The recent publication of the reviews made by Professor Ragnar Lofstedt on the health and safety in the UK, will impact both the people of UK as well as primary health and safety body – the HSE! While complimenting the Professor’s findings and advice on several aspects of health and safety, the IOSH also felt certain recommendations were rather fruitless and less helpful and placed a heavy burden on the HSE.
The Lofstedt committee looked into 200 aspects of health and safety laws in the UK and placed several recommendations before the government. The IOSH supported the idea of health and safety executives looking into its Approved Codes of Practice, but was pessimistic about the government’s proposed execution of the plans and sceptical about the methodology proposed. Besides which a deadline of June 2012 for the first stage seemed a bit hasty and over ambitious!
Under the selection of recommendations, which failed the approval of the IOSH, were that the HSE’s budget was reduced by 35% placing a hurdle in the functionality of the HSE. Investigations into severe accidents and providing advice and support to risky or shaky businesses, was part and parcel of the HSE, which was all likely to suffer.
It was stated that the self-employed, whose jobs were not in any way risky to others were exempt from health and safety laws. The IOSH did not consider this a necessity or of great help and was rather felt as a detrimental step!
The IOSH felt that telling people that one million of them would be exempt from red tape was not a correct statement, as businesses with less than 5 employees would have less paperwork anyway.
The HSE has been made responsible for local inspections and enforcements in order to identify risky businesses. While appreciating the proposal, the IOSH felt that it would be stretching the limits on the demands on the HSE!
The fit note, which has substituted the sick note, has given the mangers the much needed push to bring in imperative conversations with their own employees and find the best way to help them to get back to work as per the recent Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) research.
The survey by the CIPD/Simplyhealth about Management of Absence discloses new findings that more than half the employers (52%) accept that the initiation of the fit note has facilitated line managers to open up conversations regarding their staff’s health and absence problems.
The CIPD/Simplyhealth survey shows that just under one-thirds of concerned organisations of the respondents said that the fit note does help line managers with better absence management. A large number of employers around (87%) have employed fit note in their own companies although its use in smaller organisations with fewer than 50 employees or (54%) was not widespread.
Suggestions of the survey tell that managers stay sceptical that the fit note had any effect in assisting to lessen employee absence levels due to sickness. Only about 11% of the employers said that the fit note has helped reduce absence in their companies. While another 11% were convinced that the GPs are using the fit note to good effect.
The CIPD Adviser, Dr Jill Miller said that according to the research, the fit notes could play a role in encouraging quality dialogues amid the employees and their bosses, which has a constructive effect on management absence. The survey however suggests the fit note is yet to have actual influence on decreased levels of absence. The employees, GPs and employers need a change in culture, considering which it is not a revelation to make certain that a timed return to work is always considered an important and positive part of recovery and rehabilitation of workers.
A survey was conducted by GRiD to find out what businesses and employers felt was the prime area of concern as far as health related absence was concerned. It was found that Work life Balance was the top most area of concern for 21% of employers. Another 19% of employers categorized stress and mental health as areas of prime concern.
Anticipating vital areas of concern 38% of employers were acting to response to concerns relating to Work-life Balance while next to that 27% employers kept stress related employee absences as key contributing factors when tackling health concerns.
Talking to newspersons, GRiD’s Spokesperson, Katherine Moxham commented that the Work-life Balance factor was invariably overlooked against chronic illnesses when dealing with health issues.
In addition, she mentioned that the long hours that employees put in to tackle the increased pressure during economic recession posed a risk in increasing stress and thereby staff absences. Employers should adopt timely strategies to deal with those issues, she said.
Although employers initially encourage long working hours put in by employees to advance the business, they should be alert to the long-term dangers of the same that may lead to work related stress and employee absenteeism because of it.
Owners of businesses (32%) claimed that the absence rate of employees in their organization had fallen in the last year and also more than half of them claimed they were handling stress management as a key factor and was top priority.
The Council, which is to be found at Newcastle under Lyme Borough, was asked to recompense the workers who came in contact with carbon monoxide that escaped in the Community centre.
The HSE questioned the local representatives at the trial. The bridge club, which functions out of Westland’s Community Centre that is at Whitfield Avenue, informed the fire department about the lethal gas that had escaped.
The Court that took place at the Court of the Fenton Magistrates’ established that the escape of the lethal gas had occurred due to the loft flue not having been looked into and maintained the way it was supposed to.
The main reasons were that the flue had outlived its lifespan and was not working at peak conditions. This had allowed the lethal gas to get out of the trapdoor that was in the storeroom inside the main hall.
On investigating further, HSE was able to establish that the yearly contract in place for safeguarding and security checks in link with the gas components in the 39 places out of which there were 9 households had got over at least a year ago.
In addition, the court made a note that boiler, thirty years old, positioned at Westland’s Community Centre was not tested for the last two years as of the time that the occurrence on March thirtieth, 2009.
Newcastle Borough Council established that these had gone against these rules namely Section 3(1), which deals with 1999′s 5th work regulation on the management of health and safety at work of the year 1999, and Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. They were forced to pay a compensatory fine of £20,000 and a supplementary price of £25,550.
Lynne Boulton who holds the position of HSE inspector, when the hearing was over, talked about how lethal carbon monoxide exposure was the result of 20 folks losing their lives. If only the gas apparatus had been in a good condition then the carbon monoxide exposure would not have happened for the victims.
This could have not taken place with the old and young brought in contact with something so harmful a gas as carbon monoxide.
A hearing for the case that happened at Warwickshire was held in opposition to three fire chiefs. This case was at Warwick Crown Court in connection with the murder charges for four fire personnel who died in a fire that took place in Atherstone-on-Stour’s warehouse. This happened in the month of November in the year 2007.
This was needed for the appeal to be filed.
BBC went on to report that three Timothy Woodward, the station manager and Paul Simmons and Adrian Ashley the watch managers were released on bail. The next hearing will be held at Stafford Crown Court.
The Associate and Solicitor-Advocate whose name is Paul Verrico, at Eversheds which is a law firm stated that this case will certainly let the public know of the real thing wherein 13 firemen and service managers were in police custody.
This case has been long pending and was only settled in the year 2011. Finally, the CPS declared that the three fire chiefs namely Paul Simmons, Adrian Ashley and Timothy Woodward were at fault and this is one point that should be noted. This one verdict has taken too long.
An inquest of this type has to have a lot of time invested in it if a thorough job needs to be done. The tragedy that struck at Atherstone in the year 2007 needed great deal of groundwork and analyzing. Ultimately, the police were able to gather enough evidence and the CPS declared the three chiefs guilty. This was such a relief for the families of those who had lost their lives and the ones who stood the trial.
A company whose main business was salmon farming was prosecuted and had to pay a fine of £70,000. This was after worker lost his life by drowning on the Isle of Lewis in Loch Heather.
Peter Kenneth Duce, of 61 years was the employee who drowned. He was in a boat on 26 February 2008 with other four colleagues. This was when the water rushed into the boat when they were out checking the fish cages.
The HSE after an inspection came to the conclusion that evaluations criteria made by West Minch Salmon Ltd were not thorough. They should have especially done that for workers who went to check on the fish cages. Also, the company did not make enough of an effort to make sure that correct in use instructions on boat safely for this kind of work. The boat had been loaded more than the allowed limit. In addition, they did not pay any heed to the manufacturer’s advice that stated about not carrying more than three people on board.
HSE’s looked carefully at the buoyancy equipment given to the organization but noticed that this was not used adequately. Also, the company did not communicate effectively to the staff and this led to confusion.
Ann Poyner who is the HSE Inspector said that West Minch Salmon Ltd even after the court order could have worked on the lessening of the risk factors by looking at the assessment criteria carefully. This would have allowed them to get a larger boar for employees working on the fish cages. This would have saved an employees’ life if the right measures had been taken and applied. This would have never caused the boat to get flooded and subside.
At Stornoway Sheriff Court, this week, the company West Minch Salmon Limited was forced pay up £70,000. This was due to the breach of Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
The national accident rates are estimated at around 750 persons killed per year and more than 8000 being seriously injured, either on the road or on the way to or from work. The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) have benchmarked the United Kingdom’s largest energy suppliers, British Gas and urge other companies with large fleets to take up road safety programs.
British Gas shells out close to £7 million on vehicle damages and £14 million on fuel costs as do many similar companies. With their large fleet of over 15,000 vehicles of various classes on the road, they have an incident rate of 0.283 compared to the industry average of 0.46. Recently, British Gas announced a huge savings of £2 million after introducing a 5-year road safety programme in the company. Applicable to both company drivers and car owners, driving and maintenance skills were imparted to the employees. Implemented by the IOSH, the programme aimed at honing a safe driving culture into the employees to reduce incident statistics.
Safety measures introduced include stringent license checking both for driving staff as well as car owners and the introduction of electronic driver license checks. Attention was paid to staff newly taken in for risk assessment with special emphasis on youth! Measures in fuel monitoring and speed limiters to save on fuel were put into effect and incident analysis periodically done.
The programme yielded a 30% reduction in road accidents after which the IOSH has been gunning to enlist other companies with similar large fleets.
In relation to a major incident involving an uncontrollable chemical reaction that occurred at Thor Specialities (UK) Ltd chemical factory in Cheshire, the company appeared at the Chester Crown Court recently. HSE brought the chemical manufacturing firm to Court for endangering the people working there to the dangers of the uncontrolled chemical reaction and its poisonous gas discharge.
The chemical manufacturing firm is a major hazard site and a Top Tier location, which regulated under the Control of Major Accident Hazard Regulations 1999. Hence, it is the obligation of the chemical provider to thwart any major incidents from arising and if it does occur then they should take all needed control actions to limit its bearing on the community and the surroundings.
The Chester Crown Court heard that the accident that occurred on August 23, 2007 could have gravely injured the workers at the factory if they were present at the time of the accident. The accident occurred due to the blunder of an employee who added more than the specified quantity of solid chemical to a container containing a liquid compound, when it failed to produce a reaction. He mistakenly expected that increasing the amount of solid compound would start the reaction. However, the reaction speedily grew into an unrestrained chemical reaction that had not controlled. This reaction was very swift, discharging and filling the production area with deadly, combustible fumes. Though no person was present at the time of the accident and its released offshoots at the production area, an employee did return to check what had transpired for the alarm to ring. However, he soon ran out of the spot due to the suffocating fumes all around.
An inquiry by the HSE subsequent to the incident revealed that the firm based in Wincham, Northwick had majorly erred in not evaluating the risks associated with the chemical reaction. The firm also did not confirm that following the incident, adequate control procedures taken. Apart from this, the employee also found to have not received sufficient training and directions. Since his superiors also not properly supervised him, he could not recognize the danger associated with raising the quantity of the chemical.
‘Reforming Regulation: One Year On’, a report by EEF, the manufacturers’ organization analysing the government’s contemporary actions in restructuring the protocols was published recently. EEF in their latest report has credited the government in making major developments in a number of areas, but has stated that some of the modifications are irresolute.
EEF has recommended the UK government to step up their energies towards decreasing the number of burdensome regulations that are avoidable and thereby aid businesses in their effectual functioning and growth. EEF stated through their report that manufacturers’ are until now being weighed down by the liability to follow rules, some of which are problematic and can be totally avoided. Even they are looking forward to the Government to make key changes that will reduce this burden. The EEF wishes that the Government apart from lessening certain meaningless policies also restricted the invasion of avoidable rules that are heading from Europe. For this, the manufacturers’ organization has advised the Government to do more and head in pushing for cutting down the number of needless policies than piling up more, which is the present state in Europe. EEF has emphasized this by referring to some problematic policies introduced in Europe like the Pregnant Workers Directive and the Working Time Directive.
However, the manufacturers’ organization has also appreciated the Government in their endeavour of making some constructive changes including the Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC), which was set up for a stricter investigation into new rules. The One-In One-Out methodology and efforts to review occupation and health and safety related rules instead of singling out them for study are also valuable. EEF also stated in the report that they will be keenly observing the improvements made in certain work-related areas like extension of employees’ right to flexible work arrangement, parental leave and reviews of similar pay.
EEF Director of Policy, Steve Radley remarked about the Government’s plans of cutting down the number of policies to be quite constructive and their methodology having the possibility to accomplish it. Businesses are also looking forward for the Government’s plans to be effective. Adding further he stated that the Government’s plans to introduce the newly changed national pension savings scheme next year is quite appreciable, however the Government requires to make definite strategies to lessen the load of new rules on firms.
The owners of Hinds Head pub were recently declared guilty by the Court and fined for failing to purchase a mandatory employers’ insurance that is necessary to cover their employees in case of injury or sickness.
The South Ribble Magistrates’ Court was informed that the Hinds Head pub located in Charnock Richard in the market town of Chorley was owned by Stephen and Karen Martin from Dudleston Heath, Ellesmere in Shropshire. They had engaged a manager, cook, helper and waiters to run the pub. However, they conveniently chose not to purchase the Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance, which is needed to compensate employees in case they fall terribly ill or are injured at their place of work.
The HSE inspectors had reminded and advised both the owners to purchase the necessary insurance, a number of times between the five-month periods of September 2010 to February 2011. However, both of them chose to overlook the advice. The HSE had no alternative left but to sue Stephen and Karen Martin for not buying the required insurance despite being reminded to do so many times.
The Court in Leyland considered all the points before declaring both of them guilty to violating 3 rules under Section 1(1) of the Employers’ Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 by not protecting their staffs’ against any possible sickness or injury suffered at work. However, both Stephen and Karen Martin did not appear for the trial. Subsequently on 23rd September 2011, the Court penalized each of them with £1,200 plus £2,620 as prosecution charges. The duo presently does not manage the Hinds Head pub.
Investigating inspector at HSE, Shellie Bee commented that procuring the Employers’ Liability Compulsory Insurance is a mandatory and legal duty of every firm, which cannot be discounted. However, in this case Stephen and Karen Martin had intentionally not purchased the insurance to save their money. By doing so, they were risking their staffs to monetary loss, resulting due to no recompense awarded to them because of the duo not buying insurance to protect their staff in case of them developing serious sickness or injury at work. Moreover, both the owners were reminded again and again to rectify their mistake and buy the insurance, which they chose to ignore. The HSE hence had to take them to Court.