Category Archives: Health and Safety

Tips to Help Make Sure Your Safety Procedures are Both Effective and Enforced

  1.  When developing and writing down safety procedures, ensure that they are clear and applicable to the task. Use the findings of your risk assessments as the basis for determining what controls are needed, how they should be implemented and when. Ensure that the correct planning and coordination of tasks takes place before any work starts.
  2. Check before work starts that all workers understand the safety procedures and what is required of them. Simple misunderstandings can have major repercussions when heavy or dangerous machinery is in use, for example.
  3. Regularly review your safe systems of work to check that they are still current and applicable. Also check all procedures after an accident or near miss, to see if changes need to be made to your processes.
  4. Make sure that all work is supervised by a competent person who has knowledge of the task and a clear understanding of the safety procedures to be followed.
  5. Give the right level of training to workers in relation to their roles and the tasks they need to perform. Check that contractors know about the safety procedures, too, and that they understand them.

Always ensure employees and contractors fully understand the companies policies and procedures.

Contact Walker Health and Safety Services for further advice.

 

Health and Safety Enforcement: Quick Facts

Responsibility for the enforcement of health and safety legislation is split between the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authority inspectors (eg environmental health officers).

The split is dependent on the main activity of the premises being inspected and is detailed in the Health and Safety (Enforcing Authority) Regulations 1998.

Inspectors from the HSE and the local authority have the same powers of enforcement as detailed in the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. Employers should also be aware that they face enforcement by other inspectors, eg the Fire and Rescue Authority. They have similar, but not necessarily identical, powers.

  • The main enforcement bodies in health and safety are the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the relevant local authority. Other enforcers may include the fire authority.
  • Enforcement is primarily by means of workplace inspections, conducted by health and safety inspectors from the HSE or environmental health inspectors from the local authority.
  • Inspectors can enter premises at any reasonable time and do not need to make an appointment.
  • When inspecting a premises, an inspector may take photographs, ask questions, request to see records, take samples or remove items of equipment.
  • The powers of inspectors include the issue of enforcement notices, as well as the ultimate power to prosecute a company.
  • Enforcement is based upon the principles contained within the Cabinet Office Enforcement Concordat.
  • If an inspector considers prosecution may be appropriate, he must ensure the case passes the evidential and public interest tests laid down in the Code for Crown Prosecutors. Prosecution should only follow if both tests are satisfied.

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

 

Tips to Help Protect the Health and Safety of Visitors to Your Premises

Make sure you have the necessary systems in place to protect visitors and others to your premises.

Tips to Help Protect the Health and Safety of Visitors to Your Premises

  1. Walk your site regularly to determine where your hazards are, as part of your risk assessment process. Determine how those new to your premises could be hurt, be it from coming into contact with electricity, falling into pot holes or being in the path of workplace transport. Be sure to consider both indoor and outdoor risks.
  2. Think about the controls needed to prevent or reduce the risk. Cover up holes and gaps, and put signage up to warn of hazards. Use barriers to segregate pedestrians from vehicles, and ensure there are safe, designated walking routes to buildings from car parks.
  3. Communicate known risks by way of induction, or where appropriate, by verbal discussion.
  4. Ensure that visitors are accompanied at all times, and that they sign in and out so that you are aware of who is on the premises and when they subsequently leave.
  5. Ensure that any work undertaken by the visitor is properly supervised, and that you have identified any additional risks posed to others by the visitor’s work activities.

Contact Walker Health and Safety Services Limited for advice.

 

Winter Newsletter

winter newsletter

UPCOMING EVENTS

april

We at Walker Health and Safety Services Limited are attending the Health and Safety Event at the NEC in Birmingham on 10th-12th April 2018. The event provides the perfect networking and education opportunity to anyone responsible for running a safe and efficient workplace, anywhere in the UK. To find out how we get on, be sure to check our next newsletter for an update!

latest news

Workplace Stress taking over Britain’s Workplaces

As an employer, you may be aware of all of the physical harm that could come to your employees. Indeed, you may take precautions against repetitive strain injury, slips and trips, and injuries that may come about from lifting heavy loads or operating machinery. While you certainly should be aware of these issues and taking preventative measures against them, it is equally, if not more important that you also identify any mental health problems that could affect your workforce.

One of these mental health concerns is stress, which has seen a significant rise in British workplaces over the last year. According to the latest statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), stress now affects 1610 people per 100’00 workers, the highest rate for 11 years. As an employer, you should know how to identify stress, and look at how you can reduce workplace stress.

Symptoms of stress can be difficult to spot, since they affect different people in different ways. However, any changes in employees behaviour may be as a result of stress so they should certainly not be ignored. By taking a proactive approach, you can help prevent stress occurring in the workplace in the first place.

You can read more about workplace stress here.


health and safety

Health and Safety compliance is sometimes seen to be something to aspire to rather than a core business issue. However, a new year is as good a time as any for employers to get to grips with sensible workplace Health and Safety. Here we give some tips for how organisations can start planning for safety success.

1. Be Realistic

In the business world, much like our home lives, sensible and above all realistic planning can make all the difference when it comes to making our aspirations come to life. The first step is often to stop kidding ourselves and acknowledge that we need to take action rather than burying our heads in the sand.

The law places a duty of care on employers. If you have 5 or more employees, you must have a written H&S Policy. You will need to have written Risk Assessments. You need to give suitable H&S training to employees. You need to make sure your premises and work equipment are safe and fit for use.

2. Plan Ahead

Planning is vital in business. Decide what the objectives are and plan realistically around that. For some organisations their objective might be to get their documentation in order. For others, it may be time for a total overhaul and re-launch of Health and Safety. Sometimes this may be the best option, particularly if the organisation has had an unsuccessful liaison with Health and Safety in the past.

As with most plans, there must be a budget attached. The law requires for employers to provide suitable budgets for Health and Safety in their organisation. Although the initial financial outlay may take some budget juggling, good Health and Safety practice will reap rewards in terms of process efficiency, increased tendering success, reduced insurance costs and employee morale as well as the more obvious benefits of avoiding the costs associated with an accident such as fines, legal costs, sick pay, repairs, bad publicity, poor business reputation and loss of work.

3. One Bite at a Time

The main thing with H&S planning is to make it ambitious, but achievable. Don’t necessarily expect total compliance with all best practice requirements over the first year of the plan… aim first for good legislative compliance and work from there. Naturally some organisations are further down the H&S compliance road than others, but the key point here is tackling the big risks first.

HSE is very keen to promote simple, direct documentation accurately reflecting the organisation’s activities. No-one is expecting a small business to have an all-encompassing Management System for Health and Safety, but they will need to make sure that control measures are implemented and adhered to.

4. Significant Risks

It is a simple fact that high risk activities will require a higher level of attention than low risk ones. An organisation using carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals for instance will need to have more controls in place than would be required by using cleaning chemicals in a simple office environment.

Risk Assessments should prioritise significant risks: ones that are likely to cause injury or ill-health. Look at your accident statistics and absence rates to identify any ongoing trends.

5. Management Systems

For larger and/or higher risk organisations, a Health and Safety Management System is important for ensuring a structured approach to Health and Safety management. HSE’s standard ‘HSG 65 Managing for Safety’ is a great starting point and follows a straightforward Plan, Do, Check, Act methodology, common to many business processes.

For organisations seeking high-level certification for their System, ‘BS OHSAS 18001 – Occupational Health and Safety Management’ should be considered. While it can be somewhat time-consuming and potentially expensive to implement, it is internationally recognised as the Health and Safety standard to aspire to – if you deal with an organisation holding 18001 certification you can rest easy knowing they have Health and Safety under control.

6. Get Competent or Get Help!

Health and Safety is sometimes seen as an mysterious subject, understood only by its practitioners, legal personnel and enforcers. However, it is not necessary for an employer to know everything about the subject – it is okay to delegate much of the management of H&S issues to others within an organisation.

The law requires the employer to appoint competent persons (i.e. persons with suitable qualifications, training and experience) to assist them with H&S matters. Again, this is a question of scale – low risk workplaces may require a relatively basic understanding of H&S issues whereas the more hazardous the environment, the higher a level of competence in terms of qualifications, training and experience is required.

If it is not feasible to obtain in-house H&S competence, the services of a Consultancy such as Walker health and Safety Services Limited may be taken.

7. Sell It

Manager and employee buy-in to Health and Safety is critical. If the employees down through the ranks are not committed to improving safety standards, then a poor safety culture will almost inevitably follow. To help secure director and senior manager commitment it may be helpful to highlight the financial and operational benefits outlined previously.

Once the management team is committed to the H&S Plan it can be rolled out to the rest of the workforce. The key message here is that despite the media generated ‘nanny state’ myth of Health and Safety the real thing is about sensible risk management, not making their working lives tougher. Consult with them about their work, ask for ideas for improvements and involve them in the risk assessment process.

Conclusion

Health and Safety compliance should not be too onerous, and the amount of effort put into it should reflect the level of risk of the activities that are carried out – prioritise the things that may actually harm people, the costs of which can be crippling for a business. Furthermore, good Health and Safety standards can actually improve processes, help secure contracts and lead to happier, healthier workers.

 legislation
We will be looking at the main pieces of legislation in our newsletters for 2018.

The first two are Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and Working Time Regulations 1998.

Safe workplaces are productive workplaces, and as an employer, you need to know the health and safety legislation that applies to your business and make sure that it is implemented.

If you don’t, you may be liable for prosecution, and if there is a serious breach of regulations that leads to injury or death, it could have serious implications for your business and those responsible for running it.

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999

The main duties of the employer under these regulations include:

  • Making risk assessments to your workforce’s health and safety and acting on identified risks so they can be reduced.
  • Having competent people overseeing health and safety in the workplace, giving the workforce information and training, and having a written policy on health and safety that is implemented.

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The Regulations were introduced to reinforce the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The MHSWR places duties on employers and employees including those who are clients, designers, principal contractors or other contractors.

Also known as the ‘Management Regulations’, these came into effect in 1993. Main employer duties under the Regulations include:

  • Making ‘assessments of risk’ to the health and safety of its workforce, and to act upon risks they identify, so as to reduce them (Regulation 3);
  • Appointing competent persons to oversee workplace health and safety;
  • Providing workers with information and training on occupational health and safety; and
  • Operating a written health and safety policy.

Working Time Regulations 1998

There are two European Union directives that relate to the organisation of working time and how young workers, under the age of 18, can be employed.

These regulations implement those directives, and cover the right to have rest breaks and annual leave. The length of the working week is also limited, though employees can opt out of this if they wish.

The main protections for adult workers include:

  • A maximum working week of 48 hours. As an employer, you have a contractual obligation that you cannot require employees to work more than 48 hours unless they have voluntarily opted out of doing so, which must be done in writing.
  • Daily rest periods of 11 hours minimum, though shift working arrangements may be made if they comply with the regulations.
  • A daily rest break of 20 minutes after six hours’ work.
  • Additional protections for young workers include longer daily rest periods and daily breaks, and a shorter working week of 40 hours with no opt-out permitted.

Good implementation of health and safety regulations helps ensure your workplace can prevent, as much as possible, accidents and injuries, and means you are compliant with workplace law and encouraging safe working practices.


myth busting

The world of Health and Safety is full of myths! Its important to know whats true and what isn’t. Luckily for you, we’re here to bust some health and safety myths, helping you to separate fact from the fiction.

  • A woman was refused a pint glass with a handle in certain pubs and hotels, being told such glasses were now illegal for health and safety reasons.
  • A man was told by a hotel chain that it was unable to serve burgers rare because of health and safety laws — something the panel was quick to deny.

 

Spring

Thanks for tuning into our Winter newsletter, and be sure to check back in May when we’ll be launching our Spring Newsletter! In our Spring Newsletter we’ll be letting you know how we got on at the Health and Safety Event, PLUS we’ll be busting more myths, exploring further pieces of legislation and looking at Fees for Intervention, and how you avoid them!


 

Be sure to print this newsletter and hand it out to your workforce so that they can stay clued up on Health and Safety as well!

If you have any questions relating to this newsletter, please contact Walker Health and Safety Services Limited. You can email us at Info@walkersafety.co.uk or alternatively, give us a call on 08458340400.

walker

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.

Use

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.

Driving

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.

Penalties

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.

Conclusion

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.