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HSM Podcast - Episode 22 20/01/2022

EPISODE 22 of the Health & Safety Matters Podcast is now live and features an interview with veteran health and safety journalist Louis Wustemann on hybrid working.

The HSM Podcast is sponsored by The Health & Safety Event, which takes place on 5-7 April 2022 at NEC Birmingham. In this episode, host Mark Sennett takes a look at the latest industry news including the HSE publishing the work-related health and injury statistics, IOSH supporting flexible working, and he chats about the new HSM Golf Networking Day, which will CPD content and networking and looks set to be a must attend for OSH professionals when it takes place at Celtic Manor on 15 June 2022. Places are filling fast so make sure you book your place now at www.hsmgolf.com

This episode's main guest is Louis Wustemann who discusses some of the key findings of EcoOnline's recent survey on hybrid working. These findings have been published in the form of a white paper on Managing Hybrid Workers Health, Safety and Wellbeing and Louis discusses the key issues raised in this must-read white paper.

You can listen to the HSM Podcast for free on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, YouTube or Podbean. To download the podcast on Spotify, Google Play or iTunes all you need to do is enter Health and Safety Matters into the platform's search box.

Alternatively you can listen to the podcast online at hsmpodcast.podbean.com or watch it on YouTube by clicking HERE

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Manufacturing company fined after workers exposed to risk 20/01/2022

METALS FABRICATION company MTL Advanced Limited has been sentenced for health breaches after several workers were diagnosed with hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Sheffield Magistrates’ Court heard that the company was visited by the Health & Safety Executive in March 2018 following a concern received from an employee. During that visit it was found that there were multiple health and safety breaches, resulting in the company being issued with Improvement Notices. 

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that there were systemic failings to recognise the risk of hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS) or to take appropriate action to control exposure. Of particular concern were accounts from employees of pain and tingling in their fingers, hands and arms and that there were no limits on their use of vibrating tools such as angle grinders. 

MTL Advanced Limited of Grange Lane, Rotherham, South Yorkshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company has been fined £90,000 and ordered to pay £14,061 in costs. 

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Laura Hunter said: “Work activities involving vibrating tools should be properly assessed so that appropriate controls can be implemented to avoid exposing employees to harm.

“Employees suffering from HAVS can experience difficulty in carrying out tasks in the workplace involving fine or manipulative work and are less able to work in cold conditions. Sadly, these effects can be permanent and life changing.”

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Companies fined after employee fractures leg at reservoir 20/01/2022

A CONTRACTOR and a water management company have been fined after a worker was injured when he was hit by a 1.5 tonne water valve.

Newcastle upon Tyne Magistrates’ Court heard that on 5 June 2018, Northumbrian Water Limited had contracted JW Colpitts & Co Limited to connect a 1.5 tonne water valve in a confined chamber at Kielder Reservoir, Northumberland. The valve was suspended from a lorry mounted crane when it swung across the chamber and struck the worker. He sustained an open compound fracture of his tibia and fibula and was airlifted to hospital.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that both companies had failed to risk assess the work and the additional hazards introduced by a change in the scope of work. They failed to implement suitable safety measures and safe systems of work; and provide adequate supervision to the workers.

Northumbrian Water Limited of Northumbria House, Abbey Road, Pity Me, Durham pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. They were fined £365,000 and ordered to pay costs of £14,360.69 and a victim surcharge of £120.00.

JW Colpitts & Co Limited of John Anderson House, Coniston Road, Blyth Riverside Industrial Estate, Blyth pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 etc. They were fined £30,000 and ordered to pay costs of £17,452.22 and a victim surcharge of £120.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Clare Maltby said, “Companies must understand that work activities involving confined spaces, work at height and lifting operations must be subject to a robust risk assessment. Furthermore, risk assessments should be reviewed if the scope of work changes and additional hazards are introduced.

“Companies must also ensure that they have suitable safety control measures and safe systems of work in place to address the identified risks. Appropriate arrangements should be in place to supervise and monitor work.”

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Nursery fined £800k after baby chokes to death 20/01/2022

AN EDINBURGH nursery has been fined £800,000 after an eleven-month-old boy in its care died after choking on a piece of food.

The young boy was eating dinner at Bright Horizons Corstorphine Nursery on 9 July 2019 when he began to choke.

When a staff member returned from using the bathroom, she thought he was sleeping. When she realised he was not breathing, an ambulance was called and staff attempted to dislodge the blockage in his airway by slapping him on the back. They also performed CPR.

When paramedics arrived they were able to remove the obstruction, which was later found to be a piece of mango. The young boy was taken to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children but died the following day.

An investigation found that between 21 May 2019 and 9 July 2019 the employer, Bright Horizons Family Solutions Ltd, failed to provide employees at the Corstorphine nursery with suitable instruction and supervision to adequately control the risk of choking during mealtimes. The investigation also found a number of other occasions between 21 May 2019 and 9 July 2019 when staff were involved with other tasks and therefore not watching the children eat.

At Edinburgh Sheriff Court, Bright Horizons Family Solutions Ltd admitted failings under Health and Safety at Work legislation and was fined £800,000.

Since the child’s death the company has reviewed its policies and procedures, and provided additional training to all Scottish staff.

Alistair Duncan, head of the health and safety investigation unit of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said, “This tragic death could have been prevented if staff had been given suitable instruction and supervision in relation to their duties to properly supervise children’s mealtimes.

“Childcare providers have an enormous responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the children in their care, but in this case, Bright Horizons Family Solutions Ltd failed to live up to that responsibility.

“This should serve as a warning to others of the devastating consequences of such failures.

“My sincere condolences are with the family as they attempt to come to terms with their loss.”

Ros Marshall, managing director of Bright Horizons has commented, “Our thoughts continue to be with Fox Goulding and his family. There are no words which are adequate to console them and we offer our heartfelt apologies.

"Our acceptance of responsibility today makes clear that the mealtime safety procedures we had in place at our Corstorphine Nursery in 2019 were not properly observed, with terrible consequences.

"Every day we care for children and fully appreciate that keeping children safe is always the first priority. We have comprehensively reviewed how we operate, including all our mealtime safety procedures, staff training and our supervision arrangements, to ensure that the right lessons were learned from this tragedy.

"Fox’s memory will forever live on in our hearts and minds, influencing our practice and shaping our approach to keeping everyone safe.”

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EcoOnline is headline sponsor of SHE Awards 2022 19/01/2022

THE SHE Awards is now in its fifth year and aims to recognise the key role that companies and individuals play in keeping people and premises safe.

The Awards will be presented at a gala dinner at The Vox, Resorts World Birmingham on 6 April 2022, hosted by well-known comedian Hugh Dennis.

This year's headline sponsor is EcoOnline, which develops user-friendly digital software that improves health and safety in the workplace, while helping customers deliver sustainable results for the environment. EcoOnline's sponsorship emphasises its commitment to celebrating and promoting excellence in health and safety.

Göran Lindö, CEO of EcoOnline said, “Keeping people safe and avoiding harm is a fundamental part of being a health and safety practitioner. It’s a rare role in that success is measured by something not happening and stopping people and the environment from coming to harm. All too often, the sterling work by professionals can go unsung. That’s why these awards are so incredibly important; it’s the chance to recognise all the amazing work that health and safety experts are doing to instigate change. The SHE awards showcase innovation and celebrate those achievements making the British workplaces safer and more sustainable for employees, customers, and society. That’s why EcoOnline is a proud sponsor of these awards.”

SHE Awards Event Director Mark Sennet says. “We are delighted to have the support of EcoOnline for the Safety and Health Excellence Awards. They are an ideal partner as they are dedicated to raising standards across the sector. 

“This will be the first SHE Awards with physical attendance since the start of the pandemic. The last in-person event in 2019 saw 550 people attending and more than 200 entries, so this is set to be a night to remember. There’s still time to enter the awards for free before the 31 January deadline and this is the perfect way for you to recognise yourself, your company, an employee, one of your team or a product for making a material difference to the safety of buildings or people.”

For more information on the Awards and to enter, please visit www.she-awards.co.uk

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Construction worker dies after falling from tower 19/01/2022

A CONSTRUCTION company has been fined after an employee died as a result of falling from a mobile tower.

Cambridge Magistrates Court heard how, on 15 September 2017, Sean Harding was working from a mobile tower levelling a steel beam that was seated on a door lintel. This involved using a crowbar to lever the beam up for a work colleague to insert a metal packer into the gap. Mr Harding caught his jacket sleeve on the tower, lost balance and fell over a single guard rail and down to ground level. He was taken to hospital but died three months later due to medical complications.

An investigation by Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the mobile tower wasn’t configured correctly for the task due to the limited headroom and that double guard rails could have been used, if configured correctly.

Peter Saunders Builders Ltd of Tennyson House, Cambridge Business Park, Cambridge pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 8 (a) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 and was fined £16,000 with £5,139.80 costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Stephen Hartley said, “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities in this country and the risks associated with working at height are well known.

“Those in control of work have a responsibility to select access equipment that is suitable for the task and the work environment and ensure that it is safely used.”

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Fraudulent gas installer prosecuted 18/01/2022

A GAS installer has been fined after repeatedly carrying out gas work while falsely claiming to be gas safe registered.

Cardiff Crown Court heard how, between September 2016 and March 2018, Jordan Louis Hare carried out gas work at four domestic premises in Cardiff and Crosskeys, but did not hold the necessary registration to carry out this work. Mr Hare installed gas boilers along with other work at the premises in Cardiff and carried out modifications to gas pipework and installed a gas boiler and gas hob at the property in Crosskeys.

On inspection, works carried out by Mr Hare at all properties, were classed as ‘immediately dangerous’, ‘at risk’, ‘not to current standards’ or ‘building regulations non-compliant’ placing the occupants and other members of the public in significant danger due to the potential risk of gas escape, fire, and explosion. 

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the actions of Mr Hare were fraudulent and deliberate. Trading under various names, he pretended to be Gas Safe registered to convince vulnerable people to engage his services to undertake work that he was not competent to do. 

Mr Jordan Hare of Foxberry Close, Pontprennau, Cardiff pleaded guilty to breaching four counts of regulation 3(1), 3(3) and 3 (7) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 along with S22 of the Health and Safety at Work etc, Act 1974. He was given a 10 month custodial sentence suspended for 18 months, ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work, and pay costs of £5,000 and £125 compensation.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Gethyn Jones said, “Jordan Hare undertook gas work which he knew he was not registered to do. All gas work must be done by registered Gas Safe engineers to ensure the highest standards are met to prevent injury and loss of life. Householders should check that the engineer carrying out gas work in their home is registered with Gas Safe.”

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Research highlights fire safety inadequacies 20/01/2022

WITH EMPLOYEES and customers returning to workplaces and stores following the pandemic, new research by JLA has revealed that many companies are ill-equipped to deal with the growing risk of fires at their sites – posing huge risk to employee and customer safety.

According to the nationally representative survey of 250 business owners, over a third of businesses (38%) do not have suitable fire risk assessments in place and more than 80% of businesses do not have written regulations against false fire alarms, and the risks they pose, within their company handbooks.

What’s worse, is that almost 40% of the businesses surveyed have not given all of their staff training on the common causes of false alarms and how to mitigate the risks of these happening within their workplace. This was particularly prevalent in restaurants, bars and cafes, where this figure rises to 75% suggesting that if businesses do not train their staff in fire prevention, the associated risks could be huge. In particular, damaged reputation, loss of revenue and a decrease in business efficiency, are all potential consequences if businesses and employees are not prepared to deal with the impact of a false fire alarm sounding.

The research, carried out by JLA, as part of its “False fire alarms” campaign, revealed a huge lack of business preparedness in mitigating the risks associated with false fire alarms.

To best prepare for these risks, businesses should:

  • Ensure effective, regular maintenance of all fire alarm equipment;
  • Provide training to employees on how to prevent false alarms
  • Ensure employees know how to respond to a false fire alarm to minimise disruption to the business

Commenting on this research, Peter Martin operations director, fire & security at JLA said, “The events of the past year have understandably caused businesses attention to move on towards more ‘business-critical’ decisions. However, with a potential 18 months of fire safety complacency, the risks to businesses now, as staff and customers slowly start to return to sites, could be much worse than anticipated.

“Our survey revealed worrying statistics around businesses both not maintaining their fire safety equipment, or delivering vital fire safety training to their staff. This suggests that if a fire were to occur, many organisations could be placing their customers, and employees, under extreme risk.

“At a time when British businesses need the continued loyalty of their customers and staff, prioritising safety and reducing the risk of false fire alarms is a priority for every organisation. Ensuring fire alarms are being frequently tested and maintained is absolutely essential. Failing to do so could not only risk the lives of employees and customers but could leave the business facing extreme fines and a damaged reputation.”

For more information about JLA and the research findings and products which can help with fire safety, please visit https://jla.com/blog/fire-safety/a-third-of-uk-businesses-are-failing-to-test-their-fire-alarms-as-often-as-legally-required/

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Enter the BSIF Awards 2022 19/01/2022

THE BSIF Safety Awards 2022 are open for entry and winners will be announced at a live event in April.

The awards recognise excellence in Product Innovation, Customer Service and Safety Solution and have the key goal of improving occupational health and safety. Both BSIF members and non-members can enter the awards and the closing date for entries is 18 February. The 2022 awards categories are as follows:

BSIF Customer Service Award

An award for companies in the safety field offering exceptional and innovative service solutions. Voted for by the entrants' own customers.

BSIF Product Innovation Award

An award for products that are new and innovative and will contribute to improvements in occupational safety & health.

BSIF Safety Solution Award

Based upon case studies submitted by members, these awards recognise major improvements in occupational safety created in 2020/2021.

Winners will be announced as part of the The Safety & Health Excellence Awards evening on 6 April 2022 at the Vox in Birmingham.

For full details on how to enter, please visit www.bsif.co.uk/bsif-awards

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Workplace drug use on the rise 19/01/2022

WORKPLACE DRUG, alcohol, and Covid-19 testing provider AlphaBiolabs is advising employers on the importance of workplace drug testing after the number of drug tests returning positive rose by 54 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels.*

Among those drugs showing up in positive tests, the presence of opiates more than doubled.

While this could be attributed to an increase in prescribed painkillers, AlphaBiolabs could not rule out the possibility of a rise in painkiller misuse since the pandemic began.

Cocaine saw the second biggest rise, with positive cases up by 37 per cent, followed by cannabis which was up by 30 per cent.

Rachel Davenport, director at AlphaBiolabs said, “It has been widely reported that the pandemic has had a significant impact on people’s mental and physical wellbeing, leaving a lot of people feeling isolated, with some seemingly turning to illicit substances to cope.

“While many workplaces already have a drug and alcohol policy in place, an unfortunate consequence of the lockdowns and a rise in working from home is that a lot of people are not being tested and have instead been left to their own devices.

“Although we can’t say whether these individuals are using drugs recreationally, to alleviate pain, or whether they were already struggling with addiction prior to the pandemic, this shocking rise in the number of positive cases demonstrates the importance of workplace drug testing.

“Such policies are crucial for safeguarding employees – especially those in safety critical roles – and enabling businesses to provide the proper support they need.”

AlphaBiolabs works with businesses across the UK and Ireland, providing a range of drug and alcohol testing services, including random testing, pre-employment, post rehab and return to work testing. 

For more information, visit www.alphabiolabs.co.uk

*Source: All figures taken from AlphaBiolabs workplace testing data, workplace drug testing, 2019 and 2021.
All cases were recorded where an individual has returned a non-negative (positive) result from a urine testing pot. These results were subsequently tested at AlphaBiolabs’ UK laboratory, for accuracy.

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