Content that will appear in the News Letter

Work at docks can be hazardous as there are many elements to contend with. Cargo may have to be unloaded/loaded at certain times, in all types of weather, regardless, foreign vessels may not have an English speaking crew and there may be logistical problems with crane and loading equipment.  There is always the unexpected, like a cargo box getting jammed, lack of moving equipment available or inability to unload due to a wharf tide etc. These are just some of the risks that may be experienced in this kind of environment. There needs to be full co-operation, communication and logistic management. As well as the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, there are also other acts, specific legislation and best practice regulations for work on docks.

Dry Cargo

Dry cargo can contain large quantities of dust, from it’s prolonged storage or through emissions from the material itself. Typical cargoes can include grain, soya, fertilisers etc which can have a chronic effect on the lungs. There is also a risk from back injury and sprains through incorrect moving of freight. Lifting equipment should be strong and stable and safe working loads clearly indicated. Dock personnel should not be put at risk from falls.The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) would be used in these conditions to handle dusty cargos.


Containers with corrugated side panels should be used. Non hazardous liquids like wine or latex, for example, are most ofden transported in strong flexi-bags. The harness straps on the bags must be tightly secured in the container.

Dangerous Substances

‘Dangerous Substances’ can include explosives, gas in cylinders, flammable gas in cartridges, flammable liquids (flash point less than 21°C), industrial nitrocellulose, organic peroxides, infectious substances, radioactive substances etc. Freight containers should be labelled with the appropriate hazard warning sign for the class of dangerous substance they contain.

Harbour masters would need to know well in advance when dangerous substances will be brought into their harbour area. According to the Dangerous Substances in Harbour Areas Regulations 1987, it may be necessary to prevent entry of this cargo if it poses a high health and safety risk. During the handling of dangerous substances, fire fighting equipment should be on standby. The storage of dangerous substances is controlled by the Highly Flammable Liquids and Liquefied Petroleum Gases Regulations 1972. Any dangerous substance that is placed in a tank should be compatible with the materials of that tank. Hazards from dangerous substances include ignition following a spill, explosion, fire and toxic fumes.

In general, dock cargo should be stored in such a way as to minimise the need for walking or climbing onto it, especially if this involves an approach to the edge of a dangerous drop. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must be supplied for all dock workers in all conditions of loading/unloading of cargo.  It should be stored in such a way that the product is protected and not affected by the elements or near sources of contamination. Slip resistant footwear should be provided if it is necessary to walk around freight pallets, especially in wet rainy conditions. The lighting should be reasonably constant and uniform and labels should be clearly seen on cargo boxes. Cargo handling vehicles, for example, fork lifts that are lifted onto or off ships by crane should have safe suitable points  for the attachment of lifting gear. All containers must be packed properly because maritime conditions can cause them to be unsettled during transit, damaged or to be a hazard when unloading. When unloading cargo, doors and other loose parts should be secured. Loads should only be moved with the equipment appropriate for lifting that load.

Where one has to work in a confined space on a ship, there is a risk of intoxication due to vapour or fumes or asphyxiation through lack of oxygen. Every precaution should be made to prevent this from happening. Working at heights, lifting and sliding of loads would be done in accordance with the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 to ensure the safe handling of cargo.


Sources: HSE

There has been changes in Celluloid legislation which are taking effect in April 2013. One measure being removed is the Celluloid and Cinematograph Film Act of 1922. This measure is being removed because it has been overtaken by more recent regulations.  The HSE has produced an online publication with guidance and ways of working with celluloid nitrate film so it is handled and disposed of  safely.

Nitrate film was first produced as a photographic film base (and for use in stills) in the 1880’s. Projection room fires were not uncommon and resulted in many deaths. The older the nitrate film gets the more flammable it becomes. Upon catching fire this film emits poisonous gases (including nitrogen dioxide fumes). Nitrate film can auto-ignite, and, because this type of film contains large amounts of oxygen, these fires can be very difficult to extinguish. Under the right conditions and increases in temperature, this film can self ignite at 38 Celsius and cause an explosion.

Because of the amount of oxygen this film contains, immersing it in water may not put the flames out.  Nitrate collections are usually stored separately and in different fireproof rooms to prevent their destruction. Nitrate film is described of as “dangerous goods” and theatres using it today must comply with rigorous safety measures and obtain a special licence. No Kodak film has contained nitrate since 1951.

Handling Cellulose Nitrate film

  • cellulose nitrate film should be handled with extreme caution, and kept well away of any sources of heat, including light bulbs
  • it should be handled with protected gloves and eye goggles, with and easy escape route in the building
  • film should not be run through a projector as is can catch fire simply from the friction of winding over the projector sprockets
  • one can tell if nitrate film is degrading as it will be amber in color and quite soft to the touch
  • it should not be couriered by post, disposed of in local waste or carried on public transport as it may auto-ignite
  • the local environmental department should be contacted to dispose of nitrate film
  • if the film is not too far degraded, a special laboratory can digitise the film and then the original can be disposed of safely
  • if short term storage is necessary (eg while waiting for a professional handler), it needs to be stored within a temperature of less than 20 Celsius, away from habitable buildings and away from from acidic materials (eg paper, textiles)

Some of the laws that brought about this measure (i.e the  Cinematograph Film Act of 1922) to be removed include the Employment Act 1989, Factories  Act 1961, and the Criminal Justice Act 1982, amongst others.

The Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations (DSEAR), CAD (Chemical Agents Directive 98/24/EC) and ATEX (Atmospheres Directive 99/92/EC), amongst other regulations and laws, now, are the main directives in place of the Cinematograph Film Act of 1922.



Sources: HSE   Wikipedia   HSE-letters

Changes to the British healthcare system were significant during Margaret Thatcher’s time in office. One such change marked January 1988, where she announced a review of the current NHS system. The trigger for this was because a Birmingham’s children’s hospital was postponing heart operations due to lack of funds. So the general idea from now on was that Health authorities didn’t run hospitals any more but had to “purchase” care from hospitals. Then each hospital would become its own governing body and so had to compete with other hospitals to provide care. Thatcher legislated for the privatisation of public assets. This was called the “The National Health Service and Community Act of 1990”. So there was now an internal market for the NHS. She really encouraged free enterprise. New reforms were now in place. A market was developed for services where provider bodies and hospitals, entered into contractual relationships with the buyers of services. People were encouraged to use private healthcare and there were tax incentives for private healthcare insurance premiums.

Modern developments in the NHS today have used this NHS reform as set out in the late eighties by Thatcher. Her conservative government reform of 1990, despite a few setbacks, paved the way for the future generations of today and is the foundation on which current NHS directives are made.

Some outcomes from the 1983 general election manifesto include, quoted direct:

By last year, there were 45,000 more nurses and midwives, and over 6,500 more doctors and dentists, working for the NHS than in 1978.” This increase in staff made it possible to now treat more patients in hospitals. A £1million program was spent on building new hospitals.

“We are asking health authorities to make the maximum possible savings by putting services like laundry, catering and hospital cleaning out to competitive tender.” This created a cut back on costs bourne by the health authorities themselves and created a competitive market system when outsourcing services required”.

“We welcome the growth in private health insurance in recent years.”. This was encouraged for non urgent operations and greatly cut down NHS costs.

She resigned nearly a quarter of a century ago, was Prime Minister of Great Britain for 11 years and a member of parliament for 31 years and her legacy still lives on.




 The Rt Hon. The Baroness Thatcher, LG, OM, PC, FRS




Sources:  The Independent   GP online   Public service   Conservative Party   Wikipedia

Photo source:  Luke Macgregor/Reuters  The Guardian
(A union flag flies at half-mast over the Houses of Parliament after the announcement of Lady Thatcher’s death).



RIDDOR’s over-three-day injury reporting requirement has changed. The trigger point has increased from over three days’ to over seven days’ incapacitation (not counting the day on which the accident happened). 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. If you need help with online reporting of a RIDDOR or an incident investigation we can provide chartered independent consultants to work with your staff in this area.

In addition, the deadline by which the over-seven-day injury must be reported has also increased from ten days to fifteen days from the day of the accident.

The reporting of injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences regulations (RIDDOR) changed as of the 6th April 2012. RIDDOR places duties on employers, the self-employed and people in control of work premises (the Responsible Person) to report serious workplace accidents, occupational diseases and specified dangerous occurrences (near misses).

The HSE has a list of the different injuries, diseases, dangerous occurrences, flammable gas incident and dangerous gas fitting that must be report. Reporting can be done online or by phone for reporting fatal and major injuries only. It is advisable that the person filling in the online report is competent and understands how to complete this form. The company should keep a copy of the online report and record accident details within the accident book. It is recommended as good practice that all near misses, injuries, diseases, road traffic collisions and dangerous occurrences are investigated and remedial actions put in place. Employee and witness statements could be taken during the investigation of the incident.

Further details on RIDDOR reportable can be found on the HSE website. Protectus Consulting have specialists that can investigate incidents and serious cases such as death with your team.

A West Yorkshire firm was today fined £250,000 for safety offences after a gas explosion in an industrial bakery oven ripped through its factory – killing a father of two and badly injuring another worker.

Andrew Jones Pies, of Huddersfield, which is now in administration, was also told by a judge at York Crown Court to pay £124,896 in costs. Imposing the penalty, the judge said the company had ‘failed dismally’ and that, though he understood the company was not in a position to pay the fines and costs, his judgement reflected the level of failings by the company.

The explosion at Andrew Jones Pies in Old Leeds Road, Huddersfield, happened after a baker made apparent repeated attempts to light the 30-year-old oven unaware that more and more gas was building up to a critical flashpoint inside the baking chamber.

When the gas did ignite, the blast blew the large oven door off its hinges hitting him. The 37-year-old baker, who was standing in front of the oven, was hit by the door and then trapped when part of the roof collapsed.

The deceased, who had worked for the company for 12 years, was pronounced dead at the scene. A colleague, was also badly injured.

The former award-winning pie company, now in administration, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after its investigation into the incident found serious safety breaches.

The court had heard that a supervisor, had started work early so he could light the two large ovens before other workers arrived. One had apparently failed to light and at around 5am it exploded.

HSE found the company’s procedures for operating the ovens were inadequate and informal. The bakery workers had not been given sufficient instruction or training in their use, or the potential hazards arising and precautions necessary to operate them safely.

The company failed to appreciate that direct-fired ovens could potentially fill with a flammable mix of gas and air if repeated unsuccessful attempts were made to fire them up.

The investigation also discovered that an explosion relief panel on the back of the oven, which should have safely vented excess pressure, had at some time been rigidly fixed in place. The modification may, however, have pre-dated the firm’s ownership of the ovens.

The company, was found guilty of a breach of the Dangerous Substances and Explosives Atmospheres Regulations 2002. The firm was also found guilty of two breaches of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 between the same dates.

Source: HSE Website


A new chief inspector of construction has been appointed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Heather Bryant, who is currently HSE’s divisional director for London, the East and South East, will replace Philip White at the end of March. After four years in post, Philip moves to lead another key division at HSE.

The post of chief inspector of construction is influential within HSE and the industry, and it involves heading a division of 260 specialist inspectors, policy officials and support staff.

Despite significant improvements in recent years, construction remains one of Britain’s most dangerous industries – 49 people were killed and 2,884 seriously injured in 2011/12.


Source: HSE website

New online guidance has been launched to make it easier for employers to understand what they need to do to check and protect their workers’ health.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has published new guidelines on health surveillance, which may be needed if there is a risk that workers could be exposed to chemicals or other hazardous substances likely to harm their health.

Developed with industry, the clear and simple guidance makes it easier for employers to decide whether their workers need health surveillance, how to go about it and how to use the results. The guidance also makes it clearer when action is not needed, saving lower-risk businesses, such as those that are office- based, from wasting time and money.

Past exposure to harmful substances at work is responsible for an estimated 12,000 deaths each year.

The new online guidance replaces HSG61 “Health Surveillance at Work”.

Source: HSE website


It is widely agreed that it is vital for all staff at the workplace are fully trained in health and safety law. Regardless of sector, complying with health and safety law is vital for the smooth running of the day to day operations. The aim is to prevent accidents and illnesses at work and to produce a positive work environment. Competent and able bodied persons should ensure training and communication is carried out to a level that abides by the law. Simple communication, such as posters on walls and signs, where needed, can prevent the smallest of accidents and teach workplace policy. Risk assessments should be part of entering into any kind of workplace project, where past outcomes are documented and learned from. For small businesses, “in house” health and safety personal is usually all that is required, however, for example, at a big construction site, outsouring a team of specialists may be necessary. Putting effort into preventing accidents can be very cost effective in terms of litigation and compensation costs.

One aspect of the workplace which needs solid safety is the environment in which lone workers operate. They are more vulnerable as they are out on their own and if backup is needed by them,  personnel may not be nearby to help. There may, for example, be more risks at night than in the day, also in areas where there are changing weather conditions and local politics can also contribute to a more colorful atmosphere where one can be become more vulnerable when alone. Company directors must, according to the Safety at Work Act 1974, ensure that a work place risk assessment is carried out for these workers and that measures are set in place with contingency plans to ensure tolerance levels for hazards are low; thus ensuring the environmental health and safety of the lone worker.

Another hazardous area in the workplace is exposure to chemicals. The European Commission has updated its directives to better protect its workers from the risk associated with chemicals in the workplace. The proposal ensures that labelling information is clear so that those working in this kind of environment can better risk assess against hazards.

In America

In the US, the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health  Administration) and  EPA (United States Environmental Protection Agency) are the primary bodies which govern best health and safety practice. Economic recession in the States over the past few years has seen non revenue generating staff lose their jobs. These included Health and Safety personnel. However, existing workforces within companies still needed to comply to Health and Safety law but don’t have the technical expertise. An online resource (called Compliance Forum & Resources)  detailing all aspects of OSHA, EPA and other administrative bodies has been set up so all workers have access to Health and Safety material.This makes it easier to close this gap.

In Australia

Just last month, an article advised that organisations issued with health and safety notices should carefully consider the implications of not reviewing a notice. An improvement notice is usually issued when a company has breached health and safety law in Australia i.e where it has not adhered to OHS/WHS (Work Health and Safety Regulations). A probation notice may be issued when an inspector believes there is a serious risk to persons in the workplace. Failure of the business owners to comply with an improvement can have a serious consequence. Neighbouring New Zealand is planning to set up a new health and safety agency. This will be dedicated to lifting New Zealands’ safety record.

In Britain

There has been a couple of reports published early this year by the British Government which aim at reducing health and safety costs for british businesses. Its been estimated that the result of the report could save businesses millions of pounds over the coming years.


Sources for this article:  workplace law,  virtual college,  ereleases,  europa,  mondaq,  workers compensation,  bay of plenty times,

A County Durham firm and a director have been fined for safety failings after a worker was seriously injured when he fell around 3.5 metres through the fragile roof of a barn he was cleaning.

The 25-year-old, was one of three labourers employed by Tees Valley Compost Cleaning Services Ltd.

They were instructed by the company director  to clear debris from the roof of the barn that had gathered during compost cleaning activities.

Peterlee Magistrates’ Court heard that the worker was working at the highest point of two softwood boards that had been placed onto the corrugated sheet cement roof. The boards were necessary because cement sheets are well known for being fragile and many workers have fallen through such roofs.

Using a brush, he pushed the debris down from the roof towards the second labourer, who was also working on the boards. He in turn then pushed it down to the third labourer, who was on an access platform, who then pushed it onto the floor.

At the end of the day’s work, the worker stepped off the boards onto the cement roof, which gave way and he fell through it. He fell around 3.5 metres and landed on an agricultural mower in the shed below.

He fractured the bone at the base of his spine and was off work for two weeks.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the wooden boards being used were not fitted with any kind of edge protection and there were no other safety measures, such as safety netting or guard rails in use to prevent or lessen the impact of any fall from height.

Tees Valley Compost Cleaning Services Ltd,  was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £3,506.50 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 6(3) of The Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Th director pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was fined £2,000.

Source: HSE Website

A packaging firm has been fined £200,000 after an employee severely injured both of his hands when they became trapped in heavy machinery at a Whitehaven factory.

The remains of the worker’s glove in the machine. The 25-year-old, lost four fingers and severed parts of two others in the incident.

The company was  prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after an investigation found the employee had not received suitable training and was not being appropriately supervised at the time he was injured.

Carlisle Crown Court heard he had been working on a machine, known as a power press, which exerts forces of up to 35 tonnes to stamp out metal lids, used at either end of cardboard tubes in packaging for whisky bottles.

The employee had been changing the part of the machine used to produce the lids, and was testing it to make sure it produced the correct size of lid. As he reached under the pressing tool to remove the lid, it stamped down on his hands.

He lost the little and ring fingers on his left hand, and the ring and middle fingers on his right hand. The little and index fingers on his right hand were also severed to the second knuckle.

The court was told that the employee’s supervisor had left the company four months before the incident, but that the workers who took over his supervision had not received suitable training.

The injured worker had also not been given sufficient training on how to operate the machine safely, and there wasn’t a suitable risk assessment in place for the work.

The company pleaded guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 after it failed to ensure the safety of its employees. The company,  was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £19,308 in prosecution costs.

Source: HSE website