Monthly Archives: January 2018

Mobile Telephones in Vehicles

Recent items in the media concerning the use of mobile phones while stuck in traffic and the use of satellite navigation (satnav) apps on mobile telephones in vehicles has revealed a degree of uncertainty and inconsistency over the law and its application. There have been reports that in some parts of the country, drivers are being convicted, or at least warned, for just touching the device while driving and the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) advice admits that there has been debate about exactly what “use” means.

The law

Regulation 110 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 prohibits a person from driving, or causing or permitting another to drive, a motor vehicle on the road while using a hand-held mobile telephone or other hand-held devices of a kind specified. This regulation was added by the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) (Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2003 and extends to those supervising provisional licence holders while they are driving on the road. The regulation does not apply to devices built into the vehicle or secured in a cradle.

Which devices are covered

In addition to hand-held mobile telephones, the regulation also includes other hand-held devices of a kind specified. While the term “hand-held mobile telephone”, as opposed to “hand-held device of a kind specified”, is not defined, it would clearly be reasonable to assume its normal meaning. The other devices are defined as “a device, other than a two-way radio, which performs an interactive communication function by transmitting and receiving data”.

Specifically excluded are two-way radios using wireless telegraphy providing they do not operate on a frequency listed in the regulation. The frequencies used by CB radio are not listed in the regulation and it is apparently, therefore, not an offence to talk on one of these devices even if it is held in the hand to do so.


An “interactive communication function” is further explained to include:

  • sending or receiving oral (ie telephone calls) or written messages
  • sending or receiving facsimile documents
  • sending or receiving still or moving images
  • providing access to the internet.

This list is not exhaustive, so any other use that involves making or receiving a call or any other interactive communication function involving accessing any sort of data, whether with a person or not, would provide grounds for prosecution.

Illegal use may be regarded as holding the device while talking or listening, pressing buttons or the touchscreen or looking at the screen. This last having been established in a recent case where a conviction resulted after a driver picked up a phone that he was using as a satnav, which had fallen from its cradle, and glanced at the screen before placing the phone in the door pocket.


The exact meaning of “while driving” may be a source of confusion to many ordinary motorists but should not be to professional drivers for it is established by case law to be exactly the same meaning as in the drivers’ hours legislation. Driving means being at the steering wheel for the purpose of controlling the vehicle with the engine running. It is the last bit that has caught out many drivers because, even though the vehicle may be stationary in a traffic jam with no possibility of moving, as long as the engine is running, the driver is still “driving”. If the driver in such a situation turns off the engine then it appears that no offence is committed by using a hand-held device, though that doesn’t mean that one cannot be alleged.


Using a hand-held mobile phone while driving is an offence under s.41 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and since 1 March 2017 has been penalised by a fixed penalty of £200 and six driving penalty points. If the case is dealt with in court, a maximum fine of £1000 may be imposed, rising to £2500 for the driver of an HGV. Magistrates also have the discretion to impose a disqualification from driving. In the case of an HGV driver, the Traffic Commissioner can also suspend the driver’s vocational entitlement for 21 days for a first offence, double that for a second offence, and so on.


In the case of uncertainty like this, the only safe course to adopt is not to do it at all. Drivers should at least:

  • place any hand-held device firmly in a cradle upon entering the vehicle
  • complete any satnav programming or playlist selection before moving off
  • only initiate calls if absolutely necessary and then only when traffic conditions are suitable
  • use auto-answer if available
  • keep talk time to a minimum
  • never use the internet or text
  • if in doubt, don’t.

Transport managers should also ensure that similar appropriate advice is given to all drivers and check to see it is being followed.

If you require assistance, please contact Walker Health and Safety Services.


Tips to Make Sure that Stacking Activities Are Carried Out Safely

Tips to Make Sure that Stacking Activities Are Carried Out Safely

  1. Do a risk assessment to assess the hazards involved in the stacking and unstacking of loads. Consider how workers could be hurt if loads were to fall on them.
  2. Look at industry guidance on the correct method of stacking for your type of loads, and devise a suitable stacking system for your premises.
  3. Train employees on how to safely stack loads, including the means of lifting the items into place and the gradients to be used. Remember that unstable items should slope backwards at the top to stop them slipping forwards.
  4. Make sure that the racking and/or pallets used are suitable for the type and weight of the items they hold.
  5. If there is a risk of items falling, introduce zoned areas with restricted access to prevent people being in the vicinity of the stacked items. An exclusion zone can be sectioned off by barriers, or if this is not possible by painting a zoned area onto the ground.
  6. Inform workers about the maximum heights that stacks can reach, and undertake regular checks to ensure that these measurements have not been exceeded.

If proper stacking procedures are not designed and implemented then serious accidents can occur if loads fall. Make sure this does not happen on your premises.

Contact Walker Health and Safety Services Limited if you require advice.


Mistakes made when wearing high visibility clothing

EN ISO 20471 clothing, also known as high visibility clothing, is produced for one purpose, which is to enhance visibility and thus to keep people safe when they are working on roads, runways, construction sites or in large warehouses, where vehicles, forklift trucks, aircraft and the like are operating.

Nevertheless, not everyone is aware of how little it takes for safety to be compromised. Even the smallest modifications to clothing can have fatal consequences. So far, too often, people make mistakes when dressing themselves or their employees.

All EN ISO 20471 clothing is certified in classes from 1-3 based on how visible the clothing is.

Depending on the nature of the job and the speed of traffic around the employee, the Danish Working Environment Authority requires the use of certified visible clothing on one of these classes.

If you make just the slightest modification to part of the clothing, it will no longer provide optimal protection.

This can be fatal!

We have therefore collected a list of the mistakes most commonly made by people, and what you should bear in mind when your work requires you to be particularly visible.

1. The Jacket is removed

All of your clothing must meet the requirements in order to be approved. If, for example, you remove your jacket and walk around in a t-shirt, you lose your visibility. You are therefore no longer certified in your safety class.

2. Work clothing gets too dirty

Too much dirt on the fluorescent areas of the clothing reduces visibility. This makes it more difficult to see you, so your clothing no longer meets the applicable safety requirements.

3.  Trousers are tucked into boots

A common sight is for people to tuck their trousers into their boots, either because the trousers are a little bit too long or because they prefer it that way. This is, however, not appropriate as the boots can easily cover reflexes, which then lose their effect.

4.  Clothing washed incorrectly

If you wash the clothing yourself there is a greater risk that it is washed incorrectly, which damages both reflexes and fluorescent areas, reducing the safety effect. The clothing can be damaged by the temperature, detergent or other textiles in the washing machine. Companies should ideally have a professional laundry solution, to make sure that employees clothing is washed correctly, and therefore still meets the standards in safety classes after washing.

5.  The safety of the clothing is not checked on an ongoing basis

The function and the safety effects of the clothing must be checked in order to make sure that it is still good enough. When the clothing is washed in a professional laundry, it is checked and if necessary new reflexes are applied in order to extend the useful life of the clothing.

6.  Shirt hanging over the trousers

Clothing must be worn as intended. This means that if there is fluorescent material around the lining or the pockets on the clothing, it must be visible all the time. You must therefore not let your shirt hang over the trousers and cover the colour. This causes the clothing to lose it’s full effect and it’s certification.

7.  Holes appear in the clothing

The clothing must always be intact. Even a small hole in your trousers or a logo sewn on can remove some of the fluorescent material. This means that the clothing may possibly not meet the standard and is no longer certified in it’s class.

What ‘Class’ does your job require?

  • Class 1 reflective clothing:  If the surrounding traffic is driving at approx 30km/h or less.
  • Class 2 reflective clothing: If the surrounding traffic is driving at between approx 30 and 60km/h.
  • Class 3 reflective clothing:  If the surrounding traffic is driving at over approx 60km/h.

Contact Walker Health and Safety Services Limited if you require advice.


Health and Safety Training

The main reason for providing health and safety training is to enable people to do their jobs safely and without risk to health.

Organisations often allocate considerable resources to the provision of training. This topic describes the type of pre-planning that should take place to ensure the greatest benefit is realised.

Employers are legally obliged to provide suitable and sufficient health and safety training. Many criminal and civil cases have revolved around employers’ failure to provide adequate training.

Training is an essential feature of most risk control systems and should be carried out prior to an employee being exposed to a risk.

To be effective, training should be carefully planned on three levels, in terms of:

  • organisation
  • job or occupation
  • the individual employee
  • The process of assessing what training is necessary at any of these levels is known as a training needs analysis.
  • Evaluation of the effectiveness of the training should be planned.

Training is an essential element of any safety management system. Training can improve competence, and alter behaviour and attitudes. However, before embarking on a training programme thought should be given to what training can achieve — and its limitations.

Having established clear aims and objectives, selected the mode of training accordingly, and delivered the training, it is vital to evaluate its effectiveness, as this topic describes.

  • Employers are legally obliged to provide suitable and sufficient health and safety training. Many criminal and civil cases have revolved around an employer’s failure to provide adequate training.
  • Training can improve the safety culture of an organisation, create more positive attitudes and safety behaviour among staff and reduce accident rates. Training is often required at all levels in an organisation.
  • Health and safety training may be based broadly on one of the following two methodologies.
    • Face-to-face methods, such as classroom-based training, “toolbox talks”, job instruction, workshops, role play and exercises.
    • Resource-based learning, such as computer-based training and open learning/distance learning.
  • The choice of training method is determined by the objectives, eg whether concerned with the recall of information, individual attitudes and perceptions, or physical activities or tasks.
  • Always evaluate the training to ensure that it has met its objectives.

If you require assistance for a training programme, please contact Walker Health and Safety Services.


Is noise an issue for the workplace?

The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 require you to prevent or reduce risks to health and safety from exposure to noise at work.

Regulations require the employer to:

  • Assess the risks to employees from noise at work
  • Take action to reduce the noise exposure that produces those risks
  • Provide employees with hearing protection if the noise cannot be reduced
  • Make sure the legal limits on noise exposure are not exceeded
  • Provide employees with information, instruction and training
  • Carry out health surveillance where there is a risk to health.

How to protect workers

Firstly, find out if there is a noise problem.

  • Is the noise intrusive for most of the working day?
  • Do employees have to raise their voices to carry out a normal conversation when about 2m apart for at least part of the day?
  • Do employees use noisy power tools or machinery for more than half an hour each day?

Then, assess and control the risks:

  • Measure the noise levels
  • Put in a programme of noise reduction if needed
  • Maintain plant and machinery
  • Look for quieter processes.

Provide information, instruction and training. Tell workers:

  • The likely noise exposure
  • What  is happening to control risks and exposures
  • Where and how people can obtain hearing protection
  • How to report defects in hearing protection and noise-control equipment
  • What their duties are under the Noise Regulations 2005
  • What they should do to minimise the risk, such as the proper way to use hearing protection.

Implement health surveillance:

  • Provide regular hearing checks in controlled conditions
  • Tell employees about the results of their hearing checks
  • Keep health records
  • Ensure employees are examined by a doctor where hearing damage is identified.

Ignoring a noise problem in the workplace can cause misery to employees who may suffer deafness and tinnitus. This can be prevented and at the same time, save money and court appearances by assessing noise now.

Don’t wait for a claim.

Contact Walker Health and Safety to discuss a noise assessment.