HSE International

What is UK health and safety week?

Great Britain has one of the best combined health and safety records in the world, due in no small part to the Health and Safety at Work Act introduced in 1974.

In 2014, forty years on from this life-changing piece of legislation, Health and Safety Week was launched to celebrate the achievements of UK practitioners and bring back some pride to the industry.

However, there is still room for improvement. Despite fatal injuries being at their lowest in 20 years[1], occupational health cases are on the rise.

The latest statistics show that 2,535 people died of mesothelioma (asbestos-induced cancer) in 2012 due to past exposure to asbestos, while more than 1.2 million people are suffering from a work-related illness[2].

Occupational health issues include:

  • Cancer – from asbestos, silica, shift work, etc;
  • Other asbestos-related illnesses;
  • Respiratory diseases – lung cancer, asthma, emphysema, bronchitis;
  • Noise-induced hearing loss;
  • Musculoskeletal disorders;
  • Work-related skin disease;
  • Stress;
  • Mental health; and
  • Hand arm vibration.

The aim of Health and Safety Week 2015 is to inspire employers and employees to embrace health in the workplace by instigating initiatives and programmes throughout the year.

Download your supporters’ pack to find out how you can get involved with Health and Safety Week 2015.

[1] 2013-2014 rate of fatal injury, HSE statistics – http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/fatals.htm  30-01-2015

[2] http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/

Original Source: http://www.healthandsafetyweek.com/news/2015/1/30/what-is-health-and-safety-week


HSE International Supports Health and Safety Week 2015

The Health and Safety Week 2015 website launches today following the hugely successful inaugural health and safety week last year, which had the backing of all the major UK associations.

This year health and safety week is being used to shine a much-needed spotlight on occupational health. While fatal accidents and injuries are falling year on year, the number of new cases in 2013/14 associated with work-related to ill health and occupational disease rose to 535,000.

Of these new ill-health cases in 2013/14, 80 per cent of these were musculoskeletal disorders, stress, depression or anxiety. In the run up to health & safety week in June, we will aim to highlight the importance of having a healthy workforce and what steps can be taken to better protect people.

In the build up to the week in June, the Health and Safety Week website will be showcasing specialist content, including conversations with all the supporting associations, interviews with survivors and advice for employers on how to approach occupational health issues.

To show your support for Health & Safety Week 2015, visit the website to access your supporters’ pack.

For any queries, email rosamund.sanderson@ubm.com

Content: http://www.shponline.co.uk/shp-supports-health-safety-week-2015/?


Luxury Uttlesford hotel owner facing health and safety charges over swimming pool deaths

The owner of a luxury Uttlesford hotel is facing a Crown Court prosecution under health and safety laws over the deaths of two guests who drowned in a swimming pool.

A hospitality company is also accused of health and safety breaches following the incident at Down Hall country House Hotel in Hatfield Heath.

The matter was transferred to Chelmsford Crown Court by Chelmsford magistrates yesterday (Thursday) after they were told the case was too serious for them to deal with as any fines imposed could potentially run into “hundreds of thousands of pounds”.

The bodies of nursing student Josephine Foday, 22, of Barth Road, Plumstead, London, and married father-of-two Komba Kpakiwa, 31, of Arthur Street, Erith, Kent, were found floating in the hotel’s pool at about 7pm on April 27 2013. An inquest in May last year recorded that they both died accidentally.

The couple, who were having an affair, had been staying at the 99-room hotel for Ms Foday’s birthday weekend when the tragedy occurred.

Veladail Hotels Ltd, of Mayfair, London, which owns Down Hall, and hospitality company Thenhotels LLP, of Baker Street, London, are accused of the same two offences.

The first is that they failed in their duty not to expose guests to risks in that they permitted them to use a swimming pool without having sufficient regard to risk assessments carried out by Hygcam Ltd and 4SIGHT Risk Management Ltd.

The second is that they contravened a health and safety regulation in that they failed to make a sufficient and suitable assessment of the health and safety risks.

A preliminary hearing of the case has been scheduled for April 27 at Chelmsford Crown Court.

The prosecution has been brought by Uttlesford District Council. Veladail Hotels and Thenhotels LLP are yet to enter pleas to the charges.

The inquest at Chelmsford Coroner’s Court heard the pool, in use since 1987, was of a ‘hopper’ design – shaped like a grain hopper – with the deepest 2.1m section in the centre. It had four steeply sloped sides, with the edges not marked.

A safety expert said a swimmer would not be able to get any firm footing on the slopes. The expert said that gradients should not exceed 1:15 but the Down Hall pool had slopes of between 1:2 and 1:3.5.

The inquest also heard that the pool was not constantly supervised by a lifeguard and the cctv system – which was not working at the time – was for reference only and not for live monitoring.

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

Workers given baby wipes to wash off asbestos

A Suffolk contractor has been fined after removing asbestos insulation board without a licence and failing to protect its workers from falls of up to four metres at a site in Waltham, Essex.

Workers were potentially exposed to dangerous asbestos fibres and only provided with baby wipes or a hose for decontamination at the farm building job.

An HSE investigation found LJW Cladding Ltd did not have a licence permitting it to remove asbestos, despite telling the farm owner it held the necessary approvals.

None of the workers were trained to work with licensed asbestos and were also placed in danger of falling from height while removing the fragile asbestos boards.

Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard asbestos insulating boards were broken from their fixings with wholly inadequate attempts to prevent the uncontrolled release of fibres.

There was no use of an enclosure and the respiratory protective equipment provided to workers offered insufficient protection.

Instead of a full three-stage decontamination unit required for such work all the workers had access to were baby wipes and the farm’s cold water hose.

Contaminated overalls over normal clothing continued to be worn while the workers took their lunch break on site and also meant they could have taken asbestos contamination home with them each night.

The investigation also identified the workers were at risk of falls of up to four metres owing to absent or inadequately installed safety netting and a harness and inertia reel being used inappropriately.

LJW Cladding Ltd of Ipswich, Suffolk, was fined a total of £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3365.50 plus a £120 victim surcharge after pleading guilty to separate safety breaches.

After the hearing, HSE Principal Inspector Dominic Elliss said: “LJW Cladding’s incompetent actions led to its employees being potentially exposed to asbestos fibres at a much higher level than would have been possible had a competent licensed contractor been used.

“In addition there was a serious risk one of them could fall from or through the fragile roof because of the firm failed to provide effective safeguards. Too many workers continue to be seriously injured from falls in exactly this type of refurbishment project.”

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

Huge gulf in business sentiment and action on mental health, poll finds

Fewer than one in 10 employers have discussed mental health with their staff over the last year according to a major new poll, despite the fact that the vast majority of businesses say they should make provisions to promote emotional wellbeing.

Three quarters of business do not have a mental health policy in place, according to the Institute of Directors (IoD) survey, timed to coincide with Time to Talk day, which aims to break the taboo around mental health by encouraging people to talk about the topic.

The survey of 1,150 employees and 586 senior decision makers, carried out by YouGov, found that 74% of employees say they would prefer to discuss mental health concerns with someone outside of work.

“While we’ve witnessed public attitudes around mental health start to change, these findings show how much more needs to be done in the workplace,” said Sue Baker, director of Time to Change, the campign run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness that promotes Time to Talk day.

“However, it is encouraging to see that the majority of companies recognise they should do more and we have hundreds of examples of employers, from all sectors, who have already seen the benefits of implementing changes including mental health awareness for all staff, training for line managers, and improvements in the support offered to staff. There isn’t a lack of help and support available to employers, but we need to work together to bridge this gap.”

The findings reveal that the number of companies who put in place mental health programmes or have a company-wide policy on mental health is strikingly low, at just 23%. This is despite overwhelming support from both employers and staff for businesses to take a leading role in addressing mental health at work.

More than eight in 10 companies surveyed felt they should adapt their workplace and working practices to promote mental wellbeing, and 68% of employees agreed it was a business’s responsibility to make provisions for staff mental health issues and mental wellbeing.

Approximately one third of employees said stress and anxiety make it difficult to get their work done. The overwhelming majority – 93% – of businesses recognise that personal worries and stress can adversely affect staff performance.

Simon Walker, director general of the IoD, said business have an important role to play in bringing about an end to mental health stigma.

“There may come a time when people are as comfortable talking about their mental health as they are talking about the going to the dentist, but we’re not there yet,” he said.

“Huge progress has been made, but society still has a long way to go in increasing awareness and understanding of mental health issues. Businesses have an enormous role to play in creating an environment where such issues can be discussed openly, effectively and safely.

“After all, we spend a huge amount of lives at work and among colleagues, so we have to take steps to ensure that the work environment, particularly in smaller businesses, is one where mental health issues are well understood.”

See more at: https://sm.britsafe.org/huge-gulf-business-sentiment-and-action-mental-health-poll-finds#sthash.j3khFksN.dpuf

Health and Safety Statistics – Annual Report for the United Kingdom

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

B&Q sentenced following forklift crush

DIY giant B&Q has been fined £65,000 after a member of staff suffered crush injuries after she became stuck between a wall and the forklift truck she was operating at the company’s warehouse at the Yeading store in Glencoe Road in November 2013.

The prosecution is one of many against the company for failures surrounding forklift safety, including the fatality of a customer crushed by a forklift in 2001.

An investigation into the latest incident, carried out by Hillingdon Council’s food health and safety team, discovered that B&Q had not provided a safe system of work for parking the Mini Bendi truck in the warehouse as the operator of the truck had no option but to reverse park the forklift. Arrangements within the warehouse should not have permitted this to have happened and as a direct result the forklift operator became trapped.

B&Q was sentenced at Isleworth Crown Court on 16 January after admitting a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and two breaches of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations. The company was fined £65,000 and was ordered to pay £18,500 costs to the council.

Richard Heller, prosecuting, told the court that the company had failed to apply its mind to the risk of reverse parking the ‘Bendi’ in a confined space and had failed to heed warnings about this.  In passing sentence, the Crown Court judge accepted that the “protection of the vehicle was given precedence over the safety of the employees”.

Councillor Jonathan Bianco, Cabinet Member for Finance, Property and Business Services, said: “This was a very serious incident but thanks to the extensive investigation carried out by our officers this will not be repeated. The warehouse has now been redesigned so the equipment can be used safely.”

B&Q have faced prosecution in the past for incidents involving forklifts. In May 2010 a worker suffered a broken arm and leg when he was hit by more than half a ton of topsoil which was knocked off shelving at the Alphington Road store. The following month a delivery driver suffered a serious injury to his heel when he was hit by a reversing fork-lift truck at the Sowton store. The company was fined £60,000 with over £20,000 in costs.

In 2001, customer Pamela Jean Hinchliffe, 69, from Poole in Dorset, died at the firm’s Fleetsbridge store after she was crushed by a forklift. The company was fined £550,000 and ordered to pay £250,000 costs.

Original Source: http://ubm.io/1u7cSGK

Harm reduction: occupational asthma

Occupational asthma remains a serious workplace issue. The HSE Asthma Partnership Board brings together organisations to collaborate on research findings and ensure they are relevant to practice. Jill Joyce explains its work.

At workingonsafety.net’s 7th International Conference in Glasgow last year, there was a call for greater collaboration between industry and academia to help reduce the number of people harmed in the workplace.[1]

Established by the Health and Safety Commission in January 2002, the Asthma Partnership Board (APB) aims to do just that by working at a strategic level to reduce the incidence of occupational asthma. Despite good progress in some areas, occupational asthma is still a major issue, with several hundred cases reported annually in Great Britain through The Health and Occupation Reporting network (THOR). The true incidence is likely to be substantially higher.

The APB brings together different organisations that are working to combat the threat posed by occupational asthma and asthma made worse by work. Chaired by Kären Clayton, director of the HSE Long Latency Health Risks Division, the board brings together the following organisations:

Health and Safety Executive.
National Health Service.
British Occupational Hygiene Society.
Chemical Industries Association.
Institution of Occupational Safety and Health.
Society of Occupational Medicine.
The TUC (and UNITE).
Bakers’ Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU).
Board members hold positions in a diverse range of occupations, ranging from occupational physicians in large manufacturing organisations and in the NHS, to medical advisers, academic researchers and safety and health practitioners.

Meetings are held twice a year and provide an opportunity to take time to step back and reflect on what is happening nationwide with asthma, learn about members’ current work and highlight priorities for action. Meetings enable members to test out ideas with peers from different walks of life.

Sometimes a member will have ‘a germ of an idea’ and will discuss this with the board to help them develop it into a research project. A recent example of this is work-related aggravated asthma (WAA). It has been known for a long time that working with certain substances can cause asthma – but what if you already have asthma and then start working in an environment that makes your asthma worse?

Although well researched in the USA, the issue has not really been explored in Great Britain and the group identified a knowledge gap. HSE provided funding and board member David Fishwick, a respiratory specialist physician from the NHS, and Lisa Bradshaw of HSL carried out a review of the literature to clarify a definition of the problem, its prevalence, the causative agents associated with the onset of WAA, the risk factors, the symptoms and diagnosis, and an estimate of the socio-economic burden.

Another example is occupational asthma in cleaners. This has led to a three-part HSE-funded project looking at the profile of occupational asthma in cleaners, components of cleaning products that could be potential asthmagens and practical solutions for the control of exposure to cleaning products.

A third area of interest has been asthma in bakeries. Although an overall decline in asthma in other industries has been reported in Great Britain, the trend is reversed for bakeries. IOSH has carried out a development fund project to try and raise awareness of the hazards in retail bakeries, providing free training and materials that could be used to cascade the learning to others in the workplace.

The board is also a useful conduit if comments are needed on information leaflets produced by group members, for example, new trade union guidance on aspergillosis – a workplace respiratory health hazard for farm workers.

In a nutshell, the APB is about partnership – breaking down silo working, sharing information and looking for ways to reduce the asthma burden in Great Britain.

Jill Joyce is senior policy and research adviser at IOSH

Original Source: http://www.shponline.co.uk/harm-reduction-occupational-asthma/?

Let’s start moving: why businesses should help employees get active

Employers have an increasingly important role to play in helping employees become more active. With more than half of adults overweight or obese, it’s a change both the country and businesses themselves need. 

Physical inactivity is responsible for one in six deaths each year in England alone. Leaving aside that terrible human toll, a report by Public Health England put the annual cost of this to the economy at £7.4bn.

That report, Everybody Active, Every Day, published last September contains many more sobering statistics. More than half of adults and almost a quarter of children are overweight or obese, and 63% of all people aged 15 and over are classed as physically inactive. That compares to 28% in Germany and just 18% in Holland.

But the report, like NHS England’s Five Year Forward View, which was published in October, states clearly that employers have an essential role to play in turning that situation around. This is because many people spend the bulk of their week at work, so finding the time to exercise outside of those hours can be difficult. If people are going to be encouraged to be more active, therefore, their employer needs to find ways to facilitate this.

Employers aren’t being singled out here – the Public Health England strategy says individuals, families, the NHS, all tiers of government and the voluntary sector must all play their part.

It is worth emphasising, however, that there is a clear incentive for employers to do this. Absence through injury or illness brings great costs for employers in terms of sick pay, temporary staffing and lower productivity. Such unnecessary losses would not be tolerated in any other part of the business so it is a continuing surprise that more employers don’t recognise the value of wellbeing programmes. After all, a healthy workforce is a productive one.

What can employers do?
For a start, employers can ensure the culture of their workplace is one where people work their contracted hours, take regular breaks and use all of their annual leave. Over-working can lead to the onset of problems such as back and neck pain.

Our own survey of 2,628 UK residents carried out by Opinium Research in March 2010 suggests that many people are putting themselves at risk. One in four office workers have told us they never took a lunch break, and 46% said their physical pains were due to working in the same position for a long time.

Meanwhile, one in three workers had more than a week left over at the end of their last leave period – and 23% had more than two weeks.

Employers can also support healthy lifestyles by subsidising gym memberships or facilitating lunchtime or after-work exercise classes.

A more direct intervention would be an employer-funded service that provided a combination of preventative measures and fast, effective treatment.

Physiotherapists in these services help create safe workplaces and provide advice and treatment to employees who begin to develop a problem. In many cases, this early intervention prevents any absence from being necessary.

If an employee does go on sick leave, he or she is seen as soon as possible and any underlying behavioural or environmental factors – such as a badly-designed workstation – are dealt with to facilitate a swift return to work. It’s an approach that works for individuals and employers alike.

Royal Mail, for instance, cut sickness absence by 25% over three years with an occupational support and therapy programme. Between 2004 and 2007 the company saw a return of approximately £5 for every £1 invested and 3,600 employees who were absent through injury or illness were brought back into work.

This kind of initiative can be introduced effectively across all sectors and all sizes of organisations. PriceWaterhouseCoopers has studied health and wellbeing initiatives in companies ranging in size from 70 to 100,000-plus employees and has found consistent savings.

The simple truth is that as a nation, a major change is needed. We can no longer continue to be so inactive. Employers are in a prime position to enable people to make the kind of positive, transformational difference that the country and themselves need.

Professor Karen Middleton is the chief executive of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

See more at: https://sm.britsafe.org/let%E2%80%99s-start-moving-why-businesses-should-help-employees-get-active#sthash.0IkUuVUt.dpuf

Company fined after worker killed in offshore incident

An offshore services company has been fined for serious safety failings following an incident in which a worker died after plunging 23 metres from a platform into the sea.

Lee Bertram, then 37, from Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, was working for Bilfinger Salamis UK Limited on a platform in the North Sea when the incident happened on 16 June 2011.

Mr Bertram was using ropes to access below the deck and carry out a sweep for dropped objects that could fall into the water, potentially injuring divers working in the sea below.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard today (2 Feb) that Mr Bertram had successfully abseiled around an area about eight square feet taking photographs and removing debris. He then started back up the ropes and was a metre from the top when he noticed a beam clamp that needed to be removed, which he did with a hammer.

As Mr Bertram started his ascent to the deck he had to stop, suspended, just below the hatch in order to open the rope protector so he could move his ‘jammer’ up the working rope and past the edge allowing him to move through the hatch.

However, as he pushed down on his foot loop to come up through the hatch both the main and the safety rope sheared against the sharp edge and he fell to the sea – a distance of 23 metres – striking steelwork as he fell.

When he landed in the water, his lifejacket inflated and a rescue vessel was deployed.  Despite showing some signs of consciousness during the rescue he died from his injuries before reaching the onsite hospital.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the job Mr Bertram was undertaking had not been properly planned and was contrary both to industry (IRATA) guidelines and the company’s own procedures.

Inspectors concluded that had the work been properly planned the edge of the hatch would have been identified as being sharp and the risk of rigged ropes coming into contact with it could have been prevented. Instead the ropes were rigged against the edge leading them to be severed.

Bilfinger Salamis UK Limited of Pinbush Road, Lowestoft, Suffolk, was fined £100,000 after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 4 of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Following the case, HSE Inspector Katie McCabe, said:

“This was a tragic incident and Mr Bertram’s death could have been prevented had Billfinger Salamis planned the job correctly and put suitable safety measures in place.

“Assessing the risks of that job properly would have identified that the potentially sharp edge presented a very clear danger to anyone suspended and working on ropes rigged against it.

“However, the company failed to do this so failed to take safety precautions and instead, Mr Bertram fell to his death.”

For more information about working safely at height log onto the HSE website at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/work-at-height/index.htm

Original Source: http://press.hse.gov.uk/2015/company-fined-after-worker-killed-in-offshore-incident/

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