HSE International

Kettering company fined £5,000 after worker’s hand severely injured in saw machine accident

A Kettering company where a worker suffered a serious hand injury when he was using a saw machine has been fined £5,000 for breaching a Health and Safety regulation.

A worker at Midlands Renewable Fuels LLP, based in Sudborough Road, was using a Stenner vertical band saw on August 14 last year to cut up a large oak tree.

Northampton Magistrates’ Court heard the agency worker had been working on the saw with another employee and that he had been levering the material being fed to the saw using a crow bar when he slipped and his left hand was drawn into the blade.
The man had to have plastic surgery on the ring finger of his left hand after suffering a deep cut.

Following the accident, the company has installed a protective wooden box to ensure that operators are not able to stand within close distance to the blade of the saw.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that company had failed to ensure that effective measures were taken to prevent access to the dangerous parts of the saw.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Jenna McDade, said: “Had the company taken suitable measures to ensure workers did not come into contact with the rotating blade, this incident would have been easily prevented. Had the saw been properly guarded, the agency worker would not have been injured.”

James Hunter, a partner of Midlands Renewable Fuels LLP, admitted breaching Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1999, and his company was fined £5,000.

He must also pay court costs of £876.50 and victim surcharge of £120.

Original Source: http://www.northantstelegraph.co.uk/news/crime/crime-news/kettering-company-fined-5-000-after-worker-s-hand-severely-injured-in-saw-machine-accident-1-6996331?

Terrorism and security threats examined at IOSH event

Occupational safety and health professionals (OSH) have a major role to play in dealing with the risk of terrorism and other security breaches, according to experts in the field.

That role includes raising awareness of threats, having robust evacuation procedures in place and assisting traumatised staff should an incident happen.

Members of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health’s (IOSH) Retail and Distribution Group also heard that they must be aware of the growing threat of cyber crime at a meeting held at Ashfords LLP in London.

Group Chair Abigail Miller shared her experiences of dealing with security threats during her career in retail. These included colleagues receiving anthrax letter bombs.

She said in one organisation staff had opened a letter which contained white powder. Though it turned out to not be anthrax, staff who were involved were left traumatised.

“Safety and health professionals in the retail and distribution sector, and other sectors, have an important role to play when it comes to security threats,” said Abigail. “They should take it into account when they are doing risk assessments.

“And when an incident does take place it has an impact on the safety and health of staff. Some issues that I have dealt with in the past still get to me now. Being able to deal with post-traumatic stress is one very important factor.”

Delegates heard that attacks against organisations in the retail and distribution industry are wide-ranging. They can include marching animals into a store in protest but can also include more severe attacks, such as placing needles in food and firebombing premises.

James McFarlin, a security specialist from Ashfords LLP, who provides security and risk assessments for global companies, said that firms can be targeted for a number of reasons, such as the products they sell, their links to particular countries and their business history.

He told delegates of the need to ensure that all staff at the firms they work for are aware of risks and what is expected of them.

Ian Mansfield, a former counter terrorism officer, said safety and health professionals can play a vital role by ensuring protocols are followed, for example having an evacuation point in a suitable location.

The meeting, held on Tuesday 29 September, also heard that cyber crime, for example hacking, is a threat that OSH professionals need to be aware of when doing risk analysis.

Stewart JameTerrorism event 2015s, a partner at Ashfords, said that while cyber crime falls more into the realm of computer experts, when control systems fail it can lead to incidents which can potentially cause human injury.

He said: “It is now one of the top threats that we as a nation state face. The biggest threats are the people you work with, your staff. These are the people who let these threats into your systems. This can be through breach of internal policies or just plain ignorance, meaning people are using computer technology who don’t necessarily understand its powers or understand its weaknesses.”

Image: Stewart James, partner at Ashfords, speaking at the event.

Original Source: http://www.iosh.co.uk/News/Terrorism-and-security-threats-examined-at-IOSH-event.aspx?


Ballymena company fined for exposing workers to asbestos

Ballymena company Metallix Ltd. has been fined £6,000 plus costs of £564 for three health and safety breaches which resulted in workers being exposed to asbestos.

Sentencing at Antrim Crown Court on Thursday, comes after a Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI) investigation into how, over several days in April 2014, employees and sub-contractors at the company’s premises at Pennybridge Industrial Estate, Ballymena, were exposed to asbestos.

On or around April 8, 2014, while preparing the site for the installation of two overhead cranes in a workshop, asbestos insulation board was removed in an uncontrolled manner by two Metallix Ltd employees. In addition, from around April 8, 2014 to April 15, 2014, the contaminated area continued to be accessed by employees and sub-contractors.
Metallix Ltd manufactures metal components and sub-assemblies for the automotive industry and employs around 130 staff, with approximately 50 based at its Pennybridge site.

Speaking after today’s sentencing Jonathan Knox, an inspector with HSENI’s major investigation team, said: “Metallix Ltd needlessly put at risk the health of more than 50 people by its failure to properly manage asbestos containing materials at its Pennybridge site. This failure was compounded by the fact that, after two of its employees destructively removed asbestos insulation board, the company then failed to prevent access to the contaminated area over a number of days.

“Any company that intends to do work on buildings built prior to the year 2000 must ensure that they have taken all reasonable steps to check whether asbestos is present before work starts. This information must then be shared with anyone involved in the proposed work.”

On average over recent years, more than 60 people die every year in Northern Ireland as a result of breathing in asbestos fibres, making it the biggest single cause of work-related deaths here.

When asbestos fibres are breathed in, they can become lodged in the lungs or digestive tract which can lead to lung cancer or other diseases. However, symptoms usually don’t appear until several decades after exposure.

HSENI’s Duty to Manage Campaign outlines the legal duties required for those who are responsible for the repair and maintenance of properties to manage the risks from asbestos: www.hseni.gov.uk/dutytomanage

Original Source: http://www.ballymenatimes.com/news/local-news/ballymena-company-fined-for-exposing-workers-to-asbestos-1-6976004?

Work impact on health highlighted at 40th National Safety Symposium

Ensuring staff remain physically and mentally healthy in the face of ever-increasing workloads and pressures was a key focus of the 40th National Safety Symposium today (Monday 14 September).

Ways to overcome the “modern epidemic” of stress and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and to counter the pressures placed on employees to “do more with less” were shared at the symposium, hosted by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

An estimated 1.2 million working people in Britain reported suffering from an illness that they believed was caused or made worse by work in 2013-14, with many experiencing MSDs or stress-related problems.

This figure alone highlights the need for more businesses to take health as seriously as they do safety, Dr Steven Boorman, Chief Medical Officer of occupational health provider Optima Health, told delegates.

He said: “Stress and MSDs are a modern epidemic.

“There are more than one million people with work-related ill health in the UK, which is criminal.

“Wellbeing is more subtle and complex than encouraging people to eat healthily and exercise. The reality is you need to think about health as something which is a controllable risk, like we do with safety.”
He added: “There are true performance differences between those who take this seriously and those that don’t. Healthy, happy and engaged employees drive business competitive success.” 

National Safety Symposium 2015
The event, staged at the Nottingham Belfry Hotel, Nottingham, marked the 40th anniversary of the symposium, which IOSH held for the first time in the months following the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 becoming law.

Andrew Sharman, Chief Executive of RyderMarshSharman, chaired the event. He reflected on the positive changes made in workplace safety and health over the last 40 years, and explored present-day and future challenges facing workers.

He said: “Globalisation, internationalisation of supply chains, changing relationships with Government and regulators and new technologies are all impacting on the way we live and work today.

“Our world of safety and health is facing the challenges that these changes bring. Doing more with less has become one of those modern pressures that seems to be a real issue and resonates around the boardroom and shop floor.

“It is vital employers ensure that any savings they make do not put lives at risk.”
The symposium was organised by members of IOSH’s Public Services, Health and Social Care, Education and Environmental and Waste Management Groups.

The programme of speakers also included presentations by representatives from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), engineering and manufacturing industry body EEF, Draeger UK, DuPont Sustainable Solutions and Macmillan Cancer Support, as well as IOSH past president Gerard Hand.

Ahead of the symposium, full conference delegates were also invited to attend a 40th anniversary celebratory dinner. Among the guests were some of the symposium’s longest serving delegates and other IOSH members who were instrumental in staging the event in its early days.

Nick Cornwell-Smith, an IOSH member since 1978 and past president of the Institution, has been coming to the NSS for around 35 years.

He said: “We’re very proud of the fact that the NSS has kept on going for this amount of time. It has always been a place for people to share their stories of best practice and has kept its identity over all these years.”

Steve Sumner, chair of IOSH’s Public Services Group and the NSS Working Party, said: “The NSS is still as relevant today as it was when it started. The high calibre of speakers and variety of delegates reflects its standing.”

Original Source: http://www.iosh.co.uk/News/Work-impact-on-health-highlighted-at-40th-National-Safety-Symposium.aspx?

Jeremy Corbyn creates new dedicated ‘Minister for Mental Health’ in his shadow cabinet

Jeremy Corbyn has appointed a shadow “Minister for Mental Health” to his shadow cabinet, Labour has announced.

Luciana Berger will directly work on mental health issues and consider how they can best be addressed by the NHS and prioritised by a Labour government.

The post, which is Cabinet-level, is a new creation of Mr Corbyn’s shadow administration and has no identical counterpart in the Conservative government.

“We have delivered a unifying, dynamic, inclusive new Shadow Cabinet which for the first time ever has a majority of women,” Mr Corbyn said in a statement.

“I am delighted that we have established a Shadow Cabinet position for mental health which is a matter I have long been interested in.”

Liverpool Wavertree Labour MP Luciana Berger takes the portfolio

Liverpool Wavertree Labour MP Luciana Berger takes the portfolio

The Government currently rolls responsibility for mental health into a junior care minister position.

Mr Corbyn spent his first day as leader attending a fundraiser organised by his local NHS mental health trust. He was criticised in the press for attending the event in lieu of a planned appearing on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show.

In a speech in Parliament in February this year Mr Corbyn explained his attitude to mental health and why he thought the subject was so important.

“All of us can go through depression; all of us can go through those experiences. Every single one of us in this Chamber knows people who have gone through it, and has visited people who have been in institutions and have fully recovered and gone back to work and continued their normal life,” he said.

“I dream of the day when this country becomes as accepting of these problems as some Scandinavian countries are, where one Prime Minister was given six months off in order to recover from depression, rather than being hounded out of office as would have happened on so many other occasions.”

Mr Corbyn said at the time that he believed access to “timely and appropriate” treatment was the biggest issue for mental healthcare, alongside the recognition of mental disabilities by the Department for Work and Pensions.

“I have had far too many anecdotal reports from constituents and others who go for a Department for Work and Pensions availability for work test,” he said.

“If they have a physical disability, it is usually fairly obvious and it can be quantified and, we hope, taken into account in how the interview and test are conducted. If somebody has a mental health condition, it is not so obvious and cannot be so easily quantified.

“There are far too many cases where the stress levels are unbelievable for people who have been forced into these tests.”

Mr Corybn unveiled his full shadow cabinet today in an announcement.

Other notable offices include John McDonnell as Chancellor, Andy Burnham as Home Secretary, Hilary Benn as Foreign Secretary, Heidi Alexander as Health Secretary, and Angela Eagle as Business Secretary.

Original Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-creates-new-dedicated-minister-for-mental-health-in-his-shadow-cabinet-10500075.html

Time taken to travel to work ‘should count as work’ according to European court

Time taken to travel to and from work at the beginning and end of each day should count as working time under the law, according to the Europe’s highest court.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that workers without a fixed office should be able to charge for the time such journeys last, whereas at present they are not allowed to do so.

It could mean that companies employing such workers as electricians, gas fitters, care workers and sales reps could be in breach of EU working time regulations, if they chose to abandon a regional office, for example.

The ECJ said it was protecting the “health and safety” of workers according to the European Union’s Working Time Directive. The ruling revolves around a legal case in Spain involving Tyco, the security systems company.

The ruling said: “The fact that the workers begin and finish the journeys at their homes stems directly from the decision of their employer to abolish the regional offices and not from the desire of the workers themselves.

“Requiring them to bear the burden of their employer’s choice would be contrary to the objective of protecting the safety and health of workers pursued by the directive, which includes the necessity of guaranteeing workers a minimum rest period.”

Original Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/time-taken-to-travel-to-work-should-count-as-work-according-to-european-court-10494961.html

Is the GP ‘fit note’ fit for purpose?

GPs require better training in using the ‘fit note’, according to new research by The University of Nottingham.

Rehabilitation research experts commissioned by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) found that fit notes were not being used to their full potential by doctors, patients and employers to manage sick leave.

The study was conducted to examine how the fit notes were being used and whether the system is an efficient replacement for the old sickness certificates.

Sickness certificates were replaced in 2010 by the GP fit note which was designed to encourage doctors to help patients stay at work or return to work as soon as they are able. Recommendations can be made on work modifications such as changes in working hours or phased returns, allowing a return to work tailored to the patient’s specific needs.

The research team recruited GPs, patients and employers and collected 932 anonymised copies of current fit notes. The participants also completed questionnaires about the outcome and usefulness of these fit notes, and were interviewed about their views and experiences of the system. This information was analysed by the research team, then presented to a panel of experts in a consensus study to produce a list of judgements and recommendations.

The results broadly show that, at present, the fit note is not being used as intended. The study concludes that the issues raised need to be urgently addressed by those involved in commissioning, completing, and processing the fit notes if the management of sick leave and return to work is to be improved.

Dr Carol Coole, Senior Research Fellow in the University’s School of Health Sciences, said: “Sickness absence from work has huge financial consequences for the state, employers and the employee. Previous research has shown unnecessary absence can be harmful to an employee’s health and wellbeing so it is in everyone’s interest to improve the situation. Our recommendations suggest that there should be better education and training in fit note use, as well as tighter management of the process and communication between surgeries, patients and employers.

“These changes would allow people with health problems to more often stay at work, return to work sooner or be helped to return through changes in hours, tasks, conditions or environment.”

IOSH is the world’s largest professional health and safety organisation, with over 44,000 members worldwide.


Jane White, Head of Research and Information Services at IOSH, said: “Our research has shown that the GP fit note has the potential to do much more and play a pivotal role in helping people stay in work or get back to work as soon as they can.

“We are keen to see changes to the fit note and processes which will lead to practical and significant improvements for all involved and this research and the recommendations pave the way to help us do that.”

The study has produced a wide range of recommendations, including the content of an exemplar ‘ideal’ fit note’ from the perspective of employers, employees and GPs, specific training for employers and GPs and best practice in the completion, timing, sharing and application of fit notes.

To view the fit note reports, visit www.iosh.co.uk/fitnote

Note: Press release written by the University of Nottingham.

Original Source: http://www.iosh.co.uk/News/Is-the-GP-fit-note-fit-for-purpose.aspx?

Construction fatalities drop 26%

Despite the upturn in construction activity, the industry’s fatal accident rate declined sharply last year.

Provisional annual data for work-related fatal accidents in Great Britain’s workplaces from the Health & Safety Executive show that 35 fatal injuries to construction workers were recorded in the year to 31st March 2015. This represents a rate of 1.62 deaths per 100,000 workers.

Over the past five years the average has been 45 construction site deaths. In 2013/14 there were 44 fatalities in construction.

HSE has also released the latest available figures on deaths from asbestos-related cancer. Mesothelioma, one of the few work-related diseases where deaths can be counted directly, contracted through past exposure to asbestos killed 2,538 in Great Britain in 2013 compared to 2,548 in 2012 and 2312 in 2011. The increase in mesothelioma deaths in recent years has been driven mainly by deaths among those aged 75 and above, the HSE said. Of the deaths in 2013, 415 were among women and 2123 were among men – again these are similar to numbers in 2012 when there were 411 deaths among women and 2137 among men.

A more detailed assessment of the data will be provided as part of the annual HSE Statistics release at the end of October.

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

Prevention as cure: slips, trips and falls

Slips, trips and falls are the leading cause of major injuries in the workplace. Lionel Bailey examines how firms can protect their workers through training and proper communication.

The prevention of workplace accidents should always be a priority for employers. However, ensuring that an effective health and safety strategy is implemented and understood by the whole workforce is often a challenge. With many firms employing a strong contingency of temporary staff, coupled with the complexities that accompany managing teams across multiple sites, training and communication are vital in reducing the potential of any slips, trips and falls in the workplace.

Firms should aim to put together a complete health and safety training programme by gathering input from facilities managers, health and safety managers and floor staff to identify potential risks. Employee health and safety training should form part of the induction process so that employees are fully briefed from the outset. New staff may be unfamiliar with key procedures such as how to use certain pieces of equipment, and a general unfamiliarity of the workplace means employees are at a greater risk of slips, trips and falls.

For companies with a high staff turnover or those that use a contingency of temporary workers, this can be especially challenging. Often in this case, forming a close relationship with an employment agency is vital. Having a health and safety manager provide recruiters with a training programme and information regarding pertinent slip, trip and fall hazards in the working environment can reduce the risk of accidents. In addition, implementing a written test or questionnaire after the course of training will ensure that agency staff who fully understand health and safety procedures are invited to work on site.

In every workplace, there should be a clear chain of communication through which employees can report any emerging hazards or concerns. Each team should have a safety representative who is responsible for relaying such concerns to the site health and safety manager. However, if employees do not feel that their input has been sufficiently addressed, an open door policy can be useful for any workers who wish to escalate their concerns to higher management.

Similarly, one of the most important tools for risk reduction is ‘near-miss reporting’. Here, employees are encouraged to contact safety representatives in instances where physical obstructions, wet floors or similar hazards had the potential to cause a minor accident. This allows facilities managers to implement changes to ensure that a more serious slip or fall does not take place. Communicating steps that the organisation has taken in reaction to near-miss reports is also important – sharing this information on a health and safety notice board or company newsletter will encourage employees to report other incidents.

Training aside, consistent and continuous monitoring of the working environment is necessary in order to maintain best practice and remove hazards before they cause accidents. A large proportion of slips, trips and falls are caused by extension leads, electrical cabling, pieces of pallet or discarded packaging. Implementing a clean as you go mentality among staff and ensuring it is properly enforced via regular spot checks can help to reduce potential risks.

For health and safety managers overseeing a number of sites, there must be a degree of delegation to individual facilities managers to carry out these checks. However, impromptu audits can help in ascertaining quality control. Also, inviting health and safety representatives to visit various sites can encourage the sharing of expertise and best practice, which could aid in driving improvements.

In order to reduce the incidence of slips, trips and falls, health and safety managers must ensure that staff receive the correct training, are able to communicate any concerns and adequately report near-miss incidents to a safety representative. Spotting the emergence of hazards before they occur and implementing a culture of continuous assessment can significantly reduce the risk of staff injuries.

Lionel Bailey is a health and safety specialist at Office Depot

Original Source: http://ubm.io/1CYet0N

Industry urges employers to address mental health issues

Employers are struggling with mental health as concerns grow over long-term absence, an EEF/Jelf Employee Benefits survey has found.

  • Overall sickness absence remains low at 2.2 per cent; however
  • Long-term absence sees largest rise in five years;
  • Mental health issues most difficult to make work adjustments for;
  • Only one in ten companies provides manager mental health training;
  • Third of employers rely exclusively on NHS to address long-term absence; and
  • Four-fifths of companies don’t measure cost of absence.

Britain’s manufacturers are urging government, employers and GPs to tackle increasing levels of mental-health and stress-related sickness absence, amid evidence that it remains in the ‘too difficult to deal with’ box.

The call was made on the back of the UK’s largest business survey on sickness absence published today by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation and Jelf Employee Benefits. It shows employers and GPs are struggling to address mental-health issues in the workplace and growing concerns at long-term absence trends.

Commenting, Professor Sayeed Khan, Chief Medical Adviser at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said: “While overall absence levels remain low, there continues to be a marked difference between short- and long-term absence which is creeping up. Without a renewed effort to tackle its root causes it will continue to act as a drag on the economy and efforts to improve productivity and boost growth.

“Of particular concern is the gradual increase in stress and mental-health-related problems over the last 5 years with which GPs and employers are struggling to deal. As a society we can no longer ignore the very real impact of these issues both on the individuals concerned and the wider economy. Whilst employers and GPs appear able to manage other causes of absence they must now be given the tools to deal with stress and mental-health issues in the same way.”

Iain Laws, Managing Director – UK Healthcare and Group Risk at Jelf Employee Benefits, added: “The importance of Occupational Health and growth in health benefit provision resonates with employers who are increasingly recognising the productivity impact of ill health. It is therefore a little surprising that so many organisations still do not have formalised systems to identify absences at an early stage so these can be managed through effective interventions.

“Reliable, easy-to-use absence-recording systems empower employers and managers to provide the support to employees to minimise absence and manage longer-term or complex cases. This in turn can have a positive impact on benefit costs as early detection and action often means lower treatment costs as well.”

According to the survey, overall sickness absence remains low at 5.1 days (2.2%) with half of employees having zero absence. However, this masks evidence that the ‘ sickness presenteeism’ which marked the period of recession is fading away: absence levels increasing slightly by 0.2 days, the number of manual workers reporting zero absence falling for the first time in five years and the fact only 55% of companies hit their absence target, the lowest since 2008.

While overall absence levels remain low, however, there is a marked difference in long-term absence with two-fifths of companies reporting an increase, while only a fifth reported a decrease. This is the largest increase in five years, a period where long-term absence has been gradually increasing.

Back pain and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) remain the main cause of long-term absence (38%) with stress and mental-health disorders the main cause of absence for one in four companies, although this has gradually crept up since 2009.

However, stress and mental illness is regarded as the most difficult form of absence to make workplace adjustments for with almost a third of companies saying this is the case. Furthermore, a third of employers said that they do not have approaches for managing mental-health-related long-term absence, whilst evidence suggests GPs also find it difficult to suggest workplace adjustments, highlighting the need for more training in this area.

Just one in ten companies provides training for line managers in mental-health issues and only 2% of companies have an open mental-health disclosure policy, suggesting business matches society in finding it a difficult issue to address.

The survey also shows that employers’ approach to managing absence remains mixed. Encouragingly, the number of companies setting absence targets is increasing (a third have no target compared to two-fifths last year) and two-fifths can make workplace adjustments or provide training to manage long-term absence.

However, in contrast, almost three quarters of companies don’t measure the cost of sickness absence. In addition, 70% don’t measure the return on their investment for the health & well-being benefits they offer while only 3% do.

According to EEF, the new Fit for Work service will be critical in reducing long-term absence, especially MSD’s and mental health issues. However, EEF doubts whether the current tax-incentive offered is sufficient enough to encourage employers to pay for treatment.

EEF has made the following recommendations to create conditions for the service to succeed:

  1. Ensure the service is resourced with healthcare professionals with knowledge of different industries so that appropriate interventions and adjustments can be made.
  2. Ensure return-to-work plans are discussed with all relevant parties before they are agreed and finalised.
  3. A discussion between the employer and Fit for Work service before it is agreed with the employee.
  4. Introduce health tax-credits or allowable business expenses to incentivise employers to pay for treatment recommended by the Service or Occupational Health provider.
  5. Mandatory referral of employees who are likely to be absent for more than four weeks.
  6. Statutory Sick Pay paid only on condition the employee co-operates with the Fit for Work Service.
  7. Restrictions on GPs signing employees off for more than four weeks unless the patient engages with the service.

Original Source: http://www.shponline.co.uk/industry-urges-employers-address-mental-health-issues/?

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