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Health and Safety Update - Jan 2009

a scratch on an armWelcome to your monthly Health and Safety Update! This issue, we report on Health and Safety penalty changes, the growing risk of asbestos and a warning by the HSE to take scaffolding safety seriously.

Penalties set to change from 16 January 2009!

Changes to the Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008 this month will increase penalties and give courts greater sentencing powers for those who breach health and safety legislation.

The maximum penalty for breaching health and safety regulations will be raised in the lower courts from £5,000 to £20,000. Also, the range of offences that an individual can be imprisoned for will also be broadened.

Extending the maximum fine to the lower courts and making imprisonment an option will mean that more cases will be resolved in the lower courts, therefore achieving justice faster and more efficiently.

Summary of current and new penalties under the Act:

Current PenaltiesNew Penalties
£5k or £20k for an offence heard in a magistrates court, depending on offence; unlimited fine for offences heard at Crown Court. Imprisonment not available for most offences (but up to 6 months in magistrates court / 2 years in Crown Court for several offences e.g. failing to comply with a prohibition notice or breaching a licensing requirement).£20k fined in magistrates courts, unlimited fines in higher courts.
Imprisonment not available for most offences (but up to 6 months in magistrates court / 2 years in Crown Court for few offences e.g. failing to comply with a prohibition notice or breaching a licensing requirement).Imprisonment for nearly all offences - up to 12 months in magistrates courts and 2 years in the Crown Court.

These changes will place no new requirements on employers and no increased costs, just more commensurate tougher penalties to encourage better health and safety management and compliance.

Ceridian can help you keep compliant!

Asbestos exposure - Joiners, Plumbers and Electricians at risk!

Although you may not think it, there is continuing danger of asbestos exposure in the workplace today. Joiners, Plumbers, Electricians and those who work in similar trades are at the highest risk.

Under the Control of Asbestos Regulations, employers and those in control of buildings have a duty to ensure that anyone using their premises are not put at risk from asbestos. The following basic steps can be followed to help control asbestos safety:

  • Find out if there are materials containing asbestos in your premises, or where work is to be done. For non-domestic premises an asbestos register should contain this information.
  • If work is to be done in domestic premises, then workers may need to survey these themselves (if trained to do so).
  • Ensure employees and contractors carrying out work know about any materials containing asbestos before they commence work.
  • If work is required which may increase asbestos then the workers must be properly trained, risk assessments completed and in some cases only HSE licensed contractors should be used.

HSE warning following major scaffolding collapse

Companies are being prompted by the HSE to have correctly assembled mobile tower scaffolds. This warning has come into place following the injury of a worker who fell three metres from unprotected scaffolding at a shopping centre in Enfield.

Falls from height remain the most common kind of accident resulting in severe injuries. Companies involved in refurbishment, building or maintenance should ensure that the work is planned properly and sensible measures taken so that workers are not exposed to risk.Helen Donnelly, HSE Inspector

The worker suffered serious head injuries, which lead to deteriorating physical and mental health. The company was fines £20,000 and also had to pay the injured worker costs of £11,895.

In light of this case, HSE recommends that scaffolding maintenance is reviewed regularly to ensure everything is safe and stable. The following factors should be considered:

  • scaffolding design implementation
  • arrangements for securing scaffolding to structures
  • intended and actual loadings on scaffolds, including the impact of wind
  • the risk of direct impact by construction plant or vehicles
  • systems in place for the handover of new or adapted scaffolds
  • the training and competence of scaffold erector
  • the adequacy of the scaffold foundations; and
  • the prevention of unauthorised modifications.

Remember, regular Health and Safety inspections are a must, as is adequate training!
As part of Ceridian's Pay and People offer for small businesses, we propose a Health and Safety service that not only makes sure your business stays compliant with Health and Safety legislation, but covers you in the case of a claim and acts as your competent person. To talk to one of our qualified experts, call us on 0800 0482 737 or contact us online and we'll call you back.

  • 1st January 2009
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