Working safely in the sun

The summer this year has been one of the hottest and sunniest for a long time, and it is essential to think about working safely in the sun.  As it is now a sunnier time of year, those who (control) work outside should think about working safely in the sun. When working outdoors the effects of the weather in this environment can potentially have a very serious impact on an employee’s welfare if the risks have never been previously considered or managed properly. This impact may be immediate or it can occur over a long time period of time.  Exposure to the sun can cause skin damage including sunburn, blistering and skin ageing and in the long term can lead to an increased risk of skin cancer. Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the UK with over 50,000 new cases every year.

Each year many people suffer, unnecessarily, from sunburn and over 2300 people die from skin cancer caused by sun exposure.

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Safeguarding Training

There is a lot more to Safeguarding than just getting the DBS checks done. It is recognised that the protection of vulnerable groups is an important issue and needs to be managed effectively. Vulnerable groups can include Children, Young Persons, Disabled Persons, and Elderly Persons, as well as other groups.

We have recently been creating Safeguarding policies for several of our clients who are working on site with (potentially) vulnerable groups. In some cases, this includes work in Schools or Colleges, in other cases it is work on playing fields. There are many other situations where appropriate and proportionate arrangements need to be in place.

Safeguarding Training

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Health and Safety Management – Active Monitoring

Active Monitoring of Health and Safety is vital if an organisation is to avoid catastrophe. Good, solid, and sensible active monitoring help an organisation to avoid disaster by ensuring that the control measures that they believe are keeping them safe actually are keeping them safe. Active monitoring helps to avoid the reality gap: the chasm between what we think is happening and what is really happening.

A few years ago there was a significant prosecution in Scotland based on a failure in the health and safety management of a company, mainly to do with their lack of active monitoring.  This is a very brief summary of the key points of this case.

In common with other important aspects of running a business (e.g. sales, production, finance, quality, etc.) companies need to measure their health and safety management performance to find out if they are being successful. Monitoring may be split into two distinct areas: Active Monitoring and Reactive Monitoring. Most people are familiar with, and comfortable with, the concept of reactive monitoring. Reactive Monitoring is the process of investigation into things that have gone wrong (such as accident investigation) and involves learning from mistakes. These mistakes may have resulted in injuries and illness, property damage or near misses.

Active monitoring is an important aspect of modern health and safety management that appears to be very difficult for some companies to accept and to buy into. It is the things that we do that generally keep employees (and other persons) from harm; but it is the records and documents that we keep (and complete) that help to protect the Company. A Scottish court case from a couple of years ago helps to put this into context.

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Section 40 is not your friend

I have blogged on this issue before, but too many employers gloss over it. Section 40 is not your friend, and you need to know why.

Section 40 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) places the burden of proof on an accused in offences consisting of a failure to comply with a duty or requirement to do something “so far as is practicable, or so far as reasonably practicable, or to use the best practicable means to do something”.  The Act provides that the accused must prove that it was not practicable, or not reasonably practicable to do more than was done, or that there was no better practicable means than that used to satisfy the duty or requirement.

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Record Keeping

Record keeping for matters relating to health and safety is something that many organisations are poor at, yet suitable records kept in an accurate and retrievable form can make a significant contribution to the good management of an organisation and to legal defences (when being prosecuted or sued) and also to avoiding legal action in the first place.  Potentially, there are many records that an organisation could keep.  Careful consideration should be given to what records should be kept and for how long.  Some records are required to be kept be various pieces of legislation, while others may be useful in defending legal actions.  Many pieces of legislation require various records and documents to be kept, although few specify the exact nature of the record to be kept.

Record Keeping – Accident Records
As a minimum, details of all workplace injuries must be recorded in the Accident Book (Form B1510), as required by the Social Security (Claims and Payments) Regulations 1979.  Such records must be kept for at least three years from the date of entry.

Jail sentences for Safety Failures

The news has contained some recent examples of jail sentences for safety failures.

Haulage Company Director and Mechanic sent to jail for four deaths

A haulage company boss and a mechanic have both been jailed following a tipper truck crash in 2015 that killed four people in Bath. The lorry driver was cleared of dangerous driving and careless driving charges.
The Company Director (MG) and the mechanic were found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter in December 2016. The case was widely reported in the papers. Lack of suitable and qualified maintenance of the brakes and the truck led to the four deaths, which included a four-year-old child. Bristol Crown Court heard how Gordon, whose company made around £500,000 a year, skimped on repair bills and encouraged truckers to drive dangerously so he could maximise turnover. An accident investigator who examined the crashed lorry, which had 441,000 miles on the clock, said it was the worst HGV he had ever inspected.

The Judge, Mr Justice Langstaff told the pair:

You knew that being casual about the safety risked the lives of others. Your failures are inexplicable.
If they were one-off failures that would be bad enough, but they are not. They were part and parcel of the way you approached your responsibilities.

MG (the owner of the lorry firm Grittenham Haulage) was jailed for seven years and six months, and the mechanic (PW) was jailed for five years and three months.

Director jailed – Warehouse roof repaired “as cheaply as possible”

MR, Director at Al Amin Wholesale, has received a two and a half year prison sentence for the death of a contractor and the serious injury of another. MR commissioned two Polish workers to carry out the roof repairs and gutter cleaning through the services of an interpreter and did not discuss procedures, risk assessments (RAMS), PPE and other safety issues. The Company pleaded guilty to breaching S3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work at and was fined £144,000 with costs of £44,600.

The prosecution told the court that the two workers should not have been considered competent roofers and stated: Al Amin and MR should have warned the workers that the roof was fragile. Neither did so. There was no protection to stop a person falling off or through the roof. [the two workers] should not have been considered competent roofers. They were simply labourers. Nothing was done to assess their competence.”

According to West Midlands police ”

His main priority had been to get roof repairs done as cheaply as possible with disregard to the safety of workers. The recklessness and negligence shown in this case had led directly to the death and we are pleased the severity of this was recognised in court. The main priority was to get the job done as cheaply as possible with complete disregard for the safety of these workers – with tragic consequences. We hope this sentence sends out a message to others than health and safety is not an optional extra.


Flashback arrestors are a legal requirement on oxy-acetylene sets

Are you aware that flashback arrestors are a legal requirement on oxy-acetylene sets?

The regulations about the use and maintenance of oxy-acetylene equipment were updated in late 2014 under The Acetylene Safety (England and Wales and Scotland) Regulations 2014 and included a new mandatory requirement to use suitable flashback arrestors.

The HSE have expressed concern that this legal requirement to use flashback arrestors may not have been fully implemented by all welding operators. The requirement for flashback arrestors is a reasonably practicable control of the risk, and that is why the law requires them. Please ensure you and your workers are protected by fitting the arrestors.

Take a look at the HSE Publication: Working safely with acetylene

Increased risk of jail for H&S offences

Increased risk of jail for health and safety offences: 23 people received either an immediate or suspended custodial sentence between the beginning of February and mid-September, which is about three per month.

On 1 February 2016, the new sentencing guidelines for health and safety offences came into force. To put this into perspective, 189 individuals were sentenced to the same penalty for health and safety offences between 1974, when the Health and Safety at Work Act came into force, and the end of January 2016, according to figures compiled by HSB. This equates to an average of less than five a year. That is a steep upward curve.

It has been commented by a lawyer from DWF that the change in the guidelines for judges and magistrates followed a shift in attitude among prosecuting authorities, which are increasingly likely to prosecute people for breaching safety law.

  • Between 2011 and 2014, there was a 400% increase in prosecutions against individuals.

There is an increased risk of jail. Of these 23 people who received immediate or suspended custodial sentences; ten were for gas safety offences; 20 were directors of small businesses or sole traders, and three were employees.

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Cold Weather Forklift truck safety

Cold Weather Forklift truck safety – For many businesses, forklifts are an essential piece of material handling equipment that they cannot do without. Whether you work in warehousing, construction, many areas of production, transportation or a myriad of other fields, forklifts trucks can make life safer and easier for both you and your employees. Winter presents many challenges to the outdoor operation of forklifts. The key to safe and efficient operation is well-trained and attentive operators. Forklift truck driver training is an absolute must to prevent forklift accidents.

Here are some cold weather forklift truck safety tips to include in your next forklift training session:

  • Winter Hazards
  • Operator Protection
  • Forklift Protection
  • Forklift Operation
  • Forklift Attachments

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