Monthly Archives: June 2014

Avoid Crush Injuries and Fines at Work!

The identification of hazards is the most important step in any risk assessment because any hazard omitted will result in the associated risk not being assessed. It is important to distinguish between continuing hazards, i.e. those inherent in the machinery when operating under normal conditions, and hazards which can result from failures or error. Begin by making a list of all machinery, taking into account all its life stages, including installation, commissioning, correct use and operation, maintenance and decommissioning.

6 Key Points to Consider when Identifying Machinery Hazards

  1. Identify hazards by means of physical inspections, task analysis, process analysis and analysis of accident data. Involve your workers and safety representatives, as they are most likely to know about hazards associated with their work.
  2. You should inspect each machine and the way it is operated to identify any parts, processes, operating procedures, work activities and any danger zones, including moving parts. Make sure that guards are in working order and appropriate for the machine. Guards must protect your operators from ejected materials and rotating parts.
  3. There are a number of potential machinery hazards, which include the materials or items being processed and internal sources of energy, e.g. electricity. According to HSE, the following are the most common situations which result in injury or serious harm to people:
    • A worker coming into contact with parts of a machine by being drawn into a machine or position where they may sustain injury;
    • Being caught between moving parts of the machine and a fixed structure such as a wall;
    • Being struck by parts of the machine;
    • Being struck by ejected material;
    • Being struck as a result of release of potential energy in machine components or materials being processed.
  4. Consider also hazards relating to the location of the machine, the environment in which it operates and proximity to other structures. Don’t forget to include the consequences of reasonably foreseeable misuse or malfunction.
  5. Other factors to take into account include manual handling, fatigue, workflow and design and ergonomics.
  6. Hazard identification and management should be conducted and monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure control measures are in place and working and that no new hazards have been introduced.

Failing to address machinery hazards usually results in court cases and large fines. Take action now to prevent this from happening to your organisation.


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Legionnaires’ disease

Legionellosis is the collective name given to the pneumonia-like illness caused by legionella bacteria. This includes the most serious legionnaires’ disease, as well as the similar but less serious conditions of Pontiac fever and Lochgoilhead fever. Legionnaires’ disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia and everyone is susceptible to infection. However, some people are at higher risk, including:

  • people over 45 years of age;
  • smokers and heavy drinkers;
  • people suffering from chronic respiratory or kidney disease; and
  • anyone with an impaired immune system.

What are my duties?

Under general health and safety law, as an employer or person in control of a premises (eg a landlord), you have health and safety duties and need to take suitable precautions to prevent or control the risk of exposure to legionella. Details of the specific law that applies can be found in part 1 of Legionnaires’ disease: The control of legionella bacteria in water systems.

Carrying out a risk assessment is your responsibility and will help you to establish any potential risks and implement measures to either eliminate or control risks. You may be competent to carry out the assessment yourself but, if not, you should ask someone with the necessary skills to conduct a risk assessment. This can be done by someone from within your own organisation or from Walker Health and Safety Services.

The guidance is for duty holders, which includes employers, those in control of premises and those with health and safety responsibilities for others, to help them comply with their legal duties. These include identifying and assessing sources of risk, preparing a scheme to prevent or control risk, implementing, managing and monitoring precautions, keeping records of precautions and appointing a manager responsible for others.

The guidance gives practical advice on the legal requirements of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974, the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 concerning the risk from exposure to legionella and guidance on compliance with the relevant parts of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

The guidance is in three parts:

Part 1: The control of legionella bacteria in evaporative cooling systems
Part 2: The control of legionella bacteria in hot and cold water systems
Part 3: The control of legionella bacteria in other risk systems PDF

If you require further information or assistance, please contact us.



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Health & Safety Week! Ensure Your Leadership Skills are Robust and Effective

Today is the start of Health and Safety Week 2014, which has been launched by the HSE and other partners to highlight certain aspects of health and safety in the workplace – with health and safety leadership being one of the drivers for debate and action. There is an important difference between health and safety leadership and health and safety management – the former is strategic while the latter operational. But what is effective health and safety leadership, and just how should you lead?

Ensure Your Leadership Skills are Robust and Effective

Robust health and safety leadership is fundamental to successful health and safety management. Since the introduction of the Corporate Manslaughter offence in 2007, the spotlight has focused on the responsibilities of directors and senior managers within organisations. As an employer, you should develop effective leadership strategies if you are to avoid prosecution.

4 Top Tips for Effective Health and Safety Leadership

  1. Plan your direction: devise a robust and dynamic health and safety policy which sets out your performance standards and values, and ensure that the duties and responsibilities for health and safety management are communicated throughout the company. Don’t forget to consider the safety arrangements of partners, suppliers and contractors, as their performance could adversely affect yours.
  2. Establish clear roles and assign responsibilities and accountabilities for individuals and teams. Those in leadership roles must lead by example, by proactively communicating the importance of health and safety throughout your organisation, being active and visible in the workplace and encouraging safe behaviours. Ensure your workers understand the role they play in your company’s safety.
  3. Check that you are delivering on health and safety: focus on introducing risk management systems which enable the delivery of risk management and risk reduction strategies. Ensure health and safety is adequately resourced; obtain health and safety advice from a competent person, carry out risk assessments and implement control measures in consultation with your workforce. This will make staff feel valued and increase the likelihood of achieving compliance with policies and safe systems of work.
  4. Monitor and review your performance at least once a year: carry out periodic audits of the effectiveness of management structures and risk management controls. Ensure appropriate weight is given to reporting information such as progress of training and maintenance programmes and incident data, e.g. accidents and sickness absence rates. In terms of accidents, your goals and responsibilities should focus on the systems and activities that drive safety outcomes, as opposed to the outcomes themselves.

Failure to include health and safety as a business risk can have catastrophic results. Act now to take the lead on health and safety to avoid costly prosecutions and fines.

Contact us if you would like advice.


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Your Employees Must be Involved in Health and Safety Matters: 6 Steps to Get Them on Board

Our strategy involves management workforce partnerships based on trust, respect and co-operation. From this, a culture can evolve, ensuring that health and safety problems are resolved and concerns, ideas and solutions are freely shared and acted upon. To be truly effective, participation must go beyond consultation – employees should also be actively involved in making decisions. Although workplace consultations provide a platform for employers to involve employees, this is not sufficient in the current economic climate and your worker involvement should be linked to your business framework.

Top Tips for Effective Worker Involvement

  1. Ensure directors and managers visibly support worker involvement in order to promote a safety culture. Engage personnel at every level of the company and use different approaches for different groups. Don’t forget to include shift workers and part-timers.
  2. Ensure managers and safety representatives receive training in communication, e.g. eliciting views, presenting a case, giving feedback, etc. Opportunities for face-to-face dialogue and feedback include: shop floor discussions; toolbox talks; briefing sessions; suggestion schemes, including via the company’s intranet; management meetings; and individual discussions. If they are to be productive, discussions should be broad, as work organisation, changes in working methods, production, technologies and equipment can all affect health and safety.
  3. Make sure that health and safety committees have a balance of employee representatives and managers. If safety representatives feel intimidated about speaking out, managers should consider removing themselves from part of the meeting to allow the representative speak freely.
  4. Trial an opinion survey and act quickly on suggestions or shortcomings and consider publicising responses. That way, employees will start to accept that you are serious about their involvement. Upon receipt of suggestions, always ensure the person making the suggestion receives feedback – whether good or bad.
  5. Include employees when carrying out risk assessments and seek their views about problems and solutions. The more workers actively participate in the assessments, the more effective the control measures are likely to be.
  6. Consider setting up a working group to tackle a specific problem. When planning measures to deal with specific hazards, involving those who work on relevant tasks will help ensure that the outcome takes into account their experience.

Act now to involve employees in health and safety if you want to avoid major problems that may result in prosecution and civil action.

Contact us if you require assistance.


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Avoid Future Fatalities with these 7 Essential Procurement Tips

Under Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) employers are required to select and install work equipment properly, ensure its proper use and maintain it to protect those who may be affected by the way in which it is used.

7 Tips for Ensuring Health and Safety is Considered in the Procurement Process

  1. Before purchasing new equipment/machinery, you should determine: whether there is a requirement for notification to use the equipment (e.g. Ionising Radiation Regulations 1999); whether risk assessments have been undertaken; and what information, instruction, training and supervision will be required for employees who will be using it.
  2. Consult with safety representatives and employees about equipment suitability and general safety requirements prior to purchase.
  3. When you specify, hire or buy work equipment, you must ensure that it is appropriate and suitable for purpose, including how and where it is to be used.
  4. New machinery should be CE marked, safety checked for faults, errors or missing parts and provided with instructions in English. Work equipment should be marked with appropriate safety signs and texts to give information and warnings where there is a risk to health and safety, although basic hand tools and apparatus are excluded.
  5. You should ask the supplier for details of maintenance procedures, maintenance schedules and how to deal with breakdowns, problems, etc. This will ensure that work equipment remains in an efficient state, order and good repair so as not to place users at risk.
  6. Ensure spare parts will be supplied or readily available for the expected lifetime of the work equipment.
  7. Ensure that second-hand equipment is safe and has the necessary documentation as to safe use, including CE marking. If equipment is being hired from a third party, the hirer (i.e. the person who is offering it for hire) has a duty to ensure it safe for use at the point of hire/loan. However, the duty to ensure safety once in use is the responsibility of the hiree (i.e. the person who will be using the hired equipment).

Considering health and safety should be integral to the procurement of your machinery and equipment.

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