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True impact of working from home revealed 03/03/2021

PEOPLE WORKING from home during the pandemic are experiencing higher levels of stress and withholding mental health conditions from their employer, for fear of a negative impact on career progression, according to a new health and safety at work report by Lloyd’s Register.

The global safety assurance specialist surveyed 5,500 individuals across 11 countries to understand the impact of changing working conditions caused by Covid-19. The report ‘Employee well-being during a pandemic’, finds that 69% of employees globally report higher levels of work-related stress while working from home, driven by increased workloads and changes to working patterns to meet resource demands.

According to the report, employees also have major concerns disclosing mental health conditions. Worldwide, 48% felt it could have a negative impact on career progression, with 19% unsure. Incredibly, one in four of those surveyed said that nothing had been done by their employer to provide additional support in terms of mental health and well-being. Perhaps most concerning of all, 58% had felt pressured to return to the office, despite not feeling ready.

Despite these results, working from home has led to an improved work-life balance for more than half (52%) of the respondents. However, 22% felt they are working longer hours than before, 17% feel more isolated from their colleagues and 9% are more anxious. 

James Pomeroy, director of quality, health, environment and safety at Lloyd’s Register said, “The results concern businesses right around the world and show that more needs to be done to tackle this stigma in working environments. Managers should lead by example and talk about their own experiences inside and outside work. By talking and sharing their own concerns and worries, leaders open the door for others to speak about their day-to-day challenges. Creating a safe and inclusive environment will help alleviate concerns that poor mental health will impact job progression.”

The data shows that UK employees were notably reluctant to share mental health concerns – nearly one in four (23%) feel unable to talk to anyone at work about their concerns – with only France recording a higher figure. Sharing concerns with colleagues at work seems particularly difficult for UK employees – just one in three felt they would be able to talk to a peer at the same level.  

The global data suggests that a focus on physical safety may have come at the cost of overlooking mental well-being.  Over half (52%) of those surveyed felt that their employer places more emphasis on physical safety. However, organisations do appear to be communicating effectively. More than 80% of those asked said they felt ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ informed by their employer, while 74% said they had been directly consulted when changes to the way they work had been implemented.

James added, “Many organisations around the world pride themselves on inclusivity and diversity. Now is the time to include mental health as part of this and embracing inclusivity in this way will help revolutionise the way we view well-being in the workplace. This is critical because the pandemic has demonstrated that the health of the workforce is the health of a business.”

The health and safety at work report offers insight, guidance and advice to businesses, with occupational health and safety management system standard ISO 45001 as well as guidance documents ISO/FDIS 45003 and ISO/PAS 45005 cited as examples in the report to help organisations support staff and promote effective management of occupational health and safety in the workplace.

For more information – and to download a copy of the full health and safety report – please visit https://www.lr.org/en-gb/resources/health-safety-at-work-map/

The total sample was 5,500 people across 11 countries in December 2020. Respondents were based in Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, UAE, UK and USA, with 500 respondents from each country.

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£100k fine after employee severed fingers 03/03/2021

A LIVESTOCK feed manufacturer has been fined after an employee’s fingers were severed by machinery at a Carlisle feed mill.

Carlisle Magistrates’ Court heard how on 11 February 2019, a maintenance engineer was clearing rainwater in the pit when his gloved hand contacted the chain drive of a conveyor. The chain dragged his fingers into the nip where the chain winds around a sprocket severing the ends of three fingers on his right hand.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the company had failed to ensure the guard was on the chain drive. It had not been in place for some months and a further opportunity was subsequently missed to replace it following a breakdown repair, carried out on the conveyor five days prior to the incident. 

NWF Agriculture Ltd of Nantwich, Cheshire pleaded guilty to a breach of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 11(1). The company was fined £100,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,098.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Matthew Tinsley said: “This incident could so easily have been avoided had checks been carried out to ensure control measures were in place and safe working practices followed.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

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Roofing company fined after worker's fatal fall 03/03/2021

A roofing company has been fined £165,000 after an employee fell through an industrial roof light, sustaining fatal injuries.

Basildon Crown Court heard how on 25 February 2018, Jonathan Moore an employee of R4 Industrial Roofing Cladding Systems Ltd was undertaking repairs on a large warehouse roof in the Port of Tilbury when he stepped on a fragile rooflight, which gave way. He fell more than 10 metres to the concrete floor below sustaining fatal injuries. 

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the repair work was carried out without appropriate safety precautions in place. The planning and supervision of the work was completely inadequate, which also put a self-employed worker assisting with the repairs at risk.

R4 Industrial Roofing Cladding Systems Ltd of Friern Gardens, Wickford, Essex pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They were fined £165,000 and ordered to pay costs of £20,957.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Glyn Davies 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.

“Companies should be aware that unsafe work at height without suitable and sufficient controls in place is not acceptable and HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standard.”

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£140,000 fine for preventable fall from height 03/03/2021

COUNTRY STYLE Foods has been sentenced for safety breaches after a worker was impaled upon a set of ‘airline’ style steps.

Leeds Magistrates’ Court heard that on 18 September 2017, the employee was working at height on a set of steps to reach and clean the top oven in a stack of horizontal ovens. He slipped whilst on the working platform of these steps and became impaled upon a section of the handrail. He suffered a torn artery and nerve damage resulting in hospitalisation for several days.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the steps had been adapted for a different task, which created an additional risk when used for this work. Whilst a scissor lift was present on the site, the employee involved was not trained in its use.

Country Style Foods Ltd of Pontefract Lane, Leeds pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2 (1) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company has been fined £140,000 and ordered to pay £11,589 in costs. 

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Darian Dundas said, “The company failed to appropriately plan and supervise work at height leading to it being undertaken using a set of steps, which were inappropriate for the task.

“This incident was easily preventable, and the risk should have been more clearly identified and appropriately addressed. HSE will not hesitate to prosecute companies that fail to implement safe systems of work.”

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Dangerous ladders seized at port 03/03/2021

THE TEAM at Test & Research Centre, the not-for-profit testing facility for work at height equipment, was asked to examine a suspicious shipment of ladders intercepted by Trading Standards at the Port of Felixtowe in February 2021 and were shocked at how dangerous these products turned out to be.

The ladders were a type of telescopic standing ladder - ones that can be used in standing mode (like a step ladder) or leaning ladder mode (like an extension ladder). They were labelled 'EN 131', implying that they complied with the European standard for ladders.

However, missing contact details, product codes and manufacture dates, plus the presence of an illegal 'CE' mark, raised suspicions with Suffolk County Council Trading Standards.

Within a few days, the ladder was in the test lab at Test & Research Centre undergoing an assessment.

There's a whole range of tests a ladder must pass before it can be labelled 'EN 131', including strength tests, slip tests and cyclic tests of the joints and connections. There are also specific requirements for materials and dimensions. This gives consumers confidence that their ladder meets basic safety standards.

The ladders in this shipment might have been labelled 'EN 131' but as Test & Research Centre were about to prove, they would fail many of the standard's safety-critical tests in spectacular fashion.

Their testing found:

  • The base width was too small, making it unstable
  • The rung spacing was inconsistent, making falls more likely
  • No slip-resistant surface on half the rungs
  • It bent under pressure, up to 4x greater than the limit - you expect a ladder to be rigid and inflexible, but this was the opposite!
  • Mandatory safety markings and information were missing
  • The rungs could easily be pulled out of the stile - a most worrying finding, as it means the rung could collapse from under you
  • One stile cracked during the lightest load testing - a serious structural failure that put a halt to further testing

Due to the diligence of Trading Standards Officers at the Port of Felixstowe, 100 dangerous ladders were seized for further investigation. With the Test & Research Centre’s help, testing proved that those suspicions were correct and they were right to prevent them from entering the UK.

Graham Crisp, head of Suffolk County Council's Trading Standards said, “Our Imports Surveillance Team at the Port of Felixstowe is funded by the Office for Product Safety and Standards, and its role is to protect consumers from unsafe and dangerous goods, just like these ladders.

“We stop these products reaching our shops or online marketplaces so that members of the public don’t even get the chance to buy them. We will physically check consignments at the port, and detain anything which is unsafe or dangerous. The whole process is a great team effort, from the intelligence we receive about consignments arriving at the port, through to having the items tested.

“When you’re shopping online, it is tempting to pick up those amazing deals that you see on social media or in online marketplaces. But if a price looks too good to be true, there’s usually a reason why. We encourage people to only make purchases from reputable retailers and to check the product for conformity to standards – if these marks are missing, the product hasn’t been tested to ensure it complies with the necessary safety requirements and could be a serious risk.”

John Darby, general manager of Test & Research Centre commented, “These are quite possibly the most dangerous ladders I have ever come across. The poor connections between the rung and stile are the most troubling. I have no doubt that in use these could have failed.

"And sadly, it’s not a case that only in a ‘certain scenario’ these could have failed – the connection is so poor it’s highly likely to fail during normal use. There were 100 dangerous ladders in that shipment and each of these was a fall from height waiting to happen.”

Gail Hounslea, chair of the Ladder Association added, "The condition of these ladders was truly shocking. Consumers have every right to expect the ladder they're buying to be safe, but this case reminds us that unscrupulous suppliers are still trying to sneak dangerous products into unsuspecting UK homes and workplaces. If you're purchasing a ladder, please be vigilant. Source ladders from reputable suppliers who put your safety first - any Ladder Association member is a fantastic place to start - and ask to see proof of certification to BS EN 131."

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Waste and recycling company fined for failings 01/03/2021

A SOUTHPORT waste and recycling company has been fined after an employee sustained serious injuries to his arm when it became entangled in the automatic roof sheeting mechanism of a visiting articulated truck.

Liverpool Magistrates’ Court heard how, on 24 April 2019, the 22-year-old labourer had been working at Johnsons Scrap Metal Limited, assisting in loading a 44 tonne articulated third party vehicle with waste wood. He climbed onto the truck and while standing on the load, he manually levelled some wood that had prevented the automatic roof sheet from completely covering the load. As he was climbing back over the load to get down from the truck, the automatic sheeting device was inadvertently activated, trapping  the worker’s arm in the mechanism, resulting in injuries that included a broken arm, that later needed surgery to put two metal plates in place, and tendon damage.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Johnsons Scrap Metal Limited failed to assess the risks in relation to vehicles visiting the site and to take effective measures to prevent employees from accessing third party vehicles.  The company did not provide adequate information, instruction, training and supervision to employees and failed to implement risk control measures to ensure their safety when dealing with third party vehicles.

Johnsons Scrap Metal Limited of Crowland Street, Southport, Merseyside, pleaded guilty to breaching section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. The company was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,000.

HSE inspector Emily Osborne said after the hearing, “This incident and the resulting injury was entirely preventable had the risk in relation to visiting vehicles been assessed and suitable control measures put in place.  Those in control of a workplace have a responsibility to identify and devise safe methods of working, and to provide the necessary information, instruction and training to their workers.”

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HSE seeks experts to join RISEP 03/03/2021

THE HEALTH and Safety Executive (HSE) is seeking scientific and technical experts in chemical risk assessment and socioeconomic analysis to join its new multidisciplinary REACH Independent Scientific Expert Pool (RISEP).

The EU REACH Regulation has been brought into UK law under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals), and related legislation, has been replicated in the UK with the necessary changes to make it operable in a domestic context.

The key principles of the EU REACH Regulation have been retained and this regime is now in operation and is known as UK REACH.  HSE is responsible for operating the Agency function under UK REACH.

RISEP is being established to provide the Agency with independent scientific expert advice and scrutiny regarding the safety of chemicals and possible regulatory action under UK REACH.

RISEP experts will help to ensure that the regulation of chemicals under UK REACH continues to be informed by the best independent scientific advice.

Dr Richard Daniels, director of Chemicals Regulation Division at HSE said, “This is an exciting opportunity to be actively involved in the provision of scientific advice and expertise in the regulation and management of chemicals under UK REACH.

“RISEP is not a Scientific Advisory Committee but is being established as a pool of individual experts to support the Agency in developing its scientific opinions by providing independent challenge, as well as supplementary experience, knowledge and skills.

“We are now seeking experts to provide scientific advice in the assessment of human health and environmental risk, the assessment of socioeconomic impacts, as well as the technical and economic feasibility of alternatives.

“Together with scientific experts from the Health and Safety Executive and other government agencies, experts from RISEP will help to prepare and review the scientific opinions of the Agency, primarily for UK REACH restrictions and applications for authorisation. Please get in touch and apply for the role if this is something you would like to be part of.”

Experts are required from the following scientific fields:

  • Environmental risk assessment;
  • Human health toxicology;
  • Human health exposure and control;
  • Chemistry/regulatory science;
  • Economics/impact assessment.

Further information on the roles and how to apply can be found at  REACH Independent Scientific Expert Pool (RISEP) – HSE Careers

Additionally, HSE is also consulting on the statement on independent scientific knowledge and advice (ISA) and transparency which will close on 10 March, this can be found here https://www.hse.gov.uk/reach/brexit.htm

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Demolition work disturbance lands fine 01/03/2021

A NORTH west contractor has been sentenced after disturbing asbestos during demolition works and damaging underground cables that resulted in severe disruption to services.

Blackpool Magistrates’ Court heard how Peter Walling’s company had been contracted to demolish a former medical centre in Blackburn and clear the land ready for development. Between 15 November and 6 December 2018, four separate incidents occurred on site when an excavator operated by Mr Walling, caused damage to underground cables and a sub-station which caused loss of electricity supplies to the local area and repair costs to the electricity supplier of £49,000. In addition to this, Mr Walling removed asbestos containing materials prior to an asbestos survey taking place, potentially exposing workers to asbestos.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Mr Walling did not ensure all services had been disconnected prior to starting work. He had ignored warnings from Electricity North West to stop work when low voltage cables were first dug up by the excavator, causing damage to the live substation, and only stopped working in a dangerous area when the police attended the scene. Mr Walling did not implement a safe system of work when operating near to underground cables and failed to ensure that workers on site were not exposed to asbestos.

Peter Andrew Walling of Arley Rise, Mellor, Blackburn pleaded guilty to breaching Section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. He was sentenced to 200 hours unpaid work and received a ten-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months and was ordered to pay costs of £7,000.

HSE inspector Christine McGlynn said after the hearing: “These incidents could so easily have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.  Mr Walling recklessly failed to heed warnings and advice and put not only himself but also others on site at risk of electrocution and risk of exposure to asbestos containing materials.

“Contractors should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

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HSE's Hydrogen digital conference starts tomorrow 01/03/2021

THE HEALTH and Safety Executive, in association with Health and Safety Matters, is hosting a free to attend digital conference on 2-4 March 2021 entitled ‘Safe Net Zero 2021 – Hydrogen’.

Organised by HSE Training and Events, ‘Safe Net Zero 2021 – Hydrogen’ is an online conference, running over 3 consecutive mornings and looking at the evolving work that is helping to deploy hydrogen as an energy vector as part of the UK’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions and become ‘net zero’ by 2050. All attendees will receive CPD points for attending, which is awarded by the Institute of Fire Safety Managers.

Formerly run under the banner ‘the Future of Gas’, the conference has been renamed to reflect the pace of change within the industry and the fact that the deployment of many projects and demonstrations is no longer a thing of the future.

With the announcement of the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan, the publication of the BEIS energy white paper and the advent of #COP26, decarbonisation is happening right now and there has never been more to discuss and learn.

The conference is the perfect round up of all the key activity happening in this space. As you’d expect from HSE, ‘Safe Net Zero 2021 – Hydrogen’ will pay particular attention to safety, with an agenda focusing on three key themes:

2 March - Policies, Standards and Skills
3 March - Foundations and Infrastructure
4 March - Advances in Use and Applications 

Join us online for what promises to be 3 mornings of valuable insight, learning, discussion and networking.

‘Safe Net Zero 2021 – Hydrogen’ is free to attend – You can register at https://safenetzero.evessiocloud.com/live/en/page/home

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Employee suffers multiple fractures at metal supplier 01/03/2021

A METAL supplier has been fined after an employee suffered multiple fractures to the hand and wrist when he was polishing a metal bar with a manual metalworking lathe.

Birmingham Crown Court heard that, on 27 January 2019, an employee working for Timet UK Limited at Holdford Road, Witton, was using a manual metalworking lathe to polish a metal bar when the emery cloth, which he applied by hand, snagged causing his right hand to be pulled underneath the rotating bar. This resulted in a fracture to his right wrist and two fractures to his right hand

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Timet UK Limited failed to implement a system of work which is safe for the use of manual metal working lathes to refurbish, polish and deburr parts. Timet UK Limited also failed to ensure that employees received adequate training in the use of the lathe, as well as adequate supervision.

Timet UK Limited of Witton, Birmingham pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and were fined £375,000 and ordered to pay costs of £16,622.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspection Karen Sweeney said, “This highlights how employers should ensure they have a safe system of work in place for the operation of all machinery and ensure that adequate information, instruction and training is provided to all who use it.”

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