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

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

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

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




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

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

The WHO has developed the WHO Five Keys to Safer Food

  1. Keep Clean

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

  1. Separate raw and cooked food

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

  1. Cook thoroughly

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

  1. Keep food at safe temperatures

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

  1. Use safe water and raw materials

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

WHO video – 7th April 2015



Falls and fall related injuries to the Elderly are a serious problem and every effort should be made to prevent this from happening, including the layout of the person’s immediate vicinity, the mobility aids used, the care home/place of care, the community they live in and the relations with their Carers/Healthcare professionals. People over 65 years of age have the highest risk of falling. Over a quarter of falls result in hip fractures and the cost of this to the health sector is about £2billion. A risk assessment (with multiple components) that aims to identify a person’s risk factors for falling should be carried out. Persons younger than 65 years may also need this assessment carried out. There may be a risk of falling due to cogitative impairment, health problems, medication, postural instability, visual impairment, syncope syndrome (passing out due to lack of blood flow to the brain) or simply wearing the wrong footwear.

Together with the risk assessment, there are health and safety measures that can be made in the layout of the care home and in the caring for the service user. The interior and exterior structure of the nursing home can be set up so that, although falls might happen naturally, there are not hazards around that can cause them. For example, one should not leave items on the stairs as they could be a trip hazard. Stairs should be fully maintained, ie any worn or damaged carpet should be removed or repaired. In the design of the care facility, one should avoid repetitive carpet patterns as it may produce a false perception for those with poor eyesight. Stairs and hallways should be well lit. Banisters should be sturdy with easy grip handrails. Older persons should be instructed and supported in the correct use of mobility equipment, e.g walking aids, mobile shower seats etc. Shoes and footwear should fit well to help with balance and stability. There should be grab rails at various points in the care home and places to sit down in the bathroom if needed. Spills on the floor should immediately be moped up.

Other hazards include fire related accidents. This is related to poor sense of smell, reduced tolerance of smoke and poor mobility.  Sources can include cookers, candles, coal fires, heaters and electric blankets. Electric blankets should be checked regularly. Smoke alarms should be fitted and one should not leave clothes drying over heaters. Carbon monoxide detectors should be fitted.When using showers care should be taken so that the care user doesn’t burn themselves. Kettles should only be used if one is capable to do so; the care service provider should ensure there is not a scalding risk and check all hot water appliances and any temperature dependent liquid.



The main aim of the COMAH regulations is to prevent and control the effects of major accidents involving dangerous substances like liquid petroleum gas, explosives and arsenic pentoxide, etc. A ‘“major accident” means an occurrence (including in particular, a major emission, fire or explosion) resulting from uncontrolled developments in the course of the operation of any establishment and leading to serious danger to human health or the environment, immediate or delayed, inside or outside the establishment, and involving one or more dangerous substances’. (

Basically, all establishment owners must prevent major accidents and limit their effects on the environment. In England and Wales, COMAH is enforced by the Health and Safety Executive and the Environment Agency and the Health and Safety Executive and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency in Scotland. These enforcing bodies must prohibit the operation of an establishment if there is evidence that measures taken by the establishment are not in the interests of the safety of people and the environment. The main industries that are under these remits are the chemical industry, nuclear sites and others. The process that identifies the way chemicals can cause harm is called classification. This criteria includes physical hazards (eg explosivity), health hazards (eg an irritant to skin) and environmental hazards (eg harm to aquatic life). As well as these hazards, the supplier/operator must also consider how certain it would be that the chemical would have this effect and how serious the effect might be.

It is the general duty on all operators to prevent major accidents and limit their conequences to the public and environment. Prevention should be based on the principle of reducing risk to a level as low as is reasonably practicable for human risks and using the best available technology not entailing excessive cost for environmental risks.

A new set of COMAH regulations will come into force on 1 June 2015. The Competent Authorities (CA) will make guidance available so that safety reports can be updated by organisations when the new regulations come into force. Important changes to be made include the classification of hazardous substances, more detail about site surroundings and how information is made available to the public. Also, the Competent Authorities are planning to provide an IT system to host public information regarding  establishments. Establishments will need to consider that new information will need to be included in major accident prevention policies and off-site emergency plans. Safety reports may need to be updated in line with the forthcoming regulations. A safety report is a document prepared by the site operator and sent to the CA. The safety report demonstrates all the necessary measures that have been taken by the establishment to prevent major accidents, and, should an accident occur, how it will be mitigated so that the public and the environment as least affected.





The Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012 came into force on 18 July 2012. These regulations cover obligations to businesses who use and supply pesticides. Part III of the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 (FEPA) also deals with regulating pesticides. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) also gives practical guidance on the storage and transport of pesticides and the obligations on those who store for sale and supply. The use of pesticides are also regulated by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 and the EU Directive 2009/128/EC which establishes a framework for Community action to achieve the sustainable use of pesticides. The Control of Pesticides Regulations (COPR) 1986 is also pertinent.

Pesticides are used to protect plants/crops from pests and diseases. Pesticides include insect killers (insecticides), mould and fungi killers (fungicides), weedkillers (herbicides), slug pellets (molluscicides), plant growth regulators, bird and animal repellents, and rat and mouse killers (rodenticides). Professional farmers who supply food to the country and internationally, breeders of animals and anyone who produces, supplies or uses pesticides, whether for home or commercial use, has an obligation to the environment and the public to be responsible in their use. Everyone who uses pesticides has the responsibility to ensure that they use them correctly and effectively. The products to be used must be authorized for use. The HSE has publishes a database of pesticide products and information on them. This includes changes to the register, products subject to withdrawal, active substances in the product, information on crops, aerial usage and marketing companies for the product. When using pesticides one should always read the label. This will include user restrictions, the crop or situation to be treated, operator protection or training requirements, the maximum application amount and permitted number of treatments, the products’ active ingredients, hazards, the safe disposal of the product and its registration number (Ministerially Approved Pesticide Product, MAPP).

There is also guidance on aerial spraying of pesticides, for example, there is guidance on precautions to be taken to prevent spray drift. When spraying by aircraft, one must provide notification to the public. In all situations it should be considered how the pesticide will affect other people’s health and the environment (as in a COSHH assessment). The COSHH regulations apply to a pesticide product if it is classified as very toxic/corrosive, has a ‘workplace exposure limit’ (WEL) and/or includes a micro-organism dangerous to health. For work with most pesticides one must wear suitable PPE to protect themselves (such as overalls, suitable gloves and boots). For those spraying pesticides they will need to wear respiratory protective equipment so they do not breathe in the fumes.


According to the HSE, it is estimated that about one third of RIDDOR (Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013) reports in health and social care are incorrectly recorded. Accidents in residential care homes, hospitals, dental practices, health care clinics, in patients own homes and in any care setting should be appropriately recorded and reported according to the RIDDOR regulations. Employers and others are required to report deaths, certain types of injuries, some occupational diseases and dangerous occurrences that ‘arise out of or in connection with work’. When an accident is reported via RIDDOR, this alerts the enforcing authorities to investigate the more serious incidents. Reports enable the HSE or the local authorities to identify where and how health and safety risks arise, reveal trends and help target activities. The report should be done by the ‘responsible person’ who may be the employer, a self-employed person or someone in control of the premises.

Death of any person, whether or not at work, if it was in connection with work, must be reported. However, there are certain instances where a death does not need to be reported. One is where a self-employed person in a premises where they are the owner or occupier. Other incidences include the death of the employee after one year from the date of the accident, if there is a suicide and where a disease is contracted not due to an accident (for example, contracting Legionnaires’ disease due to poor maintenance on a hot water system). However, this latter incident may be investigated and litigation brought forward under the HSW Act. If an employee (or self-employed person) is injured in a health or social care environment and has to take more than three days off work, then their injury needs to be reported. Injuries can be anything in connection with work and can include fractures, burns, any crush injury, reduction in sight etc. Also, if a person is off work for more than seven days the accident must also be reported. Records must be kept.

If an employee (or self-employed person) contracts a disease at work, it is reportable. Examples can include occupational dermatitis, hand-arm vibration syndrome, carpal tunnel syndrome, a disease attributed to a biological agent, etc. An example could be where a paramedic becomes hepatitis B positive after contamination with blood from an infected patient. A sharps injury must be reported. Sharps that do not cause diseases do not need to be reported (i.e. sharps not containing a blood borne virus). Injuries and ill health not involving people at work need to also be reported. The incident must arise out of or in connection with work being undertaken by others, for example, where a patient is scalded by hot bath water and taken to hospital for treatment. A fall is reportable under RIDDOR when it has arisen out of or in connection with a work activity. This includes where equipment is involved. Dangerous occurrences in health and social care should also be reported.  An example could be the failure of load-bearing parts of lifts and lifting equipment, an electrical short circuit or overload that could or has caused a fire or explosion. Although these may not result in a reportable injury, if they have the potential to cause harm they need to be reported.


The HSWA (Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974) has existed for more than 40 years and is the primary piece of legislation covering occupational health and safety in the UK. It is enforced by the HSE. Basically every employer and self-employed person has a duty of care to ensure that they are not putting people’s lives and the environment at risk. Employees also have a duty to report any risks they foresee or experience to their colleagues or their employers. Even visitors have a duty of care and should speak up if they see anything wrong.

Employers may install their own health and safety systems or may need outside help. Competent persons may be outsourced to help the employer meet the health and safety standards as outlined by the HSWA and other regulations pertinent to the business. The competent person should have the knowledge and experience to fulfil this task. One of the first things a start up business does or an established business has, is the production of a health and safety policy. This policy states who does what, when and how. However, if an employer has fewer than five employees they do not need to write down a health and safety policy, although it is always a good idea to write things down for ease of understanding and direction. Parts of such a policy could include what to do in an emergency, i.e evacuation plans, the periodic testing of equipment if appropriate, and, inductions for staff and contractors. It can be as simple or as elaborate as necessary.

A critical part of working according to the HSWA is the control of risks within the business. A risk assessment must be carried out and it must be investigated what could cause harm, to what extent it could cause harm and who to (including the environment). Once risks are identified they must be controlled by changing work processes, supplying protective equipment or asking the experts what to do. Although risks may not be totally eliminated within the workplace, measures must be taken so that risk is reduced to what is ‘practically possible’. Significant findings should be recorded on the risk register and reviewed as there are changes to the workplace environment.

Sometimes the employees themselves may be more aware of certain risks because of their work within the environment. Employees should always be consulted. They should also be trained in how to mitigate against risks (as it pertains to their job), and information and PPE available to them as required. Contractors and the self-employed must also be included. Vulnerable persons such as the young, migrant workers, expectant women and disabled persons must be helped in whatever way best brings about the best quality of life for them in the work environment. There must be first aid facilities on site, an accident record book (RIDDOR reporting system), health and safety display information (eg posters) clearly visible and employers liability insurance.


By nature, we all live to the tune of our internal clock or ‘circadian rhythm’. This pattern of living is imprinted in the brain and governs our waking and sleeping biological activities. Our heart rate, body temperature and blood rate is increased during the day, whereas at night these biological activities slow down. Shift work schedules require abrupt changes to this pattern. Our internal clock can change gradually but does take some time. Some individuals adapt easier than others. Where one doesn’t get enough sleep at the proper times (i.e. during the night) ,performance and errors are more likely. Although, it’s rarely possible to fully adjust to working at night or outside normal working hours, shift work can be managed to lessen to risk to the body and the work environment.

Short term effects of shift work include gastrointestinal problems, insomnia, a general feeling of unwell and increased risks of injuries. Long term effects can include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, depression, cancer and problems with fertility and pregnancy. Some of the serious risks can develop over decades and some over a shorter period of time. However, if you work in nursing, are a doctor, firefighter, or work in the police force or emergency services, or basically have to work at night, what can you do?

All employers, under the Health and Safety Act have a duty to ensure that they have minimised the risks to a level that is reasonably practical. Risk assessments should be carried out to ascertain the risks that workers may be exposed to. The risk assessment should take full account of the hazards associated with fatigue. It should also be established who might be harmed by shift work. Even though all workers are at risk from shift work, some might be more vulnerable than others. More vulnerable persons may include older workers, younger workers, expectant mothers, workers with pre-existing health conditions, temporary workers and sub-contractors who may find it difficult to adhere to current shift work patterns. Members of the public may also be at risk if they are in the environment where shift work takes place. Data should be collected about the shift work arrangements and used to identify areas where improvements can be made, if necessary. Past accident record books should be consulted. Shift workers should have safety representatives to speak on their behalf.

If practical, demanding work periods should be scheduled when workers are more alert, for example, at the beginning of a shift. Those who work on a more permanent night shift basis should have information regarding the risks. At shift handover, there should be brief communication liaison meeting so that the next set of shift workers are aware of the current situation. There should be adequate rest time between shifts. If practical, shifts should be rotated every 2 to 3 days as the internal body clock doesn’t adapt this quickly and sleep loss can be recovered. Permanent night time work and shifts of more than 8 hours should be avoided. Rest facilities and breaks should be part of the shift pattern. The work place temperature should be adjustable as the body cools down at night. Healthy living strategies should be promoted at work such as eating well, exercising and regular check-ups with the doctor.


Competent running of sports clubs and amateur sports centres come under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. These laws apply to the employers and the self-employed involved in running these centres. The employers must also use the Act in this situation to protect those not officially at work, i.e. volunteer staff, visiting teams and spectators. Everybody at the leisure centre and in connection with it, should not be at risk. Sports can mean anything from swimming clubs to hockey teams to gymnastics. Anyone who controls premises like sports grounds and work out areas must ensure that all equipment is in good working order. Management must ensure that no one is at risk, in both indoor and outdoor areas. Management at sports clubs have a duty of care to ensure they regularly check sports equipment and premises to ensure all is safe and in good working order.

However, health and safety law does not cover injuries incurred by players in competitive sports. The safety of participants in competitions and those partaking in training at these sports clubs may go beyond the set workplace health and safety rules. Sports governing bodies specifically regulate sports and leisure centre related environments. Every sport has a different governing body that defines how that particular sport is operated through its sports societies and clubs. National and international sports federations create common sets of rules and guidelines for competitions and sports related activities. A federation can be different from a national governing body due to government recognition requirements. There are also professional leagues and many other local and international sport bodies that have health and safety rules in place. The Sport and Recreation Alliance is the umbrella organisation in the UK, representing the different governing and representative bodies, and, has 320 member organisations. These member organisations run their sport or activity, promote participation and set the rules and conditions under which it takes place.

When planning and running low risk sports events and activities, the club/premises owners are required to consider the safety of all concerned. Areas that must be considered are the weather conditions, access roads and paths, seating areas, playing areas, parking, first aid provision and emergency procedures. For example, some leisure centres have swimming pools; these would need to be managed in a risk controlled environment because of the risk of drowning. Pool operators would have to display safety signs in clear view, have first aiders on site and respiratory equipment within easy reach. Simple sensible precautions may be enough for some aspects of an event or sport club centre. Other areas will involve meticulous risk assessment with control of those risks.



Two thirds of all accidents in engineering workshops occur during the movement of people, goods and equipment. Accidents can happen to operators using automatic, manual and CNC machines. CNC stands for computer numerical control. These machines are programmed by computers to control feed rate, speed and coordination etc. These machines are very useful and are mostly used in the manufacturing of plastics and metals. However, they still need human operators interacting with them and so pose a risk to one’s health. Accidents can occur during the loading or unloading of components, the taking measuring, feeding etc. There is more operator interaction with manually operated machines. Machine movements include cutting, shearing and sawing etc. Automatic machines that pose a risk are presses, milling machines, drilling machines, grinding machines and guillotines. Hands and fingers are most frequently injured, however, knocks to the eyes, disentanglements of clothing leading to injuries, lacerations and broken bones can all happen.

To help prevent accidents with manually operated machines, fixed guards should be used to unload and load components to the tool working edge.  For both automatic and CNC machines, all dangerous body movements (not just interaction with tools) should be guarded against with guards in place and PPE in use. To safeguard against noise, noise enclosures or controlling noise at source should be adapted. For some one-off tasks, the machine and guard may have to be adjusted continually and be under close observation. With all risky processes, interlocking should be in place so that the power to dangerous machine parts is removed when interlocking guards are open or the movements are limited to safe increments or speeds. Enclosing guards should be used to contain hazardous emissions such as metalworking fluids, mists and fume vapour. Where there is a change in a machine function from manual to automatic or vice versa, new risks may be introduced; the operator needs to be apt at making sure the new risk control settings are in place during each new operation.

Under the law, the provision and use of work equipment regulations 1998 place duties on employers and the self-employed to ensure proper training for operators, information on the dangers, proper lighting, ventilation and a PPE system is in place. Warning labels, control systems, protection for the operator (i.e guard rails etc.) and the safe automatic shutdown of machines in emergency are all part of these regulations. Regular inspection and the necessary maintenance should be carried out where there is a risk of injury that may occur from the incorrect installation of the equipment and the deterioration of the work equipment over time. Records should be kept of all fittings done, maintenance and inspection dates. All new machinery procured should have the ‘CE’ mark and have conformity with the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations. According to Section 6 of The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, machinery should be constructed so that it is safe and without risks to health and has accompanying instruction information.