Your lungs are so important. What goes into them and comes out of them determines how you live. Striving for quality of life is inherent in us all. Lung disease is not. We must endeavour to give our lungs the best shot at life, free from carcinogens, irritants, chemicals and fumes.

Rubber manufacturing usually consists of the processes of raw materials handling, milling, extruding, component assembling and building, curing, inspecting, finishing and storage and dispatch. Hazardous substances can include fumes and fine dusts. COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulation 2002) requires employers to assess the risk to health caused by dusts and fumes. Exposure must be prevented or adequately controlled by doing a risk assessment. For controlling dust fumes, employers can use dust suppressed materials, for example, pellets and oil coated powders. Enclosed and automated bag and powder handling is also a safe way of handling dusts. Workers should refrain from handling powders directly; automated system machinery should be in use. An effective local exhaust system should be used and maintained regularly during the work processes.

PPE should be worn, for example, gloves, aprons and safety glasses. Adequate personal washing facilities should be available and separate from the eating and rest areas. Good housekeeping should be the norm and industrial vacuum cleaners used. Respirators would not be needed if adequate fume and chemical controls are in place. However, they may be needed for short term exposures, for example, when filter bag changing or general maintenance. Training of workers in the use of respirators is essential. Because the rubber industry is ever changing, new processes may introduce new risks. Hopefully, they can be learned from without dire consequences happening to highlight the risk. Whilst COSHH doesn’t set out specific requirements for the rubber industry, it does set out the basic system of managing risk to health.


Simple steps to making a COSHH assessment in any industry

  • Simply walking around the work place can highlight obvious and taken for granted risks. Some substances will have workplace exposure limits (WELs); the limits need to be maintained.
  • The employer should have safety data sheets on information about their workplace. Workers can be exposed to dust, fume, vapour and dermal contact with liquids and dusts. Some dusts are very fine and might not be immediately apparent.
  • The hazards should be identified, mitigated against and a control system set up to be in place.
  • It should be ascertained who is likely to be harmed, how and when, and, the health severity to the worker.
  • The accident book may be a good reference when redesigning processes to make them safer and when considering a new factory floor layout. There can be lessons learned.



The HSE has developed Draft Guidance on the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. The final versions of both the draft Regulations and guidance will be available on 6 April 2015.

The Regulations will come into force on 6 April 2015. There will be a transition period of 6 months from 6th April to 6th October 2015.


The key changes likely are:

  • Clients will need to appoint a Principal Designer and Principal Contractor
  • There will no longer be an official role of CDM coordinator
  • The domestic client is no longer exempt under the CDM regulations and has duties
  • Designers and principal designers must have suitable skills, knowledge and experience.
  • Client’s duty to provide pre-construction information



If all goes well, new mining regulations will come into effect in April of 2015. These will update the current Mines Regulations 2014. Changes include the current Approved Codes of Practice being replaced by new guidance and a modern set of regulations in place to focus on the control of risks. Other changes include the mine operator being the duty holder (not the mine manager), and, coal mines will no longer be required to participate in a rescue scheme. However, rescue provisions must be in place. The new regulations will remove unnecessary burdens on businesses by providing a sound legislative framework.  As well as the Mines Regulations 2014, there are currently many acts and regulations that govern working in mines, from the Escape and Rescue From Mines Regulations 1995 to the Mines and Quarries Act 1954.

In the 1800’s, the shocking truth of working conditions in mines, and especially that involving children, led to The Mines and Collieries Bill being passed by parliament in 1842. This prohibited all underground work for women and girls and for boys under 10 years of age. However, young boys and men were still at risk, in terms of health and fatalities. In 1872, the Coal Mines Regulation Act required pit managers to have certification of their training. Things were still bad over the decades and up until the early 1900’s health and safety law was not a frugal part of the mining environment.

Mines have many hazards and risks associated with them, including that associated with fires, inrushes of gas/materials, dust, floods and explosions. Accidental fires or explosions can be devastating in terms of loss of life, damage to property and business continuity. Risk assessments are crucial when mining, and, include identifying the hazards and the sources of fuel. Sources of fuel include firedamp (a naturally occurring mixture of hydrocarbon gases), coal dust, wood, diesel and some explosives. Sources of ignition include electrical sparking, hot surfaces, and compression of air. The risk of a fire or explosion must be evaluated, it must be ascertained who might be harmed, these findings recorded and an emergency plan in place. An inrush of water or material can occur at mines. An ‘inrush’ is the sudden arrival of a material or gas. To prevent an inrush, the plans of the underground workings must be accurate and up to date. It must be confirmed whether workings are being carried out in a hazardous area, i.e whether material is likely to flow from nearby areas if it got wet. It is imperative that medical aid facilities and emergency evacuation procedures are in place in mines. The first aid at mines section of the Mines Regulations 2014 will not change in the New Year.



Protecting the Head

Head protection is necessary from many kinds of hazards. This includes flying or falling objects, where there is a risk of bumping into things, chemical drips, hair getting entangled in machinery etc.

Where hard hats are used they should be in good condition, otherwise they will not provide good protection. They should comfortably fit the person wearing them and they shouldn’t restrict the wearer wearing ear protectors if they require. They must be obtained from a reputable supplier. Other forms of head protection could include hairnets (but hardhats are required on construction sites).

Protecting the Eyes

Hazards to the eyes can include that from dust, projectiles, chemical or metal splashes and that from radiation. The wearing of goggles would be required here. Other forms of eye protection include face shields and visors. The correct type of eye protection must be sought, for example, in very dusty places, face visors may not totally protect the eyes from dust but may provide adequate protection from welding sparks. Each need would need to be assessed individually.

Protecting the Ears

The hazard here is noise. Even short high level sounds can be harm full to the ears. Options here include earplugs, earmuffs and canal caps.

Protecting the Hands

Hazards to the hands include cuts and punctures, electric shock, chemical burns, vibration, biological agents and temperature extremes etc. One should wear gloves, especially those with a cuff. Where necessary, gauntlets should be worn which cover the cuffs and even the whole arm. However, the tasks must be risk-assessed, for example, gloves can get caught when operating bench drills and operating machinery. Remember one’s hands are one’s wage-earners!

Protecting the Feet

Hazards here include wet and cold conditions, slipping, cuts and punctures, heavy loads, vehicles, chemical splashes etc. Protective toecaps and penetration-resistant safety shoes should be used. Footwear can have different types of soles, for example, oil or chemical resistant soles.

Protecting the Lungs

Sometimes on construction sites, it may be necessary to wear respiratory protective equipment (RPE), for example, in confined spaces and oxygen deficient spaces. If there are hazards to the lungs due to oxygen-deficient atmospheres, very dusty atmospheres, gases and vapours present, RPE may be required. Respirators can be simple fitting face pieces or power-assisted respirators. If necessary, respirators which give an independent supply of breathable air via a fresh air hose can be used. However, RPE are usually a last resort, as they can be cumbersome to use and it must be assessed whether they could pose more of a risk to the job than is already there.

Protecting the whole body

Hazards here could include chemical splashes, excessive exposure to heat, impact or penetration, entanglement of own clothing etc. Sometimes on construction sites, boiler suits and chemical suits are used. Materials could include high visibility, flame retardant, anti-static and those which are chemically impermeable.

Employers have a duty under the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002 and the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 (as amended) to ensure that their employees are not harmed in the course of their work. There are also other specialist regulations when working with  asbestos, lead, radiation, and noise. Basically, the regulations require that the PPE is properly assessed before use so that it’s fit for purpose. Also, that it’s maintained and stored properly. Employees should also be properly trained in its use.



As reported by the HSE, 20 tradespeople die on average every week from asbestos related diseases. Asbestos can be in any building or house if built before 2000. Asbestos is still present in millions of homes and buildings. The following is an advised approach to non-licensed working with and encountering asbestos and suspect asbestos materials. Information on when to source a licensed asbestos contractor is available from Guidance is given on the HSE website when it is acceptable to work with asbestos yourself and when you should seek professional help. A licensed contractor’s guide is also available.

There are legal duties on employers working with licensable and non-licensable work with asbestos. These duties are regulated by the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 and the Approved Code of Practice (ACOP). The regulations set the minimum standards whereby employees are protected from the risks due to asbestos exposure. This includes premises where there are members of the public and others present. As these regulations only deal with protecting people, they do not deal with protecting the environment. The Environment Agency (EA) in England and the governing bodies for Scotland and Wales should be consulted.

One cannot see or smell asbestos fibres in the air. The effects on one’s health can take many years to show up. If asbestos remains undisturbed, it should remain safe within its surroundings. It is only dangerous when the fibres become airborne. The main health risks include Mesothelioma (a fatal cancer), Asbestosis (scarring of the lungs, not always fatal but a debilitating disease) and diffuse pleural thickening of the lungs which causes breathlessness.

General guidelines for non-licenced work on asbestos/suspect materials

Reduce dust levels

  • Wetting asbestos materials causes fewer fibres to become airborne. The asbestos materials should be wetted (contact wetting agent suppliers for wetting material) before starting work but not too wet as it will then be a slurry hard to dispose of.
  • Some asbestos materials cannot be wetted all the way through, for example, boards, in these cases dust needs to be disposed of via a vacuum cleaner.
  • Spraying is the preferred wetting material, but if a brush is used, it must be disposed of with the other asbestos containing materials.
  • The material should be sprayed evenly and slowly so there are no dry patches.

Clean up as you go

  • To clean up minor asbestos contamination from smooth non absorbent surfaces, have a bucket of water, cotton rags, adhesive tape and asbestos waste container
  • When cleaning up with a rag (which should not disperse fluff), one should not re-soak the rag in water as this will re-contaminate the water
  • Clean surfaces of the rags should only be used then thrown away
  • Tape can be useful for picking up small fibres and asbestos dust, then should be disposed of with the other asbestos contained material

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • Disposable overalls. Cotton overalls trap dust and need specialist cleaning.
  • If the cuffs are loose seal them with tape
  • Don’t tuck overalls into footwear, as this may trap dust in the footwear
  • Use single use gloves
  • Wear the hood over the respiratory protective equipment straps
  • Never use laced boots are these are difficult to clean properly
  • Use suitable RPE with an Assigned Protection Factor of 20 or more.
  • This equipment would be ok for most short duration non-licenced work, longer working times requires powered equipment
  • Workers should be trained in case of emergency
  • Equipment should not be left near the worksite as it may collect asbestos fibres, it should only be removed from the user when totally out of harm’s way

Uncovering asbestos containing materials during the course of other work

  • You may be doing other work (e.g redecorating an old building, diy, electrical installation) and come upon an asbestos containing object. The immediate course of action is to keep everyone out of the area, report it to the person in charge, put up a warning sign.
  • If the material definitely contains asbestos, the client will need to source a licenced specialist
  • If there is some dust/fibres in air and on clothes, the individual needs to undress, shower, dispose of all clothes as asbestos containing waste (if there is a lot of dust/material on them) or special laundering if not
  • Care should be taken not to contaminate other areas


All workers on construction sites are required to wear hard hats. Other work sites where hard hats are mandatory include manufacturing, welding and the oil and gas industries. This is necessary to comply with the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 1992. The hard hats must be maintained and not be damaged (the shell or suspension must be capable of protecting the worker’s head). Hard hats should be purchased from a reputable known supplier; there are fake hard hats on the market. The hard hat must fit the person properly. To be safe, the hard hat must be worn as snugly as possible. Site rules should make it mandatory for workers and site visitors to wear hard hats. One should not wait until they are on site to wear a hard hat; they should be worn before site entry. Many accidents can occur within the first few seconds of site entry. Self -employed contractors should wear their own hard hats. If one is required to wear hearing protectors, the hard hat should not get in the way and be able to be correctly worn as well.

Unexpected injuries to the head and body can occur because of objects falling or being thrown from a height, protruding unprotected end of a scaffold poles, material falling off a load being lifted by a crane, projections not being covered or capped and insufficient headroom on a scaffold. These are just a few examples of how a head injury can occur, anything could happen on a building/construction site!

The hazards are many in this type of work environment. Workers can trip or slip because the access to or from the work place or the workplace itself is not safe. Trips are the most common cause of injuries on construction sites. Unsafe platforms or the absence of guard rails can pose a risk to workers. There is a risk of workers being knocked down by reversing and moving vehicles. Materials may roll off or be kicked off platforms. There is a risk of structures or a building collapsing on a building site because of weak supports. Structures can also unexpectedly collapse during demolition. Scaffolding may collapse because they have been overloaded or because ties have been removed too quickly. Wearing a hard hat in these situations may prevent or lessen injury. Hard hats may also protect from electric shock or burn hazards.

The result of not wearing a hard hat can be tragic. The suddenness of a head injury causes the brain to knock against the skull and possibly cause blood vessels to break.Head injuries can include concussions, paralysis and memory loss. Speech, sight and the other senses may also be affected. Paralysis may result in the worker being wheel chair bound.



The ACOP gives advice on how to comply with the law. There are many regulations within health and safety law which apply to the working of rider operated lift trucks. The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act), the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER), the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998, the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 (LOLER), the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM).

The first thing the ACOP concerns is training. Employers should not let anyone operate fork lift trucks if they have not had the proper basic training. Operators must also be fully trained before they are allowed to teach. Lift trucks used for training must be in good mechanical condition. Records should be kept of each employee who has completed the basic training and testing in accordance with the ACOP. Lift truck operators should be physically and mentally fit and to be safely able to control the vehicle. People with disabilities need not necessary be excluded from working with lift trucks. Reasonable adjustments may be ok to do providing operation of the lift truck is safe; the Equality Act 2010 will apply. Even though there is no legal requirement to issue certificates for basic level training, they do provide evidence that operators have received the relevant training. There is no such thing as a lift truck ‘licence’.

When lift trucks are in operation, their safe use is utmost. Pedestrians should be prohibited from being in these areas. Audible warning notices and flashing beacons should be used where necessary. All surfaces used by lift trucks should be firm and level. Some lift trucks are designed to operate on uneven surfaces. The work areas must be adequately lit.

There are various approaches to controlling the use of lift trucks. There should be a device fitted to prevent unauthorised use, such as a programmable fob. On LPG trucks, the gas supply should be turned off if the truck is left for some time. There should be enough parking areas so that lift trucks are comfortably parked. They should not be used in areas where there are flammable vapours or gases. Direct ignition could cause an explosion. LPG fuel cylinders should be changed outside buildings and away from sources of ignition.

People should never be lifted on the forks or on the pellet. To allow people to work at height, lift trucks can be used with integrated working platforms. This isolates the truck controls so that only the person on the platform can control the truck movements. A non-integrated platform is one where the platform is controlled solely by the truck operator. If driving a lift truck on the public road, the driver must comply with the appropriate legislation. The law requires that all vehicles should work correctly and non-lifting parts (e.g tyres, brakes, lights) should be regularly be inspected. Before the beginning of each shift, the lift truck operator should check the tyres, pressure, fuel levels, lights and look for any cracks or damage.


Construction workers, including bricklayers and labourers have the highest mortality rate within the construction industry. The main hazards in construction are chemical and physical. Chemical exposure includes breathing in vapours, gas and dust. Working outdoors exposures workers to the elements such as high temperatures, low temperatures, wet and windy conditions. Physical risks include falling debris, operating dangerous machinery/tools, electrocution, slippery surfaces, manual labour, noise, working with asbestos and basically any physical hazard on site. The problem is that the hazards and risks are often unknown and are ever changing in this dynamic work environment.

The five leading categories for ill health for the construction industry include hand-arm vibration syndrome, noise induced hearing loss, skin disorders, respiratory disease and musculoskeletal disorders.

Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS)
HAVS is caused by operating hand held power tools and hand guided equipment. Frequent use of these tools can cause vascular and musculoskeletal problems. Regulations under the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations (COVWR, 2005) impose responsibilities on employers to carry out a health surveillance at exposure action value (EAV) over an average eight hour working day. Occupational health professionals carrying out health checks must have a recognised qualification from Occupational Medicine.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss
Requirements under the Control of Noise at Work Regulations (2005) make it a requirement to carry out health surveillance for construction workers frequently exposed to noise. Monitoring means regular hearing tests, records being kept and the maintenance of any hearing protection used.

Skin Disorders
Work place dermatitis forms 80% of skin disorders contracted at work. This can be caused by fine particles of cement. Duties exist under COSHH (2002) and MHSW (1999) regulations to carry out a risk assessment to ensure workers are suitably monitored.

Respiratory Disease
Silica, asbestos and paint exposure can cause asthma and pulmonary disease. Occupational asthma due to prolonged exposure to irritants can lead to a chronic disability. Silica exposure can occur due to concrete removal, demolition work, sanding, cutting, drilling and grinding. Health surveillance should be considered if there is high risk of silicosis. Although chronic pulmonary disease is mainly caused by smoking, exposure to dusts, gases, fumes and vapours at work can cause this condition with a progressive decline in lung function. Requirements laid out in the Control of Asbestos at Work regulations (2006) require a health surveillance when working with asbestos.

Musculo-skeletal Disorders (MSD)
Areas affected are the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and other soft tissues. Although there is no requirement for health surveillance, symptoms should be monitored. MSD’s can occur in any kind of work, from typing to heavy manual labour. However, there are certain tasks that pose a greater risk of developing MSD’s: these include repetitive lifting, bending and lifting in awkward positions, working too long without breaks, repeating an action frequently and exerting too much pressure. In these circumstances, it may be necessary to refer a worker to the Occupational health practitioner.

Although a hazardous industry to work in, if the requirements under the health and safety legislation is adhered to there can only be a reduction in occupational health diseases and there has been so over the past years. However, this is a non-static and ever evolving industry so new measures and regulations will no doubt always be part of its future.

Sources   hse website

Working in the construction industry is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. Occupational fatalities are the highest in this industry, with falls from height accounting for most of the fatal and non-fatal injuries. Because of these occupational health hazards, health and safety rules and policies have to be tightly controlled in this industry. Compliance with HSE construction requirements and legislation will ensure safe work practices for construction workers.

Under European Union Law, there is the Directive 89/391 (the Framework Directive) and Directive 92/57 (the Temporary and Mobile Sites Directive) which places requirements on employers to protect workers’ health and safety. A Health and Safety Policy statement is required if a company has five or more employees (under section 2(3) of the Health and Safety Act; 1974). Whilst this statement does not have to be long (it can refer to other documentation such as risk assessments, training and emergency procedures) it does have to incorporate who does what and how it is done. In addition to the standard health and safety policy, an additional occupational health and safety policy may be more effective, especially if there is a large number of employees and diverse work conditions. This could be drawn up by a specialist occupational health professional to include sickness absence management advice, health surveillance, training and education and re-deployment. The referral to occupational health should not be a substitute for the employees’ normal primary care provision within the business. Both provisions for the health and safety of the worker would be used in parallel.

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM Regulations) define the legal duties for the safe operation of the UK construction industry. These regulations cover a very broad range of construction activities such as building, civil engineering and demolition. The HSE’s Approved Code of Practice (ACoP) gives practical advice on how to comply with the law. The main aspects of the CDM regulations are targeting health and safety improvements, having the right people for the right job and controlling risk on site and focusing on effective planning and not just paperwork. Legal duties are placed on clients, CDM coordinators, designers, contractors and workers. The CDM Co-ordinator is the facilitator that makes sure the project team co-operates, co-ordinates their work on health and safety and advises the client.

For certain job roles, there are pre-placement assessments of an individual’s fitness for work that need to be carried out. Examples of regulations that determine this are the Asbestos at work regulations, 2006, Control of Lead at Work Regulations (CLAW) 2002 and The Work in Compressed Air Regulations 1996. Individuals should undergo health surveillance assessments where there are possible hazards to their health, for example individuals exposed to noise, vibration and silica. Individuals involved in health monitoring must have an occupational professional monitoring their progress. Certain cases of disease are reportable to HSE under RIDDOR. Occupational health records should be kept by the occupational health provider (separate from health and safety records) and must be kept 10 years after the employee has left employment.

Sources    Wikipedia     hse website

The Sentinel Personal Track Safety card (PTS card) refers to an online record which contains competency information for individuals working on the UK rail lines. It is a database of personnel working on Network Rail. To obtain a Sentinel card, the individual must attend a training course sponsored by their employer (who is approved) and a course run by a licensed trainer. All Sentinel card holders are registered and managed by primary sponsors. The primary sponsor is responsible for the health and safety of the card holder and ensures that all competencies are up to date. The Sentinel card is proof that the individual has completed the necessary training to work on National Rail controlled infrastructure. Only individuals fully employed or starting off as entry level Personal Track Safety in the rail industry can obtain a sentinel card.  Some of the qualifications with the Sentinel Card are below:

PTS Personal Track Safety for non-electrified lines  COSS  Controller of site safety
 PTS AC Personal Track Safety for AC electrified lines  PC  Protection
 PTS DC Personal Track Safety for DC electrified lines  ES  Engineering supervisor
 LKT Lookout and site warden  PICOP  Person in charge of possession
 LKT (P) Lookout trained to use Pee Wee  SPICOP  Senior PICOP
 LKT (K) Lookout trained to use kango warning equip  NP OLE/AC-i  Nominated person
 AOD: HS Handsignaller  AP OLE/AC-i  Authorised person
 AOD:LXA  Level crossing attendant  RIO  Rail Incident officer
 AOD: PO Points operator  BSN1  Bridge strike nominee grade 1
 IWA Individual working alone  BSN 2  Bridge strike nominee grade 2
 TRK IND Track induction  BSE  Bridge strike examining engineer

With over 67,000 personnel working on the UK rail lines, it is imperative that everybody’s qualifications are up to date. To make things easier, new improved Sentinel smart cards (which work as a smart ID card) have been issued from January. These new smart cards have replaced the old ones. Some changes include allowing for records to be instantly updated and closer monitoring of staff hours. Sentinel cards allow such detail as machinery competencies, drug and alcohol tests and hours worked. The updated information is now stored on the smartcard’s chip and updated through regular use, rather than printed on the card itself. Each Sentinel card has a lifespan of 5 years, and can include any changes to competencies, sponsors and medical record.

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) have taken over responsibility for regulating health and safety on the railways. Before 2006 it had been regulated by the HSE. This has been one of the changes set out in The Railways Act 2005. The ORR regulates the rail industry’s health and safety performance through UK and European legislative framework. There are many other safety bodies involved with regulating and maintaining safety on the rail lines in the UK. One of these is the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB). The main objective of RSSB is to facilitate and lead in achieving continuous improvements on the health and safety of Britains railways. The Rail Accident Investigation Branch investigates all accidents with a view to improving rail safety. The British Transport Police and the Railway Industry Health and Safety Advisory Committee are also involved in regulations, investigations and improvements on our rail lines.

Sources      network rail media centre