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Are employers responsible for homeworkers? 16/04/2020

Employers have a legal duty of care for the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees. Chris Salmon looks at how to mitigate risk.

With millions of people suddenly working from home as Coronavirus measures continue, many employers don’t realise that their legal obligations include homeworkers. 

So what does the law say about homeworking, how are employers exposed, and what should you do to mitigate risk?

What the law says

The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 states that employers must “make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to the health and safety of employees to which they are exposed whilst they are at work”. The Act makes no distinction between home workers and those working from the office premises.

The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 stipulates that employers are responsible for the health and safety of homeworkers, as far as is reasonably practicable. 

In summary, employers owe exactly the same duty of care to their employees, whether they are working from their employer’s offices or from home.

How can employers fulfil their duty of care?

Employers will be taking all possible steps to protect the health of remote employees during the pandemic.  However, it is equally critical that employees are not exposed to new and preventable risks as a result of homeworking.

Providing a safe working environment for home workers presents a specific challenge. The employee’s workspace cannot be monitored and managed as easily as it could be in communal offices.

For example, if there are trip hazards such as trailing cables or obstructions to access, these would likely be spotted and remedied in an office environment.  With homeworking, the employer is reliant on the employee setting up and maintaining a safe workspace.

In order to establish a safe environment, from the outset, employers must carry out a risk assessment.

At-home risk assessments

In most cases, it is both reasonable and practical for employers to provide homeworking employees with an ‘at-home risk assessment’.

The employee can assess their own workspace with a detailed checklist, provided by the employer.  HR managers should offer assistance and training throughout the process.

For most people, homeworking will mean working behind a desk with a PC or laptop. The assessment should consider the workstation, and any equipment to be used by the employee, such as a monitor, peripherals and lighting.

You will also need to verify that there is a suitable fire escape route, unobstructed access to the working area, a fire extinguisher and possibly even signage.

If the employee is expected to lift or carry anything, manual handling training must be provided. In fact, anything that can have a bearing on the health and safety of the employee and minimise exposure to the employer must be addressed by the risk assessment.

Employers may struggle to create a detailed risk assessment, given the sudden wholesale move across to homeworking.

If the company does not already have an at-home risk assessment, there are numerous templates available online that can be used or adapted.  The HSE has a free Display screen equipment (DSE) workstation checklist.

Belt and braces

Employers should embrace the spirit of health and safety at home. However, employers should also recognise that compensation paid out to an employee injured at work can be significant. A robust at-home assessment will protect the employer as well as the employee.

One idea for making the assessment more robust is to ask the employee to provide photos of their workspace as this will make a virtual process more tangible for HR managers.

Some firms are even experimenting with video. Employees can use a mobile device to stream their home environment to the HR manager who can ask pertinent questions and give advice in real time.  For the purposes of an audit trail, there are apps available that can record the video call.

Once the pandemic restrictions are relaxed, employers may find that some employees wish to continue working from home.  A subsequent and more bespoke assessment may then be advisable.

Employer’s responsibilities

The following are the key points to address:

  • Check, and if necessary update, your Employers’ s Liability (EL) insurance policy.  Many policies do not include homeworking cover by default.

  • Give the employee two copies of your health and safety policy. Ask the employee to sign and return a copy.

  • Carry out a risk assessment of the employee’s workspace.

  • Implement any measures to manage and minimise risk as identified in the assessment.

  • Check any equipment that you provide to the employee (e.g.does any electrical equipment have any exposed or frayed wires?)

  • Provide protective equipment - as required. (e,g,  back support, ergonomic chairs, monitor glare filters etc.)

  • Ensure that there is a first aid kit and provide an emergency contact.

  • Arrange for regular updates and reviews

Employee’s responsibilities

Employers should encourage employees to:

  • Read the health and safety policy and any other information you provide.

  • Raise any questions or concerns as early in the process as possible.

  • Confirm if there will be other people, including children, passing through the home office.

  • Inform you of any special equipment required (e.g. a standing desk or platform, footrest or wrist support).

  • Report any new hazards and concerns as they arise.

What are the legal consequences of a homeworking accident?

If an employee is injured or made ill during the course of their employment, your business could be held liable. This applies equally to homeworkers.

That said, case law on homeworking injury is constantly evolving and will no doubt be stress-tested in the coming years. 

Where the line is drawn between working and living at home, is not always clear. The most prudent approach for any employer to take would be to assume the broadest interpretation.

If an injured employee takes legal action, compensation is usually paid by the company’s liability insurance.

If the insurance cover does not include homeworking, or if the company has failed in its duty of care, the company may have to settle an expensive injury claim from its own pockets.

Chris Salmon is the Operations Director of Quittance Legal Services in the UK. For more information, visit www.quittance.co.uk

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Are your employees at risk? 10/03/2020

WORLD GLAUCOMA Week takes place from 8 to 14 March this year and its goal is to encourage everyone to have regular eye tests so glaucoma can be detected as early as possible. It is a joint global initiative between the World Glaucoma Association and the World Glaucoma Patient Committee.

Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that affect the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain. It often affects both eyes, usually to varying degrees. As most cases will not have any symptoms, one of the best ways to detect glaucoma is during a routine eye test, which is why it is so important to have one regularly. 

Glaucoma can be treated but early detection is important. It left untreated, glaucoma can cause visual impairment and damage that cannot be reversed. But, if it is detected and treated early enough, further damage to vision can be minimised or prevented. 

A timely reminder

This week is a good opportunity for safety professionals to think about their eye care policy and to consider whether it meets the requirements for regular eye checks for all employees. In general, optometrists recommend having a routine eye test every two years, although the specific frequency required will depend upon each individual and is best advised by the optometrist. 

Infrequent checks

Specsavers recently held an event in partnership with the International Glaucoma Association in which a virtual reality (VR) tool was used to replicate the vision of someone driving with undetected glaucoma. Of the 150 people who took part, in four locations across the UK, nearly a quarter, 23%, had not had an eye test in the last two years.

Driver caution 

While we are all at risk of glaucoma and its effects, there are potentially serious consequences for those who drive with affected eyesight. 

The VR simulation was used by Specsavers to replicate the vision of someone driving with undetected glaucoma. People were asked to use the VR sight simulator to navigate as if driving along a road while avoiding potential hazards. The results showed that driving with glaucoma increases the risk of accidents by 11%. Furthermore, on average, people’s reactions to hazards were 0.3 seconds slower when driving with a slight visual impairment, compared to clear vision. 

Workplace impact

The study shows that more needs to be done to educate people on how a change in vision can impact road safety. The workplace is the perfect place for this to happen. 

It is important for safety professionals to feel confident that each of their company’s employees is as safe as possible behind the wheel, and a large part of this is knowing that their vision is adequate.

Sight can deteriorate gradually, without the individual being aware of any change. This is why eye tests for employees who drive are so important. Implementing driver eye care is a key step in meeting health and safety obligations under the health and safety regulations. Eye care can be easy and inexpensive to put in place and the benefits for both the employee and employer could be huge.

Without proper eye care, company drivers may be putting themselves, the public, and the business at risk from poor eyesight, without even being aware of the issue. Why not use this World Glaucoma Week as an opportunity to review eye care policies and to educate the workforce?

More details can be found at www.specsavers.co.uk/eye-health/glaucoma

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The holy grail of construction 16/01/2020

Will Woodhead gives an insight into how technology is helping to solve problems in the construction industry.

Perhaps you have heard of a project manager describing the completion of a successful project, it may have sounded something like, “we completed the entire project on budget, on schedule and without hurting anyone”. Even as recent as 10 years ago that project manager may have described success as “not killing anyone” instead of hurting anyone. Times have changed, fantastic progress has been made however the appetite to do better has still not been satisfied, perhaps it may have swung the other way and people are even more motivated to prevent the injuries on site. 

There is no getting away from the fact that safety is categorically one of the hardest problems to solve, NASA put a man on the moon but couldn’t stop people getting hurt. We have a dynamic, subjective multidimensional problem that is only considered solved when no-one gets hurt or sick. Zero injury and more recently zero illnesses really is the holy grail of construction.

What’s changed? 

20 years ago, when I was working in shipyards and heavy industry construction sites, the primary focus was on safety (not necessarily health) and such hazards as falling from height or dropped objects. Fall protection in the form of harnesses or regularly inspected scaffolding was one of the first items discussed in every safety meeting. The consequence of this approach on safety saw very positive results and looking at the figure below it can be easily seen that this has saved 100s of lives every year since. But what about the ‘health’ part of H&S, have we forgotten this?

In contrast, over the last 20 years the work-related ill health has remained flat. Ill-health often influences mental health as well as involuntary retirement age. Construction is a physical job and not being able to work due to ill-health has significant consequences on a family reliant on a sole bread-winner. Saving lives undoubtably has a significant positive impact on society however improving the health of a workforce can deliver positive changes which can also have profound consequences.

This is genuinely being recognised by many forward-thinking construction companies as an area which needs attention and improvement. This is great for the UK’s construction industry however the problem remains, how do we solve this? Health and safety is a complex multi-dimensional problem with high stakes and people at the heart of it.

Leading or lagging indicators

In order to better understand where the risks are in an organisation, ‘HOC’, ‘HAZID’, ‘STOP’, ‘CLOSECALLS’, ‘NEARMISS’ cards are often used to identify hazards which nearly or could have created a safety incident. These are what’s known as leading indicators and using the principle of Heinrich’s Safety Pyramid areas of high / low risk can be identified so resources can be focused and safety improved. The problem is, this leading indicator data is not complete or robust enough to form strong correlations between unsafe conditions and the fatalities or injuries (lagging indicators) which follow. This is true when safety is discussed but how about health? If someone is consistently exposed to high levels of noise or continuous repetitive strain we are confident that these individuals will develop tinnitus or a muscular skeletal injury. So if ill-health is ‘so predictable’ why have we been more successful in reducing safety events which are historically harder to predict?

Industry 4.0

Enter industry 4.0 and the ability to understand an individual’s exposure to various different hazards. Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) now allows as to measure noise, hand and arm vibration, fatigue and potentially the muscular-skeletal dosage someone is receiving whilst performing a task. Although this does not solve the initial problem it does allow us to better understand the exposure so that mitigation measures or technology can be put in place to reduce the harmful effects. The challenge is to create a system which effectively understands exposure however does not place any additional burden on the individual nor compete for his or her attention. Unfortunately some approaches to collecting data have resorted to additional reporting being completed by the individual on a smart phone or tablet. The thought is that this is smart technology but in truth it is just modern day paperwork.

Data transparency

Safety is the responsibility of all individuals, not just the HSE manager. Perhaps further empowering the workforce to understand problems by giving them access to the information and then getting them to implement the changes creates a culture of ownership and responsibility whilst also improving the engagement of the employees. Helping a colleague reduce the exposure to a hazard and then seeing the positive effects of that change would surely warm the most disengaged employees and help create a culture where health and safety really does come first.

Will Woodhead is the managing director of a Construction tech company called Mafic. Mafic uses Industry 4.0 technology to help solve these health and safety problems in construction. Mafic want to help improve the health, safety, employee engagement and job satisfaction of the construction industry and create some exceptional workplaces. www.mafic.ltd

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Five simple solutions for site safety 25/11/2019

To ensure the best health and safety practice on your site this winter, Andrew Egerton has identified five simple outdoor health and safety solutions you can implement during this cold, dark season.

Sprinkle liberally… Don’t wait for ice and snow to form before de-icing your site. Spreading salt beforehand prevents freezing occurring, making for a more effective approach to site safety. To avoid wastage and ensure all areas are evenly covered, consider using a salt spreader. 

Rain, rain go away… Winter weather hazards aren’t just about snow and ice; you’ll also need to consider the increase in rainfall too. That means there’s increased risk of slips and falls on wet walkways, paths and sites. Combat this by investing in entry matting and boots with non-slip rubber soles. Particularly popular are non-metallic lightweight boots with waterproof and breathable lining, hardwearing outsole and anti-static and slip-resistant properties. 

Keep warm… Just because you’re working outdoors doesn’t mean you can’t keep warm. Keep the Christmas jumper at home and instead invest in outdoor workwear. Unlike standard sweatshirts, ensure your new piece of kit has a close fit around the hem, cuffs and neck and is triple stitched on all main seams for ultimate strength. A brushed fleece inner is particularly good for warmth, comfort and breathability

Get a Grip… Gloves are a must in winter and not just to keep hands warm, but also to provide grip in wet or icy conditions. Gloves that feature a thermal lining and outer made from leather or artificial leather are ideal. 

See… With days getting shorter and nights longer, make sure staff working on site can see by using efficient and effective lights. For this, rechargeable LED Flood Lights are popular for outside use. Ensure your floodlights are rated to IP 65, meaning they’re water and dust resistant. You might also want to consider a product with no cable (thus reducing trip hazards) as well as one which is portable (with non-slip rubber feet) so can be moved to where they are most needed. Be sure to also check the operation time; a standard rechargeable floodlight should last up to five hours before charging is needed. 

And be seen. You will need different types and styles of Hi-Vis PPE depending on the kinds of tasks performed onsite. A high vis jacket is essential and often a compulsory health and safety onsite requirement. To get the most out a high vis jacket, select one which features a 4-in-1 design. Popular for winter work, a standard 4-in-1 jacket offers four combinations: lightweight outer, outer with a body warmer combined, wear-alone body warmer and reverse colour body warmer. This feature alone means the jacket is highly adaptable to all weather conditions and provides full wearer visibility in low light conditions. 

So, this winter, don’t get caught out in the cold, ensure you and your team have the right PPE to get the job done. 

Andrew Egerton is head of category tools and general maintenance at Brammer Buck & Hickman. For more information, call 08450 510 150

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Technology transforms safety 11/11/2019

Improving safety isn’t just about reducing workplace risks within industrial and process environments; it’s also about safeguarding neighbouring communities and environments. Matt DeLorenzo, business director for Safety io, an MSA Safety company, explains how technology is improving safety via a transformation of the way safety devices are managed, and how operator safety is monitored while at work.

Improvements in safety, both in practice and equipment, have essentially always stemmed from one thing: the availability of good information. In the past, that learning was often observational, based on talking to individuals, or derived from scrutiny or analysis of historic written and pictorial hard copy records.

Today, thanks to the advances in digital data capture and recording by sensors and devices, information is a commodity that is not in short supply. The seamless connectivity driving the Internet of Things is already touching workplaces globally. The latest flame and gas detection devices typically offer the ability to log performance and environmental data. But translating that into tangible learnings is not always easy.

The Big Data challenge

Processing and intelligently analysing large data volumes, particularly when gathered from “real-time” streams, is now one of the safety industry’s biggest challenges. For data to be meaningful, it has to provide real insight. That starts with being able to automatically detect, highlight, interrogate and share those events that are most relevant and significant to the operation of a device, or the ability of an operative to complete his or her work safely.

Recent advancements of AI-enabled automated reporting tools allow safety managers to look beyond just managing safety compliance towards changing how workplace safety really works. The ability to analyse and review historic logged data and extract actionable information to reduce risk and improve workplace safety, is transformative.

Insight to plan ahead

Data analysis and proactive maintenance can help to streamline the day-to-day monitoring of equipment, eliminate potential risk of human error, and free up time for safety managers to concentrate on driving meaningful behavioural safety improvements. Automatic notifications, for instance, can highlight when equipment components are likely to require maintenance or replacement, allowing pre-emptive action. Worker safety is improved, and costly downtime or operational delays minimised. Gas detectors, for example, rely on sensors that have a finite lifetime. Analysis of usage data can automatically highlight that a sensor’s end-of-life is approaching, and a replacement should be ordered. Similarly, correct detector operation is verified by using bottled gas testers before use. If the gas runs out, detectors cannot be tested. Safety protocol dictates that operatives cannot work. Yet by providing automated alerts about remaining capacity, spare cylinders can be ordered in good time. The ability to instantly track equipment and its location digitally, without resorting to lists on clipboards, also offers significant savings in time and loss of assets.

An essential record

Historically, daily data would remain on each device and be routinely overwritten, unless an event prompted a sporadic download, or a written report. Today, maintaining historic central archives of detection device data - sometimes spanning decades - provides companies with an invaluable record. Any exposure incidents or toxic breaches can be thoroughly analysed and documented. 

For workers, the advent of real-time monitoring during operations via live feeds is revolutionising safety. Data streaming can provide safety controllers and colleagues with situational awareness, physical status and the ability for workers to issue individual or team evacuation alarms and even mobilise first responders should a situation arise.

Engineering value, not innovation, first

Developing next-generation safety technology is of course hugely dependent on innovation, but truly listening to and understanding customer needs and feedback to engineer the necessary hardware and software functionality is of equal importance. It’s listening carefully to customers’ feedback and applying those learnings in an innovative way that produces next-generation safety technology.

Adoption will stand or fall on the ability of solutions to add value to multiple stakeholders without completely changing the way safety management and procedures work. Seamless integration and easy, intuitive operation only comes from extended testing by everyone involved - from safety managers to supervisors to operatives. Of course, innovation is meaningless unless the underlying outcome offers a real-world, practical benefit.

Expect the best

There is no doubt that technological advances are having huge impact on the world as a whole. All things considered, the health and safety industry should embrace the opportunities new technologies provide to keep workers connected, thus providing an additional layer of safety through technology.

MSA’s mantra is certainly to encourage the industry to ‘expect more’ from gas detection programmes. The whole reason behind the creation of Safety io is to pioneer technology advancements, with the ultimate goal of improving decision making, reinforcing best practices and pursuing a safety-first, injury free workforce. It’s too good of an opportunity to miss.

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Responding to workplace incidents 11/10/2019

A PRACTICAL guide to dealing with health and safety incidents at work, by Sally Hancock, partner at law firm BLM.

With the introduction of more punitive sentencing guidelines for health and safety offences in 2016, organisational safety was put into sharp focus. Fines for businesses in violation of health and safety law across all sectors have since sky-rocketed. As a result, safety processes are quickly moving higher up the board agenda.

When a workplace accident or incident occurs, the immediate steps taken by a business are critical – especially as these actions can be scrutinised by the relevant regulatory bodies during their investigation. Whether operating in the care sector or construction industry, a workplace incident should always be responded to in the same way. In an ideal world, every organisation should have an agreed incident response plan in place; however, for those that do not currently, there are some clear guidelines that should be followed. 

Secure the area

An immediate priority following an incident should always be securing the area. This is to preserve the scene and prevent any evidence being disturbed. It is also crucial in ensuring a secondary incident does not happen. 

Legal privilege and advice

Remember that depending on the incident, there could be any number of regulatory bodies involved in the investigation, and providing evidence will be key in preserving the business’ position. The way you handle the investigation internally can, and will, come under scrutiny.

The principle of legal privilege can enable a client to avoid disclosing certain documents and communications to regulatory bodies during a criminal investigation. Bringing in a legal representative at the early stages of an investigation can establish this.  

Securing legal advice at an early stage can also help to mitigate the process – solicitors can act as a filter between your organisation and the regulatory bodies, ensuring the flow of information is controlled and nothing is misrepresented. The presence of a legal representative also becomes critical when interviews under caution take place.

Gather evidence

Taking digital photographs of the scene which can be used at a later date is always helpful. You should also speak to individuals who witnessed the incident to get an initial account of events. If a regulatory body does investigate, they will most likely want access to the health and safety policy, risk assessments, method statements, any training records and maintenance and inspection records for any equipment involved. Start collating a bundle of core documents in preparation for the requests coming in.

Control the communication

Appoint a single point of contact within the organisation who will oversee the investigation internally, as well as coordinate engagement with the various regulatory bodies. This person may require a small internal team to assist in the investigation, but circulation of information and legal advice within the business should be limited – having too large a team can undermine legal privilege.

If you are dealing with a major incident, providing accurate information to employees will be important to ensure the incident is not misrepresented internally or externally. You may also want to provide guidance around spread of information outside of the organisation, particularly on social media. Reputational concerns for your business also need to be managed at such a critical time.

Co-operate with regulatory bodies

Notifying the relevant regulatory bodies about a health and safety incident is of the utmost importance – in some cases even if it is a near-miss. Failure to do so is considered an offence, especially in situations where a dangerous occurrence has taken place e.g. where the incident has the potential to cause serious injury or death.

When an incident has taken place, you must be seen to cooperate with regulatory bodies whilst still protecting your position. Always remember that failure to cooperate could be used against your organisation at a later date in any subsequent prosecution. 

Preparation, preparation, preparation

All of these steps can be made easier through the right preparation. Every business – irrelevant of size – should have an incident response protocol in place. A plan is only effective if it is executed efficiently, so it is always worth practising this protocol in a mock ‘doomsday’ scenario. 

Your plan should include allocating roles and responsibilities within the organisation, should an incident occur. This not only provides clarity of response but ensures there is no overlap. Crucially, if you do have a protocol in place, your organisation must be seen to be complying with it. If not, this could be deemed to suggest you are trying to hide something.

Finally, always remember that when a regulatory body attends a workplace, they have extensive powers and are entitled to review the whole premises, checking compliance across all operations. You must be prepared to provide any information or documentation they might require.

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Essential health and safety tips 11/07/2019

AS AN employer, it’s important to keep on top of health and safety legislation; The Health and Safety at Work Act (HASAW or the HSW) was introduced in 1974 and acts as the main piece of legislation signed by Parliament to protect employees in the workplace from injury or death.

For employees, it states that employers have a duty of care ‘to ensure so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work’ of all employees. As a go to guide for all employees, we’ve collaborated with United Carlton – providers of visitor management systems, in order to ensure that your employees stay safe at work.

What you should know

As an employer, these are the essential things that you should know: 

  • All potential risks to the health and safety of employees should be documented within a risk assessment. For whoever is in direct contact with these potential risks, then the risk assessment should be coordinated with these employees. 

  • If anything should go wrong at work, then your employees should know who is their first contact and who is responsible. This information should be given to employees in both a written and formal form. 

  • At all times, employers and employees should work together to make sure that the working environment is kept safe at all times and that risks are kept to a minimum, this can be done by tidying up after themselves and making use of local skip hire to take care of all of the rubbish.

  • Employees should be provided with all of the health and safety training that they need, and this should be free of charge. 

  • Equipment, clothing and tools should be provided for employees free of charge. This is so they can do their job properly, efficiently and safely. 

  • In case anything should go wrong, employees should be provided with first aid kits or insurance to cover injuries or illnesses that occur at work. 

Remember these things as an employer

Follow up any training. Are your employees always demonstrating that they understand the health and safety training through their working practices? Through the course of the day, do they keep their practice consistent in coordination with the training they were given? Furthermore, do employees use tools in the correct way? If trained correctly, then employees should look after materials provided for them, and should make sure that all work property is cared for. 

Employee relationships with each other. Do employees work together in a way that ensures their own safety and their colleagues? Always check that employees are respectful and conscientious of each other before anything else, especially when working in mechanical or other high-risk jobs. No task in the workplace should be at the risk of another employee.

Your relationship with employees. In regards to the health and safety legislation that you’ve provided, are employees cooperating or rebelling against the standards set? During training sessions, are employees listening, or are they negligent of the legislation that has been relayed to them? If this is the case, then your communication channels need to be clearer, or you need to demonstrate to employees the importance of health and safety at work and how it can keep them and others safe in the workplace. 

As an employer, do you listen? By listening properly, are you addressing when employees have come to you as an employer with a problem relating to health and safety. This could be document in written form to ensure that the same problems are not repeated in the future. Ensure that employees are encouraged to report incidents or potential incidents when they see them; equipment inadequacies, inadequate training, and an employee’s incompetency to follow procedure should all be spotted by other employees. 




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Fall protection cost-cutting: a step too far? 24/06/2019

PREVENTING ACCIDENTS from falls relies on all stakeholders using an informed, joined-up approach to practices and systems. James Sainsbury, Fall Protection Sales leader for MSA Safety, explains why a holistic approach to safety is needed, and highlights the potential risks of making ill-informed changes to a defined safety system specification.

Gravity is a anever-present force. It doesn’t offer second chances. And however diligent safety planning and preparations may be, a fall is always a possibility. With workers’ lives at stake, there’s simply no excuse for inadequate fallprotection systems and personal safety equipment.

Accident prevention: the UK picture

Despite the fact that almost all falls from height can be prevented, it’s a sobering reminder thatthey still remain the leading cause of workplace fatalities. The most recent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) statistics show that in 2017 alone, falls accounted for 28% of all UK fatalities in the workplace. Digging deeper, between 2013/14 and 2017/18, falls from a height accounted for more than a quarter of all fatal injuries to workers. That’s an average of 37 deaths a year. In addition, a staggering 43,000 non-fatal accidents involved falls from height too.

Over 60% of deaths when working at height involve falls from ladders, scaffolds, working platforms and roof edges and through fragile roofs. It’s no wonder that HSE research has also revealed 19% of people think their health and safety is at risk at work (2010).

Whilst the UK, like much of Europe, is a mature market, with comprehensive regulatory standards for safety systems and practices, there is still much room for improvement. Setting realistic safety system budgets, honouring specifications, understanding the suitability and quality of different equipment, accurately assessing risk and training users to be competentare all on the agenda.

Creating the plan: specifiers

As the first link in the chain of creating safer working at height, the value of consulting specifier professionals cannot be overstated. The decisions, assessments and recommendations they provide result inthe mostappropriate fall protection system specification for the building at the outset: one that will maximise protection for users and allow work at height to be carried out moresafely and efficiently.

A system specification can be defined by architects, consultants or engineers, or by safety system industry professionals, such as professional installers. A thorough specification takes account of both the unique risks posed by the structure and the practical access requirements needed for safe works. It will also meanfull compliance with all local and national health and safety and regulatory conditions. Manufacturers, too, can provide consultation and system design, helping tomake surethat the very best equipment and system is installed.

Controlling the project: contractors

One of the most important elements of the specification – at least for contractors – is the independently-calculated budget allowance required to procure and install the recommended system. Unfortunately, specification-switching down-the-line by UK contractors seeking to reduce costs can be problematic. This worrying trend has the potential toput workers’ lives at risk. Simply changing or substituting elements for alternatives that are perceived as less costly can be short sighted and dangerous. Any specified system for working at height, and any attendant cost, is usuallyproposed for sound safety reasons.

High-quality equipment benefits from advanced engineering and rigorous testing,both of which contribute to full compliance andreliable performance. Lesser products may wear, degrade or fail more quickly, requiring premature replacement and increasing Total Cost of Ownership. When equipment is well designed and easy to use, the risks of equipment failure are naturally lower. 

Putting it all in place: Installers

The performance and safety of fall protection equipment depends on correct installation, testing and commissioning. Quality installers have a responsibility to checkthat only technically-competent professionals install equipment. Leading companies are fully familiar with the leading manufacturer systems, are usually accredited, and will have undergone specialist training to be certainsystems are installed exactly in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines, including all compliance checks at sign-off. Once equipment is installed, the installer will be responsible for commissioning, testing and ongoing maintenance and, in some cases, arranging user training.

Experienced installers are also used to quickly overcoming any unexpected challenges a building may pose – for example, undertaking a retrofit system installation within an older or historic building. They will also spot and highlight any new risks or findings that may impact the effectiveness of the fall protection system.

Confident and capable: end users

There’s no value in provisioning fall protection equipment if workers are unable, or are unwilling, to use it properly. Whilst overseeing safety, risk assessments and method statements for those that work at height falls to the site manager and/or health and safety officer, all equipment users should be ‘competent persons’. That means expert PPE and or fall equipment system training from a qualified provider. Can users check equipment before use? Do they know when and how to use it correctly? Do they possess the expertise and confidence to make the right decisions at the right time? Can they execute an agreed rescue plan if needed?

Safety and accountability: inextricably linked

If UK working at height safety statistics are to improve, the sequential chain from specifier through to user requires close scrutiny. At every stage each party has a duty of care to respect the integrity of what should remain an optimal safety system. Specification-switching and making arbitrary changes to carefully chosen solutions may have serious implications.Equally, users deserve to feel confident using systems, and must be supported with quality training and rigorous equipment checks. Most falls from height are preventable. All parties engaged in fall protection should be aligned and accountable to keeping workers safe.

For more information, visit www.msasafety.com​

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Integrating fork lift trucks with RFID 12/06/2019

RFID IS widely used by logistics and distribution companies to track goods, containers or pallets.

It provides a way of quickly and accurately locating and identifying things. But control of the goods isn’t the only use that RFID is finding in logistics and distribution. 

The control of fork lift trucks within and around distribution centres is an important issue for warehousing and logistics organisations. Improved control of automated and manned handling equipment allows greater customisation of the equipment within the application to improve productivity. Hyster-Yale Materials Handling, the manufacturer of Hyster and Yale fork lift trucks, devised an innovative way to improve the control and management of materials handling equipment. 

Using RFID, they found a more intelligent, more efficient way of letting their trucks know just where they were in relation to the world around them. Working with CoreRFID, they created a truck movement control system that identifies a truck’s location within a warehouse and uses that information to control the truck’s operation, acting as driver aids for the operator, providing a more relaxed operation and increase in productivity.

Improving productivity in warehouses 

Hyster-Yale is one of the world’s leading suppliers of fork lift trucks and similar materials handling equipment. From its years of experience, Hyster-Yale has built up an understanding of the factors that cause truck down-time and otherwise reduce the productivity of warehouse handling equipment fleets. Trucks have
to operate in locations where speed restrictions apply and where load handling limits have to be observed as well. Distribution and Logistic companies are looking to increase productivity and reduce down time while providing an ergonomic work place for their operators. Having driver aids that can assist the operator provides many of these features. 

Modern trucks have on-board electronics to assist the operator in proper use, but to be most effective; these systems depend on knowing the truck’s location. Various methods had been tried to allow the truck’s on-board communication system to understand the warehouse surroundings. While in the future a solution based on artificial intelligence and visual sensing might prove practical, today, the best solution to the problem has proven to be based on the use of RFID. 

As a result, Hyster-Yale offers a range of RFID-equipped trucks that
can sense their position and limit truck operations such as speed or load lift height depending on where the truck is in the warehouse. 

Hyster-Yale started working with the technology in 2010, choosing CoreRFID as their technology partner with the RFID expertise to help them create the best solution for Hyster-Yale clients, worldwide. Installations of systems using the RFID enabled system started in 2013 and the two companies have worked together ever since. 

How RFID helps Hyster-Yale’s clients 

Hyster-Yale created a new system for their trucks which uses RFID tags installed in the warehouse premises and readers installed on their trucks. The readers are linked to on-board "driver assist" truck control systems. The tags are installed in small drilled holes in the warehouse floor. They provide a means for a truck to uniquely identify an aisle within a warehouse, and then, within each aisle, determine speed-controlled areas and areas of lifting limits (for example to assist the operator in avoiding the truck extending its lifting forks upwards and striking roof beams). The system can set limits or enable/disable truck functions. 

So, while the truck is driven by a human operator, the on- board system provides assistance and information. Hyster-Yale designed the system for easy installation, reflecting the common problems of their users.

Slow-down zones can be used in areas of restricted visibility, where exiting an aisle, or where there are uneven floors or narrow access, for example. 

Lift limit zones can be used to assist operators with overhead obstructions. 

The on-board lift truck system is supported by a PC based application that can work with the various tags to set the control areas and the limits that apply to the trucks.

CoreRFID worked with Hyster-Yale to identify the most
appropriate RFID technology – in this case, low frequency EM4200 compatible tags - and have supplied Hyster-Yale with the location-identifying tags and the readers that Hyster-Yale connects to its on-board truck management systems. 

The system uses zones within the truck operating areas. These are delineated by RFID tags that are buried in small holes drilled in the floor of the warehouse. The tags can be sensed at distances of 50cm or so, providing an accurate location for the vehicle – more accurate than would be possible with GPS, for example. From the location information, the driver assist system is able to limit the truck’s speed to the appropriate one for the zone and for what the truck is doing. In the longer term, these problems might be solved by AI-based technologies, but today, this is a low-cost, simple and reliable alternative that does not depend on complex recognition systems. 

Hyster-Yale cites a number of benefits over earlier systems that had tried to do similar things using magnetic sensors or reflective tags. The RFID approach has a lower installation cost compared with magnets with little to no down time of the application and has the potential for lower whole-life costs through reduced floor damage, fewer mechanical shocks to trucks, flexibility for future re-configuration, extension or reduction of warehouses, and the ability to add future features with software updates. The system also avoids the problem with systems based on reflective tags which can be inadvertently covered up, rendering the system useless. Unlike other systems, the RFID solution works by reading the tag information and then defining all of the parameters that the truck needs to know for that aisle. This means if in the unlikely event the truck doesn’t see the tag, then the truck remains in a restricted mode. 

For more info please contact Richard Harrison on 07752 389 745 or richard@corerfid.com


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Important safety tips in industrial workplace 29/04/2019

A LOT of things can go wrong in an industrial workspace. Injuries and accidents would be a common occurrence if safety measures are not in place. The good news is that you can avoid these accidents by practicing some safety measures. Read on to know more.

7 Workplace Safety Tips 

  • Understand the Risks

It is important that you understand the risks of working in an industry. Know your surroundings so that you can assess possible risks within the workplace. 

Once you are aware of the hazardous areas and potential risks, you will be better prepared to implement safety measures. It would also help you avoid work-related injuries when handling dangerous equipment. 

  • Use Mechanical Aids 

Use the mechanical aids provided in the workplace. They are there to help you and make your job easier. 

Mechanical aids like calibrated floor scales, forklifts, cranes, conveyor belts, etc., allow you to do heavy lifting without getting hurt. 

  • Report Unsafe Conditions

If you see any unsafe condition within the work space, report it to your supervisors immediately. 

Your supervisors are legally obligated to provide you with a safe workspace. Once they are aware of any hazardous condition, they will take immediate action. Work with your management to find solutions that will prevent unsafe conditions from repeating in the future. 

  • Maintain Good Posture 

The old adage ‘lift with your legs, not your back’ can’t be truer in an industrial setting. 

Maintain good posture at all times. Lifting loads with your legs will prevent back injuries. Use mechanical aids whenever possible. Ensure your back is straight while lifting. 

If you work at a desk, good posture will prevent back and neck problems.

  • Use Tools as per Instructions 

Workplace safety will onlybe possible when you use the tools and machines according to their instructions.

Using them incorrectly may cause injuries and accidents. Avoid taking shortcuts and follow the instructions carefully. 

Always use the right tool for the required job. 

  • Always Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) 

One of the biggest safety concerns in the manufacturing industryis workers getting hurt because they weren’t using personal protective equipment (PPE). 

Every employee must wear proper PPE as a safety measure. Check that the PPE is undamaged as it will lower the odds of injuries. 

PPE includes safety gloves, earplugs, safety eye goggles, etc. Wearing the right PPE will keep you safe from an injury. 

  • Prevent Slips and Trips

Make sure that all the aisles are clear. Clean spills immediately to prevent the workers from slipping or tripping. If you deal with liquids, use guards and drip pans. 

Check that there are no loose boards, holes or nails coming out of the floor. If they are present, replace the damaged floor immediately. If it is not possible to replace them, install anti-slip flooring. 


Small steps go a long way in preventing accidents and occupational injuries. The necessary safety measures must be made clear to all the employees. Ensure they follow them without fail. Make use of technology like floor scales, forklifts, etc., that can prevent accidents. 

Author Bio:

Kevin Hill heads up the marketing efforts at Quality Scales Unlimited in Byron, CA. Besides his day job, he loves to write about the different types of scales and their importance in various industries. He also writes about how to care for and get optimised performance from different scales in different situations. He enjoys spending time with family and going on camping trips.

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