Would definitely recommend LRB Consulting

Mike from LRB Consulting was great helping us with our health and safety for our new business. The service was really professional and friendly throughout and he really helped us to understand what we used to think was the complicated world of H&S. Would definitely recommend LRB Consulting to anyone looking for health and safety help!

Joe Allen, Managing Director, Time Travel Theatre, Derby

Jail for Director – following serious fire injury to worker

Jail for Director of three construction companies (two of which have been dissolved and one is still active). The director has received an eight-month prison sentence and has been disqualified from being a director for seven years after his actions nearly resulted in the death of a worker. A 17-year-old employee was left with life-threatening injuries after being caught in a fireball that resulted from burning waste  – he was away from work for seven months.

The HSE investigation found that DGS (Director of Stead Construction Services (SCS)) had failed to ensure that waste material was burned safely. In May 2015, the 17-year-old worker (BR) was instructed to stand on top of a skip and to pour a drum of flammable thinners onto the burning waste to aid the burning process. The HSE found that the thinners ignited and created a fireball, which blew BR from the skip, inflicting substantial burns to his arms and legs. Following the incident, DGS did not give the worker first aid, nor did he send him to the hospital. Further to this, he ignored a legal requirement to inform the HSE of the accident, which was only reported later by a third party.

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HSE Fee for Intervention Scheme – Update, February 2017

The HSE Fee for Intervention Scheme has been in operation since October 2012. This scheme has been unpopular with many people in industry (especially those who have to pay it) and also with some enforcement officers. The current rate that the HSE charge is £129 per hour. If your business is inspected by the HSE and found to be in material breach of health and safety laws, then you may end up with an FFI invoice.

HSE Fee for Intervention Scheme – what is a Material Breach

A material breach is when, in the opinion of the HSE inspector, there is or has been a contravention of health and safety law that requires them to issue a notice in writing of that opinion to the duty holder. Written notification from an HSE inspector may be by a notification of contravention, an improvement or prohibition notice, or a prosecution and must include the following information:

  • the law that the inspector’s opinion relates to;
  • the reasons for their opinion; and
  • notification that a fee is payable to HSE.

Examples of material breaches include (but are not limited to) things such as: Continue reading

Workplace Ill Health

Workplace ill health is now receiving more focus. The UK has made great strides in reducing the number of workplace deaths due to safety. It has not been so effective in dealing with health. The HSE are now focusing increasingly on health issues in the workplace. For many years the UK has had an enviable safety record. Workplace deaths due to safety issues have been reducing for many years. Now the focus is turning to health problems. These are harder for employers to comprehend at the same level as the effects are not also so apparent, and they can take longer to manifest. Some headline figures include:

  • 144 safety related deaths in 2015/6
  • 13,000 deaths linked to previous exposure at work
  • 2515 mesothelioma deaths in 2014 (asbestos)
  • 1.3 Million workers suffering from work-related ill health

Causes may include issues such as:

  • Occupational Cancer
  • Noise
  • Vibration
  • Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD)
  • Stress
  • Respiratory ill health
  • etc

Workplace ill health (fatal diseases)

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HAVS Prevention

HAVS Prevention  – It is the employer’s responsibility to protect workers against HAVS and carpal tunnel syndrome. The employee can assist be being active in asking questions, such as: if the job could be done in a different way without using vibrating tools and machines. If this cannot happen:

  • Introduce the use of suitable low-vibration tools.
  • Always use the right tool for each job (to do the job more quickly and expose you to less hand-arm vibration).
  • Check tools before using them to make sure they have been properly maintained and repaired to avoid increased vibration caused by faults or general wear.
  • Make sure cutting tools are kept sharp so that they remain efficient.
  • Reduce the amount of time that a tool is used in one go, by doing other jobs in between.
  • Avoid gripping or forcing a tool or workpiece more than necessary.
  • Store tools so that they do not have very cold handles when next used.
  • Encourage good blood circulation by:
    • Keeping warm and dry (when necessary, wear gloves, a hat, waterproofs and use heating pads if available);
    • Giving up or cutting down on smoking because smoking reduces blood flow; and
    • Massaging and exercising your fingers during work breaks.

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HAVS Management

HAVS Management Failure

Before looking at how to control Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), let’s look at a recent court case. A ground engineering company, Keller Limited, has been fined after a worker was diagnosed with severe hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). Cheltenham Magistrates heard how the employee working at the company’s earth retaining division, known as Phi Group, was eventually diagnosed as suffering from HAVS after repeatedly flagging his symptoms to the company for a period of over five years. HSE investigators found the company did not have the right system in place to manage the worker health and did not have a suitable health surveillance programme in place to monitor for the early onset of HAVS and to prevent the irreversible condition from developing.

Keller Limited of Oxford Road, Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Coventry, pled guilty to breaching Regulation 7(1) of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 and were fined £6,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,263.45. Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Mehtaab Hamid said:

This was a case of the company completely failing to grasp the importance of HAVS health surveillance.
If they had understood why health surveillance was necessary, it would have ensured that it had the right systems in place to monitor worker’s health and the employee’s condition would not have been allowed to develop to a severe and life-altering stage

The symptoms of HAVS

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) can include tingling, numbness and pain in the hands. The symptoms affect sleep when it occurs at night and sufferers have difficulties in gripping and holding things, particularly small items such as screws, doing up buttons, writing and driving.

  • Tingling and numbness in the fingers (which can cause sleep disturbance).
  • Not being able to feel things with your fingers.
  • Loss of strength in your hands (you may be less able to pick up or hold heavy objects).
  • In the cold and wet, the tips of your fingers going white then red and being painful on recovery (vibration white finger).

If you continue to use high-vibration tools these symptoms will probably get worse, for example:

  • The numbness in your hands could become permanent and you won’t be able to feel things at all;
  • You will have difficulty picking up small objects such as screws or nails;
  • The vibration white finger could happen more frequently and affect more of your fingers

HAVS Management – who is at risk?

Workers are at risk of developing HAVS if they regularly use hand-held or hand-guided and machines such as:

  • Chainsaws;
  • Concrete breakers/road breakers;
  • Cut-off saws (for stone etc);
  • Hammer drills;
  • Hand-held grinders;
  • Impact wrenches;
  • Jigsaws;
  • Needle scalers;
  • Pedestal grinders;
  • Polishers;
  • Power hammers and chisels;
  • Powered lawn mowers;
  • Powered sanders;
  • Scabblers;
  • Strimmers/brush cutters.

Workers are also at risk if they hold workpieces, which vibrate while being processed by powered machinery such as pedestal grinders.

Workers are particularly at risk if they regularly operate:

  • Hammer action tools for more than about 15 minutes per day; or
  • Some rotary and other action tools for more than about one hour per day.

How to Protect yourself from HAVS

Please refer to a further Construction Safety Blog article –

Construction Cancer Risks

Construction Cancer Risks – according to the HSE, the construction industry has the largest burden of occupational cancer amongst the industrial sectors. It accounts for over 40% of occupational cancer deaths and cancer registrations. It is estimated that past exposures in the construction sector annually cause over 5,000 occupational cancer cases and approximately 3,700 deaths. Unless the risks are properly managed, the dangers of developing one of these diseases will remain.

The most significant cause of these construction cancer risks is asbestos (70%), followed by silica (17%), and then working as a painter and exposure to diesel engine exhaust (6-7% each). Other types of cancer can affect those in the construction industry, including skin cancers. These can be caused by exposure to solar radiation (sunlight) and hazardous substances.

 Why are Construction Cancer Risks so high?

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Ignoring a Prohibition Notice leads to fine and suspended sentence

The Managing Director of a skip fabrication company was caught using a piece of equipment that was subject to an HSE prohibition notice only two hours after the inspector’s visit in which the equipment was condemned. Unsurprisingly, he was fined for ignoring a Prohibition Notice and was also given a suspended sentence.

MH, who ran skip fabrication company WFP Fabrications, was given a 30 week suspended sentence at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates Court in January 2017. The company was also fined £25,000 for ignoring a Prohibition Notice issued by the HSE.

The court heard that MH had continued to use a dangerous air receiver tank in the company’s compressed air system following the visit from an HSE inspector in October 2015. On the day in question, the Inspector issued a prohibition notice on the equipment and then left the premises to visit a neighbouring business. He returned a short while later and found Holmes still using the condemned receiver tank, which was used to sandblast refurbished skips.

At the hearing, the Judge commented:

“It beggars belief that a prohibition notice can be served on someone in a senior position and, only two hours later, that same person is caught operating the machinery.

“It shows flagrant disregard for the HSE and, in both matters, there was a systematic failure. This is a serious offence … because health and safety is not an optional extra and a well-run, properly-maintained business puts health and safety at the forefront.”

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