Monthly Archives: July 2018

Summer Newsletter

Winter Newsletter

Tackling Health & Safety in 2018 (6)

In each newsletter we will be exploring the top 8 pieces of workplace health and safety legislation that you should be aware of. In our Spring Newsletter, we explored the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992. If you haven’t done so already, you can read our Spring Newsletter here.

In this edition of our newsletter, we have chosen to talk about Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 and Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.

Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992

Under these regulations, to protect your workforce, you are required to:

  • Avoid, where reasonably possible, the necessity for employees to carry out manual handling activities that involve the risk of injury.
  • Produce risk assessments so the chance of injury through manual handling is reduced.
  • Ensure employees involved in this work are given information on how much each load weighs.
  • You should also consider, in the risk assessment, an individual’s personal characteristics, such as their strength and understanding of how to lift safely.

Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992

This section outlines that as an employer, you must:

  • Make sure appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)is supplied without cost to the employee. PPE includes safety helmets, protective goggles, facemasks, gloves, ear defenders, air filters, protective footwear and overalls.
  • Ensure PPE is suitable for the specific types of risk in the workplace environment.
  • Give workers information, instruction and training on the use of PPE.

grey line

7 Common Workplace Safety Hazards

Just like safety issues in the home, such as work hazardsmaintaining electrical appliances and protecting children from hazardous materials, a workplace needs adequate maintenance and protection to keep employees safe. Sensitive problems such as bullying can be addressed by training and the implementation of proactive management policies, but other common health and safety hazards that can have a serious physical impact need to be addressed by supplying the correct safety equipment. Here is a quick guide to what employers should be aware of to ensure workplace safety.

  1. Chemicals

When employees have to handle harmful or dangerous chemicals as part of their work, to stay safe, they must wear protective clothing, including specially treated gloves. It is also essential that any potentially harmful substances are labelled, and the correct signage is in place to warn of workplace hazards.

  1. Confined spaces

The Confined Spaces Regulations 1997 are intended to protect workers from unsafe work practices. As an employer, you need to ensure a safe work system is in place should it be necessary for anyone to enter a confined space in the workplace. That system is likely to include enforcing restricted entry policies and posting appropriate warning signs.

  1. Electrics

Electrical safety is an important issue in workplaces; especially where there is a risk that heavy-duty equipment might cause electric shocks. Warning signs must be in place, and information about how to treat victims of electric shock should be readily available.

Remember that extension leads may also be a safety hazard and use only surge-protected types in your workplace.

  1. Forklifts

Forklift trucks are used in warehouses and yards for moving heavy loads from one area to another; they are also capable of inflicting serious injury unless safety guidelines are followed. Most responsible employers use floor signs to ensure drivers and pedestrians are aware when forklifts are operating in a particular area, as well as floor tape and wall signs to demarcate areas where forklifts are not permitted.

  1. Lockout or tagout

Using a lockout or tagout procedure ensures machinery is properly shut down after use and will not be operated again until it is safe to do so. It’s important to pay attention to lockout systems and procedures, as countless accidents occur every year when these are not implemented. Use high visibility lockout tags to indicate who is authorised to use machinery and when.

  1. Poor housekeeping 

Your home is kept free from hazards by good housekeeping practices: spills are mopped up promptly to prevent slips and falls, visible dirt is cleaned away, and household waste is carefully disposed of. Those same principles apply to a workplace; so good housekeeping is an essential component of minimising accidents at work. It’s important to warn employees and customers when floors have been recently cleaned and may still be wet, or when cleaners are at work on-site dealing with waste.

  1. Working at height 

Specialist equipment has made a great difference to the safety of employees who have to work at height. You can now source platforms with handrails, bespoke safety helmets and kits for roofers, so there’s no excuse for unsafe working practices that could cause harm.

 

grey line

The Importance of a Clean Workplace

Industrial CleaningMaintaining high levels of hygiene should be an essential element of how any workplace operates. As an employer, the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 requires you to have a general duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all your employees, so far as is ‘reasonably practical.’

The issue of hygiene is a part of this legislation, so you need to be sure you are providing the facilities and information for your employees to create a hygienic and clean workplace.

Why is workplace hygiene important?

There are potential dangers for any workplace if there is little or no emphasis on why hygiene is important. Primary among these risks is the possibility of infection, whether it’s through poor personal hygiene, slapdash office cleaning or badly managed washroom facilities. You can prevent many of these problems by having a strategy for maintaining a hygienic workplace.

Personal hygiene

This refers to the habits, cleanliness and appearance of your employees. It can be a sensitive area for employers and managers, so an official policy can diffuse any awkwardness by setting down exactly what is expected from everyone. Depending on your business, there may be options to provide shower facilities if employees exercise before work or rely on a bike for transport, and you can ask that hair washing and grooming facial hair is a part of usual personal hygiene for work. Hand washing and the use of hand sanitisers are also key tools to help prevent the spread of illness.

Washroom facilities

Your policy on hygiene requirements should ensure that washrooms equipped with running cold and hot water are provided for all employees. You should also provide hand soap, toilet paper and towels for drying hands. This allows employees to attend to their personal hygiene when they have finished using the facilities. If you contract the cleaning of toilets and washrooms to an outside agency, you should be clear about the levels of cleanliness you require and how often cleaning should be done.

Kitchen

Kitchens can be a health risk if proper cleanliness is not observed. Any area where food is prepared or hot drinks are made should have a high level of cleaning, including preparation surfaces, utensils and cups, mugs, plates and cutlery, where provided. Your employees are entitled to complain if they consider there is a health risk through poor maintenance and cleaning of the kitchen area, but you can also encourage them to take responsibility to protect themselves and practice a good hygiene regime.

Office cleanliness

Employees should be encouraged to be responsible for cleaning and maintaining their own work areas or workstation. This can be part of your hygiene policy so everyone is aware of it and agrees with it. Surfaces can be cleaned with disinfectant to reduce the possibility of bacterial infection, and desks should be kept tidy and as clutter-free as possible. If employees have individual bins, it’s important to ensure these are emptied on a daily basis.

Good hygiene makes good sense

When your employees are aware of why it is important to have a hygienic workplace, they are more likely to follow your policy guidelines and create a pleasant and safe environment in which to do their jobs. If everyone is vigilant, sickness levels in the workplace can be significantly reduced.

grey line

Carrying out a COSHH Assessment

ChemicalsCOSHH – Control of Substances Hazardous to Health – falls under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002. It requires that employers either prevent or reduce their staff’s exposure to materials that are dangerous to their health.

Many substances that are health hazards may appear obvious, such as chemicals and radiation, but you should also be aware that other substances can be harmful. Chemicals will have labels to warn you of their toxicity and danger, but other dangers include fumes and dust from sanding wood or from cutting silica. Bacteria also pose threats, and asbestos still appears in older buildings and should be removed safely.

In terms of health and safety, you must protect your employees from the potentially dangerous consequences of handling, manufacturing or being in areas where there are hazardous substances.

Harmful substances can get into the body in a number of ways. They could be breathed in or get onto the skin, thus damaging it, or in certain situations, they may permeate the skin, and enter the body that way. There is also a risk of swallowing a harmful substance, and you need to understand the effects of exposure by any of these routes.

Other considerations are how long people work with the substance and how often. Also be aware of those who could be exposed even if they do not work directly with a hazardous substance. It’s not just your workforce who could be affected, but also contractors, maintenance workers and other visitors, including members of the public. Cleaners or other part-time staff undertaking specific tasks may also be at risk of accidental exposure.

Legally, you must protect your employees with safe working practices, appropriate training and the right personal and protective equipment when required. Check legislation and regulation to keep your workforce safe and to protect your business.

The Difference Between Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and COSHH Assessments

grey line

Workplace Temperatures

work place temperatureIt may not happen very often, but when the UK is sweltering in a heatwave it’s not always everyone’s idea of bliss.

There are regulations that govern the temperature of indoor workplaces, these are covered by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, they state that the minimum indoor workplace temperature should be at least 16C. If the work involves what is called ‘rigorous physical effort’, then the minimum temperature should be at least 13C.

However, the specified minimum temperatures are not absolute legal requirements, but the employer does have a duty to ensure staff work in reasonable comfort.

In terms of a maximum working temperature, the HSE do not specify a specific limit as high temperatures can vary in different workplaces – for example a kitchen and glass works. In high-temperature working environments such as these, the HSE says that it is still possible for employees to work safely providing that all necessary safety controls are in place.

Here are a few suggestions that employers could do:

  • Utilise air-conditioners by replacing hot air with cold, or vice-versa
  • Use humidifiers to dehumidify or humidify the air in the workplace
  • Increase ventilation in the workplace, or redirect air movement onto or away from employees
  • Put up barriers to either shield or insulate the work area, or restrict access to certain areas
  • If protective clothing is worn, then employers should ensure that employees are not wearing too much than is required to be safe
  • Review the rules and propose alternative uniforms / dress codes to improve levels of comfort e.g. short sleeves
  • Make sure employees are given appropriate training and provided with supervision
  • Seek professional medical advice for any ‘at risk’ employees e.g. those who are pregnant, are on medication or have an illness or disability

Health and safety

  • After eating a meal in a restaurant, a diner requested a toothpick but was told he could not have one on health and safety grounds. The panel reassured him: “There is no health and safety regulation which stops toothpicks being handed out in a restaurant… whether or not to provide toothpicks is about cost and customer service, not health and safety.”
  • A council emailed an instruction to remove a flag from the inside of one of their windows stating that it breached health & safety legislation. In fact, it was the council’s own policies rather than legislation that led to the worker receiving the email.

If you have any questions relating to this newsletter, please contact Walker Health and Safety Services Limited. Info@walkersafety.co.uk 08458340400

newsletter front page

Want to share this newsletter?

If you would like to print this newsletter we have created a formatted PDF version. You can download it here, print and distribute it accordingly.

PRINT PDF VERSION

 

Display Screen Equipment: Quick Facts

Many jobs now require the prolonged use of display screen equipment (DSE) to complete work tasks, more time is spent seated in one posture and reports of ill health relating to work with DSE have risen. DSE now incorporates much more than just computer screens in an office.

This topic offers advice on the safe use of DSE in the workplace and examines various related health issues. It also looks at how to arrange a workstation and how to conduct DSE risk assessments to identify potential risks and hazards.

  • Display screen equipment (DSE) is covered by the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992, which promote the safe and effective use of DSE.
  • All aspects of the equipment and workstation are considered part of work with DSE.
  • The way in which DSE is used may lead to upper limb disorders, fatigue, stress or eye discomfort.
  • Excessive force, repetitive activities and poor postures are the three components perceived to be the biggest contributors to ill health associated with DSE work.
  • The appropriate set up of all features of the workstation can prevent discomfort from work with DSE.
  • Peripheral items for use with DSE can greatly improve the user’s comfort and effectiveness. Items must be selected for the person or the task to ensure suitability.
  • Rest breaks and changes of activity are essential in ensuring safe and effective work with DSE.
  • Checklists can be used to assess DSE work and ensure the workstation is suitable for the user to complete the required tasks.

Contact us for further support.

 

Safety and Car Parks

Car park owners, and any contractors operating car parks on their behalf, have a responsibility to ensure that car parks are safe to use.

Many organisations operate car parks. This can be as part of the organisation’s overall commercial activity or as a utility for employees.

Car parks can present many hazards. People in the vicinity of the car park can be hit by moving vehicles or crushed against other objects by vehicles. Crime can also occur in parking areas, both against vehicles and against individuals who use the car park as well as those who may work in such establishments.

Under the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974 and subsidiary legislation, car park owners and any contractors operating car parks on their behalf, have a responsibility to ensure that car parks are safe to use.

Car park hazards

Car parks owned or used by an organisation can range from simple ground-floor level parking areas to multi-storey or underground complexes.

There are several hazards associated with car parks including:

  • over-parking and site congestion resulting in dangerous manoeuvres, blocking of pedestrian routes, etc
  • lack of properly segregated and/or poorly marked parking areas without clearly defined pedestrian routes
  • carelessly parked cars that obstruct pedestrian routes and reduce the visibility of other drivers and pedestrians
  • lack of safe, segregated routes from the parking area to the workplace (including poor surfaces, lighting, etc)
  • security concerns of crime against individuals using or working in car parks as well as vehicle-related crime
  • poor maintenance of car park equipment and facilities resulting in equipment failure and accidents

In extreme cases, failure to manage car park facilities can result in serious incidents and even fatalities.

Personal safety

A number of hazards may have to be considered including:

  • weather extremes and the potential for ill health
  • being struck by vehicles if moving around the car park

Criminal activity is common in some car parking areas with crimes involving theft from vehicles or, more seriously, theft and/or assaults on persons.

Inspection and monitoring

In general terms, when inspecting car parks, those with responsibility should ensure that:

  • all markings and signage are clear and in good condition
  • height/width restrictions are in good condition
  • horizontal or vertical barriers (if fitted) are working correctly
  • car park users are parking vehicles correctly and following rules
  • pedestrians are using routes appropriately
  • there are no issues of over-parking.

General good housekeeping is also important because if obstructions are left blocking traffic routes, or if driving or walking surfaces become littered, slippery or too dirty, they may cause significant risks to health and safety.

All ancillary equipment should be subject to appropriate inspection and maintenance procedures. This may include, for example, automated gates or barriers, lighting, CCTV, payment machines.

Contact Walker Health and Safety Services if you require assistance.

 

Why Risks Assessment Are Vital

Suitable and Sufficient Risk Assessments: 5 Top Tips

  1. Start by identifying the hazards – the things that could go wrong – and work out how they could go wrong. Think about how someone could be injured, for example if their hand could be crushed by a moving machine part. Record your findings.
  2. Establish the likelihood and potential severity of an identified hazard occurring. The more likely an injury could occur, and the more serious it could be, the more measures you will need to put in place to mitigate the risk.
  3. Identify and implement suitable control measures, aiming to remove the risk or at least reduce it. For dangerous machinery parts, for example, you would normally need to provide fixed guarding to prevent access, as well as training for staff on how to use the guarding correctly.
  4. Regularly review your risk assessments to verify they are still current, and also in the event of any workplace changes. Only develop method statements and safe systems of work once your risk assessment procedure is complete, and that you are sure you have identified all of the applicable hazards and know how you will control them.
  5. Make sure staff undertaking the risk assessments are knowledgeable about the work process involved, and that employees are consulted on their views. They may be able to tell you of any shortcuts that can be achieved that could ultimately be dangerous, for example the potential for staff to defeat interlocked guards on a machine.

Getting the risk assessment process right is not difficult, and it can make all the difference in preventing an accident from occurring. Check today that each of your assessments meet the grade.

Contact us should you require assistance.

 

Safe and healthy outdoor working in the summer

With summer 2018 well under way, and having already brought heatwave weather conditions, now is a good time for employers to consider how to deal with dangers such as sunburn, skin cancer, dehydration and heat stress, in order to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for their outdoor workers.

Outdoor working — pros and cons

For many workers, being free from the confines of an office and working outdoors, particularly in warm weather, is a welcome perk of certain jobs in the construction, leisure, entertainment, agriculture, sports and horticulture industries. However, the warm summer months pose certain risks to outdoor workers, which need to be adequately managed, just like any other health and safety risk.

Exposure to sunlight should not be viewed as unhealthy per se — it is well known that people need some sunshine to make enough vitamin D to build and maintain strong bones. However, sunlight contains ultraviolet radiation and too much sunlight can result in sunburn. Damage from sunburn can also have serious long-term effects, and frequent exposure to ultraviolet radiation for long periods of time increases the risk of developing skin cancer. Statistically, outdoor workers have higher risks of skin cancer than other workers due to longer periods of exposure and they are considered a high risk group in this regard.

Therefore, it is necessary to achieve a balance between sufficient sunlight and overexposure. It is not possible to give a one size fits all recommendation regarding the “safe” level of sunshine exposure as each individual will be different. Furthermore, skin cancer and sunburn are not the only risks to consider — there is also dehydration and heat stress, for example, both of which can be fatal. The key is to have in place a comprehensive outdoor working policy, able to cater for each individual outdoor worker and the range of potential risks.

Dehydration and heat stress

Sunburn and skin cancers are not the only risks associated with outdoor work. Two other issues to consider are dehydration and heat stress. Symptoms of dehydration in outdoor workers might include indicators such as fatigue, poor concentration, fainting or headaches. In the worst-case scenario however, dehydration and heat stress can kill, as reported in the July 2013 case of three soldiers who died following a training exercise in the Brecon Beacons on an extremely hot day. The role of personal protective equipment is a particular factor to consider in relation to heat stress. On a hot day, someone wearing protective clothing and performing heavy work in hot and humid conditions could be at increased risk of heat stress. Ultimately, if the body is gaining more heat than it can lose, the deep body temperature will continue to rise. Eventually it reaches a point when the body’s control mechanism itself starts to fail.

The HSE says that when carrying out a heat stress risk assessment, the major factors to consider are:

  • the work rate, since the harder someone works, the greater the body heat generated
  • the working climate, including air temperature, humidity, air movement and heat sources
  • worker clothing and respiratory protective equipment which may impair the efficiency of sweating and other means of temperature regulation
  • the worker’s age, build and medical factors, which may affect an individual’s tolerance.Weather statistics show growing trends towards warmer winters, changing rainfall patterns and hotter summers in the UK, and balmy summer days will doubtless always be enjoyed by outdoor workers as a pleasant change from the chill and rains of winter. With effective health and safety planning, outdoor workers are sure to enjoy a pleasant, but also, healthy and safe summer outdoor working environment.
  • The HSE warns that dehydration can seriously affect an employee’s ability to function safely when under thermal stress. However, the effects of dehydration can be minimised in heat stress situations by encouraging employees to frequently drink cool water to compensate for losses due to sweating. Water points and rest areas, the safety watchdog says, should be sited in the shade.

Contact us should you require assistance.