The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Red Tape Challenge

Graham Marshall - Sunday, June 23, 2013

The so-called "Red Tape Challenge" is a British Government initiative tackling unnecessary and over-complicated regulations.

It aims to reduce the burdens for business and society, and support economic growth.

It is particularly important for safety professionals as the British Government has committed to scrap or reform 84 per cent of unnecessary and over-burdensome health and safety regulation.

At the Risk Tool Box, we applaud this effort.

Over2,000 regulations have been identified for reform.

And changes to date are said to be saving business over £200 Million each year.

Measures at reducing birdomesome health and safety regulations include:

•  Removing 100,000s of low risk businesses from unnecessary health and safety inspections;

•  Changing the law so that responsible employers are no longer liable for an accident in the workplace totally outside their control; and

•  Proposing to remove around 800,000 self-employed people whose work poses no harm to others from health and safety regulation in the coming Deregulation Bill.



Hydrocarbon Releases in the North Sea for 2012

Graham Marshall - Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hydrocarbon releases in the UK sector of the North Sea reached a record low last year according to new figures from the Health and Safety Executive (UK HSE).

There were 97 incidents reported to the UK HSE in 2012.

This is down from 133 reported incidents in 2011 and continuing a long-term downward trend.

The figures reveal a 48 per cent reduction in the number of hydrocarbon releases over the last three years – just short of the target the industry set itself in 2010 to halve releases.

The target was set following pressure from the UK HSE to improve performance.

In 2009 there were 187 hydrocarbon releases, of which 86 were classified as significant or major (84 significant and two major).

Court highlights risk to Supervisors who break the law

Graham Marshall - Sunday, June 16, 2013

A supervisor has been prosecuted and fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £9,765.88 costs after a worker  fell ten metres from a roof and was left paralysed from the neck down.

Phillip Giles fell through a fragile roof after supervisor Paul Burke allowed workers, who were removing cement sheets, to go onto the roof.

The court was told Mr Burke’s employer had agreed a system of work where its employees used scissor lifts, removing the roof sheets from the underside.

Mr Burke supervised the work on site and permitted a change to the system of work, whereby he and other employees went onto the roof itself to carry out some of the work.

The Court found Mr Burke had sanctioned an unsafe system of work.

The company was unaware of the changed way of working and Mr Burke had failed to consult with them.

Paul Joseph Burke, 56, of Lightcliffe Road, Brighouse, West Yorkshire, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1)(b) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 between 4 August and 5 September 2011 by failing to properly supervise work at height and make sure it was carried out safely.

Those who supervise work at height have a responsibility to ensure that it is carried out in a manner which is safe and which guards against the risk of injury from a fall.

Waste and Recycling is a High Risk Industry

Graham Marshall - Saturday, June 08, 2013

In the period between 2004 and 2012, the UK HSE investigated the deaths of 97 workers and 19 members of the public, and received reports of 3,722 employees suffering major injuries – in waste and recycling activities.

This makes the waste and recycling sector one of Britain's most dangerous industries.

In response, the waste and recycling industry has been published a five-point plan for reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured in the sector.

The Waste Industry Safety and Health (WISH) Forum has outlined 24 immediate action points under five strategic themes.

These themes include providing strong leadership, involving the workforce, building competence, creating healthier and safer workplaces, and providing support for small and medium sized employers.

Key initiatives include the industry developing its own leadership standards, publishing new training materials on successful worker involvement, and work with customers to use their leverage to promote improved competence.

Piper Alpha Workplace Involvement Day

Graham Marshall - Monday, June 03, 2013

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster, Step Change in Safety and the UK HSE are jointly running a Workforce Involvement Day at the Aberdeen AECC on the 19th June 2013.

The event is free of charge.

The day will be driven by the workforce for the workforce and bring together 500 delegates to reflect on the tragedy, share the lessons learned and review how far offshore safety has evolved in the 25 years since Piper Alpha.

In particular it will focus on the industry’s commitment to workforce engagement and consider what each of us can do to play our part in the drive towards continuous improvement in offshore safety.

The full agenda for this event will be available on the Step Change website.

UK Local Authorities Banned from Stupid HSE Inspections

Graham Marshall - Thursday, May 30, 2013

In great news for small and medium size enterprises in the UK, local authorities are being banned from unnecessary health and safety inspections under a new code coming into effect this week (May 2013).

The UK Health and Safety Executive’s (UK HSE) statutory National Enforcement Code for local authorities will instead target proactive council inspections on higher risk activities in specified sectors or when there is intelligence of workplaces putting employees or the public at risk.

It will see tens of thousands of businesses removed from health and safety inspections which are not justified on a risk basis, including most shops and offices.

Checks will continue on poor performers and at sites where there are higher risk activities.

At the Risk Management Tool Box, we agree with the UK HSE that we need laws that protect people where there is a real risk.

But legislation shouldn't be allowed to stifle businesses operating with low risk profiles.

There are just too many examples of local authorities imposing unnecessary burdens by inspecting low risk businesses. 

This new code should put a stop to this by putting common sense back into the system.

HSE Chair Judith Hackitt said:

Real improvement in safety performance will come from targeting those who put their employees at greatest risk.

Local inspectors have a very important role to play in ensuring the effective and proportionate management of risks by businesses, and the code is designed to guide them to do this.

It sets out how targeting should be achieved, providing certainty for both businesses and regulators. 

The UK HSE will be working with local authorities to ensure the code is successfully implemented.

The new code has been backed by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB). 

It is important to ensure that all local authority health and safety inspections are consistently risk based and proportionate to ensure that low-risk, compliant businesses are able to concentrate on growth.

If low risk businesses believe they are being unreasonably targeted they will be able to complain to an independent panel, which will investigate and issue a public judgement.

HSE will work with those local authorities whose targeting of inspections fails to meet the standards set out.

What is Health Surveillance

Graham Marshall - Saturday, May 25, 2013
Health surveillance involves a program of early identification of ill health in potentially affected workers and helps identify any corrective action needed. 

There may be a requirement in law for employers to undertake health surveillance  if employees are exposed to hazards such as:

+   Noise or vibration;

+   Chemical solvents;

+   Metallic fumes;

+   Dust or fibrous materials;

+   Bio-hazards; 

+   Other substances hazardous to health; or 

+   Work is undertaken in compressed air. 

The UK Health and Safety Executive (UK HSE) has published new online guidance and guidelines on health surveillance needed where, even after all precautions are taken, there is still a risk that workers may be exposed to chemicals or other hazardous substances.

Check the new guidelines on the UK HSE website.

Corporate Manslaughter Trial Ends in Jail Time

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, May 22, 2013

In the United Kingdom, in order to be found guilty of Gross Negligence Manslaughter, the defendant has to owe a duty of care to the deceased; be in breach of this duty; the breach has to have caused the death of the deceased; and the defendant’s negligence was gross (i.e. showed such a disregard for the life and safety of others as to amount to a crime and deserve punishment).

In May 2013, Allan Turnbull of Tow Law, County Durham, has been prosecuted and found guilty of Gross Negligence Manslaughter following a trial into the death of Ken Joyce of Lanchester, County Durham.

Mr Joyce was working for Allan Turnbull, trading as A&H Site Line Boring and Machining, where he was working at height dismantling the structural steelwork of the roof of the Burning Hall at the Swan Hunter Shipyard in Wallsend, Newcastle.

The trial at Newcastle Crown Court heard how Mr Joyce was working from one cherry picker while two colleagues were working from another cherry picker and a crane.  They were dismantling the structure and were using a crane to lower the steel beams to the ground.

While removing a beam brace connecting two plate girders, one of the plate girders struck the basket of the cherry picker in which Mr Joyce was standing, knocking the equipment over.

Mr Joyce fell to the ground below and was pronounced dead soon after.

The police and UK HSE investigation found that Allan Turnbull had failed to adequately plan the work after identifying a lack of suitable and sufficient lifting plans to ensure a safe system of work was in place for the dismantling of the structural steelwork.

Allan Turnbull had earlier pleaded guilty to breaching Sections 2(1) and 3(1) by virtue of Section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974).

He was sentenced to three years in prison.

Ken Joyce lost his life as a result of collective failures which included not preparing in advance a detailed plan of how the work should be carried out and no lifting plans to ensure the safe removal of the beams.

Other people with responsibility for safety can learn from this and ensure they take the necessary action to deal with the high risk involved with work of this nature.

In a statement, Mr Joyce’s family said:

"As his family, we are striving to honour Kenneth’s memory and are still coming to terms with the void his absence has left in our lives over the past four years.

"Above all else we have hoped for justice for him and for the intensity of the sadness and grief created by his untimely passing, to ease and lessen with the aid of this justice, along with the healing passage of time."

Violent Incidents in UK Workplaces for 2012

Graham Marshall - Saturday, March 30, 2013

The UK Health and Safety Executive (UK HSE) report on the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) that the number of violent incidents occurring at work shows a downward trend over the last decade.

But the number of violent incidents has remained fairly constant over the last four years.

Findings from the CSEW illustrate that in 2011 - 12 there were 643,000 incidents of work related violence estimated in England and Wales.

Of these incidents, 324,000 were classified as assaults and 319,000 were classified as threats.

The CSEW demonstrates that the risk of being a victim of work related violence are low for both men and women.

But 41 per cent of victims were assaulted or threatened twice or more in 2011 -12.

The occupations with the highest risks of experiencing work related violence were those involved in protective services, health and education.

A substantial proportion (40%) of offenders were known to victims of violence in the workplace.

Alcohol and drug use remain a factor in many incidents.

And whilst in the majority of cases no injuries are sustained, in 12 per cent of cases, physical trauma is indicated with possibly serious physical and psychological consequences for the individual involved.

One Fifth of UK Constructions Sites Fail Basic Safety Requirements

Graham Marshall - Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Almost 20 per cent of UK construction sites visited by the Health and Safety Executive have been subject to enforcement action after failing safety checks.

In a month long initiative, UK HSE inspectors visited  2,363 sites where refurbishment or repair work was taking place and saw 2976 contractors.

In total, 631 enforcement notices were served across 433 sites for poor practices that could put workers at risk.

451 of the notices ordered that work stop immediately until the construction site was corrected.

Inspectors encountered numerous examples of poor practice, from lack of edge protection on stairwells and scaffolding to unsafe storage of flammable materials and inadequate personal protective equipment.

These types of unsafe conditions are acceptable on any construction site.

The UK HSE has put building contractors on notice that it will not hesitate to use its enforcement powers against reckless employers.

Unsafe "bridge" made to barrow debris.



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