HSE Provides risk assessment training

Well then – who better to tell you about how provide a risk assessment training than an actual HSE Inspector!HSE

Or is it….

HSE have recently started to offer more in the way of courses and have some which cover risk assessment, others covering CDM and more are likely to arrive in the future.  The truth behind this is a drive to monetise the skills present within HSE and help fund the large reduction in the support which HSE receives from central government coffers.

I think we can all see the rationale behind this and perhaps there is merit in trying to make our tax pounds work a little harder…. but… would anyone but a very large business be willing to pay £495.00 for just one days risk assessment training?  Aren’t we already paying for this service through both tax and through the FFI Scheme? What can’t the same information and resources be made available to the smaller businesses who can’t (or won’t) pay £495.00 for just one days training?

I’ve paid in the past to attend courses at the Health and Safety Laboratory and found them useful but even we’d bulk at the costs HSE want to extract from those which they enforce.  Speaking of which, isn’t there some basic conflict of interest going on here?  Could future cases be complicated by the waving of a certificate which deems some competence on an attendee?  What about those who could not afford to attend?

In essence I’m in the ‘thanks but no thanks’ camp. Provide a level and fair playing field for all those governed by the same regulations and keep enforcement and commercial practice separate now and in the future.

If you’d still like to know more about this training course you can do that here; HSE risk assessment training course

Posted by Roger Hart

Working with Asbestos Cement (Asbestos Containing Materials)

Throughout the UK and Europe there are a multitude of workplaces still clad in asbestos cement from roofing to rainwater to any number of other similar items.  Back in the 50’s and 60’s this ‘wonder material’ was marketed as a solution to all building problems due to its characteristics for strength, lightness and fire resistance.

Asbestos training and working safely with asbestos materials

The legacy which we’re left with is having to manage a potentially harmful material on almost every industrial estate and commercial building which was built during this time and, sadly, people don’t always take the right precautions or have the right asbestos training.

A recent case highlighted the use of poorly thought out methods being put into practice which exposed persons unnecessarily to asbestos fibres. Both a manufacturing company and the contractor were prosecuted for using a high pressure jet washer to clean asbestos cement roofing with fine well into the thousands of pounds.

However, help is at hand and HSE have some useful and practical advice for those with asbestos cement roofs and similar.  Use the guidance below to ensure that you or your contractor put the right precautions in place before work starts to ensure the safety of your staff, neighbours and other who could be affected;

HSE Guidance: Work with asbestos cement (AC) (non-licensed) (asbestos training)
Posted by Roger Hart

Emergency First Aid Training: HSE updates First Aid guidance leaflet

Emergency first Aid Training: First aid leaflet revised for 2018

The HSE has updated some of its guidance material that covers first aid at work.   This is important information for anyone who has recently completed Emergency First Aid Training with us.
See what has changed here; Updated leaflet INDG347

New material. The updated version of the HSE leaflet ‘Basic advice on first aid at work’ (INDG347) has been designed to provide basic advice on first aid, covering resuscitation, bleeding, broken bones, burns, eye injuries and record keeping. This leaflet is typically found in first aid boxes as a basic guide to first aid treatment. We’d recommend you also keep one with your first aid kits in vehicles as it’s more likely it will be read by someone without much training.

Although the contents of the leaflet have changed in a fairly minor way, it’s always best to circulate the updated version to your trained first aiders, emergency first aid trained staff and others who may benefit from have a copy of the guide.

The key change is that the leaflet now mentions the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Specifically, if a casualty is not breathing, the staff member administering first aid should “get help and call for an AED if available” . The revised leaflet also explains the point at which an AED should be used during cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, namely, after the first 30 chest compressions and having opened the airway.

Note: You’re only legally obliged to install an AED in your workplace when your first aid risk assessment identifies it as necessary.  For example you may be in a remote location or have a higher than average number of older staff which makes an AED a wise choice.  If you need AED use added to your Emergency First Aid Training Course please ask us.

If you need some first aiders trained please contact us as we offer Emergency First Aid Training, please contact Andrea Hart on 01453 800100 to book your place for as little as £85.00 per person.
Posted by Roger Hart

£100k fine for health surveillance failings leading to HAVS

Hand Arm Vibration (HAVS) is something which we have covered many times before but an area in which many still have a way to go.  The following prosecution illustrates just how many are still getting it wrong and the suffering which is resulting from this.

If you’re a safety advisor or manager within an organisation who feels they should be doing more, the case below should help you justify to your board the actions which you need to take to protect them, your staff and the business.  If you need advice or support on HAVS then please do get in touch – it’s just one of the things we do to help and support our clients under Safety~net.

South Wales based Charter Housing Association fined £100k for health surveillance failings which led to HAVS

Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court heard how Charter Housing Association Ltd. reported six cases of HAVS following a health surveillance programme launched in June 2015. The affected employees were all part of the maintenance team.  Subsequently, the HSE’s investigation found that the health of six of these staff were likely to have been caused or worsened by the use of vibratory power tools while in Charter Housing’s employment.  It was further found that maintenance and refurbishment staff had also experienced significant exposure to hand arm vibration in their daily work which put them at risk of developing or exacerbating existing HAVS.

The investigation also revealed that the company:

  1. neither adequately planned its working methods nor trained or informed employees on the risks to their health
  2. did not limit the duration and magnitude of exposure to vibration
  3. failed to put in place suitable health surveillance to identify problems at an early stage.

Charter Housing Association Ltd (now part of Pobl Group Ltd) of High Street, Newport pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. The company was fined £100,000 and was ordered to pay costs of £9,896.88.

HSE Comment

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Joanne Carter said:

“An individuals health should not be made worse by the work they do. If Charter Housing had correctly implemented its health surveillance earlier, it would have ensured the right systems were in place to monitor workers’ health. The six affected employees’ conditions may have been prevented from developing to a more severe stage.”

“How people work today can affect their health and wellbeing tomorrow. This case serves as an important reminder of the necessity of task based risk assessments to establish the level of exposure, control measures to reduce that exposure to as low as is reasonably practicable and effective health surveillance systems. In the case of Charter Housing this realisation came too late.”

“All employers need to do the right thing to protect workers’ health.”

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is a serious and permanent condition caused by regular and frequent exposure to hand-arm vibration. HAVS results in tingling, numbness, pain and loss of strength in the hands which may affect the ability to do work safely and cause pain, distress and sleep disturbance.

Posted by Roger Hart

CDM Principal Designer avoid HSE enforcement under CDM 2015

You might well find the following report of interest if you’re in construction, particularly if you’re CDM Principal Designer.  For those of you living in the South-west you might be interested to know that Bristol came second in the list for most enforcement notices issued under CDM 2015 (just behind Hammersmith in London)!

We’ve just had a full year of CDM 2015 and the conversations regarding client and designers and their specific role in the new regulations are ongoing.  Coupled to this HSE now have a specialist team visiting designers (architects and similar) to ensure that the message of CDM 2015 and its specific requirements related to the assessment of risk at the design stage are fully implemented by the CDM Principal Designer.

CDM Principal Designer: Take a look at the report below

MPW R&R Ltd CDM Principal Designer avoid enforcement

If you’d like a quick summary please read on below;

  • total number of enforcement notices issued to the construction sector related to CDM 2015: 3155
  • of this number the total of prohibition notices issue: 1793
  • of this number the total of improvement notices issued: 1362
  • number of regulatory breaches these notices listed: 7993
  • Most breached regulation: HASWA: 3391
  • Second most breached regulation: Work at Height: 1790
  • Third most breached regulation: CDM 2015: 1669

Interestingly, there were 99 potential breaches of Client duties under CDM but only 5 potential breaches of duty by Principal Designers and just 2 potential breaches by Designers.

An accurate depiction of the real state of the CDM 2015 Regulations?  We’ll leave you to decide…

Posted by Roger Hart

Q: What happens when HSE injures one of its own staff? A: Errr, not a lot…

With fines rising by orders of magnitude and custodial sentences being handed in more cases that ever before all businesses are feeling more exposed to risk from not managing safety effectively.  They are also conscious that with uncertainty, rising costs and tough marketing places they need to balance cost against benefit wisely to remain competitive in a global marketplace.  So what happens when HSE injures one of its own staff?

The advent of the Fee for Intervention scheme (FFI), the closure of the HSE Helpline plus rises in prosecutions and fines have all served to create a greater distance between business and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Because of this you might wonder what happens to the people who enforce health and safety law when their own procedures, risk assessments and safety systems of work fall far below the standards expected.

The answer?  Not a great deal. No fines (no point fining another government body). No hearings or court cases (this is another department of the Crown after all). No risk of personal prosecution and no possibility of a company being driven out of business through a combination of fines and bad publicity.

What actually happens is a Crown Censure (a situation where, but for Crown immunity from prosecution, would have led to a realistic prospect of conviction).  The department accepts it was wrong and regrets the actions which led to the incident which should have been prevented.  Quite a contrast to those of us working in the private sector…. read on below for more details of what actually happened.

HSE injures worker through hydrogen release which ignited at test laboratory in Buxton (source: http://press.hse.gov.uk/2017/hse-issued-with-crown-censure-over-worker-injury/)

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has accepted a Crown Censure after a worker at its laboratory was injured when conducting an experiment at a testing facility.

On 4 October 2016 a worker at HSE’s Laboratory in Buxton suffered serious burns while setting up an experimental hydrogen test rig. He has since returned to work.

The incident happened when a prototype hydrogen storage vessel was being tested to determine if the design would be suitable for its intended use. While filling the vessel a connector failed and a quantity of hydrogen escaped under pressure. The hydrogen ignited and the HSE employee who was close to the vessel was injured.

HM Inspectors of Health and Safety investigated the incident and served a Crown Improvement Notice requiring HSE to provide a system of work for proof testing and leak testing an assembled hydrogen line and test tank to ensure, so far as is reasonable, the safety of employees and other people in the vicinity. HSE complied with the Notice.

The investigation by HM Inspectors concluded that the pressure testing went wrong because of failings to assess, plan, manage and control a well-known risk of death or serious injury.

The investigation team found the incident could have been prevented by putting in place recognised control measures available in longstanding published guidance.

Director of field operations, Samantha Peace said: “The Act is not intended to stop people from doing work that may be inherently dangerous, such as pressure testing. It is about ensuring that where work involves danger then this is reduced as much as it properly can be.

“In this case, HSE bear this responsibility as an employer. They fell below the required standard and as the failings exposed workers to the risk of death or serious injury, a Crown Censure is the right course of action. HSE has co-operated fully with the investigation and we are satisfied that action has been taken to put matters right.”

Richard Judge said “As chief executive of HSE, and on behalf of my colleagues on the Management Board and the HSE Board, I very much regret this incident happened, and especially that our colleague was injured. On this occasion, we did not meet the standards we expect of others and that is deeply disappointing. HSE accepts the Crown Censure.

“We took early action to resolve the immediate issues identified by the regulatory and internal investigations. In line with our spirit of continuous improvement, we are using the findings from the investigations as an opportunity to learn and to do significantly better.”

By accepting the Crown Censure, HSE admitted to breaching its duty under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 in that it exposed employees to risks to their health, safety and welfare.

As a Government body, HSE cannot face prosecution in the same way as private or commercial organisations and a Crown Censure is the maximum sanction a government body can receive. There is no financial penalty associated with Crown Censure, but once accepted is an official record of a failing to meet the standards set out in law.

Posted by Roger Hart

The clients duties under CDM 2015 – are you complying?

We’ve now had the first full calendar year of the updated CDM Regulations in place with some very big changes in terms of Clients duties.  Some things have changed and designers, architects in the main, have begun to feel the pinch of the regulations.  Contractors seem happy to proceed largely on the same basis as they were and are, by and large, relatively unaffected by the changes if they were used to CDM under the earlier regulations.

One area which has felt the pinch is the smaller contractor and the contractors and designers completing domestic projects such as new house builds for wealthy clients.  There are some surprisingly large practices and contractors serving wealthy clients in the Cotswolds, Home Counties and similar spots who spend a significant sum on their new build homes / renovations.  Up until the 2015 changes in CDM all of these projects fell outside of the scope of CDM and so there has been a steep learning curve for this part of the construction sector.

A second change which has hit all clients and is part of the CDM risk management process is the greater focus on health.  Issues such as vibration and respirable crystalline silica have been known of for many years but contractors at all levels are really feeling the focus both from the supply chain and from HSE in terms of enforcement on these health related issues.

The missing link so far from our perspective are clients.  We have seen some prosecutions but clients are hard for HSE to reach and often quite unaware of their duties under CDM 2015. The key distinction here is between commercial and domestic clients but we’re going to assume (being a business and talking in this blog to our clients) that you’re a commercial client.

That being said, did you know? [source: http://www.hse.gov.uk/construction/cdm/2015/commercial-clients.htm]

For all projects, commercial CDM clients duties are to:

  • make suitable arrangements for managing their project, enabling those carrying it out to manage health and safety risks in a proportionate way. These arrangements include:
    • appointing the contractors and designers to the project (including the principal designer and principal contractor on projects involving more than one contractor) while making sure they have the skills, knowledge, experience and organisational capability
    • allowing sufficient time and resources for each stage of the project
    • making sure that any principal designer and principal contractor appointed carry out their duties in managing the project
    • making sure suitable welfare facilities are provided for the duration of the construction work
  • maintain and review the management arrangements for the duration of the project
  • provide pre-construction information to every designer and contractor either bidding for the work or already appointed to the project
  • ensure that the principal contractor or contractor (for single contractor projects) prepares a construction phase plan before that phase begins
  • ensure that the principal designer prepares a health and safety file for the project and that it is revised as necessary and made available to anyone who needs it for subsequent work at the site

For notifiable projects (where planned construction work will last longer than 30 working days and involves more than 20 workers at any one time; or where the work exceeds 500 individual worker days), commercial clients must:

Posted by Roger Hart

HSE publishes their sector plans for 2018

The Health and Safety Executive has published its sector plans for the next 3-5 years following the draft it issued in March 2017.

This earlier document saw HSE split the areas under its remit into 19 different sections rather than the, until now, traditional two sectors  Interestingly, manufacturing has been given a ‘must try harder’ rating after it was found that around 3% of workers are injured annually, somewhat higher than the all-industry rate.  You can find more information on the HSE Sector Plans page here; http://www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/strategiesandplans/sector-plans/index.htm

The key approach which HSE intends to adopt is;

  • working with others, using our expertise for the wider good of workers, businesses (especially SMEs) and government;
  • championing the need for prevention;
  • focusing our inspection and enforcement activity where it can have the most effect.

How HSE intends to integrate this with the current FFI policy remains to be seen but if you can engage with HSE on initiatives we’d encourage you to do so wherever possible.

Occupational health will continue to play a key role in risk management and is very likely to be a key area of concern for any visit to site, in particular consider within your business the following three areas which have been marked for further assessment when conducting visits;

  • Occupational lung disease (exposure to dusts / RCS, COPD, work related asthma);
  • Musculoskeletal disorders (think manual handling but also consider general ergonomics);
  • Work related stress and mental health issues (use the HSE stress tool and see their website for more guidance).

One further area which was highlighted during the consultation process has been the large increase in volunteer activities and how the scope of this work has widened with many volunteers now carrying out tasks which are far more exposed to risk than has been the case.

The six key sectors which HSE intends to target are;

  1. agriculture;
  2. construction;
  3. transport and logistics;
  4. manufacturing;
  5. waste and recycling;
  6. public services.
Posted by Roger Hart

Utter failure to manage safety results in tragic death

Almost all the people we know and work with struggle with knowing the right mix of safety aspects and operational aspects when planning work.  We do have to get the job done, but let’s do it safely is a common phrase through industry and construction.  However, every now and then we come across a case where safety hasn’t been given any thought.  When the risks are so severe and obvious the facts make for uncomfortable reading and, in this case, the utter failure to manage safety has resulted in an entirely preventable death of a young father of one.

Utter failure to manage safety: Golf company director jailed following lake death

Gareth Pugh was collecting golf balls from a lake at Peterstone Gold Course near Newport on behalf of Dale Pike, director of Boss Golf Balls.  The works were to retrieve golf balls from a lake at the course, some thing which is typically conducted by qualified divers.

During the course of the work Mr Pugh, weighed down by the 341 golf balls (16kg) he had so far collected and the weighted belt which he wore, lost his breathing equipment and drowned.

Mr Pike was alerted by the constant stream of bubbles emerging from the water and altered the emergency services with Mr Pughs body being recovered from the water some 70 minutes later.

The court heard Pike, who ran Boss Golf Balls which sells balls retrieved from lakes, should have hired trained divers to carry out the work, at a cost of about £1,000 a day. But instead he employed Mr Pugh, who had ADHD and learning difficulties, and paid him £20-40 a day.

David Elias QC, defending, said Pike “naively and foolishly believed that all would be well with the use of that equipment in that lake”.

Sentencing Pike, Judge Keith Thomas said: “Mr Pugh was an unsuitable contender for the diving work you employed him to undertake, but you allowed him to take those risks to make a quick buck.

The risk of death or serious injury was obvious to you, but your cavalier attitude towards safety was the cause of Mr Pugh’s death.

Iwan Jenkins, from the CPS, said: “Dale Pike stood by and watched as Gareth entered the water knowing that safety regulations were being breached and which resulted in Gareth losing his life.

“There was clear evidence Pike had made enquiries with legitimate dive operators to cost this activity but he chose not to use them, instead falsely claiming to the golf club that he was a qualified commercial diver with his own equipment.

Posted by Roger Hart

Client fails to appoint a Principal Contractor and receives £200,000 fine

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations and its requirement for a Client to appoint Principal Contractor are long established having been first issued in 1994 but more recent changes in the 2015 update are catching out some clients.  We think that as time progresses HSE will be looking to enforce more regularly on client duties in project both large and small.

The case below will highlight the potential for clients to become liable when they don’t take steps to ensure their own compliance under CDM.  If you have questions or need CDM 2015 support please contact us and speak to one of our CDM experts on 01453 800100.

Failure by client to appoint attracts Principal Contractor duties by default

The owner of the block of flats has been prosecuted and fined £200,000 after HSE identified serious safety breaches during demolition of the building in South London.

As is often typical a member of the public was the first to raise the alarm and it was found that the building owner and client had failed to make any appointments under CDM 2015.  Without this is place the duties associated with the Principal Designer and Principal Contractor roles would fall to the client – something which is known to us but was most likely an unpleasant surprise for Mr Selliah Sivguru Sivaneswaran.

In October 2016 HSE Inspectors stopped work at site due to workers being exposed to a range of risks including asbestos, falls from height, and fire. When HSE revisited the site for a second time in January 2017 work had restarted whilst the site was still unsafe – despite enforcement notices being served and advice being provided.

The demolition work continued to be carried out by hand with workers climbing onto the unguarded roof and ‘bombing’ debris to the ground. Workers were at risk of falling up to 4m through unguarded openings in the floors and the partly demolished staircase.

Welfare facilities were not provided and there was a significant risk of fire without adequate means of escape. The Court heard that two days before the sentencing hearing HSE had to return to the site and take further action.

The Court heard that despite the foreseeably large financial return from the project, Mr Sivaneswaran put profit before safety and paid cash in hand to untrained workers, failed to engage a site manager, and provided none of the legally-required site documentation.

Mr. Sivaneswaran pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 13(1) and 4(1) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM) and was fined £200,000 and ordered to pay £1,421.20 in costs.

HSE inspector Andrew Verrall-Withers commented after the hearing:

“Mr. Sivaneswaran was a commercial client as he was carrying out work as part of a business. When he failed to appoint a Principal Contractor (PC) the the PC duties fell to him.

Thanks to a member of the public reporting the dangerous conditions HSE was able to take action. It was just good fortune that no one had been killed at the site.

Instead of taking the support and advice provided by HSE, Mr. Sivaneswaran continued to let the workers operate in appalling conditions where they were at risk of being killed. He did not even provide a WC or washing facilities”.

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Posted by Roger Hart
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