Don't Do It!
It’s a depressing thought with which to start the new year, but most of us are very often only one step away from a disaster. A simple slip, a patch of ice, a blind-spot...it doesn’t take much, and of course the consequences can continue to effect us for ever. Our problem is that we resolutely believe that trouble only happens to other people. Other people fall off ladders or miss their footing or touch the wrong wires or, come to that, catch diseases, get caught by a freak wave or blasted by a terrorist bomb, not us. And it’s not true, because it is us...
What’s also true is that falls from a height account for more reported accidents than any other cause of injury. The Health and Safety Executive’s report on “Slips and trips and falls from height in Great Britain 2013”, available at http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causinj/slips-trips-and-falls.pdf
makes salutary reading. In brief these accounted for 31% of fatalities, were responsible for more than half of all major (56%) and almost a third of over seven day (31%) injuries to employees, making up 37% of all reported injuries to employees (RIDDOR). Extrapolated into human misery this means that in the UK 25 lives ended during the period because of a fall at work and 2,727 people had to spend over a week off work because of what the HSE defines a “major fall”. That’s a lot of people.
Our own estimate is that 100% of these accidents didn’t have to happen, that they were avoidable, that both employer and employee took the view that it wouldn’t happen to them, that they were somehow immune from disaster...and the point is that no-one is immune. Our very sincere call to anyone reading this is to not allow risks to be taken, to plan ahead, to look at worst case scenarios and, for heaven’s sake, consult the experts...
The Real Cost of an Accident
Something we see only too often are the almost incalculable ramifications of having experienced an accident at work, which is a complicated way of saying that most of us fail to see beyond the obvious when it comes to understanding what can happen if you have even a semi-serious accident at work.
So let’s look at this more deeply.
Let’s assume for a moment that one of your work force trips over a power cable stretched across a walkway between desks in your office. They take a tumble and crack their head open on the corner of a desk…what next?
For a start they’ll be off work for some time. Did you know that “SSP is not payable for the first three QDs in a PIW. These are called Waiting Days (WDs).” It’s true. Have a read of E14 (2013) the Employer Helpbook for Statutory Sick Pay, it’s in there, and the point we’re making is that even dealing with what should be the simplest of post-accident problems can be a mine-field.
Then the question of fault, compensation and consequential loss. In a recent study it was found that in terms of financial costs to employers, the amount of loss over a random twenty cases varied
from €0 to over €3.8 million and that the average cost of the twelve middle-range accidents was approximately €52,000. Perhaps more significantly the costs found were in almost all cases underestimates
as productivity losses (with one exception) were not recorded by employers. Nearly half (8) of the more serious accidents in the case
studies resulted in personal injury claims. Of the four settled claims, three compensation awards came to approximately €30,000 and the remaining award was for €152,000.
Why so many under-estimates? Because as employers we tend not to think of the knock-on effects of having to employ replacement staff, or incurring overtime payments, of production and productivity losses, retraining costs, personal injury claim compensation, repair bills, medical and travel expenses and increased supervision. And here’s something else seldom considered, the degree of resentment towards the employer from the injured employee. In our study over one-third of the injured employees reported a ‘significant’ or ‘large’ amount of resentment towards the employer after the accident. This was reported to result from the way they were subsequently treated by their employer rather than from the accident itself, because the trouble is that, as with a car accident, suddenly the employer and employee are on different sides.
It’s not worth the risk, is it? Our message is that you should avoid work place accidents at all costs, because an accident could cost you all…
Company Director Liability
It won’t come as any surprise to most reading this blog that becoming a director of a company carries with it more liabilities than just those revolving around finance. It’s a point that has came home to roost in quite a big way recently when someone we know found themselves being detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure for a two year period for having been the Director of a company involved in some illegalities. And here’s the point: you may not even know that something in your company isn’t meeting current legislation, but, as a Director, you still remain liable.
The Health and Safety (Offences) Act came into force some years ago now, in 2009, but even then it received substantially less press coverage than the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act brought in a year or two before and yet, arguably, it has more far-reaching and dramatic consequences, especially from the perspective of individuals.
What the Health and Safety (Offences) Act introduced was the option for sentencing courts to send individual directors and employees to prison, if they are found guilty of health and safety related offences, even in cases where nobody has been seriously injured. Until then the prospect of a jail sentence was generally only a concern in manslaughter cases. And, as in the case of the chap we know, the maximum period is two years.
Scare-mongerers we’re not, but our question to all company directors is a simple one. Is it worth the risk of something going wrong and, as a result, finding oneself in clink?
And, may we say, it gets worse, because once released the stigma of having a successful prosecution against your name stays with you, impacting every area of your life, which answers our own question. No, it’s not worth it, not for a second. Our advice? Take no risks in making sure your Health and Safety policies and procedures meet all current legislation.
We can help you with that.
Counting the Cost
Accidents cost more than you think…
Despite the fact that there are those who constantly bemoan the way that the Health and Safety Executive has to have a say in all we do, Britain actually has a relatively good health and safety track record, but not one that will allow us to rest on our laurels. In fact 1.2 million people suffered from a work related illness in the year 2010/11, and over 600,000 work place injuries were reported, leading to 26.4 million working days being lost.
So what’s the cost of all that? The HSE estimates anything between £9
10m to £3,710m, which is a great deal of money, any way you look at it. What doesn’t help is that most companies don’t bother to examine the actual and consequential costs attached to accidents. Many assume that
most accident and incident costs can be recovered through insurance, and the truth is…it’s not true!
The HSE estimates that uninsured losses amount to roughly ten times the cost of insurance premiums paid, with uninsured losses from accidents in smaller firms adding up to £315 per employee, per year.
Of course it’s more than just the lost time and sick pay, more than just the damage caused and repairs necessary as a result of the accident. It’s even more than the extra wages, overtime and temporary labour needed to compensate, it’s the production delays, the loss of good will and contracts, of reputation and co-worker morale and, then, of course, there’s the investigation time, fines and legal costs…and increased premiums…so here’s the question:
Is it worth it?
We don’t think so. If you agree, why not get in touch?
Training for Safety (2)
We’re taught that one of the basic lessons of writing a blog is to keep it short and fresh, challenging even, but whatever the subject, entertaining and educational.
So forgive us.
Don’t see what follows as hammering out an old tune, more as our fulfilling our role in caring for our clients!
It’s about training, and the importance of it. More to the point, it’s about responsibility and the importance of that. Because the responsibility for providing training always falls on the employer, and when something goes sadly wrong, the responsibility for not having provided training falls on the employer too…usually in a devastating way.
As the Health and Safety Executive’s own website tells us training will:
· contribute towards making your employees competent in health and safety;
· help your business avoid the distress that accidents and ill health cause;
· help you avoid the financial costs of accidents and occupational ill health, such as damaged products, lost production and demotivated staff.
And they add the reminder that your insurance might not cover all these costs
So, how can we help?
Answer: By offering the availability of first class accredited training courses to cover all the most necessary area of training: Working at Heights (PASMA and IPAF); Asbestos (UKATA); Management Safety (IOSH, NEBOSH and SMSTS); First Aid; General Health and Safety (COSHH, CCNSG) or indeed any other sort of general trade or tool and equipment training. What’s more we can offer this training at a time that fits in with your working day, so you and your staff get the maximum benefit with the minimum disruption.
To find out more why not give us a ring?
Fire Risk Assessment and Fire Safety Training
The first thing we need to bring to your attention here is that if you’re an employer, owner, landlord or occupier of business or other non-domestic premises, including having paying guests in any shape or form, you’re responsible for the fire safety and you’re therefore defined in law as being the ‘responsible person’. As such, there are certain things you must do by law under the Fire Safety Order, which is enforced by your local fire and rescue authority.
What does this include? Well for a start you have to carry out and regularly review a fire risk assessment of your premises and then tell your staff and/or their representatives about the risks you’ve identified. Then you have to put in place, and maintain, adequate and appropriate fire safety measures to remove or reduce any risk to life you may have identified. You have to plan for any emergency that may happen and provide your staff with the information and fire safety instruction and training that they need to cope with and overcome the emergencies you’ve identified. There’s a variation on this if you happen to share premises in which case it’s likely there’ll be more than one responsible person and you’ll have to coordinate your fire safety plans to make sure people on or around the premises are safe. Incidentally, the responsible person for any common or shared areas is your landlord, freeholder or managing agent.
Where does all this leave you? Well, you could do it all yourself, but an option would be to ask us to do it for you! The law allows you to appoint a professional risk assessor (us) to act on your behalf, something we’re happily doing for an ever increasing number of companies. We can also look after the training of your staff so that, as a business owner you’ll know that all your potential problems are covered.
Looking for help...!
Less of a blog this month and more of a plea, or if not a plea, then certainly a notice of requirement!
As you’ll have read in last month’s blog, we’ve recently been working at a well known car plant in Luton, a job we’ve obviously done to the client’s complete satisfaction because they’ve asked us to do more work for them, which we’re happy to do, but need some help in achieving.
So, can you help?
For our Luton project we’re looking for a Health and Safety Consultant who must be available until Christmas for an on-going contract. Could that be you? If so, please contact us!
We are also looking for qualified CDM-C’s, who must be RMaPS. You may be available for work right now and be happy with traveling anywhere in the country, you may not be free for weeks to come, whatever, but if you, or someone you know, would like to be considered for this type of work in the future, we’d love to hear from you. We’re getting an increasing number of enquiries for this type of work and it would be good to have some colleagues we can call on.
For those reading this who haven’t a clue what a CDM-C is, it stands for Construction (Design and Management) Co-ordinator, someone who is accredited by the Institution of Construction Safety to be a competent Duty Holder under Appendix 4 of the Approved Code of Practice, the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007. A further accreditation is to be included on the register of CDM Co-ordinators with the Association of Project Safety (APS). And those are the people we’re looking for right now!
There’s something about having a string of letters after your name. It says something about you, they give you credibility and standing and they tell the world that you care about your industry, you’re serious about what you do and that you’re a voice to be reckoned with.
And that’s just the start.
Because there’s a lot more to it.
People often refer to their websites as being their silent salesman, especially if it's one that’s working for them, bringing in leads and opportunities. It’s out there working for you every time someone clicks on the right button and finds it. Very much the same can be said for those letters after your name, those accreditations that say that your company has been approved or certified, has met industry standards or subscribes to a scheme. They’re all your silent salesmen, they’re telling anyone who looks something about you and your company, about how seriously you treat your business and what you’ve done about it. Perish the thought, but it might also help you to justify your pricing, not that you’d ever need to…
So, what’s applicable to your industry? Are you a Safe Contractor? (With more than 200 major clients and over 18,000 contractor members, safecontractor is one of the fastest growing health and safety assessment schemes in the UK) or accredited to CHAS the Government’s own Health and Safety Assessment Scheme, or is there another scheme more applicable to you?
And if you don’t know…ask us! Helping companies to gain accreditation is one of our specialities. We can help you right through the process, binging your company into line with what’s expected and then helping with the application itself. Just give us a ring.
It's that old HSE feeling again...
Some may call it beating a drum. We’d call it keeping aware and safe! What are we talking about? Well, it’s that old chestnut the HSE again.
Just scroll down these blogs and you’ll see how as long ago as last January we were writing about what was called the “Outcome of the Consultation on the Fee for Intervention Scheme” and how, should an HSE inspector visit your premises and consider that there has been a material breach requiring formal advice, this will in future be invoiced to you at a rate of £124 an hour, as will any follow emails, letters or re-visits to site.
Well, today we’re letting you know that the HSE has launched a month long campaign targeting the construction industry, with a particular focus on the more obvious dangers such as working at heights, but also looking at welfare facilities, personal protection and general site management. Recent years have seen up to 50% of sites fail an inspection in some measure or other, so there’ll be no surprise at the decision to concentrate on this sector; what will come as a surprise to many builders will be the implementation of the Fee for Intervention…
So here’s how you can help! If you know any builders just ask them if they’re aware of the new FFI charges. Then stand back. Once they’ve settled down again tell them that you know a way that they could be safe from the outcome of any HSE inspection…and then tell them about us.
Training for Safety
At FRS we’ve always offered training as part of our overall package of services. Have a look at the Home Page on this website and you’ll see training mentioned under the “other services” we list…it’s there, but we’ve never made a song and dance about it…but not any more, because in future you’ll be able to consult us about any training issues or requirements you may have and we’ll be able to offer you fully accredited training that will be both enjoyable and productive.
So, if it’s Working at Heights courses (PASMA and IPAF), or Asbestos (UKATA), Management Safety (IOSH, NEBOSH and SMSTS) or First Aid, General Health and Safety (COSHH, CCNSG) or indeed any other sort of general trade or tool and equipment training make sure that in future your first call is through to the experts…which is us! We’ll be able to talk to you about the training options we can offer, the availability of courses, their timing, duration, and cost, and we’ll make sure that what we offer meets what you need.
One of the problems facing operators of any publicly accessible building or attraction is how to keep visitors safe. This is especially true with older buildings and those of inherently historic interest, where to safeguard the public could, on the face of it, mean destroying, or at least compromising, the beauty and attractiveness of the property.
The problem is compounded by the different views that surround the question of what actually constitutes a risk, and then again by the perceived potential for that risk to occur, all of which became elements in a case that occurred some years ago at Warwick Castle, but was only quite recently settled.
The case involved the fall to his death of a visitor to the castle who tripped and then fell over a .4m parapet wall running along the edge of a 4m high bridge into the dry moat below. The Health and Safety Officer at the castle at the time reported that he had inspected the bridge many times, and that there had never been any incidents or accidents on the bridge in the past. It is certainly true that tens if not hundreds of thousands of people have crossed the bridge safely over the years. Health and Safety inspectors from Warwick District Council had visited the site at least 10 times in the previous few years without making comment.
Warwick’s Environmental Health Officer said that the Castle’s operators had been alerted to the risk on two occasions and told of the need to erect safety barriers, a proper safety risk assessment, he said, would have identified the problem.
Following a seven-day trial the jury found the company guilty of breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act for failing to protect non-employees, and Regulation 5 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations for failing to plan, organise, control, monitor and review protective measures. A fine totalling £495,000, including costs, was imposed.
We would comment as follows:
· The beauty and historic nature of a building is no protection against health and safety legislation.
· Just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it won’t happen! There’s no change in likelihood, the odds of it happening again don’t change because it has happened once. So don’t risk it!
Better to invite the experts to cast their professional eye over the risks associated with any public place. You know where to find us!
Far be it from us to alarm either existing or potential clients with scare headlines, but the question of Corporate Manslaughter and the risks attached to this worrying area of the law are too great to be ignored. It would be easy enough to think that this sort of stuff only happens to other people, but let us tell you a story, and see what you think.
A Manchester storage-products manufacturer has been sentenced recently after becoming the third company in the UK to be convicted under the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007.
Lion Steel Equipment Ltd, based in Hyde, Greater Manchester was ordered to pay a fine of £480,000 in relation to the death of worker Steven Berry in 2008. Mr Berry fell through a fragile roof-light at the company’s Hyde premises after he had gone to check the source of a leak.
Originally, the Crown Prosecution Service had also brought charges against the company under sections 2 and 33 of the HSWA 1974, as well as charges of gross-negligence manslaughter and breaches of section 37 HSWA 1974 against three of the firm’s directors: Kevin Palliser – works manager at the Hyde site; Richard Williams – works manager at Lion Steel’s Chester site; and Graham Coupe – the company’s financial director, however, following a ‘half-time’ submission of no case to answer, Richard Williams was acquitted of both charges he faced and Graham Coupe was acquitted of the manslaughter charge but remained charged under section 37 HSWA 1974. Following these rulings, negotiations were entered into with the prosecution, with the result that the company pleaded guilty to corporate manslaughter and the remaining charges against Graham Coupe and Kevin Palliser were dropped.
The cost? £480,000.
Here’s the argument:
The prosecution argued that Lion Steel had not put in place any suitable arrangements for working on the roof, nor had it trained Mr Berry in roof work, nor provided him with any protective equipment for such work.
It also sought to establish a duty of care for Palliser, Williams and Coupe through the managerial offices they held and relied on information from various surveys carried out by the company’s insurers to establish that the three managers had knowledge that safety procedures and precautions were not as they should be.
Another element to the case was the delay in finalising proceedings, Steffan Groch, regulatory partner at DWF, which defended the company, said: “DWF has been involved with this case from the outset and we’ve been amazed at how long it has taken to come to a conclusion. We welcome the judge’s comments that this was unacceptable on the part of the prosecution authorities. It has been a long process for those involved, not least for Steven's family, and our thoughts are very much with them at this time.”
The delay? Four years!
Our question? Is it worth the risk? This whole ghastly story could have been avoided had the right people at Lion Steel listened to their insurers…or employed a professional Health and Safety company like ourselves to advise them!
More on Intervention…
The eagle eyed amongst those who read this blog will remember us first mentioning this topic back in March, and if you don’t, just scroll down this page until you get to the 10th of that month…you’ll see that we mentioned then that the HSE had decided to charge for their intervention in future, and that they’d decided that £124 an hour was the fee they had in mind.
The scheme was due to be introduced in April of this year but wasn’t. It is now, on the 1st October. Details o how it is proposed that the scheme will run can be found on the HSE’s website, which also explains that the scheme will operate in accordance with the HSE’s existing Enforcement Management Model (EMM) and the Enforcement Policy Statement (EPS).
All well and good, but there are problems, especially, as we see it, for smaller businesses. One view we agree with is that given by an expert solicitor who says that “Depending on experience and style, some inspectors may take longer than others to complete the investigation, which will undoubtedly lead to discrepancies across the board, meaning some businesses could pay much more than others.”
Which makes perfect sense, of course, but it gets worse, because the same chap went on to say,
“Apart from knowing that the hourly rate will be £124, businesses will have no way of knowing what the final bill will come to until the very end of the case. What’s more, there appears to be no room for discussion or negotiations until this stage either, as the first time that a business can raise an objection is when they receive the invoice for the investigation. Ultimately, it is smaller businesses that are going to suffer as a result of the FFI regulation.”
Which doesn’t bode well.
Of course the obvious answer is not to get caught out in the first place, and the best way to avoid that is by talking to us! We charge rather less than £124 an hour, and we can tell you up front what our total bill will be…which sounds like a good deal to us!
The initial ‘Guidance on the application of Fee for Intervention’ is available at www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/hse47.htm but a final version will be published prior to the start date of the scheme.
5th July 2012
When is a Fire Risk Assessment not a Fire Risk Assessment?
When it’s a sham…
Read on, because we have a story to tell you.
Once upon a time there was a handsome prince who just happened to own two completely different palaces, the only thing they really had in common being the fact that they were both licensed and had sleeping accommodation. Now the handsome prince knew that he needed to have a fire risk assessment, and he wanted to do the Right Thing, so he employed Mr O to produce fire risk assessments for both palaces, in compliance with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
But here’s where it all went wrong, because Mr O wasn’t what he appeared to be! Mr O actually had no formal health and safety qualifications. He was a sham.
What happened then was that officers from the Fire and Rescue Service completed their own fire safety audit, and it became abundantly clear that Mr O’s assessments of the two completely different palaces were totally unsuitable for the job in hand…and, even worse, if worse was possible, Mr O’s two reports were absolutely identical.
Oh dear. As you can imagine the Fire and Rescue Services were not happy, and neither was the prince, especially when he was given an eight month custodial sentence and fined £15,000. Mr O was given the same sentence, and had to pay nearly £6,000 in costs, The Fire and Rescue Services having reckoned that the deficiencies in Mr O’s reports were so serious that anyone staying in either of the palaces would have been at considerable risk.
So, what’s the moral of this tale?
1. If you’re employing experts, make sure they’re experts! Check credentials and look for testimonials.
2. Check your experts work. If the reports they produce bear no resemblance to your own palace, reject it.
3. Save time! Ring us now on 0117 9324600, relax and know you’re in the hands of the experts. Sweet dreams…
21st May '12
The Benefits of Approval…
It’s increasingly true in life that every “I” has to be dotted and every “t” crossed, and that those companies that aren’t absolutely up to scratch in every area of their activities will suffer because of it. It is also true that increasingly our credibility as people and as companies is based not so much on who or what we are ourselves, but on what other people say about us. People, and this is especially true of prospective clients, will look to our websites and our qualifications to check that what we’ve said face to face is true. What’s more it’s those people and companies who can demonstrate what they say about themselves that will new business over those who claim to be able to achieve but have little to show to prove it.
That’s one of the overwhelming benefits of belonging to an accredited scheme or being recognised and listed as being amongst the best at what you do. It means that everything you or your website says about your company can be checked and verified…and that’s where Fire Risk Safety comes in. We work with our clients to identify those accreditations and approvals that will most benefit them, and then assist them through the whole process of introducing procedures, meeting prerequisites, completing paperwork and inspections to ensure that they achieve and surpass the criteria laid down by each of the Bodies that have been applied to.
So, if your company wants to be recognised as meeting the standards of CHAS, the Contractors’ Health and Safety Assessment Scheme, talk to us.
If it’s Safecontractor, the leading health and safety pre-qualification assessment scheme, give us a call…or if accreditation by EXOR, the body that provides a range of compliance services to ensure that suppliers of goods, works or services across the public and private sectors, are able to demonstrate that their business meets the relevant standards expected in their market, well, we can help to achieve this. The same is true for Constructionline, the UK's largest register for pre-qualified contractors and consultants in terms of efficiency, time and cost saving and best practice. We have all the experience you’ll ever need to ensure that the process of recognition, registration and accreditation runs smoothly.
Why not give me, Martyn Weekes, a ring on 0117 9324600
to discuss how this could work for you?
10th May '12
We imagine that most people reading this will know that RIDDOR has little to do with clearing unwelcome salesmen from your door, even though it sounds like it should. In fact the acronym rather lets the full title of this piece of Health and Safety legislation down, the full out-working being “Reporting on Injury, Disease, Dangerous Occurrence Regulations”. RIDDOR’s own website adds Gas Incidents to the list of occurrences that have to be reported, but that would have made the acronym unpronounceable.
Historically the requirement has been that any incident at your work that caused an employee to be absent for more than three days had to be reported, but from yesterday, the 6th April, that has changed to a more reasonable seven days, still not counting the day of the accident itself, although one thing that hasn’t changed is the need to keep a record of the incident in your accident book, and that record after three days as at present.
In future you’ll have to submit your report within 15 days of the incident, and note that there are some additional changes to the actual detail of the report you’re submitting if it’s to do with a death, major injury, occupational disease or a dangerous occurrence.
For more details, or discuss the implications or implementation of RIDDOR for your own business, contact us on 0117 9324600.
7th April 12
The Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) comes alive!
It had to happen, but it’s been a long time coming! Back in 2008 a hotel in North London suffered a serious fire, as a consequence of which inspectors paid a visit. They weren’t pleased, and raised a number of concerns about how fire safety was being managed. Or not. Problems included blocked escape routes, fire doors that didn’t work, a lack of smoke alarms in some bedrooms and no evidence of a fire risk assessment having taken place, on top of which none of the staff had received any training in what to do if a fire occurred.
What makes things more interesting is that before this case cropped up convictions had historically been secured either in the Magistrates’ Court or by an individual judge. Not this time. When the defendant, the hotel owner, pleaded ‘Not Guilty’ at the Magistrates’ Court the FRS decided to take the case to the Crown Court.
The defendant, the hotel owner, pleased ‘Not Guilty’. Here the jury found him guilty on all counts. He was fined £180,000 and the hotel company £30,000. The defendants were also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £50,000. So, as we say, the FRS is coming alive and making a clear statement of their intent to secure the biggest penalties possible.
Is it worth the risk? Well, obviously we don’t think so, but then, who would? An inspection by FRS, a few hours spent clearing things up and making sure everything worked, plus some staff training would have saved the business. And it’s not just hotels! If you have any doubts, just give us a ring.
28th March 12
Fee for Intervention…just £124 per hour!
Keen readers of these blogs will remember that, back on January 17th, we drew attention to the fact that the Heath and Safety Executive, the HSE, had begun the process of rolling out their “Fee for Intervention Scheme” (FFI) with the catchy statement that “Central to the scheme is the fact that compliant businesses will pay nothing”, almost as it there had been another scheme up their sleeves whereby all companies, compliant or not were to be tapped. Well, this is to let you know that they’re just completed a two week training to give their inspectors the know-how of how the scheme works. What training? Apparently it’s all down to timing and the ability meter the money; however although not good news, there is at least a sniff of sense being introduced to the scheme…
Originally the intention was that any challenge to an imposed FFI would be adjudicated internally within the HSE, but the Executive has now decided “not to be judge and jury”, so the third stage will involve the decision and the fee being scrutinised by a panel, including a front-line inspector, someone from the regulator’s policy and procurement department, and an independent individual.
Several potential minefields exist within the new framework, not least of which is that the HSE is not recruiting any extra staff to administer this new scheme…the implication being that inspectors will have even less time to offer advice. It also raises the question of who is at fault if a business responds to the advise of a health and safety consultant, advise which is consequently proved to be deficient.
Don’t get involved. Work with a H and S consultant you know you can trust. Check out their testimonials, make sure they know their stuff…or take the easy option and ring us! We know what we’re talking about!
March 10 2012
People in Glasshouses…
In the first of these blogs, a couple of months ago, we spoke about the risk of falling through fragile roofs, and that almost 25% of all fall-from-height fatal injuries in the construction industry arose from these. We also pointed out that more often than not of those who fell most were carrying out small, short-term maintenance and cleaning jobs, the sort of jobs that one waves away with the thought that it will just take a minute…
We’ve decided to highlight this area again because it’s so serious and it just keeps on happening. There’s a been a recent case of a young worker at a horticultural centre, one of those places with acres of glasshouses, who was given the task of cleaning the guttering running between two pitches of an expanse of greenhouse. Not altogether surprisingly he lost his balance, fell through the glass and landed on the concrete three meters below. He was unable to work for three months.
A couple of interesting things came out of this case, not the least of which is that the chap in question was sent to do the job by someone who themselves had not been trained in working at height, so immediately there’s the question of someone being in a position of authority who hasn’t been given the tools for the job. And then there was the excuse, that such a job was only carried out occasionally and that therefore there had been a failure to assess the risk.
And that’s our point…so many of the jobs we do at high level are occasional. Clearing out any gutter is occasional, but it’s also regular. Any job, however infrequently it may be carried out needs a risk assessment. Calling in experts to help you identify these could ultimately save you thousands, plus your reputation. Employees need and like to be trained and looked after! In this case it cost just £12,000 plus more than half of this again in costs, but it could have been so much more…
Feb 29 2012
Targeted Inspections: Refurbishment Sites
In much the same way that you might have wondered why details of police mobile camera sites are advertised, or if not advertised, at least made available to the general public in advance, so it is with the Heath and Safety Executive’s construction division. So here’s your warning alert if you happen to be in construction and working on a refurbishment at the moment!
They’ve done it before. Between the summer of 2007, February 2008 and March 2009 HSE Inspectors carried out over 4,000 nationally, all of them targeting refurbishments.
You might wonder why…and there again, you may not, because we suspect that any of us in this particular area of construction will tacitly admit that, especially on smaller jobs, it’s possible to sometimes be just that little bit less than fastidious with our Health and Safety, and it’s just not worth it!
So, what will the Inspectors be particularly interested in when they drop in to visit you? Amongst other things it will be looking at the risks associated with potential falls and general good order around the site, and, of course, any asbestos removal.
Why not ask us to visit your site before the HSE does? We’ll be able to advise on anything they may pick up, and save you both hassle and money!
Feb 13 2012
Employees, know thyself!
There’s an assumption we all make that it’s the job of an employer to protect their employees; and so it is. But is goes deeper than this, because it’s potentially also the job, the responsibility, of the employer to make sure that employees look after each other, and this area of Health and Safety is one that is often not addressed.
A recent case demonstrates this, with a demolition worker having been sentenced to 120 hours of community service, plus a fine of £500 for having taken got into an excavator, lost control and caused the collapse of a wall onto a colleague’s leg, which was badly broken as a result.
The comment from the HSE inspector involved was interesting.
"The HSE will not tolerate employees exposing their colleagues or members of the public to unacceptable risks due to their work practices. There is simply no excuse for employees to plead ignorance of good health and safety practice."
One possible response to this could be that the demolition worker got what was coming to him, but there are other things to consider. Had he been specifically instructed and trained by his employer as to the limit of his responsibilities? Why were the keys left in the excavator? And what cost the considerable inconvenience and bad press?
A better option? Talk to us at FRS and allow us to make sure you have every eventuality covered!
Jan 31 2012
New Charges from The Health and Safety Executive
“Central to the scheme is the fact that compliant businesses will pay nothing.” That’s what the report entitled the “Outcome of the Consultation on the Fee for Intervention Scheme” states quite clearly in Paragraph 2, and the intention is clear, that there’s a level playing field for those who meet their legal obligations and comply with all the various legislative demands of the HSE, and that those who don’t will have to “meet their obligations” and that any costs a business ends up having to pay will be “in its own hands”, in other words, fail to get it right and we’ll make you pay!
So, what might it cost if your Health and Safety policies and procedures aren’t quite as tight as you think they are?
Answer: £124 an hour, starting from April, and starting from the moment a letter of email recording the duty-holders breach is sent, that’s £124 an hour for as long as the HSE reckons it takes to correct the problem, which, if it involves a number of visits and traveling time, could add up to rather a lot…
The option? Consider the exceptional value offered by FRS! For rather less than £124 per hour we’ll make sure that you’re compliant in all areas of your Health and Safety, so none of this stuff will even apply to you; a better proposition altogether!
Jan 17 2012
Up to Scratch in 2012
We won’t be the first to tell you that the New Year is always a good time to make a promise of some sort, we tend to call them resolutions, but somehow a resolution is easier to break than a promise, so at FRS we call them ‘promises’ so there can be no mistake! The promise we’d like all our readers to consider making this year is to get your Health and Safety policies completely up to scratch and compliant.
They are already? Well, are you sure? The snag with this area of the law, because that’s what it is, is that it keeps changing, and, unlike a lot of law, it changes retrospectively. What was legal, acceptable and absolutely right last year could be wrong this…and the trouble is that if, heaven forbid, something was to happen and scrutiny suddenly fell on you, the fact that you were up to date last year wouldn’t help you now!
So, what to do? The answer, of course, is to call your local friendly Health and Safety experts, us! We’ll be able to tell you whether what you’re doing meets all legal requirements and make sure that you’re working to best practice too, and then…peace of mind and the certainty that you’ve done everything you possibly can to protect yourself, your workforce and your business, because the truth is…doing nothing is no longer an option!
Roof-lights keep falling on my head….
Did you know that falls through fragile surfaces, particularly fibre-cement roofs and roof-lights accounts for almost 25% of all fall-from-height fatal injuries in the construction industry? And that those who were carrying out small, short-term maintenance and cleaning jobs account for a significant proportion of those fatalities?
Of course the truth is that our mental attitude often runs down the lines of “It’s only a quick job…I’ll be OK” and, even worse, “It won’t happen to me”. But what a mistake this attitude can be!
And it’s not just in the construction industry.The law is quite clear about this, it says that contractors and employers must manage the danger by avoiding work on, or near, fragile surfaces, and controlling any remaining risk by use of stagings, guard-rails and fall arrest systems.
But that’s not enough, those who might potentially be at risk, which of course includes you as well as your employees, must be told what the necessary safety precautions are, and those actually doing the work have to be trained and instructed in the precautions required.
What this means in practice is that the days of nipping up a ladder and across a roof to do a quick job are long gone, and that the substantial risk you face is not just of in the injury but in the subsequent action for having let such a thing happen.
As our strap line says: Doing nothing is no longer an option! As with all elements of Health and Safety it's just not worth getting it wrong…so why not call us in to check that your policies and procedures meet the requirements, and maybe allow us to train your people to the required standard? Go on…you know you should!