The Health and Safety Executive is in the process of consulting on proposals to revise the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, with a timetable of having new regulations in force in April 2015.
One major change is to do away with the role of CDM Co-ordinator as this function appears not to have worked as expected and has involved bureaucracy and costs without contributing to the process. Instead there will be an enhanced role for the project designer. There are no radical changes to the regulations’ technical requirements, but the Approved Code of Practice would be replaced by a guidance document.
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) has announced proposals to scrap the paper counterpart to the UK driving licence. This is to take effect from January 2015.
DVLA is consulting various stakeholders about the implications that this will have for employers and others who need to check that a licence remains valid and to check for penalty points. An on-line procedure via a system called View Driver Record (VDR) will be made available for individual record checks, and this will be a chargeable service.
The British Standards Institution has, for the first time, published a UK standard for the provision of first-aid kits in all types of road-going vehicle. With a reported 185,000 road casualties in the UK over the past year, the standard aims to ensure vehicles have the most appropriate supplies to enable a first response to roadside injuries. It specifies requirements for the compilation of first-aid items in three sizes of kits – small, medium and large.
Kit selection is based on the number of passengers and the vehicle type, ie a small kit for up to three passengers, medium for up to eight passengers, and a large kit for up to 16 passengers. In vehicles such as coaches with more than 16 people on board, two large kits are required. The standard explains that kits may contain other items where identified during a risk assessment, eg to deal with hazards that are specific to a particular situation, such as the use of hydrofluoric acid. Requirements are also given for the first-aid container itself.
BS 8599-2:2014 Specification for the contents of motor vehicle first aid kits is available from BSI Sales at £86 (or through PHSC at a discounted rate).
The Crime Survey for England and Wales reports that there has been a drop of around 25% in physical assaults at work over the last decade. Verbal threats have reduced even more, showing a 30% decline.
The occupational groups most at risk are those interfacing with the public. The police experience five times as many assaults as the average occupation, and there are also above-average rates for those in the healthcare and social service professions.
The findings, in an HSE report, can be seen online at http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causinj/ violence/violence-at-work.pdf
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned operators and owners of a possible safety issue with the Genie Z135/70 mobile elevating work platform.
During the course of an investigation into a fatality, it has been found that stability of the equipment might be compromised by issues concerning the boom angle sensors, and as a consequence it is recommended that all of this particular model be quarantined and undergo through calibration tests before returning to service.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has issued a highly critical report called “Toxic, corrosive and hazardous” that looks at the effect of the Government’s action to cut red tape. The TUC’s main issue is the near 40% cut in funding for the UK’s health and safety system and the consequential reduction in everything from workplace inspections to published guidance.
They consider that the disruption caused to the Health and Safety Executive has had a detrimental effect on workplace safety, and that “health” has been taken out of “health and safety”. Recent reductions in workrelated ill health are seen as being in danger of reversal as a result of what is said to be a failure to address issues such as musculoskeletal disorders and stress. Changes to injury reporting requirements, codes of practice, and levels of general support for employers and safety representatives comes in for criticism.
The 24-page report can be accessed at www.tuc.org.uk/sites/ default/files/Government%20 record%202014.pdf
Fareham Magistrates’ Court handed down fines and costs of over £14,000 to a Gosport printing company after employee Leharna Bull had to have the middle finger of her right hand amputated as a result of an incident. Ms Bull had taken off a fixed guard as she tried to clean the milling blades on a large book-binding machine.
Another employee was changing a milling bag where paper dust is collected, and restarted the machine when Ms Bull was still working with the fixed guards open. She was unable to react in time and the moving blades caught her fingers. This accident could have been prevented by better planning and a safe system of work. Had the company carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment, they would have been able to prevent the dangerous practice.
A company, which has since ceased trading, has been ordered to ensure that details of its conviction for corporate manslaughter are published in local newspapers. The publicity order requires Mobile Sweepers (Reading) Limited to arrange for text, drafted by Judge Boney sitting at Winchester Crown Court, to appear in the Basingstoke Gazette and Newbury Weekly News.
The company and director Mervyn Owens were prosecuted after an employee was crushed to death by the hopper of a road sweeper that he was maintaining. A prop designed to hold the hopper in position couldn’t be used because it had rusted and the company had failed to ensure safe maintenance procedures for its activities.
As the company only had assets of £12,000 it was fined just £8,000, but Mr Owens was personally fined £183,000 and disqualified from holding office as a director for five years.
Meadow Foods has incurred fines and costs of £72,500 after two workers were scalded by 70°C water that escaped from a tank they were cleaning. Chester Magistrates’ Court accepted a guilty plea to charges under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. They heard that the company’s risk assessment of the tank clearing process did not take into account the fact that a series of valves had to be opened and closed in a strict sequence, and there was no system of work to explain what should be done.
When an employee opened a valve he unintentionally released compressed air from the pipework and this sent hot water over him and his colleague, both of whom sustained serious burns.
Prosecutions of individual employees are uncommon, but as this case demonstrates they do still occur.
The circumstances were that a driver, Stephen Bellingham from Larkfield, Kent, had asked an 18-year-old colleague to hold a heater unit in place whilst it was being raised on the forks of his lift truck. The load, which weighed half a tonne, toppled onto the helper and left him requiring reconstructive surgery for multiple fractures of his shoulder, shin bone and ankle.
This was an experienced driver who should have known better and was acting outside of any instructions from the company. The prosecution was made because an investigation found that the driver had taken it upon himself to act in an inherently unsafe manner. He had failed to assess the risks and possible consequences of his actions.
Maidstone Magistrates’ Court fined Mr Bellingham a nominal £270 because he is currently unemployed after being summarily dismissed for his gross misconduct, and cannot claim benefits.