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MBE for IOSH member behind firefighter fatality guidance 13/06/2019

AN IOSH member who developed guidance for fire service employees dealing with firefighter fatalities has been awarded an MBE.

Veronica Adlam was prompted to write Death in the Workplace Guidance after investigating a tower block fire at Harrow Court in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, which killed two firefighters and a member of the public.

The health and safety manager at Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) felt there was a gap in support for health and safety professionals and other employees in fire services facing the loss of colleagues in tragic circumstances.

Her guidance was initially shared with colleagues in other nearby fire services before being rolled out and published as national guidance in May 2013.

Veronica’s name was included in the list of MBE recipients in The Queen’s Birthday Honours, published last week, though she was informed about the award last month.

She said: “I was astonished, but I feel incredibly privileged and humbled to accept this accolade for ‘services to firefighter safety’.”

Veronica joined Hertfordshire FRS in July 2000 as its first non-uniformed health and safety advisor. She progressed to become health and safety manager while also becoming a Chartered Member of IOSH in November 2005.

As well as the Harrow Court fire in February 2005, she has taken part in many other investigations into serious fires. She says her number one priority has always been improving working conditions for firefighters.

She said: “In June 2007, a fire officer was killed whilst attending a minor car fire on the A1(M) and I worked with a senior officer on the internal accident investigation. I have also provided peer support for a number of colleagues across the country in various fire and rescue services involved in serious and fatal safety event investigations. I continue to support, and be supported by, regional colleagues.

“Following the Harrow Court investigation, having learned a lot from the experience, I felt there was a gap in direction for professionals in my position and for fire services who may experience firefighter fatalities. So, during 2006 I drew up internal guidance and procedures for investigating fatal safety events.

“The guidance is now undergoing a review, but I am proud to say I was the initiator of this document as a useful ‘hand-book’ for fire and rescue service colleagues.”

Veronica was also involved in the development of another publication by the Chief Fire Officers Association, called Health, Safety and Welfare Framework for the Operational Environment.

Meanwhile, Liz Darlison, director of services at Mesothelioma UK, a supporter of IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign, has also been awarded an MBE. Liz has been given the honour for services to cancer research and patients.

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Rail occupational health figures 'wake-up' call 13/06/2019

THE RAIL industry needs to do more to protect workers from serious occupational and mental health issues, an experienced health and safety professional has warned.

IOSH Railway Group member Keith Morey believes recently-published figures from the UK’s Office of Road and Rail (ORR) are a “wake-up call” for the industry.

There were 91 reported cases of hand arm vibration syndrome in 2018-19, according to the new data. Since 2010, there have been 662 reports of the debilitating condition, caused by the repeated use of hand-held vibrating tools.

The figures also highlighted the fact that there were 483 injuries relating to manual handling – 157 of which led to employees needing time off work – while there were 1,054 cases of shock/trauma, relating to someone who has tried to commit suicide or has been affected by someone who has attempted it.

Mr Morey said that while there has been a recognition from the industry of the need to prioritise occupational and mental health – including the launch of a five-year project to encourage staff in the industry to donate time to support the Samaritans – more needs to be done.

He said: “These figures are a wake-up call. For some time, we have been focusing on occupational health and mental health, but clearly there remain significant issues so we must continue to strive for improvement.

“It is clear where the major issues are. We have to look at why there are still a large number of shock/trauma cases as well as injuries caused by manual handling.

“In terms of occupational health, anyone who suffers from HAVS will tell you how much of an impact it has on their life. It is unacceptable that people are suffering when it is entirely preventable. As an industry, we need to ensure that proper controls are in place to prevent people from suffering the terrible effects of HAVS.”

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3M to sell gas and flame detection business 12/06/2019

3M HAS announced it has received a binding offer from Teledyne Technologies Incorporated, to purchase 3M’s gas and flame detection business for $230 million, subject to closing and other adjustments.

Teledyne is a leading provider of sophisticated instrumentation, digital imaging products and software, aerospace and defense electronics, and engineered systems. The gas and flame detection business is part of 3M’s Personal Safety Division.

The business is a leader in fixed and portable gas and flame detection with products sold under the Oldham, GMI, Detcon, Simtronics and Scott Safety brand names. 3M will retain the Scott Safety brand name, which is not included in the transaction. 3M’s gas and flame detection business has annual global sales of approximately $120 million.

“After completing a thorough strategic review, we plan to divest the gas and flame detection business to focus on the other businesses within our personal safety portfolio,” said Bernard Cicut, vice president, Personal Safety Division. “Our employees have done an outstanding job and we thank them for their dedication to this business.”

3M’s Personal Safety Division is focused on applying 3M science to improve the health, safety and productivity of workers all over the world. The business is a global leader in providing Personal Protective Equipment and solutions to a wide array of industries including manufacturing, construction, oil and gas, mining, utilities, defense, healthcare, and the fire service. 3M Personal Safety offers an extensive product line which includes respirators, self-contained breathing apparatus, hearing protection, fall protection, reflective materials and head, eye, and face protection.

Approximately 500 employees who primarily support the gas and flame detection business are expected to join Teledyne upon completion of the sale.

The transaction is expected to be completed in the second half of 2019, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, while 3M’s acceptance of the binding offer is subject to the completion of consultation and information requirements with relevant works councils.

3M expects to record a gain of approximately $0.20 per diluted share from this divestiture.

Houlihan Lokey acted as financial advisor to 3M.

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Government asking for views on fire safety law 12/06/2019

THE GOVERNMENT is seeking views on the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which underpins fire safety in non-domestic premises.

Employers and business owners are being asked for their views on fire safety in workplaces in England as part of a Home Office call for evidence. The Home Office is seeking feedback on the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, which underpins fire safety in business premises, such as offices, warehouses, shops and commercial venues, to ensure it is fit for purpose.

The call for evidence follows publication last year of Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review on Building Regulation and Fire Safety, which was commissioned by the government after the Grenfell Tower fire.

The order places legal duties on those responsible for the safety of people using business premises. This is typically an employer or business owner, who must carry out fire risk assessments and ensure the safety of staff and others.

Minister for Policing and the Fire Service Nick Hurd said: "The Grenfell Tower fire was an unimaginable tragedy and we are determined to do everything we can to stop it ever happening again.

"The government is making good progress on improving the safety of high-rise flats, but we must also look at the wider building safety landscape, including the places where we all work.

"To help keep people safe, we want to ensure the Fire Safety Order is fit for purpose. To do this, we need to understand how it is working on the ground and make informed decisions in the future."

The order covers all non-domestic premises, as well as the parts of residential buildings used in common, such as corridors and stairwells. Under the order, those responsible for fire safety in regulated premises include employers, business owners, landlords, occupiers and anyone else in control of the premises, such as building and facilities managers.

The order also applies to anyone with paying guests, including those who run bed and breakfasts, guesthouses or let self-catering properties, as well as hotels. All of these ‘responsible persons’ are being urged to respond to the call for evidence. Their responsibilities include:

  • carrying out a fire risk assessment of the premises and reviewing it regularly
  • telling staff or their representatives about the risks identified
  • putting in place and maintaining appropriate fire safety measures
  • planning for an emergency
  • providing staff information, fire safety instruction and training

The call for evidence will run for eight weeks until 31 July 2019, and an analysis of responses will be published and inform the government’s next steps later this year.

It complements the government’s consultation, Building a Safer Future, which is also launched today. Led by the Ministry for Housing, communities and local government, the consultation outlines how the government proposes to take forward meaningful legislative reform in the building safety regulatory system.

See more information on the call for evidence here and on the Building a Safer Future consultation here.

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NICE supports workplace lunchtime exercise 12/06/2019

HIGHLIGHTING A lunchtime yoga or spin class at a local gym, offering subsidised gym memberships and encouraging the use of stairs instead of using the lift are just some of the ways employers can encourage their staff to be more active, NICE has said.

Organisations are also urged to provide information about safe active travel routes to work, as well as producing physical activity programmes for the workplace to encourage employees to be more active and reduce sedentary behaviour.

The NICE Quality Standard on encouraging physical activity in the community published today is aimed at healthcare commissioners, service providers, health and public health practitioners, employers, schools, voluntary and community sector and the public.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that more than 131 million working days were lost to sickness in 2017, including 13 million working days lost to stress, depression or anxiety.

Being more active in everyday life is important for the physical and mental health of people of all ages and abilities. It may also help to reduce staff absenteeism levels, increase staff satisfaction and improve the workplace environment.

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said: “If the United Kingdom’s 5.7 million small and medium sized businesses encouraged their workforce to be more active, they are more likely to reap the benefits of having engaged employees who are more productive and are less likely to take time off sick.

“Simple things like providing secure bicycle storage, showers and changing facilities can go a long way to enabling people to cycle to work or to meetings.

 “As a society we are facing an obesity crisis caused in part by people not exercising enough. We need people to change their lifestyle and to take more exercise. If they can do this during the working day, not only will they benefit, but so too will their employers and the NHS. It’s a win, win for everyone.”

Public Health Minister Seema Kennedy said: “We have a world leading plan to tackle obesity with prevention at its core, and later this summer we will be setting out further action on obesity and physical activity through a prevention green paper.

“It is vital that employers embrace prevention to ensure their staff stay fit and healthy. Having seen first-hand in my department the positive impact running clubs can have, I welcome the launch of the Quality Standard as another way to encourage communities to stay active.”

Data show that one in four people were classed as obese in 2016 up from one in six in 1993. And almost two thirds of people fall within the overweight or obese category compared with just over half in 1993, according to NHS Digital.

Physical inactivity is as deadly as smoking, according to Public Health England, with one in six deaths caused by a sedentary lifestyle and is estimated to cost £7.4 billion annually (including nearly £1 billion to the NHS alone).

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Gas fitter jailed for 8 months 12/06/2019

A STAFFORDSHIRE gas fitter has been jailed after gas work he performed at a domestic premise was left in a dangerous condition.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard how, in September 2016, Colin Christopher Batchelor carried out gas work that included removing an old boiler, installing a new boiler, reinstalling a gas meter and connecting pipework while unregistered.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Colin Christopher Batchelor had performed gas work whilst falsely claiming to be a member of Gas Safe. He was not competent to carry out work in relation to gas fittings, he did not have any relevant qualifications and he failed to carry out any test or examination to verify that the installation was gas tight following his work. This resulted in the work not being performed in a manner which would prevent danger to people.

Colin Christopher Batchelor of Tean, Stoke-on-Trent pleaded guilty to five breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. He was sentenced to eight months immediate imprisonment for each offence, to be served concurrently.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Dr Riley Roberts commented, “The Gas Safe Register (www.gassaferegister.co.uk ) exists to protect the public from people such as Colin Christopher Batchelor, who are prepared to work illegally, falsify records and carry out potentially dangerous gas work. Performing gas work without being competent to do so can be highly dangerous and lead to a loss of life.”

“All gas work must be done by a registered Gas Safe engineer to ensure the highest standards are met to prevent injury and loss of life.”

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Electrical company fined after lady crushed to death 12/06/2019

AN ELECTRICAL company has been fined after a woman was fatally crushed by a roller shutter door.

Peterborough Magistrates’ Court heard how on 14 August 2016 Heidi Chalkley pressed the button to open the roller-shutter door at Ruth Bagnall Court, Cambridge. She then held onto the grille as it raised and became trapped as it wound around the roller, fatally crushing her body.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the sensors at the top of the door were incorrectly wired and no longer functioned as the door opened.

B.S. Graves (Electrical) Limited had carried out work on the roller shutter door since 2012, including an inspection only a month before the incident. The company did not check the operation of the safety sensors and failed to identify the fault.

B.S. Graves (Electrical) Limited of Rushmere Close, Ramsey, Cambridgeshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and was fined £25,000 and ordered to pay costs of £6,500.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Graeme Warden commented: “This tragic and distressing incident has had an untold impact on all those who knew Heidi. It could have been avoided if the company had ensured employees were suitably trained to inspect the doors and the functioning of the safety sensors.”

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Fine after scaffolder's fatal fall 12/06/2019

TWO CONTRACTORS have been fined after a worker suffered fatal injuries following a fall through a fragile roof during construction work at a factory in Staffordshire.

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard how on 19 September 2015, at the Norton Aluminium foundry site in Norton Canes, a scaffold company employee was fatally injured after falling approximately 11.5 metres through a fragile roof. The employee was working on the corrugated asbestos cement roof to move and fit temporary scaffold guardrails as part of a larger roof refurbishment project at the site.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Stephen John Brennan, trading as SB Scaffolding, failed to ensure the health and safety of his employees in relation to the work taking place on the fragile roof at the site. The investigation also found that Sandwell Roofing Limited, a contractor in overall control of the roof refurbishment project, failed to ensure that people not in its employment were not exposed to risks arising from work on the fragile roof.

Stephen John Brennan of Lorimer Way, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was sentenced to six months imprisonment suspended for two years, 180 hours of unpaid community service and ordered to pay costs of £14,000.

Sandwell Roofing Limited of New Wood Farm Stourton, Stourbridge, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £41,125 and ordered to pay costs of £33,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Bowker said:

“Falls through fragile roof materials remain one of the most common causes of work-related fatalities during construction work. These risks are well known, and the required control measures well documented in both HSE and industry guidance. This was a tragic and wholly avoidable accident that led to the death of a young man. This death could easily have been prevented if suitable safe systems of work had been in place.”

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Valero Energy fined £5m after fatal explosion 10/06/2019

VALERO ENERGY UK Ltd and B&A Contracts Ltd have been fined after an explosion killed four workers and seriously injured another at an oil refinery in Pembrokeshire in 2011.

Dennis Riley, 52, Robert Broome, 48, Andrew Jenkins, 33, and Julie Jones, 54, died after a storage tank exploded at the site. Andrew Philips also sustained major injuries.

Swansea Crown Court heard how on, 2 June 2011, the five workers were emptying a tank in the Amine Recovery Unit using a vacuum tanker when the explosion and subsequent fire took place shortly after 6pm. B & A Contracts Ltd, which was a long-term contractor at the refinery, was carrying out the work, with support from another contractor, Hertel.

The explosion resulted in a fireball which severed the 5-tonne tank roof, and this was projected 55 metres to impact against a butane storage sphere. The roof narrowly missed a pipe track where a range of flammable materials were carried.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found the explosion was most likely to have been initiated by the ignition of a highly flammable atmosphere within the tank, during what should have been a routine emptying operation in preparation for further cleaning and maintenance.

The investigation also found there had been longstanding failures within the refinery safety management systems and as a result the risks posed by flammable atmospheres within the Amine Recovery Unit were not understood or controlled.

At the time of the incident the refinery was operated by Chevron Limited, but ownership changed in August 2011 when the sale to Valero was completed.

Valero Energy UK Ltd of Wood Street, London, pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company have been fined £5 million and ordered to pay costs of £1 million.

B & A Contracts Ltd of Hubberston Road, Pembrokeshire pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.They have been fined £120,000 and ordered to pay costs of £40,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Knowles said: “This incident, which had devastating consequences for all of those involved, was entirely preventable. Many opportunities to take action to control risk were missed, that would have prevented the incident from occurring. It is important to realise that the incident could have had even more serious consequences had the butane sphere or pipe track been damaged by the flying tank roof.

Detective Superintendent Anthony Griffiths said:

“Officers from Dyfed-Powys Police worked closely with the Health and Safety Executive to support them in the very complex investigation to establish the cause of this tragic incident. We hope that the lessons learned ensure that a tragedy of this nature doesn’t happen again. Our thoughts remain with all the families involved.”

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£800K fine following excavator crush injury 10/06/2019

A CONSTRUCTION company has been fined more than £800,000 after a worker suffered three fractured vertebrae when he was hit on the head by a large expanded polystyrene block when it slipped from an excavator bucket.

Brighton Magistrates' Court heard how on the 20 January 2017 workers were constructing a piling platform at Redhill Station in Surrey from expanded polystyrene blocks when one of the blocks slipped from an excavator bucket whilst being lowered into place, hitting the worker Andrew Stuart.  Mr Stewart is still suffering the effects of the injury and is likely to be on pain medication for the foreseeable future.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the lifting operation had not used appropriate lifting accessories to transport the load and had simply trapped the load with the bucket against the dipping arm of the excavator.

Bam Nuttall Limited of St James House Knoll Rd, Camberley pleaded guilty of breaching Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The Company has been fined £833,333.33, plus ordered to pay full costs of £5,478.22, as well as the victim surcharge of £170.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Andrew Cousins commented: “This incident could so easily have been avoided by simply using appropriate lifting accessories such as chains and strops to carry out the lifting operation. Failure to do so has resulted in the serious injury of Andrew Stewart.”

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

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