The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) are inviting comments on their plans to recover the costs of their inspectors’ time when dealing with employers who have materially breached the law. The presumption is that the charging regime will come into being, and the consultation exercise is all about how this should happen and the appropriate level of charges.
Where an HSE intervention is found necessary, the employer could be liable for a fee of around £1,000 per day. Typically, it is suggested that an inspection that results in a letter being sent to the dutyholder would be charged at £750, but enforcement action such as an Improvement Notice would attract an average bill of £1,500. Should HSE have to carry out an investigation eg into a reportable injury, the employer’s cost would be in proportion to the time spent on the matter. In extreme cases such as major incidents, this could run into tens of thousands of pounds.
The consultation document gives examples of situation that inspectors may face, and the likely costs involved. So, if a visit finds that a machine is unguarded and a notice is served, HSE will look to recover costs for the initial visit, any follow-up visit to see that the employer has complied with the notice, and all the time spend on administration. Consultation ends on 14 October 2011 and comments can be made via http://consultations.hse.gov.uk/gf2.ti/f/15138/393957.1/pdf/-/CD235.pdf
Over three-day reportable injuries as defined in the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR) will no longer be able to be notified via the telephone from 12 September 2011. The telephone method will still be available to notify fatal and major incidents and injuries, but all other reportable workrelated injuries and incidents under RIDDOR will have to be advised to HSE online.
There will be a suite of seven forms available on HSE’s website, and these are in the table below. The new procedure is supposed to speed up incident reporting and also assists HSE in reducing the administrative cost of paying for telephone lines to be staffed. As mentioned in the last edition of PHSC News, the duty to report “over-three day” injuries is likely to change to “over-seven days” later this year.
||Report of an injury
||Report of a Dangerous Occurrence
||Report of a Case of Disease
||Report of an Injury Offshore
||Report of a Dangerous Occurrence Offshore
||Report of a Flammable Gas Incident
||Report of a Dangerous Gas Fitting
The British Standards Institution (BSI) has published a new standard on lighting. It is called “BS EN 12464-1 2011 Light and lighting. Lighting of work places. Indoor work places.” The full standard specifies the lighting requirements for people in indoor work areas to meet their needs for visual comfort and performance.
All tasks for people with normal visual ability are taken into account, including workers with display screen equipment. This new document, part 1 of the standard, specifies requirements for lighting solutions for most indoor workplaces in terms of quality and quantity of illumination. Aimed at those who design or specify lighting in workspace layouts, it seeks to encourage the planning and introduction of appropriate lighting controls for regular lighting layouts in buildings. It is especially useful when subdividing lighting for use only when a specific area is occupied. The document is available from BSI at a cost of £182 but subscribers to PHSC’s advisory service contracts can obtain a 25% discount through our office.
Provisional figures for the number of workplace fatalities in Britain show that in the year to March 2011, 171 people were killed. This is an increase of 24 on the corresponding figure of 147 the previous year. The largest rise was in the construction sector, which saw an additional nine fatalities.
In addition to work related deaths, there were 68 members of the public who died in accidents connected to work activities, but that excluded railway related fatalities where suicide accounts for many of the incidents.
Sunderland Housing Company Ltd, now trading as Gentoo Group Ltd, was fined at Newcastle Crown Court after an 80-year-old Penshaw tenant died from carbon monoxide poisoning caused because the chimney for his coal fire was not swept. The fines and costs of £65,000 were justified because the landlord, according to the judge, was responsible for a “continuing systemic failure rather than an isolated breach”.
After the case, HSE Principal Inspector Bruno Porter said: “The risk of dying from carbon monoxide exposure caused by a faulty solid fuel appliance is estimated to be up to ten times higher than that from a gas appliance but the risks are generally not as well known. The appliance needs to be installed and maintained correctly, and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Landlords and providers of social housing must make sure that solid fuel appliances are regularly maintained – chimneys must be swept regularly and they must make sure the tenant is capable of, and is actually carrying out, any safety-critical cleaning.”
Birmingham Magistrates’ Court levied fines and costs for breaching the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 on two Worcestershire companies and a Hall Green builder after asbestos fibres were released during office refurbishment in Birmingham city centre.
Evanacre Colmore Row Ltd, and Marchment Consulting Ltd, both of Droitwich, were each fined £7,000 and ordered to pay £1,500 costs. Roland Morewood, of Hall Green, Birmingham, was fined £1,000 with £823 costs.
Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) uncovered a series of failings during the refurbishment of 114-116 Colmore Row, work that included upgrading a lift containing asbestos insulating board. Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard how building owners Evanacre Colmore Row Ltd and project managers Marchment Consulting hired builder Roland Morewood to carry out work over the weekend of 29 January 2010. Moreland was not licensed to do this work, but offered to do the job for a tenth of the cost. When lift engineers arrived, they found pieces of asbestos insulating board spread around the lift shaft area. Air tests taken on several floors revealed significantly high fibre levels, and also several contaminated vacuum cleaners. Asbestos insulating board was discovered in Roland Morewood’s van.
The prosecuting inspector stated: “Evanacre Colmore Row had a survey which clearly showed that asbestos was present. Marchment Consulting, which has expertise in building work, should have known how to deal with asbestos in refurbishment projects.”
According to the road safety charity, Brake, around one in every six drivers would not be able to pass the eyesight test necessary to obtain a licence. Their Fleet Safety Forum division has embarked on a campaign called “Look Sharp” to try and alert fleet managers to the problem, and to encourage regular eyesight tests.
It is estimated that each year around 12.5 million people in the UK do not undergo the recommended two-yearly eye test. Commenting on the problem, Caroline Perry, marketing manager at Brake, said “Fleet managers must address the issue internally and consider their drivers’ eyesight as part of their wider fleet safety strategy. Being an experienced and skilled driver is meaningless if a driver is unable to spot hazards due to poor vision.”
As part of their efforts to reduce costs, HSE have announced that the HSE Infoline is to be discontinued after 30 September. Statistics for 2010 show that there were 190,000 telephone calls made and nearly 50,000 enquiries via email. HSE intends that all future requests for information should be web-based and has determined that this will deliver better value for taxpayers.
Castle Point Borough Council has been fined £18,000 with £7,500 costs after a child’s hair became trapped in a water outlet at a swimming pool. The seven-year-old was underwater for over two minutes and was unconscious when taken out of the pool although she did recover later.
It transpired that one of the two lifeguards on duty was carrying out a cleaning task and the other could not see the whole pool due to glare. In addition, the Council hadn’t ensured that the outlet had a second vent, which would have reduced the suction pressure when the girl’s hair was being drawn in.
Kimbolton School, an independent school near Huntingdon, pleaded guilty to breaching the Work at Height Regulations 2006 after a swimming pool attendant fell from a loft space to the changing rooms below. Huntingdon Magistrates ordered a fine of £6,000 and costs of £2,276.40. The Health and Safety Executive discovered that the school had not carried out a risk assessment for the task, which involved Stacey Paine, aged 19, and the pool manager accessing the loft to retrieve paperwork. This required walking along a narrow beam in the unboarded loft, but Stacey slipped through and fell a distance of 2.5 metres and broke her wrist on the solid floor.
HSE Inspector Stephen Faulkner commented that the paperwork could have been stored somewhere easier to reach and a risk assessment would have identified this.