Monthly Archives: February 2015

Construction safety

Parliamentary approval is expected soon for the new Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015), due to come into force on 6 April 2015.

The new regulations include a duty to prepare written construction phase plans for all construction projects and this includes domestic client work. There must also be a principal designer and principal contractor appointed when there is more than one contractor involved with a project. A transitional period will run for six months until 6 October 2015.

If a project has commenced before the regulations come into force, but the construction phase has not yet started and no CDM co-ordinator is in place, the client will have to appoint a principal designer as soon as practicable. CDM co-ordinators who are already in post must be replaced by a principal designer by the end of the transitional period, unless the work is finished by then.

CDM 2015 draft guidance

In anticipation of Parliamentary approval for CDM 2015 (see New and Changing Legislation above), HSE has issued an 84-page draft copy of Legal series guidance book L153. A final version will be published on 6 April 2015 when the regulations are scheduled to come into force.

There are also six draft industry guidance documents produced by CONIAC (Construction Industry Advisory Committee). They are aimed at clients, designers, principal designers, contractors, principal contractors and employees respectively. The purpose is to enable the various dutyholders to understand their responsibilities ahead of the new regulations. Copies can be accessed at the Construction Industry Training Board website www.citb.co.uk

Sentencing Council considers higher penalties

Draft guidelines issued by the Sentencing Council include potential increases in fines. The most serious health and safety offences could attract penalties of up to £10m whilst firms convicted of corporate manslaughter might end up with more than £20m to pay.

For each category, there are a number of steps to be taken into account. These include the size of the organisation, how far the offender had gone below the required standard, the true financial performance of the organisation, and how the size of the fine might affect innocent parties such as employees or beneficiaries of the organisation’s work..

Beware Asbestos

HSE is in the middle of a campaign called “Beware Asbestos” which will run until March 2015. The objective is to raise awareness and promote safe working practices among those workers most at risk. These tend to be tradespeople working on smaller projects in the construction and maintenance sector, but the risk extends across the majority of workplaces.

The campaign starts from the principle that many workers have an awareness that asbestos is dangerous, but are unclear about when and how they may be exposed to the risk. It is estimated that 20 workers a week are dying from asbestos-related diseases, with the consequences of exposure often taking decades to manifest themselves.

The trade outlets of building materials and DIY group B&Q are involved in distributing free asbestos safety packs to those at risk.

New codes on lifting operations and work equipment

Following extensive consultation, a new Approved Code of Practice and guidance booklet has been issued on the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER). It can be downloaded free of charge at http://www. hse.gov.uk/ pubns/priced/ l113.pdf

The introductory section states that the main changes include: insertion of a simple decision tree to explain how to decide whether equipment is subject to the regulations; standardising the guidance so that it is in line with other advice, an example being that lifting equipment should not be used near overhead power cables; and expanded advice to show that LOLER applies across all sectors with lifting equipment including the health and social care sector.

A similar process of updating has been applied to the supporting information for the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER), where the new Approved Code of Practice (ACOP) and guidance can be found at http://www.hse. gov.uk/pubns/priced/l22.pdf

Revisions to the guidance material include minor changes to some ACOP paragraphs in an attempt to clarify information, greater use of lists, and updated references to legislation. There are also short summaries in front of each regulation and much of the background material in the previous version has been removed

Fit for Work scheme

Shortly before Christmas, the Government launched a programme called Fit for Work, which aims to support people in work who have health conditions. An advice line has been set up and a national rollout will take place over the next few months, with an expected coverage across 45 NHS Occupational Health teams at more than 100 sites offering face-toface appointments.

The target is to facilitate a meeting within five days of a person being referred to the service. A study of General Practitioners suggests that around a third of employees likely to be incapacitated for four weeks or more might be referred.

The Department for Work and Pensions estimates that referral rates will be somewhere between 10% and 70% of those eligible. Critics claim that employees may be steered back to work before they are fully fit, and a poll of 1500 workers found that four out of five people supported this negative view. On the basis of this scepticism, it remains to be seen how many employees will be prepared to take part in this voluntary scheme.

Firms fined for asbestos failings

Northampton Magistrates’ Court heard that serious failings were found when a routine inspection was carried out at the premises of Lifting Systems Limited’s premises at Far Cotton, Northamptonshire.

The company had engaged Durasteel Services Limited to refurbish their asbestos cement roof, but inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive found that asbestos insulation board had been taken down and stored on site, and some materials had been put in waste skips.A Prohibition Notice was served to immediately stop any further work.

Both companies were prosecuted under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. Whilst Lifting Systems Limited was the client, they had removed most of the old asbestos cement panels and they had no demolition and refurbishment survey. Durasteel Services Limited did not identify the potential for asbestos to be disturbed and hadn’t put any effective control measures in place. There was no licence to remove asbestos. Lifting Systems Limited was fined £14,000 whilst Durasteel Services Limited’s penalty was £10,000. Each company was ordered to contribute costs of £523.

DHL fined £50,000 at Old Bailey

In a case that should serve as a warning for any employer who parks vehicles on uneven or sloping ground, courier company DHL has been prosecuted for a serious injury to an HGV driver at their depot in Dunstable, Bedfordshire.

The driver had reversed his cab unit up to a trailer which was parked on a slope. He got out and walked round to connect the trailer but when he released the brakes the whole weight of the trailer was borne by the cab and the vehicle rolled forward. The driver tried to run to the cab door to apply the brakes, but fell under the wheel and sustained life-changing injuries.

The court heard that DHL had failed to assess the risks associated with parking on uneven or sloping ground. Suitable control measures could have been included the use of wheel chocks and an audible handbrake alarm. HSE said that this was “a horrific and entirely preventable injury caused by the failure of the company to recognise all hazards arising from routine operations” and that “the risk of large goods vehicles moving when parked on sloping ground when the brakes of the trailer are disengaged is foreseeable”. DHL was also ordered to pay costs of £15,698 after pleading guilty to breaching S2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Amputation at unguarded machine

Worktop Fabrications Limited, from Nottingham, admitted a charge under the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court and was fined £20,000 with costs of £4,574.

This followed an employee having two fingers amputated after they were damaged by a cutting blade that had had the protective guard disconnected. It transpired that the guard on the edge banding machine had been modified four or five years previously. The original interlocked guards had been replaced by a lock and key system that did not prevent the machine operating with the hood open. The company had carried out a risk assessment about a year after the modification but this had failed to identify the lack of an effective system to prevent injury.

Fee for Intervention

Recent figures show that the amount being billed under the Fee for Intervention (FFI) system, whereby the Health and Safety Executive levy a charge on transgressors for time spent dealing with material breaches of legal requirements, is running at an average of around £2m per month.