Falls from height remains one of the biggest causes of workplace deaths, with 26 per cent of all fatal construction accidents resulting from a fall from height during 2010/11. One of the main regulations that apply to those working at height includes the Work at Height Regulations 2005. These regulations apply to all who work at height where there is a risk that a fall could cause an injury. These regulations place duties on employers, the self-employed and any persons who control the work of others which involves working at height. Those working at height must be trained and supervised by a competent person. Employers/duty-holders must avoid working at height where they can, and, if they cannot avoid working at height, suitable work equipment must be in place to prevent falls. If there is a risk of a fall, measures must also be put in place to minimize the distance of the fall and the consequences of the fall.

Employees and self-employed must report any hazards and use the equipment provided that they have been trained and experienced in how to use. The duty holder’s responsibilities include making sure that all work at height is properly planned and organized. The weather conditions must be taken into account and the place where the work is done must be safe. Those working at height must be properly trained and competent to carry out the tasks. The  equipment must also be regularly inspected. Risks from fragile surfaces and falling objects must be properly controlled.

Safe use of ladders
A third of all falls from height are from ladders or stepladders. It is therefore imperative to use them correctly.

  • They should only be used for “light work”, not lifting of heavy loads up and down a ladder
  • For safety, there must be 3 points of contact (hands and feet) when working on the ladder
  • If a handhold cannot be maintained, a risk assessment will have to justify whether it is safe or not to use the ladder
  • One should have a tool belt and one hand free to grip the ladder when carrying items up and down the ladder
  • Ladders must not be overloaded
  • where step ladders are used, one should stand on them facing the work activity, not sideways
  • Ladders need to be placed on dry, firm level ground. Avoid shiny surfaces
  • They should not be placed near hazards like windows, doors, where pedestrians can walk under them or where there are moving vehicles
  • Ladders should not be used within 6 m horizontally of any overhead power lines

As well as the Work at Height Regulation 2005, other regulations that are applicable to those working at height include the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007,  the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992, the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and the Personal Protective Equipment Regulations 2002.
sources   hse   wahsa   ucatt


To prevent accidents in the Health Care sector, lifting equipment should be properly maintained and operated by trained individuals. There are two sets of regulations that apply to the use of work equipment, these are the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) and the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER). LOLER 1998 is more concerned with equipment being able to lift properly with minimal risk, whereas PUWER is about the general suitability of the equipment and its use by trained staff.

LOLER 1998 is a set of regulations which were created under the Health and Safety Act 1974. The purpose of the regulations is to reduce the risk of injury from using lifting equipment at work. The regulations say that the equipment should be strong enough for use, and, that it should be marked to indicate safe working loads. Other areas in the regulations include installing the equipment in such a way that it is positioned to minimize risk, that it is organized and operated by a competent person and that it is regularly inspected and maintained as appropriate. LOLER 1998 does not apply to all equipment used to lift a load, equipment must be defined as “work equipment”. This equipment is defined in the regulations as “work equipment for lifting or lowering loads and includes its attachments used for anchoring, fixing or supporting it”. Basically, any equipment used by an employee at work will come under this definition. Examples of instances where LOLER 1998 would not apply can include a member of the public purchasing equipment for home use or where equipment has been loaned by an employer to someone for personal use. However, in the latter case, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 would apply, i.e to provide safe equipment and maintain it, as is practically possible.

If LOLER 1998 applies, examination of the equipment is necessary during its lifespan. After the initial installation, the equipment would need to be checked to ensure it is in working order. If lifting equipment is used regularly, and, exposed to conditions that might cause deterioration, in this case the equipment would need to be inspected regularly to prevent serious or fatal injuries.  According to the regulations, this type of equipment would have to be checked every 6 months or less.  For equipment not involving people, it should be checked yearly. The competent person checking the equipment must have theoretical and practical knowledge of the equipment. They must be able to detect defects or weaknesses. Regulation 9 of LOLER 1998 outlines specific requirements for the formal inspection of lifting equipment. The findings must be recorded and inspections made in line with the requirements of schedule 1 of LOLER 1998. Outside of routine examinations, equipment may need to be maintained, this includes replacing worn or damaged parts, lubrication and making routine adjustments.

The Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) places duties on employers and equipment owners to ensure that the equipment is right for the job. Under these regulations, the equipment should also be maintained in a safe condition, inspected so that it is installed correctly and used by trained personnel only. The equipment should also have suitable health and safety measures, i.e emergency stop controls, clearly visible markings and warning devices. It should clearly state the safe working load.

As well as the two regulations outlined above, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 are applicable as well.


Sources     wikipedia    hse

RIDDOR Changes – October 2013
Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) are changing on 1st October 2013. The changes are to be implemented from 1st October 2013 however they remain subject to Parliamentary approval.

RIDDOR Changes – April 2012
RIDDOR changes began last year when from the 6th April 2012, the over-three-day reporting requirement for people injured at work changed to more than seven days. A business has to report injuries that lead to a worker being incapacitated for more than seven consecutive days as the result of an occupational accident or injury (not counting the day of the accident but including weekends and rest days). Incapacitation means that the worker is absent, or is unable to do work that they would reasonably be expected to do as part of their normal work. The report must be made within 15 days of the accident.

In addition the business must keep a record of the accident if the worker has been incapacitated for more than three consecutive days. Under the Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1979 an employer must keep an accident book and that record can be treated as a record for the purposes of RIDDOR.

Background history to the changes
Professor Ragnar E Löfstedt compiled a report in November 2011 titled ‘Reclaiming health and safety for all’. It was an independent review of health and safety legislation evaluating whether changes were required. The focus of his review had been on the 200 regulations and the 53 Approved Codes of Practice (ACoPs) owned by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Report Findings on RIDDOR ‘Reclaiming health and safety for all’ Chapter 5 section 17-23
RIDDOR was reviewed within the Report ‘Reclaiming health and safety for all’ Chapter 5 section 17-23. Some of the findings that lead to Professor Löfstedt calling for a review were:

  • He noted that the HSE had already established that there was a considerable degree of under reporting, estimating that only around half of reportable, non-fatal injuries are reported.
  • He noted that those companies who do report are more likely to be visited by enforcing authorities than those who fail to report.
  • He noted the ‘fee for intervention’ could potentially further deter businesses from reporting which needs to be monitored.
  • He noted that Lord Young in his review of health and safety report ‘Common Sense, Common Safety’ recommended the extension to seven days for the period before an injury or accident needs to be reported.
  • He also conveys in his report a concern amongst employers regarding the ambiguity over what to report.

He concluded that there was no case for radically altering legislation and gave recommendations on changes that would support a more simplified and widely understood approach. Any changes would need to continue to enable businesses to make proportionate decisions about managing workplace risks ultimately reducing incidents and excessive bureaucracy.

Cost of workplace accidents and ill health was also considered in his report. The HSE report The Health and Safety of Great Britain \\ Be part of the solution stated on page 5 that estimates suggest that the cost to UK business alone could be just over £3 billion, whilst the overall cost of workplace accidents and ill health has been estimated to be up to a staggering £20 billion a year (approximately 2% of GDP). Costs both direct and indirect to a business and the HSE could potentially be reduced with any changes.

Professor Löfstedt reviewed the RIDDOR Regulations and one of the recommendations within the report was that RIDDOR Regulations and its associated guidance should be amended by the end of 2013 to provide clarity for businesses on how to comply with the requirements.

What is changing in RIDDOR?
The main changes are to simplify the reporting requirements in the following areas:

  • The classification of ‘major injuries’ to workers is being replaced with a shorter list of ‘specified injuries’.
  • The existing schedule detailing 47 types of industrial disease is being replaced with eight categories of reportable work-related illness.
  • Fewer types of ‘dangerous occurrence’ will require reporting.

There are no significant changes to the reporting requirements for:

  • Fatal accidents.
  • Accidents to non-workers (members of the public).
  • Accidents which result in the incapacitation of a worker for more than seven days.

Protectus Consulting can provide support and advice to your business on the investigation and recording of a workplace incident.

We would recommend that the business review the incident investigation and reporting policies/procedures and review any changes in line with RIDDOR changes in October.


Sources    hse     gov.uk

As of the 1st October 2013, there has been a change in health and safety regulations. Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 have been amended; the HSE no longer needs to approve first aid training and qualifications. This change in regulations applies to all businesses and sectors. This change has been done to reduce the burden on employers and to give them more flexibility in choosing their own training providers and first aid facilities relevant to their work places. However, employers still have a legal responsibility to ensure their training providers meet set standards and there is adequate first aid provision at the workplace. The Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) sets out the aspects of first aid that employers need to address; it offers advice on what to do to comply with regulations.

All employers need to undertake a “needs assessment” to ascertain the level of first aid provision at work. A first aid assessment can be done yearly or when there is a major oganisational change at work. First aid needs should be regularily reviewed and should be an integral part of the general risk assessments. Reviewing of previous accident reports, illnesses and near misses will help in the first aid needs assessment. The level of first aid personnel, equipment and facilities needs to be adequate for the work place environment. This will depend on the hazards and risks within the workplace.  If first aiders are provided in the workplace they should have the appropriate first aid qualification and remain competent in their role. Typically they should hold either first aid at work (FAW) or emergency first aid at work (EFAW). If the needs assessment requires that no first aiders are necessary at work, a competent person should be appointed to fulfill the role; to care of first aid arrangements and to call the emergency services when needed. To ascertain how much first aid provision is needed, employers need to examine the equipment and work role duties to determine the hazards and risks. Some personnel may be at more risk than others. Most small low risk workplaces only need a first aid box, a person appointed to take care of it and to call the emergency services when needed. In this case, this person does not need specific first aid training. However, if the workplace uses heavy machinery or hazardous materials, a trained first aider is essential. If a site has many buildings far apart, it should be considered how quickly the first aider can get from one place to another. Otherwise many representative individuals may need to be appointed.

Staff should be aware of who their first aider is and where equipment and supplies are stored. Specialist training of staff may be necessary for high hazard areas or where there is a frequency of accidents. There may have to be a different risk assessments for each building, for example, an office environment will be different from a production line. There should be safe evacuation emergency procedures set up for staff and personnel who are disabled. Employees working alone, contractors, mobile workers and shift workers should be considered in the needs assessment as their requirements may differ. There is no legal obligation to cover visitors on a site, but it is good practice to make provision for them. In performing a first aid needs assessment there are many things that can help. These include accident report books, work manuals, absence records, ambulance response times, holiday patterns and age profile of employees.

In assessing their needs, employers should consider:

■ the nature of the workforce,  for example, heavy industrial or general office

■ the reporting and frequency of previous accidents

■ the size of the organization and number of employees

■ the needs of shift, contract, and remote workers

■ the distribution of the workforce

■ the remoteness of the site from emergency services

■ employees working on multi-occupied sites

■ annual leave of first-aiders and appointed persons

Sources    hse    st john ambulance   cipd

Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia caused by the bacterium Legionella pneumophila. This bacterium causes an acute infectious respiratory process which can potentially be fatal for some. Sometimes a lesser non-fatal infection can occur called Pontiac fever or Lochgoilhead fever that resemble acute influenza. Legionellosis is the collective name given to the pneumonia-like illness caused by legionella bacteria. Legionella pneumophila  is normally found in rivers, lakes and reservoirs, but in low numbers. However, the bacterium can also be found in purpose-built water systems such as cooling towers, evaporative condensers, hot water systems and whirlpool spas used in domestic and commercial premises. The bacterium doesn’t live very well below 20°C and will not survive above 60°C. In addition, these organisms favour nutrients (that may be found in non-maintained water systems) e.g. presence of sludge, scale or fouling.  Stored and/or re-circulated water and aerosols created by a cooling tower may also favour its’ growth. The risk of legionellosis arises when the bacterium grows in increasing amounts in domestic and commercial contained water systems. Anybody can catch legionnaires’ disease, simply by inhaling small droplets of water which may be suspended in the air which can be spread through humidifiers, water misting systems, high pressure water cleaning machines and, by contact with soil contaminated with the bacteria. As well as affecting the general public, it can also affect workers, especially maintenance technicians of air-conditioning or water supply systems. Work professionals affected can also include those that might be involved in using suspended water systems,  such as vehicle washers, healthcare workers, dental workers, workers in industrial wastewater treatment plants, among others. The bacterium is not known to be transmitted person to person.

During infection, the bacterium invades lung epithelial cells and replicates intracellularly. Some people can be infected and show only mild or no symptoms at all. Others develop flu – like systems which include high temperature, changes in temperature, coughs, muscle pains and headache. In severe cases there may be pneumonia which can be fatal. Everybody is susceptible to infection, however the elderly, heavy smokers, heavy drinkers, those with an impaired immune system and those suffering from chronic respiratory diseases are particularly at risk. Treatment includes antibiotics such as levofloxacin and azithromycin.

Duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 (COSHH) and the Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 concern the risk from exposure to legionella bacteria in the workplace. Employers are responsible under these acts and other regulations to maintain a safe working environment for workers. Specifically, the COSHH Regulations provide a way of controlling  the risk from a range of hazardous substances including biological agents. Employers who have cooling towers and evaporative condensers on their premises are required, under the Notification of Cooling Towers and Evaporative Condensers Regulations 1992, to notify their local authority.


  • If, after carrying out a risk assessment in the workplace, there is reasonably foreseeable risk, the water systems or parts of them need to be avoided where it is practicable. If working with the water systems cannot be avoided, then there should be a written provision for controlling the risk from exposure, which, should be properly managed. This plan should have a remedial action plan in the event that the scheme is not effective. The plan should also contain instructions for the safe working of the water systems.
  • A system would be set in place where there is reduced exposure to water droplets, avoidance of water temperatures that favour the growth of the bacterium, avoidance of water stagnation and of materials that might inadvertently provide nutrients to the bacteriums’ growth. There should also be use of safe water treatment techniques and safe working of the water system.
  • Risk of exposure may be reduced by using a dry cooling plant, and risks reduced by  changes to engineering protocols and cleaning protocols.
  • The plan should include details on the physical treatment program, for example, the use of temperature to control the system and on the chemical treatment programme. Also, the health and safety information for storage, handling, use and disposal of chemicals, cleaning and disinfecting procedures, information on shutdown procedures and operating cycles needs to be included.
  • Routine testing of water quality and bacterial numbers should be part of the scheme.
  • Records should be kept of any accidents, results and exposures.


Sources   wikipedia    hse   osha

Hydraulic fracturing is commonly known as “Fracking”. This is the process whereby pressured rock (shale rock) is fractured by a pressurized liquid. Shale gas is natural gas trapped in shale rock. The technique involves mixing water with sand and chemicals, then injecting this mixture at a high pressure into a hole in the ground. This hole or wellbore is used for the extraction of gas and petroleum. The high pressure from the “fracking” creates very small cracks along the wellbore allowing trapped gas, petroleum and brine water to migrate to the well. When hydraulic pressure is removed from the well, these cracks are kept open by small grains of sand or aluminium oxide. Fracking is a very common technique for onshore well extraction of shale gas, oil and coal bed methane extraction. The Fracking procedure makes fluids flow more easily and greatly enhances productivity. Hydraulic fracturing was first used in 1947. As of 2012, 2.5 million fracking techniques have been performed on oil and gas wells worldwide, a million of them in the US. Hydraulic fracturing is economically viable due to technological developments, and, it is now easier to extract gas from previous unaccessible sites. Nearly all natural gas extraction today is by hydraulic fracturing.

Of late, the shale gas industry has come under intense scrutiny. Just this month, a row has erupted in the UK in the small village of Balcombe (West Sussex) over plans to start fracking there. Hundreds of protesters blocked the oil exploration site. Protesters fear that the fracking may trigger small earthquakes and pollute the water. Similarily in the US, opponents of fracking are putting pressure on the White House to curtain fracking. Britain is looking for new resources to meet its gas needs; imports from outside the North Sea is set to surpass domestic production by 2015. Despite there being potentially vast quantities of shale gas in the north of England, last year, 50 billion cubic metres of gas was imported. The Prime Minister has supported the fracking technique, saying that it will create more jobs and make Britain more energy efficient.

The massive expansion of US shale gas has driven down energy prices and cut dependency on imports. Some of the largest natural gas reserves are in America. 30% of the US gas is obtained  today by fracking, compared to a decade ago when it was only 1%. In the EU, France and the Netherlands have banned the practice. Denmark and Poland are keen on the idea. Fracking has been used in the UK since the 1980s but was unofficially suspended in the UK between June 2011 and April 2012 after triggering small earthquakes. The ban has since been lifted and the UK will regulate fracking by focusing on laws and regulations rather than outright prohibition. Fracking did not attract attention until its use was proposed for onshore shale gas wells in 2007. And recently the protests in Balcombe, in 2013.

Environmental concerns over fracking have been raised since the 1980s and have been debated ever since. There have been conflicting conclusions from research studies. Although there is definitely proven conclusions from research, in some areas there hasn’t been very strong documented results. Differing studies have shown that carbon dioxide released due to fracking could accelerate climate change; other studies show it may well decrease it. It has been said that natural gas could replace coal and oil, cutting down on CO2 emmissions. Methane can also be released into the atmosphere from the fracking procedure. Methane is much more harmful and potent to the environment than CO2. Another gas that is flared from wells, is, hydrogen sulphide, which is an irritant and can cause problems to the central nervous system. Fracking operations in the US have been suspected of making the surrounding drinking water polluted –  in areas such as Arkansas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, among others. Because hydraulic fracturing uses a huge volume of water for the pressure, i.e between 1.2 and 3.5 million US gallons, it can take precious  reserves from residential and arid areas. Although the chemicals used in the fracking process are generally harmless, they can be carcinogenic in high concentrations. It has been reported that there has been dangerous air pollution, destroyed streams, devasted landscapes and induction of earthquakes due to fracking. A study from the US has said that workers risked developing lung disease due to the silica used in the fracking procedure. There is some concern over the levels of radiation in wastewater from sites and its potential impact on public health. As of 2012, because of these findings and others, it has been reported that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is conducting comprehensive field research.

In the UK,the HSE monitors site safety and well safety of hydraulic fracturing. The two main regulations are the The Borehole Site and Operations Regulations 1995 (BSOR) and the The Offshore Installations and Wells (Design and Construction, etc) Regulations 1996 (DCR). The former applies to shale gas operations and is generally concerned with site health and safety. The former applies to both onshore and offshore extraction from gas wells. The HSE and the Environment agency (EA) work together to ensure that there is environmental protection and planning authorisation considerations in fracking operations. Shale gas wells must be designed, built and operated in line with these standards and operations. The Environment Agency is responsible for managing water resources, groundwater discharge activities, issuing permits for radioactive substances and for certain industrial, farming and waste management activities involving fracking.

It has been reported that areas to regule in the fracking technique should include checking the concrete casing inside the well bores. It should be strong enough to prevent groundwater contamination. This should be a legal requirement. The toxic fluid released as a by- product of fracking, should, be stored in tanks so it dosnt leak out and contaminate the surrounding air and soil. To prevent seepage of fluid, fracking should be carried out in as much isolation as possible, far away from freshwater aquifers. Also, gas companies should inject tracers so that fluid can be monitored if it ends up in residents tapwater. Aquifers and drinking-water wells should be tested before drilling and routinely to control any contamination of the ground water.

Sources   wikipedia   hse   new scientist   NRDC   reuters   ivn.us   ibtimes   bloomberg   newsmax   scientific american

Image source   bbc


Fracking for Shale Gas

Fracking Technique


Acetylene is a colorless gas. It is odourless in pure form but industrial acetylene has some odour due to impurities. 20 per cent of acetylene is used for gas welding and cutting, due to its high flame temperature of 3300 °C when mixed with oxygen. It has the third hottest natural flame. Oxy-acetylene welding is used quite a lot as it is very versatile. It is preferred as the torch is best used for some kinds of steel or iron welding and it can also be used for bending, brazing, tempering and other applications. It is usually handled in solution (in metal containers) as it is unstable in pure form. This makes it safe for transport and use, given proper handling. Where acetylene is used in welding and cutting, its pressure (safe use is 15 psig) must be controlled by a regulator or it may cause an explosion. Acetylene is an extremely flammable gas and safety regulations must be adhered to, to ensure proper use.

Under certain conditions acetylene can decompose explosively into its constituent elements i.e carbon and hydrogen. This can cause an explosion. There are three main conditions where this can happen i.e the gas is not at the correct pressure, the gas hoses are not purged (flushed out) and the cylinders are not protected with flashback arresters. A flash back can occur when there is a flammable mixture of fuel gas and oxygen in the hoses when the torch is lit. If not stopped, the flame can ignite the mixture, travel along the hoses to the cylinders and cause an explosion. However, there would be time for emergency action and evacuation most times as it can take a while for the decomposition of the gas. This is due to the porous material used to encase acetylene cylinders. For safe welding, the acetylene pressure should not exceed 0.62 bar (9psi). Purging the hoses involves opening up the gas supply to each hose for a few seconds to flush out any flammable mixes before use. Flash arresters should be fitted to the regulators and the cylinders.

The HSE is currently consulting on proposals to consolidate and modernise the current legislative arrangements for acetylene. The new regulations will consolidate the rules currently in place. The current rules are fragmented at the moment due to then coming from different sets of regulations and amendments. The proposed consolidation will not alter the existing set of regulations already in place for the use of acetylene, but simply make them easier to understand. The risks posed by acetylene are currently governed under the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002 (DSEAR). However, the HSE points out the DSEAR does not fully address, that, under certain conditions, even in the absence of oxygen, acetylene could undergo decomposition that can lead to an explosion. The explosives regulations does not fully address this issue at the moment. The proposed regulations are named the Control of Acetylene Regulations 2014 (CAR 2014). Public consultation commenced July 2013 and all comments on the consultation must be reviewed by 24 September 2013. CAR 2014 will modernise acetylene regulation. CAR 2014 has been developed with a working group including representatives from trade unions, fire and rescue services, government departments, security services and the Department for Transport. CAR 2014 will consolidate the current regulations and ensure that legislation includes  the safe production, storage and use of acetylene.

Sources   wikipedia   hse

Obviously, from the picture above, there was little concept of Health and Safety in the early 1900s. However, a need for Health and Safety regulation had begun in the UK in 1833 with the appointment of the first factory inspectors. This was because of the Factories Act 1833. However, before this, was The Factories Act 1802 which regulated factory conditions, with particular regard to children in both cotton and woollen mills. Initially, these early Acts were to protect children in factories. The 1819 Cotton Mills and Factories Act stated that no children under 9 were to be employed and that children aged 9-16 years were limited to 12 hours’ work per day. This would seem appauling by today’s standards where it is illegal to employ a child under 15 years of age; and only under certain conditions.  It wasn’t until The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 in the US that instituted the first nation-wide restrictions on the use of child labor.

The Inspectors that were appointed, as a result of the Factories Act 1833, had good authority i.e they could introduce new regulations and laws to ensure the Factory Act. By 1871 the Factories Act was extended to almost every workplace. All workplaces now began to respect minimum standards. The Mines Act 1842 came into force because of the amount of fatalities and health risks to workers. Changes to the mining industry included the reporting of accidents, training, and, making the mines safer for workers. In 1893 the first female inspectors were appointed. The Quarries Act came into force in 1894. Before this inspectors could only inspect quarries using steam power, but this Act now allowed them to inspect all quarries.

Fast forward 50 or so years and we have the Agriculture (Safety, Health and Welfare Provisions) Act 1956. This provided safeguards for children and agricultural workers who come in contact with machinery and farm equipment. This Act laid down laws for the reporting of accidents, provisions for clean sanitary conditions and the prohibiting of lifting of excessive weights. Due to a major incident at the Windscale nuclear site in 1957, the Nuclear Installations Act was passed in 1959. This Act is responsible for licencing and regulating all nuclear reactors in the UK. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 introduced a new system which consolidated detailed regulations into more understandable rules for all workplaces globally. It produced more of an engaging system for employees and employers. Shortly after this, the Health and Safety Commission (HSC) was formed and a year later the HSE was set up. The HSE undertook the requirements of the Health and Safety Commission and was responsible for enforcing health and safety legislation in all workplaces in the UK. A number of regulatory organisations were now governed by the HSE. The HSC encouraged positive attitudes to health and safety in the workplace and the understanding of risk assessment to better ensure a safer work environment. There would now be safety representatives in the workplace.

In the 1980s many major Acts were introduced including the Control of Lead at Work Regulations 1980, Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981, Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1985, Asbestos (Licensing) Regulations 1983 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations in 1988. In the 1990s, up to the present day, manyimprovements have been made in (including Acts introduced) rail safety, nuclear research, control of genetically modified substances, offshore gas rig safety, manual handling, PPE, construction, gas safety and the control of major hazards. Today, health surveillance of staff, risk assessments, and the protection of staff in every way possible to meet legislation and regulations is the norm. The HSE is continually introducing measures to make Health and Safety less bureaucratic and easier for all.


A brief look at Health and Safety in the US, to the 1920s

Sources  hse   the independent   neverblendin

As of 1st August 2013, the HSE has announced new guidelines to help small and larger sized businesses to understand health and safety rules better. The guide “Managing for Health and Safety” (HSG65) has been completely refreshed. The guidance now employs a ‘Plan, Do, Check, Act’ approach. This new approach will make health and safety an integral part of the management process of the organisation, rather than a stand alone process. There will also be a better balance between work systems and behavoural aspects in the workplace. The Plan, Do, Check, Act approach will ensure health and safety arrangements are in place for the organisation and that there is responsibility for overseeing them.

This involves creating your health and safety policy. This should meet the legal requirements and be proportionate to the risks. If the organisation has more than five employees, the policy must be written down. The policy should prevent health and safety problems, and enable one to respond quickly when new risks arise. It should be clear who will be responsible for what, how the aims of the policy will be achieved, and how things will be monitored. Changes must be planned for. The policy should set a clear direction for the organisation to follow. All members of the organisation must have a coordinated understanding of the risks involved in the every day workplace. Employees need to understand the legal compliance as well as have a general positive health and safety attitude. The policy should state how things will be done, risk assessment processes, resources for help and training.

Delivery of effective Health and Safety within an organisation depends on the management and risk assessment systems in place i.e on the policy plan. Preventative and protective measures should be in place to ensure risks are mitigated against. Everybody should be trained in health and safety practices and have the correct equipment for their jobs. The control of minor risks, for example, making sure pathways are clear, can be controlled by simple general rules written down on the policy. More risky activities may need detailed control systems, such as issuing work permits.

Health and Safety systems need to be checked and monitored to ensure that the plans are being effective. Audits may be a good idea to check everything is ok. Monitoring will help highlight any gap areas in health and safety. If problems are noted, good monitoring will help highlight what caused the problem, rather than there being a problem with no solution. Good monitoring takes time, patience and detailed observation in the health and safety process of any business.

This involves a review on performance on health and safety within an organisation. This is the final part of a good health and safety system, i.e where one learns from incidents. This includes reviewing performance and checking the validity of the systems in place. If things need to be changed in line with the business and new risks mitigated against then the policy must be re-written. Health and safety success must be acknowledged and carried on through any policy changes.

Sources  workplace law   hse

Styrene is commonly used in the manufacture of polystyrene plastics and resins. Acute (short term) exposure to Styrene vapour in the workplace can cause irritation to the throat, nose and lungs. It can also cause neurological effects such as drowsiness, nausea and headaches. Chronic (long term) exposure affects the central nervous system, can cause depression, hearing loss and peripheral neuropathy. Styrene is readily absorbed and distributed throughout the body following exposure. It is considered to be a possible carcinogen.

The level of Styrene in the workplace should be no more than 100 parts per million (ppm) averaged over an 8-hour day. This is the maximum work exposure limit (WEL). Styrene is a flammable substance and eventually ends up in the air. Controlling vapour levels of Styrene depends on the manufacturing methods used, for example, the amount of resin used, whether one is using a non-atomising spray gun or not, whether gel coating is used, the curing rate, the size of the workroom etc. The greatest exposure is in industries using unsaturated polyester resins dissolved in Styrene. Dust from the fibres of glass reinforced grinding can also cause health problems; possible control measures are use of gloves and adequate local ventilation. Provided there is adequate controls in place there should be no damage to peoples’ health.

Styrene levels in the workplace should be monitored and maintained in accordance with the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. The external environment is regulated by the Pollution Prevention and Control Act 1999. European Directives regulating levels of Styrene include that which evaluates and controls the risks of substances known to be in the environment (793/93) and the Solvents Directive (99/13/EC). In October 2010, SIMPL (Safety In Manufacturing Plastics) initiative was set up and includes members from industry and HSE. Its aim is to help improve health and safety standards in the plastics industry. It provides help and support for companies involved in this industry.

Minimizing environmental exposure includes locating plants away from residential areas. Efficient capture systems should be used to disperse emissions and reduce ground-level concentrations. Styrene should not be stored next to other cargo with temperatures above 30 degrees celcius, otherwise the shelf life will be reduced and there would be an increase in the risk of polymerisation in the cargo tank. Tanks carrying or unloading Styrene polymer should not be exposed to chemicals that may react with it such as caustic soda, gasoline or oils. Minimizing exposure to human health includes providing good ventilation in the working area; this is critical to reduce inhalation. Gloves should be used and rollers with splash guards used to control droplets. Lids should always be replaced on containers. Ventilation may need to be supplemented with respiratory protective equipment. All should be done in accordance with COSH regulations. Facilities using styrene should have a response plan to include fire prevention, spill detection methods, environmental protection, emergency procedures and provisions for clean up in case of spills.


Sources   hse    epa   hpa   sepa   compositesuk   cefic