How did that accident happen? Motion induced blindness….

So, here you are.  Steadily driving your way home along a motorway, motion induced blindnessmile after mile and junction after junction, perhaps in kind of semi aware state casually glancing at the sat nav, speedo or rear view mirror.  Every now and then you find yourself simply gazing at the view ahead and seconds turn into minutes and then half an hour passes without you realising it.

Sound familiar?

It should do because almost everyone that I’ve spoken to has experienced it, particularly on long and familiar journeys with a steady pace and light traffic, the M5 heading past Bristol and into the Southwest is a good example on a weekday afternoon, clear of bank holiday traffic.

The truth is this drifting state is dangerous and its not just when you’re on a motorway.

Blindness in the workplace

We often wonder when we come to look at an accident just how it happened.  We are given the gift of 20/20 hindsight of course and its always hard to put yourself in that persons position to the extent that you can truly appreciate the thought processes they went through.  You are there to try and identify the root causes – that’s why its worth knowing about motion induced blindness as a principle and also raising it with your staff as an issue before these accidents have a chance to occur.

Visual and optical phenomena

So, how do we get this message out there to vehicle fleet drivers, fork lift truck operators, motorcyclists and a whole other raft of people who might benefit?  As usual, by training and education – and a very neat graphic courtesy of the internet.

Stare at the central yellow dot and keep looking, do the other three dots then start to disappear?  That’s motion induced blindness.

Now imagine yourself at a busy crossroads waiting to pull out with pedestrians and other waiting to cross – can you spot that motorbike approaching?

Or perhaps you’re a a forklift truck driver in a busy warehouse passing by aisles and with pallet movers and pedestrian pickers all around you.

What next?

Use the video above in your training sessions when you have fork lift truck refreshers or new driver training, hold a toolbox talks for those who drive as part of their job (road users or otherwise) or ask us to complete a toolbox talk on your behalf to raise awareness.

How to combat motion induced blindness

You may still be wondering, why the jet fighter image at the top of the page? Fighter pilots are taught a technique to overcome this weakness in the way we process our view of the world around us and its very simple but very effective – you keep you head moving.  Don’t believe me?  Keep moving your head whilst re-watching the video above and you’ll see the difference – make sure that’s a key part of your training session.

As always, we hope you’ve found the information above interesting and feel you can use it to make a positive change in how you actively manage risk in your workplace.

About: Roger Hart  is Managing Director of Outsource Safety Ltd, a consultancy specialising in ISO9001, ISO14001 and OHSAS18001 Management Systems.  The company employs 10 staff and works for hundreds of retained clients across the UK in all sectors from Defence and Aerospace to Education and Museums with a specialism in the contracting, construction and renewables sectors, www.outsource-safety.co.uk

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above of the form below to request a proposal;

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Please complete the form below and we promise to respond within 24 hrs. If you need more urgent help just call 01453 800109 and ask for Andrea.

Is there a case for intuition in safety?

Sintuition safetyometimes you just feel that something isn’t right, you can’t explain exactly why but you have that feeling, your subconscious is telling you to look a little more closely or probe a bit deeper.

I read an interesting article recently by Dr Travis Bradberry which discusses the subconsciousnesses role in guiding our actions and asks us to use these  feelings more to guide us in our decision making, it contains in interesting quote;

“Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next.” – Jonas Salk

In a study by the Salk Institute participants were asked to play a card game by pulling cards from two different decks, unknown to them the decks were rigged.  Its took around 50 cards for these participants to realise something was unequal and about 80 cards to realise what the actual difference was.

However, after just 10 cards most players starting to sweat slightly on their palms before pulling a card from the ‘losing’ deck, at about the same time they started subconsciously favouring the ‘winning’ deck.

The above study serves to demonstrate the power of intuition, something which comes from the primitive brain and which served us well in days where danger was all around us, and something which we should, perhaps, be happier to rely on more often in our modern lives.

Experiments in intuition

If you remain unconvinced why not try a little game, stare intently at the back of someone’s head in the office or walking down a corridor. Perhaps you’re sat across a table or hall from someone you know at lunch.  The wait and see how long it takes them to raise their head and search for the person looking at them, it might not work every time but I think you’ll be surprised at how often it does (and if you do know them don’t forget to at least nod a hello!).

So next time you’re completing a safety tour, audit or inspection don’t be afraid to slow down and listen to your gut feeling, it might lead to you in the right direction.

About: Roger Hart  is Managing Director of Outsource Safety Ltd, a consultancy specialising in ISO9001, ISO14001 and OHSAS18001 Management Systems.  The company employs 10 staff and works for hundreds of retained clients across the UK in all sectors from Defence and Aerospace to Education and Museums with a specialism in the contracting, construction and renewables sectors, www.outsource-safety.co.uk

Contact us on 01453 800100 if you need expert help with health and safety for a fixed cost or use contact us above of the form below to request a proposal;

Contact form

Please complete the form below and we promise to respond within 24 hrs. If you need more urgent help just call 01453 800109 and ask for Andrea.

Occupational Health: Styrene Vapour Prosecution, Templetown Canopies Ltd

We’ve carried out many monitoring programmes which have involved exposure to styrene over the past 20 or so years.  The substance is in common use and because of this businesses and their staff can sometimes become too familiar with the substance and fail to take adequate precautions.

We also have heard staff assuring us that they don’t need to use protective equipment as they have developed a tolerance or even an immunity to styrene’s effects – wouldn’t it be good if that could ever be the case…

In the case below styrene exposure simply wasn’t guarded against and although HSE Inspectors know that small businesses have pressures on them they quite rightly won’t allow this as an excuse to endanger the health of their employees.

If you need occupation health advice, air monitoring for styrene or any other safety support please speak to your retained advisor or contact us on 01453 800100 to get some sound advice.

Styrene vapour not controlled by extraction and RPE

Templetown Canopies Limited from Tyneside has been prosecuted over the lack of controls regarding the use of the hazardous substance styrene during the production of fibre glass door and window canopies.

Styrene exposure causes irritation to the nose, throat and lungs and neurological effect including difficulty in concentrating, drowsiness, headaches and nausea.

HSE inspected the company premises in May 2013 issued an Improvement Notice. However, the company did not take action to comply with the Notice until they moved premises in March 2015 failing to adequately control exposure of their employees to styrene.

An extraction system should also have been in place to remove the heavier than air vapours and RPE provided with the correct filters (FFP3) to protect operators.

Employees exposed to styrene vapour for almost 2 years

Templetown Canopies Limited, of Shaftsbury Avenue, South Shields, Tyne and Wear, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 7(1) of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH) and was fined £8,500 and ordered to pay costs of £4,500.

Speaking after the hearing HSE Inspector Fiona McGarry said:

“Workers’ health was put at risk from exposure to styrene for a period of 22 months, even after the company had been made aware of the actions it needed to take.

Whilst HSE is sympathetic to the pressures faced by small businesses, this is simply not acceptable. Employers need to take action to ensure they are providing adequate control to protect the health of their employees.”

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Brexit and its effects on safety

The news is full of Brexit and the likelihood is that your sick of hearing about it!

In that case sorry, but I couldn’t resist responding to a few clients who have raised questions on how it might affect safety laws and regulation over the coming months and years.

In truth I think most people are agreed that its impact will be minimal, the UK has always been a leader in global safety and our progress with HS(G)65 and BS8800 leading into OHSAS18001 has cemented this.  However, there are a few areas which we might see some movement in as we move into a more independent regulatory stance…

Oh, and Brexit has already been used in a legal defence!  More on that below.

Brexit and Safety Legislation

As we said we do feel that there are some areas which may be affected by Brexit and these are the three key areas where we feel a change may occur;

  1. CDM 2015 (application to domestic projects)
  2. Working Time Directive (extension of opt outs)
  3. REACH regulations

I think the most likely and the most impactful of these three will be the CDM Regulations 2015.  The truth is that application of these regulations to the domestic sector was largely forced upon us by the EU, we’ve never applied HASAWA to domestic situations and were reluctant to do so at the time of the first mobile sites Directive in 1994.

Our subsequent failure to incorporate the domestic element of the European Directive into UK CDM Legislation is telling and is a good example of the UK not ‘gold plating’ EU Directives.  It also aligns with the governments red tape push and is an area where smaller builders and tradesmen could return to a position where they have less H&S legislative burden (as some might put it).

Will this actually happen?  Its very hard to say as so much remains unanswered at this stage but as we approach an election in 2020 its not unlikely – so watch this space.

Brexit used as defence in HSE Prosecution

Hard to believe but Brexit has already made its first appearance as part of the defence in a prosecution by HSE with Stone Superstore Ltd pleading that the fine sought by the prosecution of £250,000 for the death of one of their employees who will killed in an accident involving an overturned fork lift truck in 2010.

Claiming that the company would be struggling financially post Brexit the judge agreed to reduce the fine imposing a £40,000 instead.

If you’ve got questions or need support on safety in the industrial, contracting or construction sectors please contact us for sensible and proportionate advice on 01453 800100

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Safety Advisor fined by HSE for poor occupational health advice

With more and more one man bands setting up safety consultancy HSEbusinesses in the past 10 years its time to question if you’re being given the right advice rather than just advice – there’s a big difference and the outcome can be devastating for individuals and for companies.

The case below raises two questions;

  1. Do we know the health risks in our business well enough?
  2. Does our consultant have the right skills for our sector?

Take some time to ask yourself if the person looking after your safety really knows enough about the risks in your business.  Perhaps their background isn’t in manufacturing, engineering, construction or whatever it is that you do.  If so, get the right advice.

Safety Advisor Fined under HASAWA 1974

Hereford Magistrates’ Court heard how an employee contracted the skin disease after being exposed to sensitising ingredients in rubber compounds.

TRP Polymer Solutions Limited, of Netherwood Road, Rotherwas Industrial Estate in Hereford, has been fined £40,000 after a worker contracted allergic contact dermatitis.

Hereford Magistrates’ Court heard how an employee contracted the skin disease after being exposed to sensitising ingredients in rubber compounds.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the company, which manufactures specialist rubber sealing components and high performance elastomer ‘O’ rings, had failed to assess risks from products used or manage those risks.

TRP Polymer Solutions’ health and safety advisor failed to understand the underlying issues to the level required for the company to understand its responsibilities.

The firm pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, and Regulations 6 and 11 of the Control of Substances hazardous to Health 2002, and was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,529.

Paula Underwood, a self-employed health and safety advisor, of Slaughter Castle, Kimbolton, Leominster, Herefordshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, for failing to carry out her duty under the act to a level of competence expected by someone carrying out her role, thereby exposing others to risks to their health and safety.

She was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay costs of £200.

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Construction pays HSE over £4m in fees under FFI

Despite HSE insisting that its Fee for Intervention (FFI) scheme is HSEnot intended to plug the hole in its finances caused by the reduction of its government grant recent figures show a 13% decline in enforcement notices (improvement notices and prohibition notices).  At the same time a 26% increase in the charges made under FFI has been made against the construction sector with fees from April 2015 to March 2016 reaching a record £4.22m

Some may be rightly concerned whilst others may be grateful to avoid having an enforcement notice issued against their business and the subsequent need to admit this to their client base (as its presence in the HSE Hall of Shame).

Whatever your particular viewpoint it does show that Fee For Intervention is on the increase and that construction and contracting businesses are being targeted.  As you will probably be aware all FFI is ‘in the Inspectors opinion’ and so good practice is important and base legal compliance may not be enough to protect you from fines.

As always, if you need more advice please contact your retained consultant.

Notices of Contravention (FFI)

HSE issue invoices following a written Notice of Contravention sent to duty holders regarding ‘material breaches’ of the law found by HSE inspectors, HSE invoice data for the last three full year invoice is as follows:

April 2013 – March 2014 – 6960 invoices issued with a total value of £2,545,474. The average value of invoices issued is £366.

April 2014 – March 2015 – 6075 invoices issued with a total value of £3,1116,234. This represents a 21% increase in the total value of invoices issued over the previous period. The average value of invoices issued is £513 representing a 29% increase.

April 2015 – March 2016 – 6990 invoices issued with a total value of £4,220,972. This represents a 26% increase in the total value of invoices issued over the previous period. The average value of invoices issued is £604 representing 15% increase.

Enforcement Notices

Over the same period which shows that the number of enforcement notices issued in the construction sector has fallen.

April 2013 – March 2014 – the database shows 3625 prohibition and improvement notices issued by HSE construction teams.

April 2014 – March 2015 – the database shows 3244 prohibition and improvement notices issued by HSE construction teams. This represents a 11% fall in the number of notices issued.

April 2015 – March 2016 – the database shows 2713 prohibition and improvement notices issued by HSE construction teams. This represents a 13% fall in the number of notices issued.
Comment

The data suggest that the HSE Notice of Contravention and consequent inspection fee forms an increasingly important mechanism for HSE in securing compliance and improved standards of health and safety in the construction sector.

This is occurring at a time when use of formal Enforcement Notices (improvement and prohibition) is declining in the sector.

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