Monthly Archives: September 2010

Review of safety regulation

As promised during his election campaign, Prime Minister David Cameron has confirmed the appointment of the Rt Hon Lord Young of Graffham as his adviser on health and safety law and practice.

Mr Cameron stated that he saw “the rise of the compensation culture over the last ten years” as a major issue, and was critical of the way that some health and safety laws are applied. Lord Young’s brief is to work with Government departments to look at all the legislation and ensure that businesses are not overburdened with red tape. In accepting his appointment, Lord Young commented that he was looking for a common-sense approach to regulation, targeted to where the risk lay and without excessive bureaucracy. As well as the impact on companies, he will address the impact on the public sector and community organisations.

Trades Union Congress general secretary Brendan Barber is on record as saying that far from scrutinising the legislation, time would be “better spent investigating a work culture that injures a quarter of a million people each year and makes another half a million employees ill”.

Possible new focus on musculoskeletal risks

Following a European Union initiative, consideration is being given to consolidating the duty to control risks of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) under a single set of regulations. Presently the prevention of these conditions is the main focus of both the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 and the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment)Regulations 1992.

If MSD-related requirements were taken out of current laws and combined in a new Statutory Instrument, the eyesight testing obligations for display screen equipment users could become a health surveillance requirement under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. Thus three pieces of legislation would be reduced to two. Deregulators could claim a success, but in practice employers would continue to have broadly the same obligations.

HSE Books catalogue

A new catalogue has been published, with details of all the new titles and the complete list of current publications. It explains how to place an order, gives all the subscription information, contact details, and links to HSE’s other services. The catalogue also has a full index intended to make things easy to find.

For a copy of this free catalogue contact HSE Books on 01787 881165 or on http://books.hse.gov.uk/hse/public/home.jsf

Annual accident statistics released

Figures for the number of workers who were fatally injured in various sectors have been released by HSE. They show that between April 2009 and March 2010 there were 41 construction workers killed compared to an average of 66 workers in each of the previous five years. There was a 20% fall on 2008/09 when 52 workers died. The services sector fared slightly worse with 42 workers killed at work, though this compares well with the 72 in the previous five years, and is a reduction of nearly a third on 2008/09 when 62 workers died. Improvements were also recorded in the manufacturing sector where 24 workers were killed compared to an average of 38 in the past five years. This is a reduction of 27% on 2008/09 when 33 workers died.

Safety standards questioned after Cotswold death

Cotswold District Council and the police are investigating after a 15-year-old London girl died after being pulled unconscious from the water by a member of the public at a bathing lake at Cotswold Water Park.

Witnesses said there were insufficient staff available but Watermark, who look after the facility, said that four lifeguards were on site. They also pointed out that there are signs advising families to supervise their own children.

After the incident it came to light that the local parish council had previously raised concerns and written to the district council on what they saw as insufficient first aid cover and too few lifeguards. The parish council requested an investigation to allay concerns about public safety, but Cotswold District Council passed the letter to the HSE. This prompted councillor Esmond Jenkins to say “There’s a question mark now as to whether Cotswold District Council realised they had been responsible for the place or are indeed responsible for the place in health and safety terms”.

HSE’s annual report

The Health and Safety Executive have published their Annual Report and Accounts for 2009/10. This can be accessed at www.hse.gov.uk/aboutus/reports/0910. Running to over 100 pages, the document gives information including a commentary on health and safety performance.

Fall from stairs leads to fatality

A retired draughtsman was killed after he fell from the stairs of a coach as it drew up outside his holiday hotel in Devon. Paramedics took James Hartill, aged 79, to Torbay Hospital in Torquay after the incident but he died of his injuries. Reports suggest that the man was standing on the rear stairs and lost his balance, striking his head on the stairwell, when the coach reversed into the car park of the Water’s Edge Hotel.

Bus driver attacked with laser pen

Two teenagers are thought to have been responsible for an incident in Percy Main, Tyne & Wear, in which a bus driver had a green laser shone into his eyes. The driver of the 19 Veolia Transport passenger service sustained blurred vision and discomfort and had to seek hospital treatment.

Campaign on substance use in the motor trade

As part of a European-wide campaign called “Risk Assessment in the Use of Hazardous Substances”, enforcement agencies in the UK are to focus on motor vehicle repair. The campaign has been instigated by the Senior Labour Inspectors Committee, who aim to promote consistency in approach.

Retailer woes after fire safety lapses

Retailer New Look failed in efforts to overturn a fine of £400,000 for breaches of fire safety legislation in its Oxford Street, store. The Court of Appeal said that the fine was proportionate to the risk. The offences were the failure to carry out adequate fire safety training of staff, and failure to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risk of fire. Both were contraventions of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

In a separate case under the same legislation, Tesco was fined £95,000 for offences including failure to review a fire risk assessment. This followed a small fire in the kitchen at the Colney Hatch supermarket. The fire had already been dealt with before the fire brigade attended, but the room was left full of smoke. London Fire Brigade arrived and found the premises to be locked, with people inside filling shelves after closing time. Upon gaining entry, fire officers had to ask several times for people to evacuate. When making a follow-up visit the next day, fire doors were wedged open and some exits blocked.