Legislation concerning use of chemicals

The Health and Safety Executive is committed to simplifying the legislation concerning use of chemicals, and will consult on an amalgamation of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002, the Control, of Lead at Work Regulations 2002 and the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002.

Environmental management systems

The British Standards Institution has published ISO 14004:2016 “Environmental management systems, general guidelines on implementation”.

The new standard looks at the relevant elements of an environmental management system and explains what needs to be taken into account when formulating policy. There are practical guidelines that take account of the new requirements of ISO 14001:2015 and it can be used on its own or in conjunction with that standard.

The document is available as hard copy or a pdf from BSI Sales at a cost of £212.

Clients of PHSC plc subsidiary companies can access the content at reduced rates.

No ACoP for Construction Regulations

The Health and Safety Executive have finally abandoned plans to support the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 with an Approved Code of Practice (ACoP). The reason given is that this could not be shown to add value to the regulations.

In 2014 a consultation process found two-thirds of respondents supported a new ACoP and at that time HSE agreed to look at producing a shortened version.

There are a number of documents from the Construction Industry Training Board that explain the regulations, and HSE currently takes the view that this is sufficient but has undertaken to review the situation again in 2017.

Lords reject curb on Union rights

The House of Lords has amended the Trade Union Bill currently going through Parliament.

As drafted, it would have reduced the rights of public sector union representatives to have time away from their job to conduct duties such as dealing with health and safety issues. The proposal was at odds with the entitlement conferred by the Health and Safety etc at Work Act 1974.

Likely delay to ISO 45001

The most recent draft of the proposed new international standard for occupational health and safety, ISO 45001, is unlikely to be released in the autumn as originally timetabled. This is because members of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) committee voted narrowly against approval.

Under the rules, where more than 25% reject the draft it is sent back to committee for further revisions. The vote concluded mid- May and 28% of members were against acceptance. In due course a revised version of the Draft International Standard will be issued for consultation and a further ballot.

Advice on pregnant workers to be reviewed

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has reported that early 40% of employers do not discuss risks when they have been told that an employee is pregnant.

In a report entitled “Pregnancy and discrimination in the workplace, recommendations for change” the Commission urged the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to review guidance on issues such as raising awareness of employer responsibilities and the need to conduct and communicate effective risk assessments.

In the survey, 20% of workers reported that it was they rather than their employer who had identified particular risks. HSE and EHRC will work together to address the areas of concern.

Reduced funding for HSE

Following a cut of over a third to its budget since 2010, the Health and Safety Executive has been advised of a further 12% reduction in funding to 2019-20 as the Government seeks to deal with the public sector deficit.

In response, HSE has drawn up a strategy called Helping Great Britain Work Well. The plan includes a commitment to 20,000 proactive inspections in the current financial year along with the inspection of up to 1,000 asbestos removal sites.

Company owner given suspended sentence and fine after worker’s death

Gordon Leach from Godmanchester, Cambridgeshire, appeared in front of Peterborough Crown Court after a worker he hired was crushed to death in his print room.

Mr Leach, who trades as RGE Engineering Company, was held liable for ineffective guarding after his employee’s head was crushed between the pads and printing table of a machine, which she had entered in order to add thinners to the ink reservoir.

In addition to fines and costs of £52,500 the judge handed down a 15-month custodial sentence, suspended for two years.

£2m fine for builders’ merchant who ran over customer

In an example of how the new Sentencing Guideline will affect the level of punishment for safety offences, Travis Perkins were fined £2m after a 42-year-old customer was hit by a reversing company vehicle in the yard at the Milton Keynes branch.

Amersham Crown Court heard that the customer was loading planks of wood when a strap broke and he fell into the adjacent parking space. He was then struck by an approaching vehicle that was intending to park in the space.

Travis Perkins had not complied with their own policy of using a banksman when pedestrians were in the nearby area. Costs of £115,000 were also imposed on the firm.

Liability for washing-up injury

In a case that has implications for almost all employers, a worker at St Anne’s Primary School in Derry received £30,000 in damages and costs including lost earnings after an injury when doing the washing up.

The handle came off a mug that had been brought to work by someone else, and cut the arm and tendon of employee Mrs Rooney. This required extensive medical treatment and a year off work.

The employer, Western Education and Library Board, had argued that the mug was not supplied as work equipment but Justice Deeny decided in the High Court that all mugs, cups, plates and cutlery being used at the school did come within the regulations. Despite the fact the employer had no duty to provide a kitchen in the first place, once they had taken the decision to provide such as facility, they then became responsible for its safe use and for ensuring that equipment was in good condition.