In February 2016, the HSE published details of its new ‘Helping Great Britain work well Strategy’. In March 2016, it added further information to its website and published documents that provide more detailed plans. The HSE has been quick to point out that the health and safety standards in Great Britain are second to none. However, it has stated that there is always room for improvement in respect of the management of work related to ill health. The total lost days of sickness is costing the economy £9 billion a year.
The HSE is planning to adopt a more helpful and business friendly approach. This is being delivered through advice and guidance rather than enforcement. It has new guidance, case studies etc. which are designed to help businesses identify the best way of keeping their workforce and others fit and healthy.
Whilst laboratories, hospitals, schools and factories are likely to store hazardous chemicals, they need to be stored correctly and not under a sink or at the back of a cupboard.
There are a few potential risks with hazardous chemicals:
- If they mix with each other (e.g. through leakage).
- If they are involved in a fire or have flammable properties.
The management of substances means you must only keep the minimum amount and lowest hazardous substances possible. Another consideration is if the chemical is toxic, harmful or corrosive etc. Staff who use these must be trained in its safe use etc. Keep these chemicals in a safe and secure place and ensure that they are only accessed by competent staff.
Most general cleaning work can be carried out without either chemicals or with low hazardous products. Choose substances that do not have a warning sign on the back as these can be left under the sink or in wash rooms without concern. Remember to avoid storing chemicals in damp conditions as the packaging can be affected. If you do store chemicals in large quantities, then remember plastic trays to stand the chemicals on are a good idea in case of spillages/leakages. This will reduce the risk of accidental mixing and help with the ease of clearing up if necessary.
The three government bodies that set the environment and energy agenda have given a few clues as to what is set out in the new 2016-2020 Environmental Policy. The plans are designed to set out key policy objectives for the period 2015-2020 and give an insight into how departmental budget cuts, announced in the 2015 Autumn Statement are likely to be implemented.The Department for Environmental, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) promises to “deliver a strong economy and health environment” through 6 fairly high level objectives. These include:-
- Creating a cleaner, healthier environment.
- A world-class food and farming sector.
- A thriving rural economy.
- Better protection against floods.
- Delivering on time and budget, and
- Delivering efficiency.
Defra promises a new approach to tackling waste crime by making use of £20 million from a reform of the Landfill Communities Fund. The details are yet to be released.
The Department of Energy & Climate Change is prioritising energy security, keeping bills low, decarbonisation (focussing on reducing emissions across homes) and building an “energy legacy”.
There are plenty of details on large-scale energy infrastructure projects but less on businesses saving energy. However, plans to promise to develop a renewed strategy for renewable heat and the government’s response to the recent business energy efficiency consultation was published in the 2016 budget.
The Department for Transport says it will focus on local air quality and throw all its weight behind the use of ultra-low emission vehicles (especially in cities). Congestion charging and low emission zones, which ban the most polluting vehicles from entering certain zones will be further promoted.
In March 2016, the government changed the levels of the plug in car grants. To encourage drivers away from diesel and petrol vehicles and into a plug in or hybrid, the government are offering subsidies. Under the previous scheme a flat rate of £5,000 was on offer. Fortunately, the government has not ditched the deal completely but has made significant changes to it.
Rather than a flat rate applying to all vehicles, 3 categories have been introduced:-
- Category 1 – CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and a zero emissions range of at least 70 miles.
- Category 2 – CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km and a zero emissions range of between 10 and 69 miles.
- Category 3 – CO2 emissions of 50g/km to 75g/km and a zero emissions range of at least 20 miles.
The amounts on offer has changed, the grants have been cut from £5,000 to £4,500 for Category 1 vehicles and £2,500 for Category 2 and 3 vehicles. The justification for doing this is there is only a certain amount of money available for these schemes and what there is is being spread as far as possible. These grant levels will be maintained until March 2017 or until a set number of grants have been provided. It is willing to give out 85,000 grants, however the bad news is that it is counting the 51,000 that were handed out under the previous scheme. This means that there are still 34,000 available and considering the volume of qualifying car sales, the money should last until the March 2017 deadline.
Remember, before buying such a vehicle do your sums as although the running costs are likely to be better the purchase price (even with the grant) will be higher compared to diesel models.
Back in November 2013, R was driving a fork lift truck at a scrap yard. A labourer was assisting him in loading scrap cars into a shipping container in readiness to be exported. He was standing on the forks of the truck and in the process the labourer’s left arm became stuck in the mast mechanism. Three fire crews, a specialist major rescue unit, 2 air ambulances, a medical team from Manchester Royal Infirmary and 3 ambulance crews were called to help. It took more than 2 hours to release R and he unfortunately sustained sever crush injuries and permanent nerve damage. He was still receiving treatment over 2 years later and has been unable to work.
The company initially failed to report the accident under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR). It was some 3 months later when HSE inspectors discovered the worker had been instructed to stand on the forks. The company pleaded guilty to breaches of Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and Regulation 4 of RIDDOR. It was also guilty to breaching health and safety law and handed a 6 month suspension sentence and ordered to pay costs.
On 1 April 2016, the government announced changes to hazardous waste registration and consignment notes came into effect.
Under the previous requirements, a business that produced more than 500kg of hazardous waste had to be registered with the Environment Agency (EA). From 1 April this has been dropped.
If you have a current registration, then you do not need to do anything. When it automatically runs out it will not be renewed. (These changes only apply to premises in England.)
Under the old system, businesses had to put their premises registration number on consignment notes (which are documents that are used to record the waste transfer transaction). However, now the registration process has been dropped. This process is no longer required.
Under the previous regime, businesses that do not have a registration number (those which only produce relatively small amounts of hazardous waste) marked the consignment note with “EXEMPT”. They are no longer able to do this.
From 1 April 2016, all businesses must use the first 6 letters of their business name. This should be followed by 5 numbers of the producer’s choosing. Guidance produced by the EA makes is clear that all businesses must start using this new system from 1 April 2016. Therefore, do not continue to use pre-printed forms that feature your registration number rather than your business name.
In 2003, the HSE published Caring for Cleaners: Guidance and case studies on how to prevent musculoskeletal disorders. This has since been withdrawn. The original document gave a good insight into the topic including the root causes of health problems e.g. “poorly organised work”, “a lack of time”, “poor scheduling”, “fear of making mistakes” and “unsuitable working at height”.
As we are aware, cleaning is demanding and labour intensive work. Full time workers in particular risk pain affecting the back, neck, shoulders and upper limbs. Injuries may result if equipment is too heavy to move, e.g. Floor polishing machines. Manual lifting may also be a concern when moving bags of rubbish.
When selecting staff to use heavy machinery you should make sure they are fit enough for the task and are properly trained. Using lighter equipment will help and breaking tasks up with lighter duties will assist.
There is a new health and safety system strategy for Great Britain;
Help Great Britain work well
Strategic Themes http://www.hse.gov.uk/strategy/index.htm
Acting Together- Promoting a broader ownership
Tackling ill health- Highlighting and Tackling the costs
Managing risk well- Simplifying risk management
Supporting small employers- Giving SMEs simple advice
Keeping pace with change- Anticipating and tackling new challenges
Sharing our success- Promoting the benefits
The 2016 HSE Strategy Document can be downloaded from the following link http://www.hse.gov.uk/strategy/strategy-document.htm
Helping Great Britain work well has taken Social Media by storm. Promoting the strategy by banners and promotional imagery. Companies have all got involved #HelpGBWorkWell
Hawksafe had to get involved!!
Back in October 2015, the introduction of sentencing guidelines for environmental penalties meant that it was only a matter of time before companies were found guilty of breaching the law and that these companies would be hit hard.
A water utilities company was fined £1 million following a guilty plea to two pollution offences. The damage was caused when polluting matter was discharged from a sewage treatment works into the Grand Union Canal.
The judge stated that the time had come for sentences for environmental offences to be “sufficiently severe to have a significant impact on the organisation’s finances”.
Although the fine of £1 million can hardly be described as ‘light’ the penalty was less than it could have been. By pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity and co-operating in the investigation, the company in question managed to keep the fine as low as possible.
Small businesses will not be hit with £1 million fines but penalties will be large enough to have an impact. The Court of Appeal has stated that fines for the most serious offences could be equivalent to “100% of a company’s pre-tax net profits”. In other words the courts want businesses to take managing environmental issues such as pollution prevention extremely seriously.
What could Hawksafe do for you?
Assist in PQQ’s and gaining accreditations such as CHAS, Construction line and Achilles.
Provide you with training ranging from first aid to face-fit and asbestos awareness and food safety.
Write job specific RAMS for you.
Assist in compliance with regulations such as CDM including as acting as principal designer.
Help you with any risk assessments you need from manual handling to COSHH.
Workplace/site assessments and inspections.
We have clients in many sectors including; specialised access, pest control, construction, electrical, heating, transport and logistics through to food manufacturing.