New Food Safety Ratings

Pubs, shops and restaurants across the country are being given new food hygiene standard ratings in a bid to reduce the one million cases of food poisoning each year and give consumers the knowledge and confidence to know they are eating properly prepared foods.

The scheme for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, backed by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and local authorities, aims to grade every premise that sells or serves food.

Nursing homes, schools and hospitals are being included alongside conventional food outlets. Consumers will be able to check an establishment’s hygiene rating before they enter the door.

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The HSE takes the hard line with unsafe scaffolding

Health and safety inspectors will be out in force in Manchester on Thursday 25 November in a bid to tackle dangerous scaffolding.

Falls from height are the biggest single cause of workplace deaths in the UK, with two deaths and 563 serious injuries in Manchester alone last year.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspectors will spend a day making unannounced visits to construction sites across the city as part of an ongoing initiative tackling the issue.

Both construction workers and members of the public can be put at risk of being seriously injured or even killed if scaffolding collapses. Injuries can also occur when building materials fall through gaps where there are no safety boards or netting.

A Principal Inspector for HSE in Greater Manchester commented:

“We are concerned that companies may be trying to cut down on costs or to undercut competitors by not using suitable scaffolding or other safety equipment. Quite simply, they are putting their own and other people’s lives at risk as a result.

“HSE will not tolerate poor health and safety standards on construction sites. When it is necessary to safeguard workers or the public, inspectors will not hesitate to take strong enforcement action.”

Explosion risks from cutting of drums and containers

Employees contemplating ‘hot work’ on used containers, and managers overseeing it, are being urged to check that the correct working procedures are followed after two people were killed in separate incidents in North East Scotland whilst cutting up drums.

‘Hot work’ includes any process that generates a source of ignition, such as naked flames, heat or sparks arising from working methods such as welding, flame cutting, grinding and using disc cutters.

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Cut the HSE budget at your risk, warns IOSH

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has warned that work-related deaths could rise if the government goes ahead with a 35 per cent budget cut to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

But IOSH said budget cuts unveiled in the comprehensive spending review could threaten the downward trend that HSE statistics have shown, indicating a steady year-on-year decline of work-related deaths and injuries in the UK has been occurring over the past decade, with a 15 per cent drop in the number of people killed at work over the last year alone!

Policy and technical director for IOSH Richard Jones commented: ‘Cuts to the HSE don’t just risk livelihoods; they risk the lives of the people we are trying to protect.

‘And if inspectors are forced off the front line to complete the paperwork that a declining admin staff would previously have done, we could potentially see a hockey-stick effect, where death and injury rates increase once more.”

Britain has the lowest rate of fatal occupational injuries in Europe, a figure that we should be proud of. This year 152 people were killed at work – 27 fewer than the previous year.

That figure is still too high.

LRB Consulting celebrates 10th anniversary

In November 2010 LRB Consulting celebrated its 10th anniversary. LRB Consulting was founded in 2000 by Michael Ellerby, a Chartered Safety Practitioner & Chartered Chemist. Michael is widely experienced in Health and Safety consultancy and has worked for many years in this field, both as a Health & Safety Consultant and in industry.

Michael has been joined by a number of other consultants specialising in differing areas of Health & Safety consultancy, including food safety and fire safety. We have also developed our training courses to stimulate the mind and to keep delegates interested in the subject matter. We are proud of our very high success rate with course delegates and many come back to us for future training needs.

Our client base has grown hugely and now includes clients in and around the East Midlands, London and the Home Counties, and the North West. We aim to provide a good, common sense approach to our work, ensuring that we consistently achieve and surpass expectations.

To us, safety matters.

You can keep up to date with LRB Consulting through our website, which contains regular news and blog updates. You can also follow us on twitter at @safety_matters.

The Occupational Safety Consultants Register and what it means for you

The Occupational Safety Consultants Register (OSCR) is the first step to resolving the problems identified by Lord Young in his recent report. Whilst many businesses develop in-house competence and do not need to use safety consultants, many smaller businesses will need help. OSCR will give those businesses confidence that the person will have complied to a high standard of qualifications recognised by a professional body.

The OSCR will go live in early 2011, and employers will be able to access the database online. Lord Young has asked the HSE to take a lead in raising the standards of the Health & Safety profession. The HSE is currently working with professional bodies and stakeholders, with an intention that once the scheme is up and running, the HSE will no longer need to be involved directly.

Lord Young has rightly raised his concern that anybody can operate as a health and safety consultant with no legal requirement or standards currently set. Some may overcomplicate health and safety or miss important hazards — and in particular, they contribute to misconceptions about what is really needed to protect people at work. In a small number of cases, HSE has prosecuted consultants for advice that has put people at risk.

OSCR will create a single, recognised national scheme for identifying safety consultants who have attained high degrees of qualifications and experience as recognised by the participating professional bodies. Initially the OSCR will be a register for individuals who primarily provide commercial third-party advice services on general safety management issues, and will therefore not include occupational health consultants at present, but may do so in the future.

The intention of the OSCR is to create a mechanism by which the professional bodies can work together to ensure standards are raised. Lord Young is clear that if this is not achieved, a statutory scheme cannot be ruled out.

Health & Safety statistics show a move in the right direction

Across the East Midlands fewer people are being seriously injured at work according to figures released by the Health & Safety Executive for 2009/10. There were 2,056 major workplace injuries in the region compared to 2,150 in 2008/9.

However, the news isn’t all good, with the number of deaths rising by one to 12, while the estimated number of people who believed they were suffering from work-related illnesses rose from 86,000 in 2008/09 to 101,000.

Across the region, more than 2.2 million working days were lost due to illness or injury, an average of 1.29 days lost per worker.

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