The Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 has included a measure that removes strict liability in respect of most accidents at work. This reverses the previous provision whereby an employee who suffered an injury at work could automatically make a civil claim for personal injury if their injury arose as a result of a breach of duty imposed by the criminal law. This led to employers being liable to pay compensation in situations where they could not have done any more to protect their employee. For example, if no risk assessment had been carried out even such an assessment would have found that no injury was foreseeable.
A claimant must now demonstrate that the injury arose from a breach of duty and the employer has been negligent, not simply that a regulation wasn’t complied with. The test for negligence is that of “the reasonable and prudent employer taking positive thought for the safety of his workers in light of what he knows or ought to know.”
A final reminder that old versions of the statutory poster “health and safety – what you need to know” must be replaced by April 2014. Smaller employers may elect to make the statutory information on the poster available to their employees via an approved leaflet.
NHS Protect, which gives guidance and policy advice within the NHS in England, has found a 5.8% increase in reports of assaults to staff. This is based on returns from 341 health bodies. The total number of reports in 2012/13 rose to 63,199.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has reported that kitchens in 118 food premises in Wales, including restaurants, pubs, takeaways and even a school, have a Zero hygiene rating.
In Wales, it is a requirement to display the hygiene rating at the entrance to the premises. FSA say inspectors will be “working with businesses to identify the actions they need to take”
Another Approved Code of Practice that has been through the consultation process is L8, Legionnaires’ disease: The Control of Legionella Bacteria in Water Systems. HSE has revised the document, removing the technical guidance which has now been published separately online. The previous technical guidance was 13 years old and significantly out of date.
The information is aimed at duty holders including employers; those in control of premises; and people with health and safety responsibilities for others, and was one of several identified for review and revision; consolidation; or withdrawal, in line with a recommendation by Professor Ragnar Löfstedt in his report ‘Reclaiming health and safety for all’. A key change is some guidance being assigned Approved Code status, to clarify legal requirements where there is an accepted industry method of compliance. The revised L8 document is available at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l8.htm
Revised additional guidance (HSG274) gives practical advice and is in three parts:
- Part 1: The control of legionella bacteria in evaporative cooling systems
- Part 2: The control of legionella bacteria in hot and cold water systems – Interim guidance (please note that this is extracted from the previous edition of L8. As this section is under review, this is interim guidance and will remain in place until the review and revision of the hot and cold water section is complete).
- Part 3: The control of legionella bacteria in other risk systems
The complete hard copy edition of HSG274, including revised guidance on hot and cold water systems, and a revised online version of Part 2, will be published later this year. See http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg274.htm
The final version will be published later this year.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revised and updated booklet L24, the guidance and Approved Code of Practice to the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992. The intention is to make it easier for employers, building owners, landlords and managing agents to understand and meet their legal obligations. Legal responsibilities towards workers’ health and safety are not altered, but there is more to explain the regulatory requirements on key issues such as temperature, cleanliness, workstations and seating, toilets and washing facilities.
One regulatory change covered in the document is with regard to thermal comfort including solar gain (in Regulation 7) which now states that a workplace “shall be adequately thermally insulated where it is necessary, having regard to the type of work carried out and physical activity of the persons carrying out the work and excessive effects of sunlight on temperature shall be avoided.”
Information on controlling substances that are hazardous to the health of workers has been updated. HSE has revised Approved Code of Practice L5 to clarify and simplify practical advice to help duty holders comply with the requirements of Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH).
The sixth edition of L5 also takes account of regulatory changes following the introduction of the EU Regulations for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and restriction of Chemicals (REACH) and European Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures. The revised guidance is aimed at management, supervisory staff, safety representatives and technical specialists.
The revisions reflect other ongoing reviews of technical guidance associated with COSHH, eg for local exhaust ventilation and on health surveillance, and clarify specialist terminology wherever possible.
The new version of L5 is available at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l5.htm Note that legal responsibilities to protect workers’ health and safety are not altered by any changes to Approved Codes of Practice.
Five pieces of health and safety guidance have been combined to help employers more quickly and easily understand how to protect their workers from dangerous substances and explosive atmospheres.
HSE has consolidated five Approved Codes of Practice under the Dangerous Substances and Explosive Atmospheres Regulations 2002, covering issues from plant design and operation, through to maintenance. Document L38 is available at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l138.htm
Chelmsford Crown Court has ordered Leisure Connection Limited to pay nearly £66,000 in fines and costs after a two and a half year-old boy suffered severe burns in the changing area of a leisure centre they were operating. The incident happened at the Great Dunmow Leisure Centre in Essex when the child slipped and fell onto a drain cover. The cover was contaminated with a cleaning material containing sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) which burnt through the toddler’s clothing and left him with third degree, full skin thickness alkaline burns to his buttocks and the back of his right thigh.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that the company had failed to put a robust system of work in place for cleaning this type of drain, and local management admitted they had been unaware of the presence of the chemical on site.
The Artisan Press Limited appeared before Leicester Magistrates’ Court after a worker became trapped in machinery. Whilst working on a stacker at the end of a web-fed printing press, the employee tried to replace a bearing but his head became trapped between dangerous moving parts and the fixed machine. This caused multiple skull fractures and the injured person spent over two weeks in a medically-induced coma on a life support machine and is now deaf in his left ear with no movement in his left eye and has had to learn how to walk again.
The company were found to have failed to take effective measures to prevent access to dangerous moving parts of the stacker. A gate to the dangerous area was neither fixed in place nor interlocked, meaning there was free access to and around the dangerous moving parts of the stacker, which was not isolated from its pneumatic power supply. The Artisan Press Limited was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay around £6,000 in costs after pleading guilty to breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.