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|Fall leaves grandad with life-changing brain injuries||06/12/2022|
THE WIFE of a man left severely disabled by a workplace accident says he is a “stranger in her husband’s body”.
Sue McFarlane’s partner John suffered life-changing brain injuries falling 2.5 metres from a delivery vehicle to a concrete floor at the vehicle parts company where he worked.
John, 57, a dad of four and grandfather of three, was in a coma for 24 days. He had a fractured skull, fractured ribs, a broken collar bone, and broken and dislocated fingers.
Sue is now John’s registered carer. He can never work or drive again and is classed as 80% disabled.
She spoke after Autoneum Great Britain Ltd, which employed John at its site in Stoke-on-Trent, was fined £30,000 over the accident on 5 June 2018.
Sue, 57, who lives with John in Newcastle-under-Lyme said, “Not only has the accident had a devastating impact on his life but a devastating effect on all those around him, none more than his children, stepchildren, grandchildren, the whole family.
“He will never be the John we all loved before this happened, just a shell of what he once was.”
Before John fell, he and a visiting driver had climbed on to the top deck of the delivery vehicle at the Autoneum site and were trying to move a pallet, which had moved while being transported, towards the open edge where it could be reached by a forklift truck.
The banding they were using to move the pallet by hand snapped and John fell to the concrete floor.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Britain workplace regulator, found that while a risk assessment was in place it was not suitable and sufficient and there was no safe system of work for unloading vehicles or dealing with pallets that had moved in transit.
Employees had not been adequately trained or instructed and supervision and monitoring was not adequate to identify the risk that existed.
Autoneum Great Britain Ltd, of Stanley Matthews Way, Trentham Lakes, Stoke on Trent Staffordshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at work etc Act 1974 and was fined £30,000 and ordered to pay £10,126 costs at Cannock Magistrates Court on December 2, 2022.
Sue said, “John has received life changing injuries from his workplace accident. He is not the man I married, but a stranger in my husband’s body.
“He set off for work for the day and didn’t come home for nine months, and even then it was to a different house as we had to move, as he couldn’t have managed the stairs in the old house.
“John was the nicest man. He had lots of patience, he’d give you anything and would do anything he could to help you. Now he has no patience at all, he’s grumpy all the time, and is obsessive about things.
“He is as good as he’s ever going to be, there’s nothing that can be done that’s going to bring him back. He doesn’t really understand what’s going on, he thinks that if he gives himself a smack on the head he’ll wake up.
“He can walk and he can talk, but it’s difficult. He doesn’t remember things. He has no short-term memory at all and has lost about 21 years of his memory.
“John doesn’t really understand what’s going on. It’s so hard for the whole family, for everyone. His sons have lost the man who was their dad.”
Falls from height caused the deaths of 174 workers over the past five years, representing 26% of all work-related fatalities.
Speaking after the hearing, HSE Acting Principal Inspector Andrew Johnson said: “Falls from height remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities in this country.
“The risks associated with working at height and safe systems of work to control the risks are well known.
“Employers have a responsibility to devise safe methods of work and to provide the necessary information, instruction, training and supervision to their employees and others working at their site.
“Had that been done, the life changing injuries Mr McFarlane has sustained could have been prevented.”
|£800k fine after employee suffers serious burns||07/12/2022|
A CHEMICALS company has been fined £800k after a worker suffered life-changing injuries in an explosion.
The employee of International Paint Limited spent eight days in intensive care on life support and has been left with all-over body scarring, partial blindness to one eye, hearing damage, and damage to a knee and shoulder.
He was off work for 16 months.
The explosion at the company’s premises in Gateshead on 4 August 2020 caused significant damage to the building.
The employee, who was 49 at the time and from South Shields, was making paint in a large mixing vessel, which involved the use of flammable liquids.
As he was emptying resin pellets from a large bulk bag into the vessel an electrostatic spark was generated, igniting flammable vapour within the vessel, causing a large explosion.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) identified that the company failed to put sufficient measures in place to control the risk.
This included a failure to use a correctly working extraction system to remove the flammable vapours and effective electrical earthing of the bulk bag to prevent the build-up of electrostatic charge that led to the static spark discharging.
International Paint Limited, of Stoneygate Lane, Gateshead pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and was fined £800,000 with £14,032 costs at Newcastle upon Tyne Magistrates’ Court on November 30, 2022.
HSE inspector Paul Wilson said, “This incident should serve as an important reminder to industry that fire and explosion can have devastating consequences.
“It is critical that employers fully assess the risk of fire and explosion including the risk from static discharges and put the necessary control measures in place.”
|A 365-day road safety campaign||07/12/2022|
NOVEMBER MARKED Brake's annual Road Safety Week – an annual event bringing together thousands of schools, businesses and communities UK-wide to share important road safety messages, and to remember those affected by road death or injury.
An important milestone though this was (and a campaign we wholeheartedly support), as a business that is geared towards saving lives, we believe road safety awareness needs to be viewed as a 365-day campaign to ensure we reduce the number of injuries and fatalities as we move into 2023.
The data supports the need for urgency. On UK roads in 2021 alone, 1,608 people were killed and 26,701 were seriously injured, highlighting how deaths and serious injuries have risen 15% on 2020, after falling during the pandemic lockdown. We have pulled together what we believe should be the three main pillars of your year-long road safety strategy for 2023 below.
Under a new reporting scheme, the Metropolitan Police force found that speeding should have been included as a contributory factor in almost half of all traffic accidents. Monitoring your speed should always be a priority when driving. Even a slight increase in speed could have major repercussions. An average speed increase of just a single mile per hour can increase crash frequency by 5%. The majority of drivers involved in these types of collisions are just normal people on normal journeys. That’s why it's important to always remember that your experiences whilst driving are no different to anyone else's. Whether you're running late or think you are safe on an open road, you should respect the laws of the road and avoid speeding whatever the circumstances.
Wear your seatbelt
Seatbelts are one of the simplest and most important features for protecting vehicle occupants, but some still choose not to wear them. In a crash, you are twice as likely to die if you are not wearing your seatbelt. You can also be fined up to £500 if caught not wearing a seatbelt. It’s worth bearing in mind that the same penalty applies too if you’re caught with a child under the age of 14 who isn’t sitting in the correct car seat.
Put down the mobile
Using your phone whilst driving in the UK is against the law because of the danger its distractions can cause. Nonetheless, people continue to do it every day, despite the fact that using your phone behind the wheel makes you four times as likely to crash. Driving is a complex task which requires your full attention. The primary impairment drivers face from using a phone behind the wheel is the mental distraction from the driving task. Research has shown that after using your phone, it can take half a minute to regain full attention, during which time your driving is impaired.
Throughout 2023, we will continue to spread awareness of the importance of road safety as part of our 365-day campaign. We hope you will join us.
For more information on the road safety charity Brake, please visit: https://www.brake.org.uk/
For more information about Drivetech, visit: www.drivetech.co.uk.
|ONS statistics show construction suicide increase||07/12/2022|
THE ONS has released the latest suicide statistics for England and Wales and the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity have shared what these figures mean for our construction community and what is being done to help address these shocking figures.
Since the Stevenson/Farmer report in 2017, the charity has been working with Professor Billy Hare at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) to analyse the number of suicides in construction occupations so they have a better understanding where to focus preventative measures to support the industry.
The number of suicides attributed to construction occupations in 2021 was 507, most of which are male (503). This figure constitutes a rise of 24 from the previous year and 25 more than the previous five year average and equates to 34 per 100,000 in employment. This is the highest rate since analysis of this data began at GCU.
The research identified that the number of suicides in construction rose from 26 to 34 per 100,000 in the seven years to 2021. It is often quoted that suicides within construction are three times that of the national industry average. Unfortunately, that figure is now nearer four times, meaning that workers in construction are nearly four times more likely to take their own lives compared to other sectors in 2021.
Professor Billy Hare of GCU said, “Whilst it is unwise to react to a single year’s figures, the long-term rate of suicides is regrettably on an upward trajectory for those working in the construction industry, despite all the good work being done in recent years. This means we need to dig deeper to find and address the true root causes, and take collective action sooner rather than later.”
Bill Hill, CEO of the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity said, “Over 87% of our construction workforce are male and over 50% of the sector is made up of self employed, agency staff or zero hour contract workers. Financial insecurity is a major factor for poor wellbeing in our workforce and the pandemic added greater anxiety and emotional burden. The industry and charities like ours have made huge strides in recognising and delivering programmes to improve wellbeing but the results from 2021 simply galvanise our resolve to do more. Our messages of support are not reaching the boots on the ground. We all have a moral responsibility and an economic imperative to work together to improve the wellbeing and welfare or our workers.”
The industry is doing more than ever to recognise and address this major issue and the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has asked the Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity and Mates In Mind Charity to work together to co-chair a major project to improve wellbeing and welfare within construction along with initiatives to accelerate universal culture change to reduce stigma, break down barriers and increase awareness of support services.
This major initiative called Make It Visible will look to unite the CITB, HSE, Supply Chain School, trade and professional bodies, clients and contractors to formulate and execute a plan of action with key deliverables and measurement to drive the change necessary to improve the wellbeing of our workforce and ultimately reduce the suicides in our industry.
In January 2023 the industry will be invited to a presentation of a study conducted by GCU looking at all the research and industry best practice on wellbeing over the last two years. The participants will be asked to vote on the priorities for the Make It Visible initiative to work on.
Sarah Meek, Managing Director of Mates in Mind said, “These latest statistics demonstrate that we need to do more as an industry to prevent people reaching the point of crisis, by addressing the causes that negatively impact on one’s mental health and thereby reduce the need for safety nets. There is much that we can do around prevention and employers should be encouraged to view their responsibility around this across their total workforce including their supply chain who, from our research earlier this year, have shown to be working with severe levels of anxiety. With positive moves already beginning which sees mental health starting to feature in frameworks, we must continue building on this and encourage conversations around how contracts are both procured and awarded to address some of the factors that can have such a detrimental effect.”
|Engineer jailed for illegal gas work||05/12/2022|
A PLUMBING and heating engineer has been jailed for 20 weeks after carrying out illegal gas work.
Peter Read, who traded as A.C.E Plumbing and Heating in Portsmouth, was contracted to install a new gas central heating boiler for a customer in January 2020.
A few days later the customer experienced problems with the boiler. On inspection by an engineer on the Gas Safe Register, the installation did not meet current standards. Further repair work was then required by a Gas Safe Registered engineer to ensure that the installation was in a safe condition.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found Peter Read was not competent to carry out gas work and not on the Gas Safe Register at the time he carried out this work. Mr Read had previously been prosecuted by the HSE in April 2016 and had been found guilty of carrying out unregistered gas work. He was fully aware of his legal responsibilities when carrying out gas work.
Peter Read of Seafield Road, Portsmouth, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3(1) and 3(3) of the Gas Safety Installation and Use Regulations 1998 and section 22 of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was handed a custodial sentence of 20 weeks at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court on 2 December 2022.
HSE Inspector Karen Morris said, “Peter Read continued to carry out gas work while he was not competent to do so and while not Gas Safe Registered.
“He has shown a blatant disregard for the law and continues to put people at risk despite previous enforcement against him by the HSE. His actions have not only caused considerable stress for the customers concerned but have also resulted in additional financial outlay required to put right his poor-quality work.
“I would like to take this opportunity to remind anyone who needs gas work doing to make sure they check that the engineer has the right skills and is registered with Gas Safe Register. This is very easy to do and by law, anyone working with gas must be listed on the register.”
|Research paints gloomy picture of UK workplace||05/12/2022|
THE INSTITUTION of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has urged UK businesses to take better care of their workforce, or risk greater uncertainty.
New research commissioned by IOSH paints a gloomy picture of the UK workplace as a demotivated world of insecurity and weak identity, dogged by a prevailing sense of workers being undervalued.
The research shines a light on an environment where the main emotion is one of existing rather than thriving, where feelings of vulnerability, both in terms of job prosperity and risks to personal health and safety, hide behind a protective workers’ shield of reserved loyalty, rationed commitment and resisted teamwork.
Nearly half of respondents don’t believe their employer has their health and safety in mind, while four in ten don’t agree their work is supportive of their physical and mental wellbeing. At a time when many are feeling the pinch of the cost-of-living crisis, a quarter of employees don’t believe their job is secure, with only a third saying their employer would support them if their job were under threat.
IOSH says the figures are “a huge wake-up call” for bosses. It believes there is likely to be a link between how workers sense they are being treated and their feelings towards their employer, with only two in five giving their best at work and only half feeling loyalty towards them.
Ruth Wilkinson, head of health and safety for IOSH said, “Businesses need to sit up and take notice. They cannot afford to ignore the results of this survey. It is a huge wake-up call for them; the findings lay out the way the UK’s workforce is feeling right now.
“Businesses need to ensure they are putting their people first and they need to be seen to be doing so. Clearly, many workers don’t believe this is happening in their roles. And there is a clear correlation between employees feeling they aren’t looked after at work and them not giving their best or feeling loyalty toward their employers.”
Key findings from the report, completed last month, showed that:
Yet business leaders and managers, according to the research, see things differently:
The research also showed a disappointingly low degree of self-worth and motivation amongst UK workers:
IOSH launched its Catch the Wave campaign last year to demonstrate the link between social sustainability and occupational safety and health. It called on business to put people alongside planet and profit, citing the fact there is more scrutiny than ever on how they treat workers.
As part of this drive, IOSH commissioned the survey of 2,152 workers. It also surveyed 992 managers (made up of line managers and senior leaders) to judge if some of the workers’ feelings aligned with their beliefs.
Ruth added: “In this period of major uncertainty, now is the time for employers to step up and demonstrate that looking after their workers is key to their business, showing they value them and the work they do. Failure to do so will have a significant impact on how sustainable a business is.
“Organisations cannot be sustained in the current world of work without committing to protecting the safety, health and wellbeing of their most vital resource: their workers. Socially sustainable organisations are those that recognise the value of their workers, treat them as an asset and invest in them.
“The health and safety profession can help businesses to address these concerns, since social sustainability is unequivocally intertwined with occupational safety and health. What we are saying is that by viewing everything you do through an occupational safety and health lens you can go a long way to ensuring you are a socially sustainable business.
“Through such a lens, you can work towards preventing any hint of modern slavery in your business and supply chain. You can also manage the risks to the mental health and wellbeing of your workforce, ensuring parity between mental and physical health. By investing in your people, for their future and your business’s, you can retain the best talent and ensure your business has the resilience to thrive.”
To find out how health and safety can help businesses develop their social sustainability, go to the free IOSH Catch the Wave ebook
|Driver wellbeing vital for road safety||05/12/2022|
WITH PROFESSIONAL drivers under pressure during the Black Friday to Christmas peak, driver training specialist, Drivetech, part of the AA, is urging businesses and operators to pay particular attention to the mental health and wellbeing of their drivers over this busy time.
About 30% of all miles driven on UK’s roads are by at-work vehicles, which is why the transport sector in particular is one of the most heavily regulated industries. With ever-increasing demands on driver time, mental health and wellbeing increasingly play a vital role in professional driver behaviour.
According to the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) almost one in ten bus driver positions are vacant in the UK, driving the drop in the number of services, and prompting calls to improve pay and conditions. Often professional drivers are subject to low pay, long hours and shift patterns that disrupt sleep and can potentially lead to exhaustion.
Similarly, lorry driving presents unique challenges to both HGV drivers and other road users. They are larger and offer less manoeuvrability, experience bigger blind spots and can also carry dangerous or hazardous loads, making driving safely even more stressful.
Drivetech's product manager Dave Wales explains, “Basics such as timely breaks, healthy food and hydration all influence wellbeing, but when it comes to professional drivers, addressing these needs can be complex. Employers should already be scheduling journeys to take these factors into account, but these need to be flexible to take account of potential disruptions to journeys that can be driven by external factors, such as incidents, weather conditions, roadworks, vehicle faults and seasonality. Good time management can be critical in helping drivers to manage stress.
“Personalities and experience will also impact on driver stress levels What attitudes do drivers have to risk? How will they respond to disruption? And how do their confidence levels impact on handling different scenarios? Employers can address these issues by securing bespoke driver training to drill down into potential issues. Such training has an important role to play in helping drivers to understand how their emotions influence their behaviour, the actions they can take to manage stressful situations and how their attitude to risk impacts how they handle safety, especially if time is a factor.”
|Failure to provide information lands fine||30/11/2022|
LEASEHOLDER ABDUL Miah of Misbah Tandoori was ordered to pay the sum of £3,021 for failing to respond to information requests made by South Wales Fire and Rescue Authority (SWFRA) relating to breaches of fire safety within the property.
In June 2021, Business Fire Safety Officers from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (SWFRS) conducted an inspection at Misbah Tandoori Restaurant 9 Priory Street Monmouth NP25 3BR. The inspection identified inadequate fire safety provisions at the premises which resulted in an Enforcement Notice being issued under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 detailing the necessary remedial work required to make the premises safe.
An investigation was undertaken by officers of SWFRS’ Compliance Team where Mr. Miah was identified as the leaseholder of the premises. Throughout the investigation, requests were made for information relating to the fire safety provisions within the premises. These requests were continually ignored and SWFRA had no option but to pursue the matter through the courts.
Mr Miah was subsequently summoned to attend Cwmbran Magistrates Court on 24 November 2022. Mr. Miah pleaded guilty to three offences under Article 27 of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and was fined a total of £3,021 including costs.
This fine could have been avoided if Mr. Miah had simply responded with the required information. The investigation into the fire safety contraventions is still ongoing.
Head of business fire safety for South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, group manager St. John Towell said, “Our role is to enforce fire safety legislation in premises that fall within the scope of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and ensure that these premises are safe. We do this by working with businesses across South Wales to support them to protect their business from risk. In this instance, we went out of our way to seek out basic information to enable us to follow legal protocols.
The court viewed this matter to be so serious that they imposed the fine. As you can see in this case, the fines and costs received are solely attributed to the failure to provide information. This is a clear message to members of the business community that they need to respond to formal requests made by fire and rescue services.”
|Report highlights extent of asbestos remediation work||01/12/2022|
EXTENSIVE ASBESTOS remediation work is still needed on more than 100,000 UK buildings, according to a new report from the Asbestos Testing and Consultancy (ATaC) Association and the National Organisation of Asbestos Consultants (NORAC).
The research suggests that the data represents a "best-case scenario" as it was provided by inspectors engaged by clients that were “compliance-conscious and aware of the regulatory requirements”. In the UK, asbestos-related diseases take the lives of 20 tradespeople every week. Left alone, the material is not harmful, but once disturbed or disintegrating, it can release asbestos fibres that infiltrate and progressively damage the lungs. The damage results in multiple health defects, such as the lung disease mesothelioma — a cancer that can take up to 20 years to develop, proving fatal within five years or less.
As the latest report reveals how widespread asbestos still is, industry experts are growing increasingly concerned about the impact of energy renovations, since asbestos present in buildings could be released during renovation works planned to make homes more energy-efficient.
The European Green Deal strategy aims to double the rate of energy renovations by 2030 to tackle energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, but many buildings with a poor energy performance were constructed using asbestos. Accelerating the building renovation rate could significantly increase the number of people exposed to asbestos-related health risks, since asbestos present in buildings could be released during renovation works. As a result, the European Commission estimates that the number of workers at risk will increase by 4% every year for the next decade.
Current data in the UK indicates that the risk of a fatal asbestos-related cancer is greatest among construction and engineering workers and the green renovation could make these trades even more vulnerable. However, asbestos does not only pose a threat to trade workers, but those they encounter, should invisible yet lethal asbestos particles stick to their personal protective equipment and tools. To help save lives while building a greener future, it’s vital that more people understand how to maximise asbestos monitoring accuracy to minimise risks.
Industry expert, Tim Turney at occupational hygiene and workplace hazard monitoring expert Casella, shares best practice advice on asbestos monitoring, "Whenever asbestos is found and needs to be removed, it is a legal requirement to use licenced contractors and to ensure that strict regulations and guidance are followed to limit the potential release of dangerous, airborne fibres. The guidance typically includes personal air sampling and/or static air sampling, to ensure that there is no exposure during remediation work or during the cleaning and clearance processes at a removal site. However, discrepancies in sampling and analysis procedures, limitations in personal protective clothing and insufficient cleaning before a clearance pass can hinder accuracy and increase risks."
"In the UK, a four-stage clearance process is used, involving a preliminary check of the site condition and job completeness, a thorough visual inspection inside the enclosure or work area, air monitoring and a final assessment of the post-enclosure or work area following dismantling. Licenced contractors may also take air samples before work is undertaken to establish a background level measurement. Conducting a test before disturbing any materials could save thousands of pounds on decontamination and environmental cleaning fees and help to avoid exposure. Additionally, trained professionals may take air samples during work on or near asbestos to confirm that there is no leakage from the enclosure. Using remote methods to support sampling, such as Bluetooth and a mobile ‘phone app, will help to protect personal exposure safety while gathering the necessary measurements."
"Air sampling pumps should be used for at least one hour after ensuring that equipment meets the relevant standard(s) and has the required flow-range capability, for example, at 12 L/min the required 480L sample can be completed in 40 minutes. Modern pumps can do timed or volume-based runs to achieve better result accuracy. However, reading the manufacturer’s handbook thoroughly before using the equipment can ensure correct use and allow for optimal feature use."
"Ensuring air sampling equipment has an accurate flow rate to ensure flow is stable over the measurement will prevent measurements having to be repeated. Additionally, selecting an air sampling pump that has a good Ingress Protection (IP) rating will allow for easier decontamination, a process nearly as important as removing asbestos correctly in the first place."
"Following stringent cleaning regimes can protect workers and their colleagues, family, and friends. All equipment must be thoroughly decontaminated to ensure there is no subsequent exposure or spread of asbestos. Choosing a high flow pump with a smooth body finish, free from small crevices, will allow for safer decontamination and cleaning. Modern air sampling pumps can also be monitored remotely with Bluetooth via a mobile’ app to check the sampling status, saving time checking pumps."
"Asbestos monitoring has the power to save lives, but only when carried out correctly. Basic awareness training is not enough. Additional consultancy and training should always be acquired before carrying out asbestos removal to achieve the required level of competence and help keep more workers safe."
|Firm and director prosecuted after labourer crushed||30/11/2022|
A DEMOLITION firm has been fined and one of its directors ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work after a 20-year-old worker was crushed.
Ace Demolition Services Ltd had been contracted by Southend Borough Council to demolish Futures Community College, in Southchurch Boulevard, Southend-on-Sea.
Shannon Brasier, who was 20 years old at the time, was working with a colleague to load a fuel hose into the rear compartment of a 21-tonne excavator, when the excavator moved round and crushed her between the excavator and a mobile fuel tank.
Ms Brasier, from Dagenham, suffered life-changing injuries, including to her neck, skull and face, which she was fortunate to survive.
An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Ace Demolition Services Ltd failed to implement suitable controls to segregate pedestrians and construction plant, allowed two pairs of keys to be used during the refuelling process and allowed operatives to act as signallers/banksman for the excavator without having received adequate training.
A director, John Gilligan, was responsible for supervising the refuelling and drove the excavator before the refuelling was complete.
The incident happened on 28 July 2020.
Ace Demolition Services Ltd and John Gilligan, of Fox Burrows Lane, Writtle, Chelmsford pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) and 37(1) of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.
Ace Demolition Services Ltd was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay costs of £9,731 at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on 24 November 2022. John Gilligan was given a 12-month community order with a requirement to undertake 250 hours of unpaid work.
HSE inspector David Tonge said, “This incident could have so easily been avoided. While there were a number of shortfalls, this incident ultimately occurred due a failure to keep the workers away from the excavator.
“Duty holders must ensure that individuals are segregated from vehicles and construction machinery.”