Health & Safety Update - Mar 2011
Welcome to March's Health and Safety Update. This month we report on the dangers of asbestos exposure in the workplace and share some steps that you can take to help control asbestos safety.
We also take a look at changes to The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulation (RIDDOR).
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.
Changes to RIDDOR
The Health and Safety Executive has agreed a plan for the publication of consultation documents on proposed changes to The Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR).
In his report on health and safety, Lord Young recommended that RIDDOR be amended 'by extending to seven days the period before an injury or accident needs to be reported'. In line with commitments made in the Government's formal response to the report, HSE will open a three month consultation in January 2011. Under current rules, when an employee is absent from work for more than three days following an incident or injury at work, employers are required to report the incident to the relevant enforcing authority - either HSE or the local council. The proposed amendment increases this 'over three day' period to over seven consecutive days. This change would align the incident reporting threshold with that for obtaining a 'fit note' from a GP for sickness absence, and would ensure that someone who has suffered a reportable injury has had a professional medical assessment.
Judith Hackitt (HSE Chair) said: "The Board discussed the proposals at length, and asked for some additional work to be done prior to the launch of the consultation in January. Whilst there will be some obvious advantages in reducing the reporting requirements on business, there will be other factors which need to be taken into account. We hope that interested parties will use the consultation exercise to provide the range of perspectives we need to consider in order for us to advise the Government appropriately."
Prosecution for injuries at work
A metal forming company has been prosecuted after a teenage worker lost parts of two fingers on his very first day working at the plant. The nineteen-year-old worker had only started work three hours earlier for Goscote-based company, when his hand became trapped in a power press.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted the company following the incident on 28 October 2009, in which the worker's left hand was seriously injured. Walsall Magistrates' Court heard that the injured worker was feeding strips of steel through a power press, punching 10cm shapes from the metal when his hand became trapped in an unguarded part of the machine. As a result of his injuries, his middle and ring fingers had to be amputated at the first joint.
The company pleaded guilty on 17th January to breaching Regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998. The company was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £2,534 costs.
A HSE inspector said: "This young man has suffered permanent and debilitating injuries from an incident that should never have happened."
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