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Making Good Scaffolding

Good scaffolding design is necessary from the outset. This is to prevent falls, trips, manual handling disorders from occurring, and projectiles from falling and other dangerous situations from occurring. The Work at Height Regulations 2005 require scaffolding to be designed competently so that it is stable and fit for use. The National Access and Scaffolding Confederation has the standards in place for the practice of erecting scaffolding correctly.

Before scaffolding can be erected, one must consider all the functions of it. The will include the site location, the period of time the scaffold will need to be in place, the height and length of the scaffolding, the number of boarded lifts and the maximum working load at any one time. Also, other factors would have to be taken into account, such as the type of access to the scaffold (for example, staircase, ladder), whether there is a requirement for netting and whether a pedestrian walkway is required. The ground conditions and even the weather conditions have to be factored in. There are some scaffolds that require a customised design. These include those involving mobile towers, temporary ramps, access scaffolds with working lifts, marine scaffolds, rubbish chutes and pedestrian foot bridges.

All employees must be trained and understand how to navigate around scaffolding. PPE will need to be worn such as hard hats, gloves (if required), safety shoes, reflective clothing and any other protective equipment. A harness may also be required. Trainee scaffolders should work under a competent supervisor.

Although there are many hazards posed with working with scaffolding, falls from height are one of the greatest hazards. In order to comply with the Work at Height regulations, the employer/self-employed must ensure that the risks are assessed, the risks of working on/near fragile surfaces is managed and that the equipment used is properly inspected and maintained. A visible tag system for use in scaffolding will notify others that the scaffolding has been inspected. There can also be a risk of falling during the erection of the scaffolding; this must be controlled as well. This can be controlled by use of an advanced guard rail system. If this is not used, workers should wear a harness.

Sources

www.hse.gov.uk

Image Credit

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

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Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996

Employers/employees/the self-employed and all those in charge of a premises have a duty under the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 to comply with them in keeping their work area safe. If a risk assessment shows that an area of work is a risk or hazard, the employer must put up the appropriate safety or warning signs. It is necessary to carry out a risk assessment for all workplaces in order to comply with the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Also, fire safety authorities require that fire safety and exit signs be placed at appropriate locations. There are duties on employers under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 20015 to put up fire signs showing escape routes, providing information on firefighting equipment, for example, fire extinguishers.

If an employee’s first language is not English, the meaning of the sign should be communicated to them in their native language so that they understand it. If inexperienced workers do not understand what a sign means, it should be verbally explained to them. If an employee is hearing or sight impaired, for example when wearing PPE, the signs must be signalled by a flashing light or be audible. Other warning signs in the workplace may be acoustic, for example fire alarms. Verbal signs may also be more practical, for example, directing forklift traffic in the work area. However, these must be clear and precise with the operator not in danger themselves.

Some signs have a universal significance, for example, red means danger or stay away and yellow amber means be cautious. Blue means one needs to exhibit specific behaviour, for example, wear protective equipment. Green means no danger and is the code color for first aid, exits and return to normal. Some signs are portable, for example, a slippery floor sign used by cleaners.

Prohibitory signs are those with a round red shape and a diagonal line through them, prohibiting an action, for example, no smoking. Warning signs, for example, those used to warn against a harmful substance have a yellow triangle. Mandatory signs, for example, ‘eye protection required’ are white on a blue background. Emergency escape signs are green and firefighting signs are red. Most signs, are accompanied by text explaining what the signs means.

Containers and vessels containing dangerous substances used in the workplace may come under the regulations of Dangerous Substances (Notification and Marking of Sites) regulations 1990 (NAMOS) as well as the signs regulations. All safety signs should not be a substitute for controlling the risks to employees.

Sources

www.hse.gov.uk

Image Credit

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

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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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Risk Assessment – Genetically Modified Organisms

The Genetically Modified Organisms (Contained Use) (GMOs) 2014 contains practical guidance, advice on risk assessments, classification and accident reporting for duty holders to comply with the law. These regulations specifically involve working with GMOs in contained facilities.“Contained Use” means where humans and the environment are protected as much as possible; barriers can be physical, chemical or biological. The regulations include interactions with the closely related Control of Substances Hazardous to Health 2002 (COSHH).

Genetic modification involves the mutation, insertion, or deletion of genes. Inserted genes usually come from a different species which have the desired entity, for example, inserting a plant with the gene of another to offer it protection from pests, i.e herbicide resistant plants, known as Genetically Modified Crops. Gene(s) are moved from one organism to another (the latter becomes “transgenic”) in a laboratory or other establishment. GMOs are used in medical research, production of drugs, experimental medicine (e.g. gene therapy), and agriculture.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Genetic Modification (Contained Use) (SACGM(CU)) is an advisory committee which provides scientific advice to authorities on the contained use of GMOs, particularly in respect of hazard identification and risk assessment. The first point in the risk assessment is to consider the hazardous properties of the microorganism. There is an approved list of biological agents available from HSE. Consideration must also be given to how the micro-organism is being modified, for example, enhancement of function, and, and as a result the impact on its hazardous properties, i.e will it now become more hazardous or stay the same. Consideration should also be given to the work processes and where the work will be undertaken. The risks must be adequately controlled by containment and control measures. These risks are classed one to four, i.e CL1 – 4, with a containment necessary to control the risk which could be Level 1 – 4. See table 1. The GMO guidelines contain detailed information on how this table works (Schedule 8 of the regulations). The risk assessment should be proportionate to the work being done. For example, routine work involving cloning of mammalian genes will use a series of well-defined processes. Whereas, work on a pathogenic virus will require a different approach.

When the risk assessment has been carried out, it needs to be reviewed and reconsidered in terms of levels and classification of works. The recorded risk assessment should be considered a ‘living’ document and be kept relevant and up to date with regard to any changes in the work environment. If a new establishment is planned to be used for contained use, a notification must be submitted to the authority. One should refer to schedule 5 for more information on this. The authority must be notified of any significant changes to the risks associated with the contained use. In all aspects involving micro-organisms, it is the duty of the employer and employees to minimise risks to humankind and the environment.

containment

 

Sources
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetically_modified_organism
http://www.bt.ucsd.edu/gmo.html
http://www.hse.gov.uk/

Images
Table 1 http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/l29.pdf

 

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The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 are there to protect people against risks to their health from exposure to noise at work and visitors at a work place. A worker or person within a noisy workplace should not be exposed to the lower exposure action values of 80 dB with a peak sound pressure of 135 dB on a daily or weekly basis. If the noise exposure varies considerably from day to day, the employer can assess the noise level as being a weekly average. If an employee is working in an environment whereby the noise level is at or above the lower exposure limit, the employer must carry out a risk assessment. There is also an exposure limit value of 87 dB.

The risk assessment findings should include the level, type and duration of the exposure. It should also be investigated, where possible, if there is an interaction between ototoxic substances and hearing. Also, if there are any effects between hearing and noise vibration. Ototoxic substances are those that are toxic to the ear, i.e the cochlea or auditory nerve, such as a side effect of a drug. Noise can effect the ear in many ways, from reversible and temporary, to irreversible and permanent. It should also be considered if there is the availability of alternative work equipment which would produce less noise. If personal hearing protectors are supplied, it should be considered if these are the best ones and the availability of information for employees. If there have been changes to the work place these all must be reflected in the risk assessment as they occur.

There are many actions following the risk assessment findings. Generally, they are that the risk from the exposure of employees to noise is either eliminated, or, where this is not reasonably practicable, reduced to as low a level as possible for work to be carried out. If there is exposure to the upper limits, the employer must reduce exposure to as low level as possible, by establishing organisational and technical measures to do so. This includes the design and layout of work places, the use of work equipment that emits the least possible noise, limitation of the duration and intensity of noise by moving the workers periodically to less noisy areas, the suitable training of employees and appropriate rest periods. If there is an area at work where an employee is likely to be exposed to the upper noise levels; this area should be designated a Hearing Protection Zone, is a ‘restricted access’ area and no entry without wearing hearing protectors. All employees should wear hearing protectors according to the regulations and engage in a health surveillance as dictated by the risk assessment. Any changes or suspect changes to an employees’ hearing should be documented and action taken immediately to limit or exclude any further exposure to stressful noise levels by this employee. Employees should have information on how to detect and report hearing damage. However, safe working practices should already be in place, in consultation with the regulations, so that there is not the necessity to work backwards and try to repair hearing loss that has already occurred.

Sources

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2005/1643/contents/made

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

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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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General Health and Safety in Care Service Provider Establishments

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) regulates the health and safety in all workplaces in the UK, this includes all health and social care settings. There are other regulators in the UK who work in conjunction with the HSE, these include the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the General Medical Council (GMC) and the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC). All accidents and incidents are reportable according to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR).

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) monitors, inspects and regulates hospitals, clinics, care homes, GP’s, dentists, home and community services and mental health services. Once a provider of care has passed the audits/inspections, they can display their CQC rating in a place where it is visible (also, on their website, if they have one). They must provide their latest CQC service report to the public. Care/medical providers that provide the 14 ‘regulated services’ (as regulated by the CQC) must register with the Care Quality Commission.

There are fundamental standards set by the CQC, by which the quality of care must never fall. These include person-centered care, whereby, the person must have care tailored to meet their specific needs. Also, each person under care must be treated as equals, with dignity, be given privacy and the support so they can remain as independent as they can in their community. The service user must not be at risk in their environment. All staff must be qualified and competent to care for the individual. The premises and equipment must be maintained properly. The individual must be able to give feedback on their treatment, if they wish to do so.

Care givers/providers must ensure certain safety steps are taken to ensure the safety for all. The HSE regulates fire risk, and general fire precautions are enforced by the individual Fire and Rescue Services. Other risks include the incidence of Legionnaire’s disease. This bacteria can grow in hot and cold water systems. The risk of this contamination must be eliminated. The principles of LOLER (Lifting Operations Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998) and PUWER (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998) must all be understood and administered by both staff and care service providers.

There are many areas of risk that needs to be adequately controlled in home and social care settings. First aid equipment and first aiders must be provided for in care settings. The provision of bed rails are not mandatory in all circumstances; their need must be assessed through a risk assessment. Window restrictors are required whereby people who are vulnerable are not at risk from falling.

In general, both care service providers and their staff have a duty under the Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure a safe and comfortable home and workplace for all.

Sources

www.cqc.org.uk

www.hse.gov.uk

Image Credit

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

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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