Requirements for ‘Safety Critical Medicals’ hitting construction contractors

Safety Critical Medicals are an issue which is being raised by more and more clients since the beginning of this year. It is linked to a national scheme know as Constructing Better Health which is backed by the larger constructors in the construction industry. You can find out more about this scheme here; http://www.cbhscheme.com/About-CBH. The issue is that many contractors are only becoming aware of these requirements when they arrive at site, meaning that instead of being able to start work many have been referred to an occupational health provider in order to have an assessment carried out for their Safety Critical Workers.  Please note that this can vary, some contractors will insist that a test within the last 12 months must be completed before work starts and others adopting a less rigorous approach.

The idea behind the assessment is that it provides a process which allows the organisation to comply with its duties under HASWA Section 3 to ensure the safety of their own workers and third parties. Below we’ve given more information about the requirements of the scheme and what workers it covers, these are generally those at higher risk of causing harm to themselves and others, examples would be plant operators or workers on high speed roads.  Assessments are conducted by approved occupational health providers and you can find a list of these here; http://www.cbhscheme.com/Find-an-OHSP

Background and definitions; Safety Critical Medicals & Safety Critical Workers

A safety critical worker is defined as;

“Where the ill health of an individual may compromise their ability to undertake a task defined as safety critical, thereby posing a significant risk to the health and safety of others”

In construction the following have been defined as ‘safety critical’:
  • All mobile plant operators
  • High-speed road workers
  • LGV / HGV Drivers
  • Scaffolder / Rigger
  • Slinger / Signaller / Banksman / Traffic Marshal
  • Steel Erector / Structural Fabricator
  • Steeplejack
  • Confined Spaces Workers
  • Rail trackside workers
  • Asbestos licensed workers
  • Tunnellers, or those working in a confined space
  • Tasks carried out at height where collective preventative measures to control risk are not practicable
  • Others as identified by the risk assessment process
Whilst the use of professional judgment typically allows us to ensure that an individual is fit to perform a task effectively and without risk to their own or others health and safety in broad terms, although there are general duties of care under the HSAWA, it is likely that only those exposed to safety critical work would need be subjected to a full medical assessment.  This medical assessment may consist of;
  1. Blood pressure measurement;
  2. Height, Weight & Body Mass;
  3. Audiometry – hearing test;
  4. Spirometry – Lung function test (if indicated – job specific);
  5. Visual Acuity, colour vision and peripheral vision screen;
  6. Urinalysis for diabetes or other health issues;
  7. Musculoskeletal assessment;
  8. Mental health assessment;
  9. A baseline SCW health questionnaire to establish any current or previous medical/psychological health history.

As always, if you have questions and your a retained client under our Safety~net competent person scheme please contact your consultant to give specific guidance on your compliance.

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 projects 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 the 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 in 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 the 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”.

Posted by Roger Hart

Bristol Construction firm receives £145,000 fine without an incident occurring

This recent case involving a Bristol construction firm highlights two common misconceptions;

  1. You have to have an accident to get prosecuted and fined by the HSE;
  2. Most inspections come through random HSE visits.

This case disproves both of these assumptions.  Firstly, the case was prosecuted based on the risk of the breach rather than based on any accident or incident which occurred.  Secondly, the visit was prompted by the concerns of a member of the public communicated to HSE through their website which can be accessed here; HSE: raise a concern

Bristol construction firm Ikon Construction fined

Ikon construction had received previous warnings relating to the correct planning and management of construction work but these had not been acted upon.  The fine related to risk without injury during the construction of nine timber framed town houses and resulted in a significant fine of £145,000 plus £2191.20 in costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Kate Leftly said:

“By failing to comply with the law, Ikon Construction endangered the lives of workers at the site, and neighbouring residents of the complex being developed.

Thankfully, a complaint was made by the public which we acted on very quickly and subsequently thoroughly investigated.”

If you need help, advice and support on any aspect of construction site safety or application of the CDM Regulations as a Designer, Contractor or Principal Contractor please contact us using the links above and below to see how we can help.

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Posted by Roger Hart

Time, not material goods, ‘raises happiness’

Bear with us for a moment or two… this is relevant to a blog on health and safety but it might take a couple of paragraphs to demonstrate how.

Time, not material goods, ‘raises happiness’

I read this whilst I was recently on holiday and so had some free time in which to think a little on the content.  Its an interesting article in its own right but it also has a wider message for us all in the way in which we approach our work and home lives.

Its hard to get away from the material side of wanting things, televisions, conservatories and new kitchens, new cars or from a work perspective, more turnover, more profit, higher wages and perhaps a big pension.

One thing which you might not at first consider is the innate value of time – your time.  Perhaps you’re a manager who would benefit from losing time to safety tasks in order to concentrate on what you’re best at.  Perhaps you’re a business owner who could find more enthusiasm for their company if you could be savedfrom dealing with all that red tape….

Whatever your personal circumstances, at work and at home think about time.  We all have a finite amount of it and making your life as happy an experience as possible will make you a better boss, wife, husband, employee, person.

Take the time to find make more time for the things you love to do and get another person to carry out those tasks which you don’t like… perhaps starting with health and safety.

Time, not material goods ‘raises happiness’
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-4070351

Posted by Roger Hart

France launches ‘tick alert app’ in frantic bid to map Lyme disease explosion as blight ‘moves North’

Lyme disease and the danger from tick bites is something which we’ve been communicating for almost 10 years now.

Each month we come across another news story which reminds us that the message still needs a lot more promotion.  This month alone we’ve seen two important stories.

If you’re a fan of rugby you might well have seen the first one in which former England Captain Matt Dawson tells his story of what he though was simply a bite from a flea turning into a major health issue and ending in heart surgery, read more here

A second story relates to the launch in France of a ‘tick alert app’ in an attempt to map Lyme disease as it moves North through Europe
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/07/17/france-launches-tick-alert-app-frantic-bid-map-lyme-disease/

What we can say is make sure that you, your friends and all of your staff are aware of the risk, you can find more information on our earlier blog entry; https://www.outsource-safety.co.uk/safety-news/lyme-disease-and-the-risk-to-landscapers-and-construction-workers/

Background information on Lyme disease

Lyme disease, also known as Lyme borreliosis, is an infectious disease caused by bacteria of the Borrelia type which is spread by ticks. The most common sign of infection is an expanding area of redness on the skin, known as erythema migrans, that begins at the site of a tick bite about a week after it has occurred.

Posted by Roger Hart

Welding of drums or other vessels – the potential for explosion

Lots of businesses which we visit have an oil drum or two lying around the workplace.  It may seems like a good idea to make use of one of these unwanted items and we’ve seen them made into bins and even barbecues through some simple welding.

However, depending on what used to be inside them cutting them open or welding something onto them can result in a powerful explosion.  If you want some more information of what we mean by this take a look at the video from WorkSafeBC; Drum Explodes During Welding, Killing Worker

The problem in this instance was that the original substance, acetone, a solvent used in the manufacture of fiberglass items and many other productions, remained in the vessel. Even a trace amount after the drum was washed through could still be present in sufficient quantity to create an explosive atmosphere. in the case of the video above this was less than a tea spoonful of the original acetone.

Looking at the safety aspects here you can see how likely it is that vapours will remain, even after washing out a drum.  Add into that the heat generated by cutting, grinding or welding the drum allowing the remaining substance to ‘gas off’ and you have a potential bomb on your hands.

The best route to reducing risk is to avoid this situation altogether but sometimes people do need to work in situations where welding will need to take place.  If you can’t avoid it then make yourself familiar with the best practices to reduce risk.

For more information please have a read through the free HSE guidance on the subject here;  Hot work on small tanks and drums INDG314(rev1)

Most importantly, consider if you really need to do this.  Replacing rather than repairing may be your better option.  If you do need to make repairs don’t forget that cold cutting or cold repair techniques may also be an option and will avoid the key risk of hot works and potential explosions.

As always, if you need advice then please call us quoting your Safety~net membership number or company name and we’ll be pleased to offer some more specific advice.

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Posted by Roger Hart

Failings in formwork safety leads to further injuries and fines

Formwork safety continues to be an area in which many sites could improve.  There are a range of courses out there which give useful qualification and skills in the management of formwork and falsework risk.  A good example of this would be the Temporary Works Supervisor Training Course (TWSTC) available from CITB.  For more information on this course see this link; TWSTC

Erector fell 3m after access scaffold board failed under load (formwork safety)

Sager Construction Limited (SCL) and Shaun Dixon Services Ltd (SDSL) have been fined when an employee fell more than 3m when a scaffold board he was standing on failed.

Southwark Crown Court heard SCL had been appointed Principal Contractor under the CDM 2007 Regulations for the construction of a shopping centre and residential units.

On the 19 February 2015 the 64-year old employee of formwork contractor SDSL was installing a primary beam in the basement when he fell from the top of the work platform.  He  suffered fractures to both of his feet and deep cuts to his head and arms as a result.

Dangerous boards and poor working practices

On investigation the Health and Safety Executive found that operatives worked from boards which were in a poor condition. It was also revealed that particularly poor practices took place in relation to work at height

Sager Construction Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 22 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, and was fined £34,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,577.

Shaun Dixon Services Ltd was also found guilty of breaching Regulation 13 of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 at an earlier date.

The company has since entered liquidation but was fined £160,000 and ordered to pay costs of £15,119.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Gabriella Dimitrov said:

“The worker is lucky to have not sustained more serious injuries as a result of this fall from height.

It is entirely foreseeable that accidents will occur where work at height is being carried out without suitable work platforms and other measures to prevent workers from falling.

HSE will take action to ensure that duty holders are held to account for any failings.”

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Posted by Roger Hart

Hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) – are you really managing the risk?

Hand arm vibration syndromeAll of us have our pet subjects.  Some of us do tend to bury our heads in the sand for areas in which we’re not as competent and Hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) is all too common an example.  You may, if you are honest with yourself, have a hit list of subjects which you mean to ‘review’ at some stage.

Local IOSH groups or similar can be a really good place to start in tackling these issues.  Other professionals will have been there before and will have found out its really not as bad as you might think, see our video below for more information..

One area we think you should look at afresh is controlling your risk from vibration.  We’ve been involved in assessments for many years now so if you need some help and advice just let us know.  If you’re still looking for that ‘good reason’ to make a start read the case below and if you have health surveillance in place please check our other blog post on competency requirements for these assessments: Hand Arm Vibration: Competency for HAVS Health Surveillance

Company fined for failing to manage Hand arm vibration syndrome risks

Newfield Fabrications Company, a manufacturer of steel components based in Cheshire, was fined £120,000 for failing to ensure that the risks to employees were adequately controlled.

Manchester and Salford Magistrates Court heard that in late 2015 the welder, who had worked at the company for several years, was given a job that involved a large amount of grinding and polishing.

After a few hours on the job, he began to experience numbness and tingling, commonly an indicator of exposure to high levels of vibration.  He asked to swap with another worker but he was told by his supervisor to carry on with the work.

A few weeks later, a 20 year old apprentice welder also began to suffer from vibration-related symptoms after using similar equipment.

An HSE investigation found that Newfield Fabrications failed to control employees’ exposure to hand arm vibration. The firm also failed to give its employees sufficient information, instruction and training on the effects of working with vibrating hand tools.

Newfield Fabrications pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 6(1) and 8(1) of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations.

According to the company’s accounts, it had a turnover of £7.7m in 2016 and made a pre-tax profit of £118,826.00 and so the £120,000.00 fine plus the £7241.00 costs is a significant sum for its Directors to find.

HSE inspector Helen Jones said:

“This is a case of the company failing to protect workers using vibrating tools. Exposure to hand arm vibration is a well-known risk which the company failed to adequately control.

“The company also failed to ensure workers were looked after when symptoms did arise leading to further exposure. This was wholly inadequate, and led to two employees suffering significant health effects.”

Posted by Roger Hart