Health & Safety Update - Jul 2009
Corporate Manslaughter offenders could face publicity orders
A recent study by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has found that more than 50% of employers are not aware that they could face a publicity order if found guilty of corporate manslaughter.
The findings came to light shortly after Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings became the first company to be charged under the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act, where an employee was crushed to death in September last year.
Business leaders must act proportionately but if they fail to properly resource health and safety, and something goes wrong, then it will not just be the victim that suffers but the business as a whole through the link to the Corporate Manslaughter and Homicide Act.Graham Jukes, chief executive at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health
Swine Flu – Global flu pandemic announced
On Thursday 11th June, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a global flu pandemic alerting all to take the necessary precautions to keep themselves from risk of infection.
Even if the virus doesn’t reach your workplace, it’s imperative that all employers are guarded with a secure plan of action. The HSE (Health & Safety Executive) advises all employers to take the following steps:
- Advise your staff to stay at home if they are sick with flu-like symptoms and have good reason to believe, based on HPA guidance, that they may have been exposed to the swine flu virus
- Send home any employees who are displaying flu-like signs/symptoms in the situation described above
- For certain occupations and activities where there is an increased likelihood of exposure (e.g.healthcare workers, HSE’s guidance is that fluid-repellent surgical face masks offer a barrier to minimise contact with the mouth and nose but do not offer protection against aerosols.
Finally, you should also work out what would be the likely impact of a flu pandemic on your workforce. As with all other health and safety issues you should assess the risk and identify ways of reducing hazards. As with any major event which dominates the headlines, there's always a risk of over-reaction, which sends perfectly healthy employees home just to be on the safe side. You must therefore also be prepared for this and have a workable action plan for work cover until employees are given the ‘all clear’.
Although you may not think it, there’s an increasing risk of asbestos exposure in the workplace today, and 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 make sure that anyone using their premises is not put at risk from asbestos. The following 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.
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