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Free BSIF PPE webinar 21/05/2018

HEALTH AND Safety Matters (HSM) magazine and the British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) will be running a free webinar on how to comply with the new PPE regulations.

The webinar titled Complying with the law - PPE Regulation will take place on 2 July at 10:30am and will feature a panel that includes Alan Murray (BSIF), Frank Angear (BSIF) and will be hosted by HSM/FSM head of content Mark Sennett.

The session will focus on the recent changes to the PPE Regulation EU 2016/425 and what new responsibilities suppliers of PPE will have. There are considerably more requirements and obligations written into the new regulation, especially for distributors and Importers and the webinar will explain what these are and how those affected by the changes can gain a clear understanding of their new responsibilities to ensure they remain compliant.

You can register to attend for FREE at http://events.streamgo.co.uk/Complying-with-the-law/

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Independent review on building regs and fire safety published 17/05/2018

THE INDEPENDENT review into building regulations and fire safety has been published and calls for a “radical rethink” but does not ban the use of combustible materials.

The independent review was commissioned by Prime Minister Theresa May last July following the Grenfell Tower fire and it has been conducted by EEF chair Dame Judith Hackitt. It looked at current building regulations and fire safety with a particular focus on high rise residential buildings. It will examined the regulatory system around the design, construction and on-going management of buildings in relation to fire safety, related compliance and enforcement issues and international regulation and experience in this area.

As part of the review, Dame Judith consulted the Buildings Regulations Advisory Committee, which advises the government on changes to building regulations as well as the construction and housing industry, the fire sector, international experts, MPs and the public. The review also worked closely with other government departments and the devolved administrations and consider the implications of changes to the regulatory system on other government objectives.

Dame Hackitt published her interim findings on 18 December 2017 in which she called on the construction industry, building owners, regulators and government to come together to address the ‘shortcomings’ identified so far. 

The interim report identified that the current system of building regulations and fire safety is not fit for purpose and that a culture change is required to support the delivery of buildings that are safe, both now and in the future. 

The final report calls for the creation of a new Joint Competent Authority (JCA) to oversee the management of buildings and calls for tougher penalties for those flouting the Building Regualtions. It outlines a new structure for how to manage building safety and calls for more effective testing of products (such as cladding) but does not ban the use of combustible materials. The key recommendations include:

  • A new regulatory framework focused, in the first instance, on multi-occupancy higher risk residential buildings (HRRBs) that are 10 storeys or more in height; 
  • A new Joint Competent Authority (JCA) comprising Local Authority Building Standards, fire and rescue authorities and the Health and Safety Executive to oversee better management of safety risks in these buildings (through safety cases) across their entire life cycle; 
  • A mandatory incident reporting mechanism for dutyholders with concerns about the safety of a HRBB
  • A set of rigorous and demanding dutyholder roles and responsibilities to ensure a stonrger focus on building safety;
  • A series of robust gateway points to strengthen regulatory oversight that will require dutyholders to show to the JCA that their plans are detailed and robust;
  • A stronger change control process that will require robust record-keeping by the dutyholder of all changes made to the detailed plans previously signed off by the JCA;
  • A single, more streamlined, regulatory route to oversee building standards as part of the JCA to ensure that regulatory oversight of these buildings is independent from clients, designers and contractors and that enforcement can and does take place where necessary;
  • More rigorous enforcement powers. A wider and more flexible range of powers will be created to focus incentives on the creation of reliably safe buildings from the outset. This also means more serious penalties for those who choose to place residents at risk;
  • Clearer rights and obligations for residents to maintain the fire safety of individual dwellings;
  • A regulator for the whole of the building (the JCA) in relation to fire and structural safety in occupation; and
  • A more effective testing regime for cladding with clearer labelling and product transparency

In her summary, Dame Judith Hackitt said: “The above issues have helped to create a cultural issue across the sector, which can be described as a ‘race to the bottom’ caused either through ignorance, indifference, or because the system does not facilitate good practice. There is insufficient focus on delivering the best quality building possible, in order to ensure that residents are safe, and feel safe.

 “Just as the process of constructing the building itself must be subject to greater scrutiny, the classification and testing of the products need to undergo a radical overhall to be clearer and more proactive.

“The ultimate test of this new framework will be the rebuilding of public confidence in the system. The people who matter most in all of this are the residents of these buildings. The new framework needs to be much more transparent; potential purchasers and tenants need to have clear sight of the true condition of the space they are buying and the integrity of the building system they will be part of.”

“One of the greatest concerns which has been expressed to me is whether there is the political will to achieve radical and lasting change. I believe that we have a real opportunity to do this, and to create a system in which everyone will have greater confidence.”

The review had received criticism for not being inclusive of some key associations in the fire sector. In February, the All Party Parliamentary Fire Safety and Rescue Group revealed that it been excluded from being part of key advisory groups within the review.

You can read the report in full by clicking HERE.

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Theresa May promises £400m to remedy dangerous cladding 17/05/2018

The Prime Minister has agreed that the Government will cover the estimated £400m cost of removing and replacing dangerous cladding on council and housing association blocks.

Theresa May made the pledge during Prime Minister's question time on Wednesday ahead of the publication of the Hackitt Review into the Grenfell Tower disaster due to be published today.

Work is already underway to strip cladding from 158 high-rise blocks but councils have warned that they are struggling to meet the costs and other services may suffer.

Theresa May said: “Our thoughts as we approach the anniversary of the appalling tragedy which was the Grenfell Tower fire are with the victims of all those affected by the tragedy.”

“On the issue of the safety of buildings, the fire and rescue services have visited over 1,250 high-rise buildings and immediate action has been taken to ensure the safety of every resident.

“Councils and housing associations must remove dangerous cladding quickly, but paying for these works must not undermine their ability to do important maintenance and repair works.

“I’ve worked closely with the Chancellor and Housing Secretary, and I can today confirm that the Government will fully fund fun the removal and replacement of dangerous cladding by councils and housing associations, costing an estimated £400m.”

To the disappointment of Grenfell Tower survivors who have been campaigning for combustible cladding and insulation to be explicitly banned Dame Judith Hackitt, the former chair of the Health and Safety Executive, is not expected to recommend an outright ban on these types of cladding products.

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FPA to host key Hackitt Review seminar 16/05/2018

THE FIRE Protection Association (FPA) is set to run a seminar that will help to understand the findings of the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety ahead of the anniversary of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Dame Judith Hackitt’s review is set to be published in the next few weeks ahead of the anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire. The FPA will deliver a seminar bringing together unique expertise from the fire and construction industries to draw on their input into the findings of the review.

The seminar will take place on 25 June 2018 at the FPA’s headquarters at The Fire Service College, Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire. The session will provide a review of the key themes and actions of the final report and taking a look forward to the changes expected to be implemented as a result and consider the implications for industry practice.

Already confirmed to speak is ADB Working Group chair Emma Clancy, Fire Brigade Union’s Dave Sibert, FPA managing director Jonathan O’Neill OBE and RISCAuthority director Dr Jim Glockling.

The Grenfell Tower fire ranks as one of the most significant the UK has seen for decades. It has brought wide spread attention to dangerous weaknesses of social housing, design, construction industry practice, product testing, fire legislation and associated guidance that have been voiced by fire industry professionals for some years. All of these issues impact some of the most vulnerable in society.

Although the interim report from Dame Hackitt provided some indication of future direction, much independent work has been undertaken since then to assist the enquiry team including the ABI sponsored research into the suitability of existing cladding test regimes to deal with modern materials and construction standards. The FPA seminar will cover all this and more. 

The price to attend the seminar is £195.00+VAT per person and FPA members receive a 10% discount. 

For more information or to book your place, visitwww.thefpa.co.uk/training/training-courses_detail.c27-the-hackitt-review-seminar-understanding-the-outcomes-meeting-the-challenges.html or call 01608 812 500

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Mental Health Awareness Week: Manufacturers urged to invest in wellbeing 16/05/2018

Britain’s manufacturers are being urged to grasp the opportunity of greater investment in the wellbeing of their workforce and reap significant rewards of improved productivity and performance, according to a major survey and study.

The study and survey, published by EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation and Westfield Health and carried out by the Institute of Employment Studies coincides with Mental Health Awareness Week. It shows that the overall mental health and wellbeing of employees is inextricably linked to motivation, engagement and performance in the workplace.

In particular, it shows that good wellbeing can bring significant benefit to those companies employing lean manufacturing processes, especially if the focus is on good mental health, resilience, autonomy and involvement at work. According to the study this can bring productivity improvements of up to 10%.

By contrast the study highlights that poor wellbeing can increase costs, reduce motivation and employee engagement and take up management time dealing with issues such as absence and occupational health costs.

Commenting Steve Jackson, Director of Health, Safety & Sustainability at EEF, said: “More and more companies are recognising the benefits and opportunities of promoting the wider wellbeing of their employees.  This can being significant benefit to companies with employees who are better motivated and engaged.

“Giving employees support and a positive psychosocial work environment has a proven impact on productivity and means that employees who embrace the challenges and demands of work with more energy and commitment.”

Director of Wellbeing, Richard Holmes, of Westfield Health added: “Workplace-related stress, illnesses and mental health issues are becoming a bigger concern than ever. When workers’ minds aren’t completely on the job it can potentially lead to costly mistakes, accidents and health and safety risks.

“At Westfield health, we ‘believe in well beings’. When you believe in the physical and emotional wellbeing of your staff it can completely transform the face of your business, improve productivity and create a positive working environment.  But it needs to start from the top down, business leaders need to create a culture where people’s health and wellbeing is prioritised.”

Stephen Bevan, Head of HR Research Development at the Institute for Employment Studies said: “This research shows that there is a clear business case for investing in workforce wellbeing. This goes beyond saving money and extends to issues of product quality and customer service too.”

According to the survey, manufacturers to date are continuing to address health and safety in a very traditional way. This leads to a focus on compliance, physical health, risk assessment and promoting good health and safety practice rather than addressing psychosocial and mental health factors, which can equally impact on employee performance.

A significant number of companies (80%) do see improving productivity as a reason for investing in wellbeing measures, but just 8% see it as the most important reason for doing so. Furthermore, fewer than a third of companies invest in healthy living programmes for their employees – this is despite evidence showing that employees in good health are up to three times more productive.

The survey also shows that whilst over 60% of companies carry out a physical risk intervention, just 15% currently assess work risk to mental health and only 1 in 5 invest in measures to promote mental health. Additionally, fewer than a third of companies engage in training managers in managing stress and just 1 in 5 companies are using well-known interventions such mental health first aid (MHFA) training.

According to EEF, the lack of attention to wellbeing and mental issues means that employers are missing out on potential opportunities and benefits of improving productivity and performance through good job design, positive mental health and supporting management in maximising the productivity benefits of ‘lean’ and other processes.

The study suggests three key areas where employers should focus to maximise the wellbeing of their employees and improve the psychosocial workplace environment:

1. Job Design – Not only preventative in promoting health but employees in jobs that allow control, autonomy and a degree of discretion over what they do tend to be more engaged and productive.

2. Employee Involvement – Research has shown that workplaces with high degrees of employee involvement tend to be more high performing. High levels of work involvement and collective decision making promotes positive mental health, even in pressurised environments.

3. Employee Engagement – This is both with the organisation and its values, as well as the job itself. There is a strong correlation between high levels of psychological wellbeing at work, high levels of engagement and higher performance and productivity.

EEF and Westfield Health will be hosting a webinar with the researchers from the Institute for Employment Studies to discuss the findings and their implications for manufacturers on 27 June.

The survey of 141 companies was carried out between January and March 2018.


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Chained to our desks: 40% of Brits spend just 15 minutes outdoors each day 15/05/2018

Research by interior landscaping and scenting firm Ambius has found that UK office workers spend an alarmingly limited amount of time outdoors each day, putting their health and wellbeing at risk.

The study of 1,000 UK office workers found that almost 40% spend a maximum of just 15 minutes outside, excluding their commute to work, and an additional 22% spend a maximum of 30 minutes outside. This is even less than prisoners, who require ‘at least one hour of suitable exercise in the open air daily’, according to UN guidelines.

On average, the British workers surveyed spend more time per day at their desk or workstation (6.8 hours) than they do in bed (6.4 hours), relaxing at home (3.5 hours) or outdoors (37 mins). Despite spending more time at our desks than in bed, 80% said they regard a comfortable bed as very important, while only 53% placed the same level of importance on having a comfortable workstation.

The NHS suggests that excessive sitting can impact the body’s metabolism, affecting how we regulate sugar, blood pressure and breakdown fat[2]. While previous studies have shown that adding an element of nature or greenery to the workplace, can create a positive sense of wellbeing among employees and improve concentration, creativity and productivity.

With office workers spending so much time at their desks, employers would be wise to explore ways to create a workplace that facilitates better health and wellbeing. A lack of fresh air (57%), insufficient natural light (49%), and an absence of indoor plants (36%) were the biggest source of frustration for employees. Introducing indoor plants (49%), nicer artwork (50%), and a more interesting colour scheme (54%), topped the list of employees’ requests to improve their workplace. 

The study also explored the levels of personalisation in the workplace. Brits are often very proud of the interiors of their homes, however almost 60% of workers do not personalise their desk to make it more inspiring or comforting.  One in five (21%) said their workplace has a policy preventing personalisation, and yet half of all respondents said they feel both more productive, and less stressed, when given the opportunity to personalise their workspace.

Kenneth Freeman, Head of Innovation at Ambius said, “Human beings have an inherent need to connect with nature and green space. With workers spending so much time indoors, office managers need to be more aware of the impact the workplace has on wellbeing. Bringing elements of nature in to the workplace or enabling them to personalise their workstations has positive effects on performance, including increases in productivity, creativity and a greater sense of wellbeing.

“It is worrying how little time people are spending outside during the working day. Whether this is on purpose or not, we should all make a conscious effort to ensure we are finding the time in our day to reconnect with nature in some way – even a ten-minute walk outside at lunchtime can be restorative. As well as the natural benefits of getting some fresh air, feeling close to the natural world can generally make us feel happier, healthier and more productive during the day.”

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What's the real reason people are calling in sick? 15/05/2018

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week (14th-20th May), health and wellbeing provider BHSF is sharing findings from a survey which reveals the real reason why people call in sick.

The real reason employees call in sick: one fifth mask stress as a physical illness

·         42% UK employees are calling in sick claiming a physical illness, when in reality it’s a mental health issue

·         21% have called in sick for stress, but pretended it was something physical

·         Just 15% would tell their boss about a mental health issue

·         Employees take an average 8.4 days off for mental health problems each year

·         27% employees believe mental health issues carry a stigma

UK employees have revealed the real reason they call in sick – despite claiming to have a physical health problem, they admit it’s actually stress (21%), anxiety (18%) and/or depression (20%).

In total 42% of employees have called in sick claiming a physical illness, when in reality it’s a mental health issue.

New research from health and wellbeing provider BHSF, has highlighted a hidden problem that is only magnified by the stigma surrounding poor mental health. The research shows that 24% of employees worry that if they did need to take a sick day due to a mental health issue, they wouldn’t be taken seriously.

Over half (56%) of employees admitted to suffering from stress, a third from anxiety (36%) and a quarter from depression (25%). Despite 46% admitting that work is the main cause of their mental health problems, just 15% would tell their boss if they were struggling with an issue of this nature.

Dr Philip McCrea, Chief Medical Officer at BHSF Occupational Health, commissioned this research to raise awareness of employee wellbeing during Mental Health Awareness Week. He said: “The scale of this problem is huge – and it is being massively underestimated by employers, with employees feeling that they have to mask the issues they are facing.

“Although shocking, these findings don’t surprise me – this research must provide a reality check for employers, who need to be more proactive, focusing on early intervention. A more open culture must be created in work places across the UK, and employers have to take responsibility for this change.”

Despite mental health being at the forefront of conversations in recent years, 27% still believe that a mental health problem would carry a stigma, with 36% scared of what their colleagues might think.

The new research also highlights the need for workplace support. The statistics show that just 21% of employees receive dedicated mental health support from their employer. Shockingly, this lack of employer support has led to an average of 8.4 sick days taken each year due to a mental health problem.

Philip said: “Mental health problems do not suddenly materialise. The vast majority of individuals suffering from poor mental health will show obvious signs, which are easy to spot in the workplace. For employers, developing early intervention strategies is critical.”

The research also showed that 27% of employees would like to have open conversations about mental health within the workplace. A quarter of employees (23%) said they would feel more supported if dedicated days off were allocated for mental wellbeing, and a further 22% would benefit from dedicated mental health support staff.

Philip continued: “Schemes focused on early intervention could include introducing mental health first aiders, or providing additional training support for managers to identify key signs to look out for. These are just two simple ways to open up the conversations about mental health, but this activity will contribute to changing company culture, and creating a more open environment promoting good mental health.

“Employers must introduce wellbeing initiatives that maintain or improve good mental health, resilience training, for example. Employees can no longer rely on the NHS for quick treatment of mental health issues – those needing talking therapy could end up waiting years.

“Providing these services or paying for treatment is the ultimate duty of care – which will secure the loyalty of staff, as well as preventing employee absence. The cost-benefit of providing treatment options for employees is a no-brainer. It’s up to employers to take a proactive approach and improve their employees’ mental health before it’s too late.”

BHSF is a leading supplier of occupational health services, including mental health support, health insurances, employee benefits and HR support services. 


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Road workers’ lives are being put at risk, says Highways England 09/05/2018

Highways England has released video footage of a reckless motorist mounting the pavement and placing road workers’ lives at risk as go about their daily jobs improving the road network.

Research by Highways England reveals a catalogue of serious incidents and near misses ranging from motorists driving into coned off areas where road workers are working to physical and verbal abuse.

On average there are nearly 300 incidents a week of incursions and abuse reported by road workers who are busy improving England's 4300 miles of motorways and strategic A roads for the benefit of all road users.

And of almost 3500 incidents recorded between July 2017 until September 2017, 150 were serious, leading to four road workers and two motorists being injured.

That is why Highways England is calling on road users to be patient if they are delayed by roadworks and to respect road workers doing a difficult job.

The video shows the unacceptable behaviours that workers are faced with every day. 

In it, a driver has been stopped at the site of road works on the A120 in Essex involving two barriers in place for drivers to be allowed through with an escort.

The irresponsible driver had already driven around the initial closure point on the wrong side of the road, then drove at speed to attempt to avoid Essex Police who were supporting Highways England in enforcing the closure. His actions jeopardised the lives of all those road workers on this stretch of road between Braintree and the A12 at Marks Tey.

Another incident captured on video shows a lorry driving through coned off roadworks on the M1.

Mike Wilson, Chief Highways Engineer, Executive Director Safety, Engineering and Standards at Highways England said:
“While we plan our maintenance and improvement works to minimise inconvenience to drivers, some road closures are necessary, and ultimately for the benefit of road users. 

“Drivers who selfishly and illegally ignore these traffic restrictions force their way through are putting both their lives and those of our road workers at risk – all to save a few minutes on their journey. “

Also since October 2014, some 341 incidents of either verbal or physical abuse towards workers were recorded across England.

Amongst the most common targets for verbal abuse are Highways England traffic officers, who patrol motorways and A-roads 24/7. Their role is to deal with incidents as they happen and keep people safe by implementing lane closures where required.

Adie Whiting, 33, a married father of three from Doncaster, has worked for Interserve on behalf of Highways England as a traffic control safety officer, deploying cones, signs, barriers and temporary traffic signals.

“I’ve been sworn at a lot, physically threatened on occasions and even had someone try to run me over once,” he said. 

“You have to have a thick skin doing this job.”

Road worker abuse often occurs during incursions, whereby drivers seek to ignore a road closure to drive through instead, often failing to heed advance warning signs of upcoming closures.

Highways England is reminding motorists of their responsibility while driving through roadworks, with these four key messages:

  • Respect our road workers – slow down near road works and obey speed limits and signs.
  • Just because workers aren’t visible, it doesn’t mean they are not present. This is especially true when operations take place at night, but also applies when visibility is restricted by works vehicles and equipment.
  • We plan maintenance and improvement projects to allow works to proceed in the safest and most cost-effective way, with minimum disruption to road users. 
  • Think what it would be like if you had to contend with lorries and cars driving through your place of work.

See the videos here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=MhBr-FJ2Pl8&feature=youtu.be

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Javid appointed as Home Secretary 30/04/2018

SAJID JAVID has been named as the new Home Secretary following the resignation of Amber Rudd.

Mr Javid vacated his role as Communities, Local Government and Housing Secretary to take up the post. As Home Secretary he will have overall responsibility for the police and fire and rescue service. He has been promoted after Ms Rudd resigned saying she had “inadvertently misled” Members of Parliament over targets for removing illegal immigrants.

Javid has been the MP for Bromsgrove since 2009 and has held multiple cabinet position including Economic Secretary, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, Minister for Equalities, Secretary of State for Culture. Media and Sport, Secretary of State for Business and most recently Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Posting on Twitter, Javid said: “Very sad that Amber is leaving Government. A huge talent that will no doubt be back in Cabinet soon, helping to strengthen our great nation." 

The government has also announced that former Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire will return to the cabinet to replace Mr Javid as Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary.

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Standard health & safety tests could be missing deadly bacteria, warn scientists 26/04/2018

Cold water storage tanks supplying public drinking water are regularly checked for harmful pathogenic bacteria such as Legionnaires' disease and E.coli.

However, microbiological analysis by researchers from Brunel University London found that samples taken as standard from the top of the tank are 40% less likely to raise a red flag than samples taken from the opposite end.

One in five samples taken from the top of the tank didn’t trigger the urgent safety action that samples from the bottom of the same tank showed was needed.

“These results call into question the reliability of present measures used to protect the public from waterborne pathogenic diseases, including Legionella,” said Aji Peter, a PhD student from Brunel’s Institute of Environment, Health and Societies, who carried out the research.

Cold water storage tanks are often found on the roofs or in the basements of public buildings such as schools and hospitals, and can be a source of repeated bacterial contamination.

Current safety regulations require a sample of water be taken from under the ball valve at the top of the tank for regular microbiological monitoring, although scientists are now calling for the standard safety tests to be changed to look at samples taken from the far end of the tank, where water is likely to be warmer and hold more bacteria-feeding sediment.  

“Given the disparity between measurements taken at different ends of the tanks, monitoring at the far end would provide a much more accurate indication of microbiological contamination. This would allow appropriate precautions to be taken to protect the public from waterborne pathogenic diseases, including Legionnaires’ disease,” said Mr Peter.

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