

When the nature of the business or work environment changes, for example in construction, these new changes must be reflected in the risk assessment.

Sources

www.hse.gov.uk

Image Credit

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

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Fire

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 covers general fire safety in England and Wales. In Scotland, requirements are covered in the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and the Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006. The local authorities are also responsible for enforcing fire legislation. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has responsibility for enforcing regulations on construction sites, nuclear premises and on ships under repair. General fire precautions ensure the safety of employees and members of the public.

The employer/person responsible must make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to which relevant persons are exposed. The fire risk assessment must be up to date. Sources of ignition and flammable substances should be kept apart. Smoke alarms, fire alarms and firefighting equipment should be easily assessable. Escape routes should not be blocked.

The risks of fire must be controlled in work which involves the storage, use or creation of chemicals, vapours and dusts etc. The Dangerous Substances and Explosives Regulations 2002 (DSEAR) require employers to assess the risk of fires and explosions from the work with dangerous substances. Even if a work area is not regulated under DSEAR, many substances found in the workplace can cause fires or explosions. These include flammable chemicals, petrol, grease, packing materials and dusts generated from wood and floor processes. Even un-emptied bins can be a fire risk as they may be a source of fuel should they ignite.

For a larger premises, the organisation must arrange the necessary contacts with the external emergency services, have first aiders on site and emergency medical care facilities. Competent persons must be available to manage a fire place emergency and first aiders should be close at hand. Emergency routes and exits must be indicated by signs.

Process fire precautions are enforced by HSE. These are special fire precautions that help to prevent or reduce the likelihood of a fire breaking out, and if so, to reduce its spread and intensity. This includes ventilations systems to remove/dilute flammable gas/vapour and extractions systems. These precautions also provide information on selecting equipment that will not be a source of ignition and information on the storage of flammable liquids in workrooms and laboratories. These precautions are enforced under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and DSEAR.

The Fire Protection Association (FPA) is the UK’s national fire safety organisation. It identifies and draws attention to fire dangers by providing information and advice through leaflets.

Sources

www.hse.gov.uk

Image Credit

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