Monthly Archives: September 2012

Fee for Intervention rules are finally approved

After a false start when the planned April 2012 introduction was aborted, Fee for Intervention (FFI) passes into law with effect from 1 October 2012. This is the system by which the Health and Safety Executive are mandated to recover the cost to the taxpayer of their time involved in dealing with employers who break health and safety laws.

Most of the money collected will go into the coffers of HM Treasury rather than HSE, but with some retained to assist with HSE’s funding it would be surprising if cash generated was not given some consideration when setting future budgets for enforcement authority activities.

Several areas of legislation enforced by HSE will not result in costs being passed on because the requirements stem from other primary legislation. Examples include working time contraventions, failure to have insurance, and breaches of pesticide laws

Regulations to prevent sharps injuries in healthcare

The Health and Safety Executive have embarked on a consultation process on plans to introduce what would be called the Health and Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013. These are to enable the UK to meet a European Council Directive on preventing injuries in the healthcare sector caused by the use and disposal of medical sharps.

The Directive covers the provision of information and training to staff, and duties to record, investigate and take action after a sharps injury. Workers in the sector will be obliged to report any sharps injury to their employer.

Note that the regulations will only affect employers, contractors and workers in the healthcare sector, for example NHS Trusts, independent healthcare businesses and employers whose main activity relates to healthcare. They will not cover risks arising from first-aid activities, cleaning work etc in other sectors. The consultation document can be downloaded at http://www.hse.gov. uk/consult/condocs/cd244.htm

Emergency lighting

British Standards Institution has published a second edition of “A Guide to Emergency Lighting”. The guidance is aimed at users, designers, installation and maintenance engineers and explains the obligation to provide and maintain suitable systems to enable occupants to leave premises safely.

There is advice on all aspects of the design, installation, maintenance and testing of battery powered emergency lighting systems. The main changes from the original edition are updates to assist with the hazards identified by risk assessments, and expanded guidance on how to protect occupants from sudden loss of the normal lighting supply. Available from BSI Sales (tel: 020 8996 9001) at a cost of £50.00.

Roof work safety

A new edition of HSG33 “Health and safety in roof work” has been released. This is the fourth version of the document which seeks to reduce accidents associated with what is a high-risk activity involving working at height, sometimes with fragile materials such as roof lights and roofing sheets.

This 94-page publication explains the main causes of accidents and ill health in roof work and ways to prevent or control risks. It is available from HSE Books and other booksellers (ISBN 9870717665273) at £17.50 or as a free download at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/priced/hsg33.pdf

Removing red tape

A recent headline stated that 1000’s of smaller businesses would no longer be subject to routine inspection by enforcement officers. In practice, all lower risk workplaces such as shops and offices have been left to their own devices since the current Government took office. There is no change in policy. HSE and local authority inspectors will continue to concentrate on higher risk activities, but will visit any workplace that has a poor record. This would include any existing data showing previous non-compliances, where there has been a complaint or allegation, or after an incident has occurred.

RIDDOR likely to become RIDOR

If the latest proposed changes to the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 are approved, employers will no longer have a duty to report diseases arising out of a work activity. It is felt that there are sufficient alternative methods of gathering this data, and the present reporting system relies upon obtaining the consent of the person with the disease, as it is disclosure of a medical report.

With current staffing levels, there are only 18 full-time equivalent occupational health inspectors in Great Britain. We will update clients if and when this change takes effect.

HSE to step up inspections to prevent legionella

Following recent outbreaks in Edinburgh and Stoke, the Health and Safety Executive will be embarking on an 18-month programme to improve the management of legionella control. No details of the initiative are yet announced, but higher risk installations such as cooling towers will be prioritised.

Night shifts increase health risks

The British Medical Journal has reported the findings of a study that has identified a correlation between people who work night shifts and irregular hours, and the prevalence of heart disease.

Shift work can interrupt the body’s normal rhythms, and interference with the body clock is linked with risks of diabetes, high cholesterol and raised blood pressure. Those health issues are associated with cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes. Professor Hackam, a clinical pharmacologist who headed up the research team, concluded that night shift workers are 41% more likely to have heart disease. In the UK it is estimated than around one in five workers have shifts that include night duty.

School conned by rogue asbestos contractors

In August, Oxford Magistrates’ Court heard a case in which two contractors admitted falsifying records relating to a job for Our Lady’s Abingdon School.

Asbestos analyst Richard Gray from Hoddesdon, and David Gray (no relation) from Oxford, who is a supervisor for a licensed asbestos contractor, had taken short cuts. They gave the school a false statement of asbestos clearance, probably to save them the trouble of doing the job correctly. The con was revealed after an engineer went to the school to do plumbing work and came across asbestos that had purportedly been removed. During the investigation, a GPS tracking system was able to show that Richard Gray’s vehicle did not attend the school but had been taken from a motorway service station to his home address. He had gone to the services to meet his namesake where they concocted the false documents. Richard Gray was fined £4,000 with £1,000 costs, and David Gray was fined £1,000 with £250 costs.

Corporate manslaughter penalty

Manchester Crown Court has ordered Lion Steel Equipment Limited to pay a fine of £480,000 following the death of one of its employees from injuries sustained in May 2008.

A maintenance worker, Steven Berry, fell through the rooflight of the company’s Cheshire factory to the floor below. He was expected to work at height unsupervised on the fibreglass roof with no safety equipment and was given no training.

Although it was impossible to explain exactly why Mr Berry fell, the absence of crawling boards, barriers etc were ample evidence of unsafe working systems. The conviction is the third under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007. The firm is allowed to pay the fine and costs over three years.