Health and Safety – October 2018Print publication
A waste and recycling company has been fined £700,000 (with costs of almost £100,000), and its director has been sentenced to eight months in prison, after a worker died in 2010 when he entered the machine he was working with to clear a blockage. The machine’s safety interlock system had been defeated two months earlier, enabling workers to enter the machine while it was still in operation. Five years later, inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) were informed that the company was continuing to use the same machine with further critical safety systems being defeated. The sentencing judge noted this as a serious aggravating factor.
A garden shed manufacturing company was fined £233,334 (with costs of over £21,000) after a worker was killed by a reversing fork lift truck which was unloading a delivery wagon at the time. The HSE says that vehicles at work continue to be a major cause of fatal and major injuries – every year there are over 5000 incidents involving transport in the workplace, about 50 of them fatal.
Focus on mental health
The HSE has updated its guidance on mental health in the workplace, setting out the roles and responsibilities of employers to help their employees. The guidance contains various links to supporting materials. The HSE says that employers have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it. See the HSE’s webpage on work-related stress for more details.
On 8 October 2018, the business-led charity Business in the Community published its Mental Health at Work Report – 2018. It says that, while the government and others are putting in more resources and developing new initiatives, businesses have the opportunity to step up and make direct changes to the way they think about and tackle mental health issues, starting with the core and enhanced standards outlined in the Stevenson/Farmer review (see the October 2017 edition of the Regulatory round-up for details). It says that employers must wake up to the prevalence and impact of mental health issues in the workplace and make it their priority to establish parity between physical and mental health. A series of recommendations for employers on how they can radically improve the support provided in the workplace is set out on page 107 onwards.
HSE announces waste and recycling industry inspections…
On 1 October 2018, the HSE announced the launch of a three month inspection campaign in the waste and recycling industry. Unannounced inspections will focus in particular on the management of workplace transport and machinery safety.
…and cladding removal and replacement inspections
The HSE has also announced that it is carrying out a series of inspections of removal and replacement of Aluminium Composite Material cladding projects on tall buildings. While fire safety will be the focus of the visits, the HSE says that other matters of evident concern which are found will also be dealt with. It has produced a sector technical note for its inspectors in the appendix to its operational guidance, which it says will also be useful for clients, managing agents, designers and contractors involved in planning, procuring and undertaking the work. It strongly advises those engaged to read and follow the guidance in the note.
In related news, the Royal Institute of British Architects responded to the government’s recent consultation on the proposed clarification of building regulations guidance on fire safety (Approved Document B), saying that it doesn’t go far enough. The consultation was issued in the wake of Dame Judith Hackitt’s independent review of building regulations and fire safety.
Pilot group launched to improve occupational health in construction
Not-for-profit financial services provider B&CE has launched a pilot group of companies to help develop a new product to improve occupational health provision across the construction industry. The aim is to make it easier for employers to comply with health and safety legislation and identify work-related illnesses earlier. It says that, each year, 80,000 workers in the construction industry suffer from illnesses caused or made worse by their work.
Contains public sector information published by the Health and Safety Executive and licensed under the Open Government Licence.