HSE International

Border tensions rumble over ageing Belgian nuclear reactors

Decision to restart 40-year-old nuclear reactors places strain on relations between European neighbours, as Germans and Dutch voice concerns.

Belgium’s decision to restart two 40-year-old nuclear reactors is putting pressure on northern Europe’s political fault lines, with Germany announcing that it would send experts to inspect the plants.

Concerns have been stoked by the discovery of thousands of defects in the reactors’ pressure vessels, a fire, and one unresolved sabotage incident at the plants, which also border Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

In December, the Doel 3 reactor on the Dutch border had to be turned off just one week after it was switched back on, following repairs that lasted 21 months, due to a water leaking on a (non-nuclear) generator.

Two nearby cities, Maastricht in the Netherlands and Aachen in Germany, are said to be considering legal action to force plant safety – or closure, and on Tuesday the German environment minister waded into the row.

Barbara Hendricks said that she would accept the nuclear status quo “for now”, after Jan Jambon, the Belgian interior minister, refused her request for a joint environmental risk assessment at a meeting in Brussels. But she immediately took to twitter to express German frustrations.

“A transboundary assessment of the environmental impact should not only be mandatory when it comes to new builds of plants but also when the lifetime of aging nuclear power plants is being extended,” Hendricks tweeted.

A German press statement spoke of “significant deviations” from required safety procedures at the Tihange 2 plant on the Dutch border, and Doel 3, which is also close to Germany and Luxembourg.

Belgium depends on seven nuclear reactors for around 60% of its electricity, although it says it will phase these out by 2025.

After the Fukushima accident in Japan, Germany began mothballing its entire nuclear fleet, but some of its citizens fear they could still be at risk from nuclear accidents across the border with Belgium.

One of them, Simon Sybertz, a student in Aachen, said that fears among local people in the city were growing. “People are starting to realise whats happening across the border,” he said. “They’re scared because nobody is really prepared for something happening in Tihange. We don’t even have iodine. I want the Belgian government to shut the reactor.”

More than 825,000 people have signed an Avaaz petition calling for the two reactors to be mothballed. German government sources say that Hendricks told Jambon that if Brussels was serious about shutting its reactors, it should start now.

“We didn’t get the impression that the Belgians really have a plan to phase out nuclear within a fixed time schedule,” one source at Tuesday’s meeting told the Guardian.

European nuclear industry groups insist that plant safety is a strictly national affair under EU law, and say that EU stress tests of three Belgian nuclear reactors after the Fukushima disaster – as well as Belgium’s more recent examinations of its reactors – should give confidence in plant safety.

Jean-Pol Poncelet, the director general of Foratom, Europe’s nuclear trade association, said that Belgian reactors were “considered safe not just by the Belgian authorities but by their partners in the EU”.

“It is amazing to see that there are complaints from theNetherlands,” he said. “The Dutch are operating a reactor in Borssele which is expected to run longer than the Belgian ones – with an extension of 60 years!”


Sixth death at popular restaurant Coq D’Argent as man falls from rooftop terrace

A man has died after falling from the rooftop of a popular city restaurant, making him the sixth to have died in nine years at the same location.

The 29-year-old man fell to his death from the rooftop terrace of Coq D’Argent on Queen Victoria Street.

He was pronounced dead at the scene after paramedics were called to the restaurant just after 4pm on Sunday.

Police closed off the road to traffic as an investigation was launched.

Restaurant Coq d'Argent London (Photo by: Digital Light Source/UIG via Getty Images)

The Coq D’Argent rooftop terrace (Picture: Digital Light Source/UIG via Getty Images)

One diner, who was leaving the restaurant at the time of the incident, told the Evening Standard: ‘We were collecting our coats when a policeman came in and asked the girl on reception if he could speak to the manager.

‘He and the manager then walked round to the roof gardens. The manager then came back in and asked one of the bar guys to close the gardens and lock the gates.

This is the sixth death at the rooftop terrace, which was once owned by designer Sir Terence Conran.

In 2013, the owners of the restaurant, D&D London, installed 6ft high barriers and hired security guards to question anyone alone on the rooftop.

Last year, restaurant critic Wilkes McDermid, 39, jumped from the seventh floor balcony, after writing on his food blog that he was ‘tired of life’.

A City of London police spokesman confirmed the death and said: ‘The death is not being treated as suspicious.’

A spokesperson for Coq D’Argent declined to comment.

Original Source: http://bit.ly/1lnRDN4

NHS prosecuted after pensioner killed in mobility scooter plunge

The NHS Litigation Authority has been prosecuted after an 82 year old man fell 12 feet to his death from an elevated walkway outside a health centre.

Benjamin John Withers from Fareham in Hampshire died after the mobility scooter he was driving collided with a wooden weather screen which was situated around the main entrance and access bridge to Fareham Health centre. The collision caused a section to give way and Mr Withers and his mobility scooter fell through the gap onto a walkway below.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard that on 20thSeptember 2012 Mr Withers left the centre after attending an appointment and accidentally drove his mobility scooter forward into the side of the glazed screen instead of reversing away from it.  After the initial impact he then moved forward again and fell through the opening in the screen which had partially given way.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found the barrier had not been constructed to the required standard to resist impact from a mobility scooter, no assessment had been made to consider the suitability of the weather screen and the structure had not been adequately maintained.

The investigation also found that the collapsed section was so badly decayed that portions of the wood could be easily removed by hand. Planned maintenance work to replace the rotten wood had been cancelled and rescheduled on more than twenty occasions without ever being carried out.

NHS Litigation Authority of Buckingham Palace Road London, pleaded guilty to breaching s.3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £40,000 and ordered to pay £15,000 costs.

Speaking after the hearing Mr Wither’s son Trevor spoke on behalf of his family: “This has been a traumatic event for all my family, due to these breaches in health and safety our family has lost a devoted husband, father and grandfather.

“My Mother has lost a husband and a major part of her life, this has affected her deeply, she has not been able to visit her local shopping centre or walk past her local surgery where my Dad died.  The centre is also close to my brother’s place of work and he has to see it every day.

“My Dad was full of life, I will never forget that sunny day on September 20th 2012 when me and my nephew last saw him going into Fareham Health Centre, I  never thought that this would be the last time we would ever see him.”

HSE Inspector Michael Baxter said: “This tragic incident could have easily been avoided if the barrier at Fareham Health Centre had met the well-known and established standards for design and construction of barriers and if the required maintenance had been carried out as soon as it was identified.

“Instead a family has lost a well-loved husband and father. Mobile scooters are being used increasingly, especially in pedestrian areas. Businesses need to appreciate this and ensure existing structures and barriers are re-assessed to ensure they are suitable for these machines.”

The British Standard BS6180:2011 ‘Barriers in and about buildings – code of practice’ can be found here http://www.freestd.us/soft/259378.htm link to external website


Original Source: http://press.hse.gov.uk/2016/nhs-prosecuted-after-pensioner-killed-in-mobility-scooter-plunge/?

Private renting tenants facing “serious” health and safety risks due to landlords’ negligence, report finds

Tenants are facing “serious” health and safety risks as landlords are failing to carry out essential maintenance and repairs, according to a recent report.

A study carried out by Richmond’s Citizens’ Advice Bureau also found that tenants’ rents are being increased by as much as half the original rent.

The borough’s private renters are also not getting returns on deposits and facing verbal and physical abuse from landlords, the damning report says.
The bureau’s client services manager Nick Ward said substantial changes to the law are required to improve the regulation of private renting.

He said: “Although more than one in five households in the borough rent privately low income residents run the risk of being priced out of this market unless the support available through housing benefit is increased to keep pace with rising rents.

“At the same time there need to be substantial changes in the law to improve the regulation of the private rented sector to ensure that all residents, whatever their income, can secure safe and reliable, long-term accommodation.”

The report, released this month, also found that tenants, especially those with children, were being given as little as two months to find new places to live after being given notice from landlords.

Of 35 case studies, it found nine tenants faced eviction because the landlord decided to sell the property, while 17 per cent of people were given no reason at all.

Other evictions involved disputes over repairs, with some landlords failing to carry out substantial repairs to facilities such as central heating, hot water supplies and the roof.

Many landlords and letting agencies “will not accept” tenants who receive, or qualify for, welfare benefits, the study found.

The Citizens’ Advice Bureau in Richmond has recommended more investment in social housing and an increase in Local Housing Allowance to keep up with the average increase in market rents.

The average rent for a one-bedroom flat in the borough is £1,206 per month, with a rise to £1,646 for a two-bedroom property.

Original Source: http://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/news/14173900.Private_renting_tenants_facing__serious__health_and_safety_risks_due_to_landlords__negligence__report_finds/

Man loses toe in escalator: West End Arcade managing agents admit health and safety breaches

Managing agents of the West End Arcade have admitted risking people’s health and safety after a man lost his big toe in an escalator incident.

Hodgson Elkington LLP, the agents for the shopping centre between Angel Row and Upper Parliament Street, pleaded guilty to the charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 after an investigation by environmental health officers at Nottingham City Council.

The incident happened three years ago when the man was using the escalator on his way through the arcade to work. His foot became trapped between the step he was on and the one above.

The investigation found the lighting in the area was poor and he didn’t notice that the riser, or front part, of the step he was on was missing or defective.

The City Council said: “The escalator continued to move, exerting a considerable force onto his foot and causing very great pain.

“Members of the public tried to help him until he was freed by Notts Fire and Rescue Service but by that time he had lost his big toe entirely, was bleeding heavily and other toes were fractured and badly cut.”

The managing agents have admitted exposing people to a health and safety risk by failing to maintain the escalator in the arcade properly and in a safe condition. They also admitted that systems to monitor safety on a daily basis were ineffective.

They will now face sentencing at Nottingham Crown Court on Monday.

Councillor Nicola Heaton, the council’s portfolio holder for community services, said: “This was a very serious failing to maintain the escalator and it led to life-changing injuries for this young man.

“It highlights the importance of diligently managing safety every day. Safety regulations are not simply ‘red tape’, they are very important”.

The escalator has now been replaced with stairs.

Original Source: http://www.nottinghampost.com/Shopping-arcade-managers-court-man-loses-toe/story-28347028-detail/story.html?

Shepherd’s Bush Empire closed for the rest of year following roof collapse fears

A major music venue will be closed for the rest of the year following fears a roof could collapse on concert-goers. 

The O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire was shut on Friday night after a last-minute “formal” health and safety inspection.

Hundreds of fans of indie-rock band The Courteeners were queuing outside when they were told the concert had been cancelled.

Singer Liam Fray said on Twitter: “We literally soundchecked, then it was called off. Absolutely gutted.

“They checked a problem and it was a lot worse than first thought.

“I know you’re all disappointed but if something happened to one of those balconies with all you guys inside it does not bear even thinking about.”

Original Source: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/shepherd-s-bush-empire-closed-for-the-rest-of-year-following-roof-collapse-fears-a3132186.html

Student Accommodation Under the Spotlight as Fire Door Safety Week Gets Underway

Student accommodation should be a major concern for the fire safety industry, research commissioned for Fire Door Safety Week suggests.

Government statistics have already revealed that not only do 80% of all fire-related fatalities occur in dwellings – with 39,139 such fires and 260 deaths between 2013-14 – but, according to West Midlands Fire & Rescue Service (WMFRS) figures, people living in rented or shared accommodation are seven times more likely to have a fire.

The WMFRS numbers also revealed that a 81% of university students are reported to regularly undertake activities that pose a fire risk in their accommodation. Some 514 fires were recorded in student accommodation in Great Britain in 2012.

The shortcomings of fire safety provision in student accommodation were tragically exposed in August 2012 when 23-year-old student Sophie Rosser died in a fire in a block of flats in London’s Canary Wharf. An inquest heard that her death could have been avoided if a self-closing fire door, which became stuck on the warped floor, had closed properly.418b7ea37678975b4a277642090a70ca


The Fire Door Safety Week Research, which was conducted by Atomik Research for the Fire Door Inspection Scheme, revealed that two thirds of parents with children living away from home confessed to not knowing what constituted fire-safe accommodation, while 29% admitted that neither they nor their offspring checked a property’s fire safety before they rented or moved in.
Canvassing around a thousand parents with children living away from home in a rented property, shared house or student accommodation the survey also showed that only 25% felt very confident that their son or daughter had been given fire training or instruction and properly understood the fire safety measures within their home.

Twenty percent of respondents had little, if any, confidence in other housemates’ fire safety awareness.

The tragic death of Sophie Rosser underlines the urgency of this issue. Her father, Julian Rosser, who is supporting Fire Door Safety Week, believes the law is to vague and needs clarification.

“The awful thing about Sophie’s death is that it was so avoidable,” he says. “Had the entrance fire door to her apartment not stuck on the warped flooring and been wedged open, her young life would not have been taken from her.

“I would like to see the law changed to make it much clearer who the ‘Responsible Person’ is in every multi-occupancy building so that it is obvious whose responsibility it is for statutory and regular fire door inspection. This would allow the law to have much sharper teeth to deal with offenders.

“In Sophie’s case, after three years no prosecutions have been brought and the Coroner was frustrated in her attempts to allocate the blame to any particular person or organisation.

“I wholeheartedly support the objectives of Fire Door Safety Week and will keep campaigning for the necessary changes in the laws governing the frequency of inspection of fire doors and their proper installation and maintenance.”

Original Source: http://www.ifsecglobal.com/student-accommodation-under-the-spotlight-as-fire-door-safety-week-gets-underway/?

London council in court after decade of ignoring asbestos risks

Waltham Forest borough council has been fined after it exposed members of staff and visiting contractors to the potentially lethal dangers of asbestos, which it knew to be present in the Town Hall basement.

The hazardous material was identified in a survey commissioned by the council in 2002, yet it failed to take adequate action to act on the findings and put effective controls in place. As a result employees and visiting contractors were allowed to carry on working in the basement regardless of the dangers for the next ten years.

Westminster Magistrates heard today (30 March) that the issue only became public by chance in mid-2012 when a local resident put in a request to the council to see some election expenses documentation. The authority denied the request with the reason that the paperwork was contaminated with asbestos.

As a result, the resident approached the Health and Safety Executive’s ‘Mythbuster Challenge Panel’, which in turn referred the concern to HSE inspectors in north east London to investigate further.

HSE found that the council had a second asbestos survey carried out in January 2012. This had quickly identified problems of asbestos in the boiler room and other areas of the basement. The survey also highlighted that areas identified in the 2002 survey had not been remedied.

The court heard that Waltham Forest had no plan in place for managing the well-known risks of asbestos and there was an inadequate system in place for inspecting asbestos at the Town Hall.

HSE served an Improvement Notice on the council requiring them to put in place a proper management plan dealing with the presence of asbestos. Inspectors also interviewed a number of employees and contractors who had used the basement over the years, including print-room staff who were based down there.

Waltham Forest Borough Council was fined a total of £66,000 and ordered to pay £16,862 in costs after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and a breach of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Chris Tilley said:

“Waltham Forest was aware of the asbestos in the basement as far back as 1984. It was also aware of the risks from asbestos exposure and of its duty to manage those risks. However, the authority singularly failed to do so over more than a decade. Over that period, an unquantifiable number of its own employees plus workers from maintenance companies and similar were regularly exposed to these hazards.

“Asbestos-related disease has a long latency and it is impossible to ascertain what injury may have been caused in this case. But asbestos is a known and powerful carcinogen and owners or managers of non-domestic premises, such as councils, have a legal duty to manage the material in their buildings and have measures and controls in place to protect workers and the public from being exposed.”

Original Source: http://press.hse.gov.uk/2015/london-council-in-court-after-decade-of-ignoring-asbestos-risks/?

France Declares All New Rooftops Must Be Topped With Plants Or Solar Panels

A new law recently passed in France mandates that all new buildings that are built in commercial zones in France must be partially covered in either plants or solar panels.

Green roofs, as they are called, have an isolating effect which helps to reduce the amount of energy needed to heat a building during the winter or cool it in the summer. They are capable of retaining rainwater and reducing problems with runoff, and also offer birds a place to call home in the urban jungle.

French environmental activists originally wanted to pass a law that would make the green roofs cover the entire surface of all new roofs. However, partially covered roofs make for a great start, and are still a huge step in the right direction.

Some say the law that was passed is actually better, as it gives the business owners a chance to install solar panels to help provide the buildings with renewable energy, thereby leaving even less of a footprint.

Green roofs are already very popular in Germany and Australia, as well as Canada’s city of Toronto! This  by-law was adopted in 2009, by the city of Toronto which mandated green roofs on all new industrial and residential buildings.

Benefits of Green Roofs

There are so many benefits to green roofs. Here are just a few:

  • Adding natural beauty and major aesthetic improvement to buildings, which in turn increases the investment opportunity.
  • Helping contribute to landfill diversion by prolonging the life of waterproofing membranes, using recycled materials, and prolonging the service of heating, ventilation, and HVAC systems through decreased use.
  • Green roofs assist with storm water management because water is stored by the substrate, then taken up by plants, and thus returned to the atmosphere through transpiration and evaporation. They also retain rainwater and moderate the temperature of the water and act as natural filters for the water that does run off. They delay the time at which runoff occurs, which results in decreased stress on sewer systems during peak periods.
  • The plants on green roofs do a great job of capturing airborne pollutants and other atmospheric deposition. They can also filter noxious gasses.
  • They open up new areas for community gardens, commercial and recreational space in busy cities where this space is generally quite limited.

France is definitely on the right track, but it should be a mandate that all new buildings being built in North America, and even worldwide, adopt this amazing idea to reap all of the potential benefits.

Original Source: http://bit.ly/1y5kqfj

Siemens Building Technologies Division wins European Building Technologies Company of the Year Award 2014

Awarded by consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan the accolade recognises the German giant’s achievements across a range of building management disciplines – from fire safety to energy management – and a variety of verticals, including critical infrastructure, transport, utilities, financial, commercial and public sector.

Explaining its decision Frost & Sullivan said Siemens offers best-practice building efficiency services such as building performance assessment, analysis and benchmarking to achieve the highest return on investment for building operators.

Through its enterprise-wide platforms, it said, Siemens helps multinational companies achieve sustainability goals against a backdrop of rising energy costs and stringent regulation.

Siemens was also praised for on-site and remote monitoring of building automation systems, as well as energy and sustainability management.

Frost & Sullivan also cited the company’s strong track record of developing and launching groundbreaking innovations and gaining market share in adverse trading conditions.

Siemens advanced control platforms integrate a range of disciplines like heating, ventilation and air conditioning, security, fire safety, lighting, shading and energy management. In the age of smart buildings all such disciplines can now be controlled from a central location.

The award was presented to Siemens in Frankfurt in December.

Original Source: http://ubm.io/1CHf0W4

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