With all the news of G4S Olympic Safety & Security not being able to cope for the 2012 Olympics there has now been talk of bringing in the armed forces to do the job.
Here at the head office of safe 2 Use we were having a discussion about who pays for that service? I mean if G4S where going to charge £xxxx per head for each guard and now the armed forces (who are funded by tax) are going to do it do we get a tax rebate or cheaper tickets? I don’t know so let’s not start a heated debate.
Anyway before getting too political about it all we then started talking about some past health and safety audits and services we have completed for the security sector and thought it may be of interest to post our experiences.
As you can imagine doing a risk assessment for a night club bouncer, body-guard or bank security guard is not a simply task!
We have completed some very obscure jobs in the past and one of the most unusual tasks included a full risk assessment and evacuation procedure for a group of security guards who were testing forced entry into a holding cell that had been barricaded from the inside.
Basically they were simulating a scenario that a suspect had been detained in a holding cell and barricaded him self in. Unfortunately this type of cell had a door that opens into the cell and not out to the corridor. How would they be able to force entry into the cell?
The problem is holding cells only have 1 entrance/exit and the barricade had to be set up from inside leaving one very nervous and vulnerable guard inside the cell while the others were doing everything in their power to break the barrier and door in by brute force.
As you can imagine this was very high risk stuff and called for a lot of thought regarding method statement and control procedures. In fact if we get enough interest we may even post the solution we came to.
G4S Olympic Safety & Security
In the meantime we would love to hear any thoughts or suggestions how you may approach this scenario so please feel free to contact us at http://www.safe2use.com or leave a comment below.
So until next time stay safe and don't barricade yourself into a corner.
P.S. Did you know the armed forces are under the same obligation regarding health and safety as we are in the private sector?
In recent years the awareness of hand- arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) has increased, but there are nearly two million people in Britain still at risk of developing the condition at work. Essentially, this ill health problem could be occurring due to the continuous and repetitive use of hand held vibrating power tools which damages and provokes a disorder in the functions of the blood vessels, nerves and joints.
The consequences can be inability to do fine work and cold temperatures can trigger painful finger blanching attacks.
HAVS is a preventable disease, but once afflicted the damage is permanent and in many cases a cause of disability.
A significant reduction of those cases were observed after the introduction of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations in 2005. Since then the construction industry has been made aware of the risks involved of using power vibrating tools. Some improvement and new designs of machines have also been made.
There are still some sectors, like agriculture and marine where the risk of vibration related disorders seems to be increasing.
Vibration is a lost energy, so maybe a lower vibration process could be more efficient?
This would also reduce other risk elements like noise produced from mechanical equipment as well as reducing the spark chain.
A lot of suppliers have continually tried to reduce the vibration impact, avoiding risks for the workers and making their machines more desirable.
Business owners whom are using these kind of power tools needs to be aware that according to legal Regulations the exposure of vibration has to be “as low as reasonably practicable”, which means that it is not enough to just be below the limits stipulated in the law, but to reduce the risks for employees as much as possible.
Studies have demonstrated that if the exposure is regularly reaching the Exposure Limit Value, many of your workers will develop one of the vibration health conditions such as Hand arm vibration, HAVS, White finger.
Tool timers and vibration meters are not advisable, because they are not actually measuring the exposure of the worker, but only how long the machine is being used. They are similar to a watch but more expensive than most.
There is no legal requirement for continual monitoring of employees’ exposure to vibration.
What is contemplated for employer's to look for is for how often per week the worker’s exposure is likely to be and based on that information a risk assessment must be produced.
Your best tools for minimizing the risks of work related vibration diseases would be the continual improvement and upgrading of the machines, the right training, the correct risk assessment and in many cases the change of work processes to avoid the use of hand tools.
Sometimes the correct work procedure could not only save you money and time but also reduce risks.
A good example is the recent trial of the use of a slower spinning blade in a diamond cutting job. It was found that using the slower spinning blade was a better option for a particular grade of hard concrete, while at the same time there wasn’t a big difference in the speed of actual cutting. The process however was much smoother.
Hand arm vibration, HAVS, White finger needs to be prevented before it takes effect
Is London’s 2012 Olympics going to involve lots of traffic jams, big crowds in the underground and busses? Most probably, yes, many of the London residents will get to work late during the event. So brave yourselves and prepare to run, dodge, squeeze and duck through the Olympic visitor crowds on your way to the factory, office or shop. Undoubtedly, the month of the event will mean lots of hard work, as well as some good earnings for many businesses in the area. But also there are going to be more congestion and crowds everywhere.
Some of the possible solutions could be annual leave for some employees to be taken during August- September.
Flexible or remote working could be another possibility for some business activities. Home and tele-working are becoming more and more popular for many companies, benefiting employees and employers alike. With a good IT preparation this could be the solution for traffic and crowd problems of your business during this summer.
From health and safety point of view the employers and employees have to be aware of the possible risks involved in working from home particularly musculoskeletal disorders, stress and feeling isolated.
If those are not viable solutions for your company, plan alternative routes to work. Maybe even making an investment in hiring private vans and busses for your employees to get to work and back without unnecessary hassle would be beneficial for everybody? It would also remove some pressure and help people concentrate at work.
If you have to hire more workers during the Olympics due to more demand of your services, don’t forget about the health and safety implications which are involved. Depending on your particular business activity, additional health and safety training may be necessary, and- or some changes in your policy may apply as well.
This summer is a good opportunity to embrace the Olympic spirit in your company. May be some extra curricular sports activities would benefit the team and create better atmosphere in the work place, which at the end will translate to a tangible business benefit.
Let's talk about Keeping your staff safe and cool during the (hopefully) hot summer months.
It is always important to have nice and comfortable surroundings and atmosphere at the work place. Most business premises in the UK are well prepared and equipped for the cold winter, but what about the hot weather?
Having a happy and safe workforce is an important and not always easy task, it also involves many different factors including complying with health and safety regulations and complying with Workplace safety in the summer.
Many people consider working in a hot and worm environment more difficult than in a cold one.
Different regulations apply to the diverse industries and different type of premises.
Whatever the location from office buildings to factory floors, the law specifies that the minimum acceptable temperature to work in is 16C. There is no maximum legal temperature, but employers are expected to take actions so employees feel comfortable working during all-weather conditions.
Lots of buildings have central heating facilities, but not cold air conditioning. If this the case you may need to purchase, or rent fans or portable air conditioning units. Of course be aware of the risks which the use of additional electrical units involves like electrical overload, loose cables, noise and electrical insufficiency.
- Try to create where possible shaded areas using parasols, overhanging, trees. - Make sure there is plenty of fresh water available for all staff in all locations. - When possible, keep only the essential electrical units working, switching off those not used all the time and switch off some of the lights. - Arrange extra work breaks and in some cases consider the option of working from home for some employees. - Extra shades and blinds on windows are proven to be very effective against the hot weather.
Sticking to some of these basic guidelines should see you well through the summer months.
Over the last few years there has been lots of silly rumors spread about certain absurd rules being enforced in workplaces that have been blamed directly on health and safety.
Recently, the government started talking about getting rid of the so-called health and safety “monster”.
This is actually good news because the reduction of many unnecessary regulations and “red tape” will hopefully make many lives easier and work more productive.
For many years, the problems were not as much in the legislation, but in the interpretation of it.
There are numerous funny stories out there where people are getting it all wrong.
What about children being banned from playing conkers?
"Health and safety while playing conkers?"
In some sleepy village deep in the country a well-intentioned head teacher decided that playing conkers was too dangerous and made pupils wear safety specs.
The story spread including misinterpretations and Chinese whispers and before long the game was banned in some schools.
The truth is that there is not a huge a safety risk playing conkers and the law doesn’t contemplate it as such.
Of course children need supervision in lots of situations but the uncertainty and fear of prosecution and being sued is causing lots of people to overreact to what may be labeled trivial matters.
Another well-known concern regarding education (not including conkers) were the day school trips. Many teachers refused to take groups of students out to museums, parks and theatres being too worried about the fact that something could go wrong.
Among the funniest things blamed on health and safety is the throwing of mortar boards at graduation parties and was reported that many colleges banned their graduates from doing just that.
The reality is that the college’s real concern is the conservation of the hats for next year graduates.
A Firefighters work involves many risks and the law explains and takes into account many safety precautions for all Firemen. There was a case in one fire station which was built without a pole, which is a demonstrated quickest way for firefighters to get into their vehicle and get to saving lives. Well this was also blamed on health and safety law.
Again, this has nothing to do with health and safety legislation and poles are still widely used around the country for the purpose they were made for.
A really funny story is the one of the trapeze artists.
It was reported that the law requires them to wear hard hats, as building site workers do. And again it is a complete nonsense and such regulation doesn’t exist at all.
The list goes on and on. One of the most shocking ones, in my opinion is the fact that every year many companies forbade their office staff to hang Christmas decorations.
It does involves a low risk of falling down, but with a little bit of common sense and if provided with the right equipment anybody would do the job without having to be “qualified”.
Have we become a nation scared all the time of being sued? Or we simply have lost the good British common sense, which has done us so well over the centuries?
The truth is that health and safety is saving lives and protecting people from injury.
We say it is a great implementation of exactly the good old British common sense.
Health and safety while playing conkers?
Let us know what you think by contacting our safety advisors or leave a comment below
Some people believe that starting a new business during a period of deep economic crisis or recession could be profitable. For sure, certain activities and industries do benefit from the “dirty water” times and even strive while most others are struggling.
According to some experts during this last (and on going) crisis industries like fast food and (oh!!!) the luxurious and highly expensive stuff are having the best time making more money than ever. And of course the banks, which still have the dignity to announce big earnings and massive bonuses….but this is another story…..
So if you think you are a good fisherman and you’re about to start a new small business one of the uncomfortable “red tape” issues you have to bear in mind is health and safety. The law in the UK stipulates that whatever your economic activity is, you are responsible for the impact on the public, your employees and the environment. You have to consider different regulations according to the particular business that you are in some activities are more dangerous than others and are expected to comply with different safety requirements. Generally you may have to register with your Local Authority. If you have less than five employees you are not obligated to have a Health and Safety Policy. Here are some of the most common health and safety hazards for small businesses in an office environment and their possible solutions.
One of the most common causes of personal injury and fire is the electrical safety issue. Although small offices are considered to be low risk, the more machinery you have in your office, the bigger the risk of electrocution or fire. As an employer you have responsibility for making sure the risk of electrical failure is low by regular checks of all the equipment and assuring that all your employees are trained to use it correctly. PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) testing is not a legal obligation, but knowing that all the electrical machinery is working correctly will save you money by avoiding replacement expenses. When testing or conducting regular checks the most important things to look for are
1. Looking for exposed wires with no insulation
2. Signs of overheating
3. Damaged or defective equipment
Most electrical appliances used in an office environment display signs indicating that the particular piece of equipment or machine is “double insulated” with high integrity insulation material, this reduces the risk of fire and electrical failure. Extra care should be taken with all the equipment which doesn’t display “double insulation” signs, it needs to be earthed and tested at least every five years. All inspections need to be carried out by a qualified person and particularly when your company employs five or more people.
All of your fire fighting equipment (extinguishers, fire blankets, axes, etc.) must be the correct item for the possible fire hazard identified in your risk assessment (electrical, chemical or wood and paper provoked fires) , your employees must be correctly trained on how to use the provided equipment and, or evacuate through the correctly marked fire escapes. Regular checks from the correct authority should be conducted to ensure all the equipment is the right one and working correctly.
Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)
RSI needs to be contemplated in your risk assessment documentation. There are more and more law suits based on the RSI. Usually this is an injury associated with the quick typing positions such employed by a secretary. There are high risks for our wrists, fingers and tendons. To be able to comply with the law you have to provide your employees with the correct work stations, which promote the right back posture and helps to reduce the risks of the RSI. It has also been demonstrated that the regular tasks rotation reduces the risks of this injury.
We have been asked some common health and safety questions over and over again so we have decided to help out here with some questions and answers.
Common health and safety questions
Q) How many employees does a company need to have before a written health and safety policy is required?
Q) Do self employed people have duties specifically outlined in the (HASAWA) Health and Safety at Work Act?
Q) What general duties are places on an employee of a company?
A) To take reasonable care with regard to health & safety of themselves and any other people who may be affected by their acts/omissions while at work.
To co-operate with employer’s so as to comply with their legal duties.
Not to interfere or misuse anything provided for health & safety purposes.
Q) Do the Health and Safety Executive have sole responsibility for enforcing the (HASAWA) Health and Safety at Work Act?
Q) What features must a company health and safety policy statement have?
A) A policy statement should demonstrate a clear commitment to health and safety, have details of the organisation and arrangements for implementing the policy, have details of how the employees will be consulted and the policy must be revised as often as appropriate.
Q) What are ACoPs and what are they for?
A) Approved Codes of Practice (ACoPs) are not legally binding but may form part of the evidence in any health and safety prosecution.
Q) When may an Improvement notice be issued?
A) This can be issued if any systems of work or any equipment are not up to legal standards and need attention. This will outline what needs to be done to
comply with the law in a fixed time period.
Q) When may a Prohibition notice be issued?
This may be issued if an inspector decides that an activity gives serious risk of personal injury. Work will be stopped.
Q) What are some general duties of the employer as far as reasonably practicable in part 1 of the HASAWA?
A) To provide and maintain safe plant and systems of work that do not cause risk to health, Safe handling, transport and storage of dangerous articles and substances, to provide continued information, instruction and training, safe access and egress and provide a safe environment and adequate welfare facilities are to name a few.
Common health and safety questions
Q) What is the maximum fine a Magistrate’s Court could issue an employee for contravening section 7 or section 8 of the HASAWA?
A) Section 7 = £5000 Section 8 = £20000
Q) To comply with the HASAWA companies have to clarify certain roles and responsibilities. What are some good examples?
A) Managers and/or Directors would notify the HSE, where necessary types of accident have occurred, provide health and safety induction for visitors and review the company’s health and safety policy. Directors, Managers and Site Supervisors should Utilise disciplinary procedures if safety is not adhered to, warn new employees of known hazards and implement day to day health and safety procedures. Everyone from directors to operatives should set a good personal example by wearing appropriate PPE, ensure only properly inspected and maintained plant and equipment is used on site, not misuse anything provided for health safety and welfare and of course anyone who discovers defects in tools or equipment should report it to the Managers/Directors.
Q) What are some of the powers that HSE inspectors have?
A) They have the power to enter premises at a reasonable time, they may take evidence, samples, photos and interview witnesses are to name a few.
Q) Is consultation with employees limited to those who are in recognised trade unions?
Q) If two trade union appointed safety representatives request a safety committee must an employer comply and if so in what time frame?
A) Yes the employer must comply within three months
Q) What are some main points that should be covered with regard to consultation with employees?
A) The safety representative should examine causes of accidents. The appointed safety representative should be the appropriate person to receive information for the employees. Under the consultation with employee’s regulations the employer must consult with employees on health and safety matters in good time. Employees cannot be dismissed for bringing attention to health and safety concerns.
Q) Regarding (RIDDOR) Reporting of Injuries Disease and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations what are some important factors?
A) Death or major injury must be reported to the appropriate authority by the quickest possible means. Dangerous occurrences as stated in RIDDOR need to be reported on the appropriate for within 15 days. If an employee dies within 12 months of the completed RIDDOR the authorities have to be notified. You must complete an entry into the accident book even if RIDDOR has been completed.
Q) What type of diseases can be caused by common types of work?
Mesothelioma can be caused by working with asbestos. Dermatitis can be caused by working with Cement. Hepatitis can be caused if exposed to blood or human waste and Carpel tunnel syndrome can be caused by vibration.
No part of this site is a legal representation of current rules or legislation. Please check governmental legislation sites for up to date information or feel free to contact a team member regarding Common health and safety questions
Asbestos is an extremely dangerous substance, widely used in the sixties and seventies decades in the construction industry as a fire protection material in buildings.. It can cause cancer, if disturbed or damaged it releases fibres which people can easily breathe, it needs to be destructed by an authorized professional and trained team, using the recommended PPE and machinery. This dangerous material could be found in any building throughout the UK built before year 2000 and needs to be disposed off accordingly. Every year around 4000 people die because of breathing an asbestos fibres, thus being the biggest cause of work- related deaths in UK.
The HSE’s guide of Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 contains information about the legal procedures which anybody responsible for undertaking maintenance, repairs or any other kind of construction work in a suspected building is obliged to comply with. Recently, a building company from Dorset responsible for the demolishing of a building was fined for not conducting a specific asbestos survey before starting the demolishing works.
Last month was issued an addition to the existing regulations concerning all offshore installations build before 1999. There is a possibility of asbestos -containing materials (ACM’s), the older the building, the bigger is the risk of containing the cancerous materials. The new changes in the Regulations from 6th of April 2012 also take into account the European Normative on the issue which until this moment hasn’t been applied into the UK’s law framework. The changes are concerning mainly some types of non-licensed work with asbestos, which from now on is going to be more controlled and higher precautions required (i.e. medical surveillance, notification of the works, record keeping of all works conducted, risk assessments, method statements, etc.)
So from now on, some non-licensed work needs to be notified to the relevant enforcing authority. The notification and the records that you have to keep for the enforcing authority may require at some point, needs to include a list of the workers who have taken part on the job as well as the level of exposure to the ACM’s. This level doesn’t has to be air measured or monitored, but would be determent by a published guide based on experienced similar jobs. By April 2015 all workers undertaking non-licensed notifiable jobs with asbestos need to be monitored by a Doctor. The medical monitoring is not acceptable to be the same for those conducting licensed jobs, and workers who are already under surveillance for licensed works don’t need to be seen again by a Doctor for the non- licensed one.
As always remind you that training is essential when treating asbestos and really important for the health and safety of your workforce. This is one of the biggest construction safety issues now days and the authorities are taking care of the problem slowly but steadily. Special attention is given lately to the asbestos in school buildings and special scheme is in place for their removal.