General news and gubbins
PHS have been fined £105,000 plus £45,000 costs for a fire at their Lancashire shredding site. The fire was caused by aerosol cans being shredded, which exploded causing a major fire. A risk assessment had been completed but had identifed the risks of aerosol cans being added to the shredder as being 'very unlikely' and even if they were, the potential outcome was identified as only 'moderate', despite in reality it needing 60 police officers to control the fire as well as the fire service.
More here: PHS fire and fine.
Clarkson has often ripped into the health and safety industry, and for the most part us at HSMC think he should be made head of the HSE itself to bring a lot more realism to the industry. But, until that day the current head of the HSE is increasingly turning out to be one of the best spokespeople health and safety has had for years, to the extent she has just published an article agreeing with the Great Clarkson himself. Judith - we salute you!
The first in a series of situations where the 'elf n safety' goblins have been hard at work, making a right mess of something, usually going completely over the top, and managing to achieve very little other than gift the Daily Mail yet another headline about health and safety gone mad.
So, to kick us off, this horrendous little sticker, which is spreading like a rash in hotel rooms the country over. But the biggest culprits? Lets say they are the purple-themed ones favoured by Lenny Henry, and start with the French word for 'first' followed by the old English word for a pub...
So what's wrong with this? Firstly, they stick it over every hot tap in the place - it's a hot tap, it's supposed to be hot. We don't need warning about it - we're all fairly familiar with the concept of the red tap being hot and other being cold. And more importantly, it's not remotely helpful in meeting any legal obligations.
If the water is identified as being so hot it may cause injury then the solution is blindingly simple - turn the thermostat down on the hot water system. Problem solved. Not rocket science is it? The problem with the signs is that they are either completely over the top nonsense which discredits health and safety, or they are ignoring the basic rules of risk reduction which require the risk to be removed if at all possible. As these are hotels it is reasonable to assume people may be present who can't read them as they have poor sight or can't read English - so they must all be running out screaming with blistered hands.
Utter nonsense, no help in legal compliance, and to be honest faintly embarrassing to the rest of us in health and safety. Stop it.
We saw this on the entrance door to a site recently - if only health and safety was that easy! Nice try though and 10/10 for effort!
The Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations have introduced mandatory charges for 'intervention' by the HSE's inspectors, currently at £124 per hour. It is worth noting that the individual Inspectors have little discretion in whether to apply the fees or not and if certain (low) targets are hit then the fees apply.
HSMC have produced a guide to the Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations which is free to download.
- The HSE's page on Fees for Intervention
- The HSE's guidance on Fees for Intervention
- Download a copy of the Helath and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012
In 2102 the HSE clarified the guidance on PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) in lower risk environments such as offices as there was wide-spread over compliance. We've put a short guide together on this for you which can be downloaded:
A bit of chest-beating for once, but we've splashed out a painful amount of cash on an all-singing all-dancing real fire simulator, allowing all fire courses to include practical use of an extinguisher on a live fire. The simluator really is the mutt's nuts and can simluate various types of fire behaviours, including Class A (paper, wood, etc.), Class B (burning liquids) and Class C (gas) fires. This is now a standard part of all our Fire Awareness Training and Fire Marshal Training courses, at no additional charge to the existing cheap and chips rate. Bargain!
This site was visited about a year ago by us and we told them they needed a sign on the fire door, so that's what they put up :)
RIDDOR has only just been updated, but another consultation on propose changes opened in August 2012 and runs through to October. Details here: RIDDOR consultation
A couple of stories came up recently regarding small multi-legged friends finding that people's ears make nice warm homes:
Spider makes home in an ear, with some nice photos :)
Ladybird in ear
A great accident reported in Americaland
An article on the workers at the London Olympic venues
Panorama's programme last night on UK call centres included a 10-15 minute segment at the beginning on how call centres find and encourage claims for noise induced hearing loss, claiming to get the individual's details from a non-existant database. It's well worth any employer or H&S person watching the first 15 minutes or so just to see how this seedier side works and what we're up against.
Chap just called to ask if we could do some health and safety work in a "central African country". When asked which one and he said it was confidential but he could assure us it isn't a war zone. "In fact it is very stable as we have the UN on the ground"... To our simple minds, having the UN on the ground is not a sign of stability - by that logic, as Stow-on-the-wold doesn't have a UN presence it must be a hotbed of armed insurgence! :)
The ability to charge employers for material breaches is not new and is a power the HSE have had for some time, but the incoming 2012 regulations remove the element of choice as to when to apply the charges. The consultation is therefore not about whether to institute such charges but merely to fine-tune the detail such as the amounts concerned.
Current fee proposals are:
- £750 for every inspection which results in a letter to the employer from the inspector.
- £1,500 for every inspection which results in an improvement note.
- £750 upwards, to several thousands of pounds for an investigation as a result of an accident or occupational ill health report.
It's enough to make one sigh and tut heavily, but it would appear a Council has banned hot drinks from a Coffee Morning. As clear a case of ignoring all common sense and the cold dead hand of inappropriate health and safety as there has ever been.
Some fire service areas have announced they will stop responding to automatic alarm call-outs from 2012 or will greatly reduce their response in terms of personnel sent and even response time. The areas introducing this are Hampshire; Berkshire; Essex; Norfolk; Northamptonshire; Staffordshire; Warwickshire; West Midlands; West Yorkshire; Cumbria; Greater Manchester and Lancashire. Kent Fire and Rescue plans to require verification of automatic calls from 2012 whereby an automatic alarm will be verified by a manual telephone call before responding.
This is an attempt to cut down on the costs of false alarms but it hasn’t been warmly received, with the Fire Industry Association branding it as ‘madness’.
Businesses in the affected areas should ensure their fire safety procedures include a manual telephone call as a back-up in the event of a fire to ensure prompt attendance of the local fire service.
The BBC have an interactive map showing every road death in the ten years up to 2010, searchable by postcode. Makes quite startling viewing.
Interactive map of UK road deaths for ten years up to 2010
A court in Southwark has been told that tinnitus caused a man to take his own life rather than continue to suffer it:
Source: Yahoo News - Tinnitus blamed for suicide
This was the view from inside one of our trailers last week: