Work at height failings continue for poorly managed construction firm

Let’s be honest, most people feel that health and safety has become something of a burden and that less regulation or self regulation could be a workable solution seeing the end of HSE.  You might also argue that housebuilding is one area where regulation is strict and the standards are consistently high.

What you don’t realise is that not all companies are equal and that HSE deal with a number of businesses every day which wouldn’t think twice about working in a way in which you just wouldn’t.  If you don’t believe me then please read on… Continue reading Work at height failings continue for poorly managed construction firm

Revised ACoPs have now been issued in draft by HSE, what are the changes?

The coalition have long promised to tame the health and safety monster.  As we have previously reported, most of this has been huff and bluster about removing a third of regulations and scrapping various requirements.  The overall impact on business has been little or no change.

We now have the first of the revised Approved Codes of Practice (ACoP) being issued in draft form for comments and this will give a good indication of the likely impact of the planned changes.

ACoPs are important as they set a base level against which compliance can be judged.  In effect, HSC translate European Directives into UK law and HSE give background and guidance through ACoPs on how UK industry should or could comply with these new requirements.  This is quite valuable and is also used when making a legal argument as to whether a business has complied with its duties under law in the case of prosecutions and claims in the civil and criminal courts.

HSE has been tasked with updated all existing ACoPs and many rumours have surfaced including cutting all documents to no more that 32 pages and cutting out a number of them altogether.  Now that the ACoPs for the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 have been released we can start to learn more about what the approach of HSE is likely to be.

The changes

Beyond the addition of some hyperlinks taking you directly to guidance material on the HSE website there is a lot to report beyond the fact that the are an easier read and some updates have taken place to remove references to legislation which is no longer in force.

The summary:  keep on doing what you’re doing.  The changes are looking to be subtle and the only reports where duties and requirements are being cut are made in the headlines of papers and on press releases from the government – if anything changes rest assured that we’ll do our best to update you!

If you have questions on health and safety or would like to work with a young, business focused, dynamic team of safety consultants (no, really, we are dynamic and business focused – especially compared to our competition) then please contact us using the links above or directly on 01453 800100.  We don’t have a sales team and so you’ll speak directly to a person able to answer your questions.

An end to fire risk assessment for small businesses? Really… maybe.

As part of the support services we provide to our clients we often complete their fire risk assessment whilst we are at site.  This is an area which is otherwise often neglected by clients both large and small and one which does deserve some attention.

The main issue  which most clients will miss is perhaps the most important, arson – something worth checking on your own assessment today as it causes around two-thirds of commercial fires – any questions should be addressed directly to your retained consultant on 01453 800100.

However, the crux of this post is to update you on what may have changed or be about to change in terms of fire risk assessment.  The update stems from a speech made recently by the Employment Minister, Mark Hoban, which was followed by a specific question on what the government plans for fire risk assessment requirements as part of its push to reduce the burden of health and safety on business.

Mr Hoban was speaking at the British Safety Council Annual Conference when he was asked questions about the impact of fire risk assessment (FRA) on businesses.  His response was quite revealing.

He said that the current system of FRAs is in need of review. He didn’t say much but the word “overbearing” was used in the context of the current requirements. He also described how the need for FRAs was a “burden” on businesses and in some cases unnecessary.

Given that the current requirement involves businesses completing all fire risk assessments in-house whilst referring to a 100 page guidance document its likely that there would be a great deal of support within industry for any measures which might simplify this task.

Be aware though that this revision to requirements is not yet in place and is very likely to only affect the very smallest and lowest risk businesses.  So unless you are an office with less than 5 employees you shouldn’t expect any changes to affect you.

If you do have questions then please call us and speak directly to your retained consultant on 01453 800100 for some specific advice relevant to your business.

Guarding of pillar drills – please don’t repeat this accident

We are only too aware of the reluctance of many businesses to put in place guarding to the chucks and spindles of pillar drills.  We also insist that smaller pillar drills are fixed to the floor to prevent toppling in use (or at least to a large metal plate for smaller works and occasional use).

Read the following and you might see where we’re coming from…

Reproduced from SHP 22 July 2013
A worguarding of pillar drills accidentker suffered a broken neck when his overalls got caught in an unguarded drill bit at a factory in Shropshire.The 39-year-old worker, who wishes to remain anonymous, was working for steel engineering firm CRF (UK) Ltd when the incident took place at its factory in Wem on 6 December 2011.He was operating a twin pillar drill to create a hole in a metal box section, when the sleeve of his overalls became entangled in the running drill spindle, which was unguarded. His arm and body were pulled into the machine and he was pinned against the machine bed. As he couldn’t reach the stop button, he shouted for help and was eventually freed by a colleague.He suffered three fractures in his neck and serious cuts and burns to his right forearm. He spent seven weeks in hospital and was required to wear a neck brace for six months. The left side of his body has been permanently weakened owing to his injuries.

The HSE found the firm had failed to create a safe system of work, with no guards in place to prevent access to the rotating spindles. The investigation also identified that the work wasn’t properly supervised and operators hadn’t been given adequate training to use the machine.

The Executive issued an Improvement Notice to the firm, which required it to create a safe system of work. HSE inspector Marie-Louise Riley-Roberts said: “The custom and practice of the company were to rely on experience rather than on the need for guarding, with the addition of supervision and further instruction and training, as necessary.

“These failings had existed for a considerable amount of time until the practice of using unguarded machines became normal working practice for the employees. The result was that this was an accident waiting to happen and the employee suffered serious injuries.

“This accident could have been prevented by the simple measure of providing guarding to prevent access to the rotating parts.”

CRF (UK) appeared at Shrewsbury Magistrates’ Court on 19 July and pleaded guilty to breaching reg.11 of PUWER 1998. It was fined £13,000 and ordered to pay £7871 in costs.

In mitigation, the firm said it had no previous convictions and complied with the Improvement Notice. It has subsequently installed chuck guards on all of the drilling machines. It has also engaged the services of a new health and safety consultant.

Small businesses are spending more on outsourced and external help with health and safety

According to the Forum for Private Business “Sweeping changes” to health and safety laws due to take effect in October should, we are told, see a significant drop in the time and costs spent by smaller business in ensuring they remain compliant with health and safety legislation.
The FPB, whose research of 4000 of its small-business members, was published on 8 July found that internal costs of health and safety compliance have dropped very slightly in the last year from £3.8 billion in 2011 to £3.7 billion 2012 but outsourcing to specialist safety consultants had leapt up by 43 per cent. Health and safety is the third biggest source of small firms’ compliance expenditure, after tax matters (£6bn) and employment law at (£4.7bn).
At seven hours a month, it’s the second biggest consumer of time, after employment law (12.2 hours a month) and before tax matters (6.3 hours). Internal time spent on overall compliance matters is down by 6.8 per cent but money spent on external consultants has risen by 19 per cent, up from £5.8bn to £6.9bn.
FPB policy advisor Robert Downes said the Forum expected a decrease in the cost of managing risk through the end of strict liability, adding: “This will mean firms can’t be held responsible for accidents beyond their control.”When it was pointed out that employers will still have to comply with their legal duties to protect the health and safety of their workers, Downes insisted that the “massive change” that is the removal of strict liability “will change the whole culture by making staff more aware of their own responsibilities”.
The Forum said it would also like to see an assessment of the need for businesses with five, or more employees to have a written risk assessment. According to its data, over the last two years the gap between businesses with fewer than five employees and other, larger, micro-businesses has increased.
If you are interested in outsourcing your business health and safety call us to speak directly to a specialist consultant who will be able to provide a cost either over the phone or within 24 hours, call 01453 800100 or use the contact details above to request a call back

What price are you willing to pay for taking risks

Following on from the recent sminar we completed with the Southwest WWT and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) I thought I would share with those who couldn’t be there some video from our presentation on working at height.

The keynote speaker on the day was Jason Anker.  To say his talk contained a powerful message for everyone in the room would be an understatement, I was struggling to stay composed at points on hearing about how deeply his fall from a height of just 10 feet had affected his life and those of his loved ones.

Those lucky enough to have experienced Jasons talk first hand will find it all the more difficult to understand the actions of the person featured in the video below.  When we start to consider who else might have been affected by this one persons actions above a busy Bath Street incredulity can turn to anger.

Window cleaner in Bath:

Take a moment to reflect on what’s in this video, there’s nothing funny about it.  If you’re still not convinced then allow Jason Anker to bring the lifetime consequences of an accident into shaper focus (link provided below) before watching it again.

Jason Anker live

We all have choices to make and constraints on our time, its just a question of how much you’re willing to risk, but before you make that choice you really need to think about the  consequences.

For more information on Jason’s story head over to his website;