The Explosives Regulations 2014 came into effect on 1 October 2014. They consolidate and replace a large number of provisions dating back as far as 1875.
Most of the changes relate to licensing and storage arrangements and requirements. Separate regulations known as the Acetylene Safety (England and Wales and Scotland) Regulations 2014 also came into force and similarly serve to tidy up earlier assorted regulatory requirements. They do not affect acetylene gas stored at a pressure lower than 0.62 bar.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have completed the consultation exercise on their proposed amendments to the regulatory framework for construction, a process we reported in the last edition of Safety News.
One of the proposals was to supply sector-specific guidance instead of an Approved Code of Practice to support the forthcoming Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. After reviewing responses received, HSE has retracted this plan and will retain an ACOP. Of the 1,213 responses they received, less than 400 agreed with the withdrawal idea.
The new Petroleum (Consolidation) Regulations 2014 came into effect on 1 October 2014. They replace existing petrol storage legislation which is withdrawn. This does not affect earlier legislation covering the dispensing of petrol into a vehicle, which also requires a licence.
Despite the World Health Organisation calling for e-cigarettes to be banned in enclosed spaces, the Department of Health has confirmed that it has no proposals to legislate for this. It is understood that the Welsh government may introduce its own restrictions for use in enclosed public spaces.
None of this affects each employer’s ability to make a policy decision on whether e-cigarettes should be prohibited at individual workplaces. PHSC’s experience to date is that the majority of employers who have considered this issue have decided to treat the use of e-cigarettes in the same way as ordinary tobacco.
The Health and Safety Laboratory has published a research report into the efficacy of cleaning products being used as an alternative to handwashing. The lengthy report is very technical in nature, but an interesting outcome is a recommended hierarchy of choice for hand hygiene methods.
The five alternatives in order of effectiveness are: washing with soap and warm water, washing with soap and cold water, rinsing with water alone, using moistened wipes, and finally the use of hand rubs or gels.
Dr Richard Judge, a Chartered Engineer, will start work as the chief executive of HSE in November 2014, moving from his current role as chief executive of the Insolvency Service. His earlier career includes posts in the nuclear, rail and environmental sectors. Dr Judge replaces an acting chief executive, Kevin Myers, who has covered the post since August 2013.
An independent report has concluded that the Fee for Intervention (FFI) system, whereby the Health and Safety Executive levy a charge on transgressors for time spent dealing with material breaches of legal requirements, is fit for purpose.
Key findings are that FFI has proven effective in shifting the cost of regulation from the public purse to those who break the law; there is no viable alternative, given the Government’s budgetary constraints; the policy is being implemented fairly and consistently, and there is no evidence that HSE are misusing FFI to rake in extra revenue. The report also concluded that despite this new financial disincentive to break the law, there is no evidence that fewer contraventions are taking place.
In the 40th anniversary year of the Health and Safety etc at Work Act 1974, figures have been released to show that there have been huge reductions in the number of workers killed or injured.
There is no doubt that much of the 77% reduction in injuries, and the 85% fewer fatalities, can be attributed to safer workplaces and improved safety management. Less clear is the contribution of changes in technology and the general shift away from jobs in manufacturing to the service sector.
Despite these other factors, it is unarguable that Britain leads the way in occupational health and safety. Minister of State for Health and Safety, Mark Harper, said: “Our workplace safety record is now the envy of the world, with businesses and governments queuing up to tap into our expertise. Britain is now officially one of the safest places in Europe, and the world, to work.”
A new edition of leaflet INDG163, a brief guide to controlling risks in the workplace, has been published. Formerly called “Five steps to risk assessment”, the new version contains broadly similar guidance but the proforma assessment for the employer’s completion that appeared at the back of earlier versions has been removed. Download the new leaflet at www. hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg163.pdf
There is a short window of time in which interested parties can express opinions on HSE’s revised draft Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) to the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000. Details can be found at http://www.hse.gov.uk/ consult/condocs/cd270.htm
There are no plans to change the regulations themselves, and the intention is to shorten and simplify existing document L122. The same exercise is being carried out in respect of the safe use of lifting equipment ACOP, where publication L113 supports the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998. Again, there are no plans to revise the regulations. See http://www.hse.gov. uk/consult/condocs/cd275.htm
These drafts have been issued in response to a report from Professor Ragnar Löfstedt in 2011, where he concluded that stakeholders supported the principles of ACOPs and saw them as a vital part of the system, but that there was room for improvement.