Making Sense of Health and Safety

Health and Safety News

We scour the Internet for Health and Safety related news items on an almost daily basis.

The news articles and clippings, curated by MD Safety, highlight the requirements for compliance with UK Health and Safety Legislation and best practice across all industry sectors.

The majority of the information and cases will apply to a greater or lesser degree to our broad range of Clients and lessons to be learned will be able to be gained.

Mild steel welding fume reclassified as a human carcinogen: How to avoid the damaging health effects of welding fume

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released a safety alert for those undertaking welding activities, including mild steel, in any industry. In order to protect workers, the HSE is strengthening its enforcement expectation for exposure control for all welding fume including mild and stainless steels, high chrome steels, armour plating and exotic metals.  Prior to this new regulation there were guidelines around the risk posed by welding fumes and the types of protection that could be used and implemented. Simon explains that the level of risk posed was determined by the Health and Safety Manager in the place of work, based on the concentration of welding fumes in the working environment, the length of exposure, the type of weld fume and so on. Based on these factors, the Safety Manager then would suggest the level and methods of control required for the worker to be safe.

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Protecting people with disabilities – A concern for all of us

December is a good month to think about the safety needs of everybody in our communities and to remember that those needs aren’t all the same. For all safety and security teams, not just at campuses and universities like mine, this is particularly important. We have a legal, duty of care obligation to ensure that help is accessible to people with disabilities when they need it.  The need to support those with disabilities is reinforced by a variety of regulations across the globe, including the UK’s Equality Act.

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Metal company fined for non-compliance

A LINCOLNSHIRE metal fabrication company has been fined for not complying with three improvement notices issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).  Boston Magistrates’ Court heard that, in December 2018, W S Barrett & Son Limited was issued with three improvement notices relating to testing wood dust and powder coating local exhaust ventilation (LEV), and providing LEV for welding fume extraction on its site in Boston, Lincolnshire. Improvement notices are legal documents requiring improvements to be made by a specified date. WS Barrett & Son Limited failed to comply with all three notices by the completion date.  An investigation by HSE found that the company was first advised of the problem in February 2018 but did not act following receipt of a Notification of Contravention letter. A further visit by HSE in December 2018 found the company had still not made the necessary improvements. A subsequent follow up visit in April 2019 showed they still had not done the work to meet the improvement notices.

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Engineering company fined after two workers suffer serious injuries

An engineering company has been fined after two workers were seriously injured after being thrown from the chuck of a large vertical boring machine. Birmingham Magistrates’ Court heard that on 5 September 2018, two employees of Sulzer Electro Mechanical Services (UK) Limited, were standing on the chuck of a large vertical boring machine at a site in Bordesley, Birmingham, to set it. The start button was inadvertently pressed and, despite the interlocked perimeter fencing access doors being open, the chuck started to rotate. 

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Do you need mental health first aiders in your workplace?

Trained colleagues can provide a first port of call during a crisis, but not at the expense of a more comprehensive wellbeing strategy, says Alex Read.  In recent years there has been a significant shift in the way we talk about mental health, both in our personal lives and at work. However, despite growing awareness of the issue, for many talking about mental health at work is still taboo.  While it’s encouraging to see more employers making changes to normalise this, the reality is that it remains an incredibly complex issue – especially when it comes to considering how to support individual employees’ needs. So it probably won’t be a surprise to learn that mental health is top of mind for many bosses, with a recent survey finding that 62 per cent of HR, wellbeing and benefits specialists agreed that mental health was their board’s biggest area of concern.

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Cable strike lands cladding firm with £20k fine

Unique Envelope Façade Solutions has been fined £20,160 after failing to protect its self-employed workers from the risk of a cable strike explosion or electrocution while carrying out repairs at a site in Coventry.  On 28 November 2018, two self-employed workers were using a drill to attach a prefabricated cowling to a cable tray. One of the fixings went into a cable, striking one of the phases and causing an explosion.  An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Unique Envelope Facade’s risk assessments and method statements did not consider the risk of drilling into cable trays containing live cables, isolating the electrics to complete work or other methods of fixing which did not involve drilling.

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Worker permanently paralysed after fall

On 7 August 2018, an employee of Ian Ramsay was severely injured when he fell from height whilst installing a roof ladder on a pitched roof at a property in Mawsley, Northamptonshire. The fall resulted in the employee being permanently paralysed from the chest down.  The homeowners hired Mr Ramsay to paint the exterior windows and soffit boards of their property, including the painting of dormer windows within their roof. The employee was in the process of setting up ladders to access the dormer windows when he fell from height.

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HSE warning over poorly maintained vehicles

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned operators to ensure vehicles are maintained in a safe condition after a company director was banned for knowingly exposing employees to unsafe working conditions.  Preston Crown Court heard that Zarif Mohammed allowed the continued use of the same seriously damaged machine on a Blackburn waste transfer site, despite having a conviction for transport-related health and safety offences following a fatality in 2013.  Mohammed has also been subjected to further enforcement action in 2017 for using a poorly maintained and damaged telehandler.

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Driver eye care – minimising risk

With the Department for Transport recording 1,784 reported road deaths in 2018, a conservative estimate would, therefore, suggest that in excess of 500 deaths per year involve someone driving for work purposes. A figure corroborated by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).  HSE statistics show that there were 147 workplace fatalities in the UK in 2018/2019. This figure does not include deaths on the road. These figures show that driving is clearly one of the most hazardous tasks performed for work.  There are numerous options for safety managers to implement safety checks on vehicles, plan safer journeys, make work schedules reasonable, etc, but what about the drivers themselves? Driver checks and training go a long way, but perhaps the most basic first step, that can be overlooked, is to ensure that the driver has eyesight that is adequate for the task.

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Major contractors accused of ‘endemic late payment’

Trade contractors have been highlighting “endemic” payment abuse among some tier one firms following a recent spate of specialist collapses.  Companies have been contacting the Enquirer to complain about ongoing payment dispute and delaying tactics used by some main contractors.  One leading specialist trade body said: “Our members feel that payment abuse is endemic with certain tier one contractors.  “Specialists are funding work undertaken for nearly six months when you add up all the tricks and turns the tier ones use.

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