Monthly Archives: January 2017

New Penalties for drivers’ mobile phone use from March 1st 2017

DRIVERS who break the law face new penalties within weeks with a double clampdown on those threatening lives with higher penalties for using a mobile or for speeding.

The doubled new penalties for using a hand-held mobile phone, confirmed last November, will be introduced from March 1, a Department for Transport spokesman confirmed.

Much higher fines for the worst speeders will follow – but while those topping 100mph on the motorway are an obvious sector, those clocking 41mph in a city 20mph zone will be equally subject to a stinging financial penalty – and even those doing just 31mph can be disqualified for seven to 28 days.

First offence driving ban

The new penalties for driving using a hand-held mobile phone at the wheel will mean driving bans for new drivers

For mobile phones the fine doubles to £200 but with licence penalty points doubled to six – and no alternative of ‘driver education’ to avoid points – any drivers with existing licence endorsements face increased risk of a driving ban that could cost them their job and livelihood.

The move follows several high-profile cases of fatalities caused by drivers using mobile phones at the wheel.

In October, lorry driver Tomasz Kroker, who killed a mother and three children on the A34 near Newbury while distracted by his phone, was jailed for 10 years, shortly after a Hampshire van driver was jailed for nine for killing a cyclist on the A31 near Farnham in Surrey while texting.

Yet despite the ensuing publicity surrounding these cases and the impending rise in penalties, it was revealed only this week that 8,000 drivers were caught in a campaign last November.

Under the new penalties younger drivers are at great risk of being stripped of their licence and having to resit their tests. Any car or van driver clocking up six points for any offences within two years of gaining their licence faces an automatic disqualification and their licence rescinded. The same limit applies to HGV and bus drivers.

But in a second move to cut road dangers, the Sentencing Council has announced that speeding fines for the most serious cases in England and Wales will rise by up to 50% after a review of sentencing guidelines for magistrates’ courts.

Whether a driver is caught doing 41mph in a 20mph zone, or 101mph on a motorway, they could be fined 150% of their weekly income up to £1,000 or £2,500 on a motorway.

Most serious speeding category

  • 20mph speed limit – recorded speed 41mph and above
  • 30mph – 51mph +
  • 40mph – 66mph +
  • 50mph – 76-85 +
  • 60mph – 91mph +
  • 70mph -101mph +

The Sentencing Council said it wanted to ensure a “clear increase in penalty” as the seriousness of offending increases.

It said the changes were not intended to result in significant differences to current sentencing practice, but to target specific offences.

The current limit for a speeding fine is 100% of the driver’s weekly wage, up to £1,000 – or £2,500 if they are caught on a motorway.

When the new guidelines come into force on 24 April, magistrates will be able to increase the fine to 150% – although the upper cash limit will stay the same.

In 2015, 166,695 people in England and Wales were sentenced for speeding offences and 166,216 were fined. The average fine was £188, but two people were also sent to prison.

The Sentencing Council held a consultation with magistrates and criminal justice professionals in 2016 and the feedback was that current guidelines “did not properly take into account the increase in potential harm that can result as speed above the speed limit increases”.

As a result, it has increased the penalty to send a clear message.

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Tips to Ensure Workers Remain Safe around Vehicles

Being struck by a vehicle in the workplace accounts for a large number of serious and fatal injuries each year. Take action today to ensure that your vehicle operations on site are managed properly, and the risks are controlled.

  1. Identify the risks involved. Think about how someone could be run over, reversed into or hit by moving vehicle parts such as shovels or booms. Implement controls to prevent this happening, such as by improving lighting conditions and training drivers and other workers so they are aware of the operating hazards.
  2. Reduce reversing operations wherever possible. Introduce one way systems, and ensure vehicles follow the designated routes. Use signage for drivers to direct them the correct way. Define the maximum speed limit you want drivers to adhere to, and include this in inductions and regular briefings.
  3. Introduce segregated pedestrian walkways and crossings. Use barriers to stop vehicles using them. Ensure workers do not use headphones or mobile phones when walking on site if there is a risk of being run over – these devices will stop them from being aware of their surroundings.
  4. Introduce aids to enable pedestrians to be seen easily – vehicles should have suitable mirrors and CCTV fitted where appropriate. Workers should wear hi-vis when on site. Fit reversing alarms to vehicles, too.
  5. If using banksmen, protect these workers by ensuring only trained staff fulfil this job.

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Workers Receive Chemical Burns While Cleaning

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated an incident, and found that PSL Worldwide Projects Ltd had not completed a suitable risk assessment for the job, and the equipment provided – including the hose – was not suitable for the task. It was also established that the company had failed to provide its workers with the correct personal protective equipment (PPE).

5 Tips to Ensure the Safety of Workers when Using Hazardous Chemicals

  1. Undertake a thorough risk assessment before using any chemicals to identify potential hazards such as chemical reactions when mixing substances, or the likelihood of spillages or explosions.
  2. Always consult the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for all substances to find out how the manufacturer or supplier states the substance should be used, stored and moved around safely. Check that you have the most up-to-date MSDS by contacting the manufacturer/supplier, or by looking on their website.
  3. Train workers in the hazards associated with the chemicals used. Make sure they know what other chemicals another substance could react with – sometimes this might even include water or oxygen in the air.
  4. Provide suitable controls to protect workers, such as enclosing substances to avoid human contact with chemicals, or by extracting them at source to prevent workers breathing in harmful gases. Make sure that any equipment (such as storage containers or hoses) is made of a suitable material that will not erode or rust.
  5. Give workers suitable PPE. This should always be the last resort in the hierarchy of controls as it only protects the individual wearer, but it can be an effective control. Make sure PPE fits the wearer (check again if anyone grows or removes a beard) and that they know how to adjust it, clean it and store it properly.

Chemical burns can kill, and can have a lasting effect on those who suffer them. Ensure that your workers are fully trained and protected today.

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Top Tips to Prevent Overturning Forklift Trucks

  1. Undertake a suitable and sufficient risk assessment to establish whether a forklift is the best option for the job, or if an alternative piece of equipment could be used such as a cherry picker. Identify any hazards in the intended route which could cause a forklift to overturn, such as ditches, large pot holes or slopes.
  2. Produce a method statement which details how the work must be completed to ensure the safety of workers, including the environmental conditions which must be achieved (such as operations being undertaken in suitable weather conditions).
  3. Ensure only trained workers use forklifts, and that they know how to attach, use and access any man-riding cages properly and distribute the weight of loads correctly.
  4. Provide operating instructions for workers, which include the need to keep to specified speed limits, and to travel slowly down slopes. Ensure operators always keep their eyes on the direction of travel.
  5. Never allow a load to be lifted on a forklift which is heavier than the lift truck’s capacity, and do not allow workers to turn a forklift on a slope, nor travel across the slope.

Many workers have died from being thrown from overturning forklifts, or from being crushed under them as they fall. Take action today to ensure this never happens to anyone on your premises.

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In 2017: Target Ill-health to Reduce Lost Working Days

The HSE have devised a strategy for 2017. They focus on work-related stress, musculoskeletal disorders and occupational lung disease.

The Health and Work strategy has been developed to enable companies to engage with each other and the regulator itself, by both providing vital information on controlling health risks, and sharing information about best practice and the contributions by industry to improving health within the workplace. You can view and comment on the strategy on the HSE’s website (www.hse.gov.uk).

Worker Health Priority Areas Top Tips

  1. Occupational Lung Diseases
    • Undertake risk assessments to determine where controls need to be implemented to prevent workers from breathing in harmful substances and developing conditions such as asthma or lung cancer.
    • Provide effective personal protective equipment, ensure it fits employees properly and workers know how to store it and use it correctly.
    • Control dusts and vapours by containment, and by using extraction or ventilation methods to remove them from the workplace.
    • Provide health surveillance and monitoring where appropriate.
  2. Musculoskeletal Disorders
    • Develop a thorough risk assessment of all work activities in relation to how workers could sustain a back or limb injury.
    • Look at how mechanical aids could be used, such as trolleys and conveyors, to reduce the amount of lifting, pushing and pulling of loads.
    • Label weights so that employees know the weight of the load they are moving.
    • Provide training for workers on how to avoid musculoskeletal injuries.
  3. Work-related Stress
    • Undertake risk assessments for your organisation to identify the risk factors that could contribute to workers feeling stressed at work, in line with the Management Standards produced by the HSE.
    • Implement suitable controls, such as allowing job rotation or developing ways in which workers can have a say in their workload or the way their job is done.
    • Develop policies on how change is to be delivered within the workplace, and how workers will be consulted on the process.

It’s estimated that a quarter of all enforcement notices issued by the HSE relate to health issues – take steps to follow the recommended actions now to avoid receiving a notice at your workplace.

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