Hot and bothered

When the heat goes up, some employees can be tempted to quote ‘health and safety’ and say it’s too hot to be working. Is there a maximum temperature?

The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regs 1992 state:

During working hours, the temperature in all workplaces inside

buildings shall be reasonable.’

The application of the regulations depends on the nature of the workplace, because what is reasonable in a bakery may not be reasonable in an office.

Regulations, whilst not stipulating a maximum temperature, go on to explain that:

the temperature in workrooms should provide reasonable comfort

without the need for special clothing’.

In many workplaces, discomfort from extreme heat may only occur during unscheduled repair and maintenance work, or when heating ventilation and air conditioning systems break down during the hottest months.  When this happens, it’s important to consider the possible impact on employees.

Measures that employers should consider include:

  • providing air-cooling by way of fans,
  • ensuring windows can be opened,
  • shading employees from direct sunlight with blinds,
  • siting workstations away from direct sunlight or any objects that radiate heat, eg machinery,
  • providing additional facilities, eg cold water dispensers (water is preferable to caffeine or carbonated drinks)
  • allowing sufficient breaks to enable employees to get cold drinks and cool down,
  • relaxing formal dress code – although PPE (personal protective equipment) must be worn if provided and applicable.

Where workers are exposed to high temperatures in the ordinary course of their work, employers should ensure they have systems of work (eg task rotation) to ensure that the length of time to which individuals are exposed to uncomfortable temperatures is limited.

Holiday Water-Sports: Top Safety Tips

Water-sports are a popular pastime for the 65 million trips abroad each year taken by UK travellers. It is worth checking that water-sports operators have good safety procedures such as:

  • Good storage and maintenance of equipment.
  • Provision of life-jackets and other safety equipment.
  • Clearly defined areas for different water sports/users.
  • Collection of personal and medical details by operators.
  • Jet ski operators should ask for ID, proof of age, and ideally, training.
  • Enough staff to provide look-out and rescue services.
  • Good communication systems

For more water safety tips go to: www.rospa.com/leisure-safety/water/advice/watersports/

www.rospa.com/leisure-safety/water/advice/watersports-abroad/

Housekeeping

Across British industry the number of slip, trip, and fall accidents that are reported acts as a constant reminder that many workplace accidents are the result of untidiness, and these accidents even exceed the number resulting from dangerous machinery. Similarly, many accidents involving members of the public in shops and other public places result from poor housekeeping.

A responsible approach to housekeeping could help prevent many of those slip and trip accidents that arise from, for example:

  • tripping on items left in or near walkways,
  • slipping on spillages that have not been cleaned up,
  • slipping on floors that are being cleaned,
  • tripping on damaged floor surfaces.

Many of the problems arising from an untidy workplace can be eliminated by an approach to housekeeping that;

  • makes sure tools and equipment are put away after use or returned to their assigned storage location,
  • ensures the safe storage of raw materials and finished goods,
  • includes inspection procedures to spot leaks and spillages so they can be cleaned up,
  • detects damage to flooring surfaces and has them fixed quickly.

Good housekeeping encourages employees to take a pride in their workplace. But it is essential to make sure that every part of the workplace is “owned” – that is has someone responsible for its tidiness.

Remember one of the golden rules of housekeeping:

“A place for everything and everything in its place”

RoSPA

Congratulation to RoSPA (The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) for the 100-year anniversary.

Who are they?

Taken from the RoSPA website

‘At the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), our work is centred on two simple statements – our mission and vision.

Our mission is to
save lives and reduce injuries.

Our vision is to lead the way
on accident prevention.

These statements provide the foundation on which our work is based – including our long-term goals and what we do on a day-to-day basis.

Our mission describes our passion, our belief in our “cause” and our energy and commitment to improving the lives of others.

Too many people are killed and seriously injured in preventable accidents. At RoSPA, we remember that every accident “statistic” represents a real person – a life lost or affected, often severely – and a family left enduring the consequences. Everything we do, therefore, is focused on preventing this unnecessary suffering.

Our vision encapsulates how we work towards our mission.’

What do they do?

They are probably best known for road safety advice but they do cover all aspects of safety as well as occupational safety, as per the links below:

qsuk ltd has been a member of RoSPA for 15+ years and can highly recommend and appreciate the work they do.

Training

Today’s business environment seems to be such that it encourages employees to sue – what have they got to lose? The burden rests on the employer to prove that they are not liable for an accident, and in this respect, every business should not only provide adequate training for its employees as a preventative measure, but also ensure that it has been documented …                 no records = no defence!

Training is one of the most important aspects of health and safety, whether it be in-house or external. We see an ever increasing number of cases where fines and/or compensations are awarded because of insufficient training. 

The law

The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires the employer to provide whatever information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety at work of your employees.

This is expanded by the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, which identify situations where health and safety training is particularly important, eg when people start work, on exposure to new or increased risks and where existing skills may have become rusty or need updating.

Training Process

There are no set requirements as to how, where, when or what but we have found the following to be a very good starting point.

  • Induction Training: This is given as soon as a new person starts and should cover First Aid and Fire Safety arrangements as well as reporting procedure for accidents/incidents/near misses and general health and safety arrangements.
  • Task Specific Health and Safety Training: This is given as part of the normal task training and will include Risk and COSHH assessments and controls in place, and will normally be given over the first couple of weeks.
  • General Health and Safety training: Normally given within the first 3 months and should give staff a general understanding of health and safety over and above what has been covered in Task Specific Health and Safety training.
  • Health and Safety update training: This is given as and when changes have taken place with tasks (changes to Risk or COSHH assessments) or where legislations have changed.
  • Refresher training: Refresher training should be given, at regular intervals, to ensure staff’s health, safety and welfare. This can either be done through ongoing Toolbox Talks or through time-set General Health and Safety training (such as yearly, every 2 years, every 3 years etc).
  • Records: Records must be kept of all information, instruction or training given as this is part of your defence against any prosecution/compensation claims. Get the staff involved by signing off the record as well.

E-Learning

We are now offering E-Learning through our website on the most ‘must have’ subjects.

They can be bought individually through the website, or to qualify for a 25% discount (minimum purchase of 2 or more), please send an email to general@qsuk.com – this offer is valid for a period of 1 month (end of March).

Fire Awareness

We have been made aware through some of the members that they have heard of the new Fire Regulations but are not sure what they must do or how to implement a Fire Risk Assessment. We have outlined below best practice, including information from both the Fire Service as well as Business Link. Due to the length of the information, we have not been able to include information about  prosecutions.

Fire Risk Assessment

On October 1st 2006, The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety order) came into force. This is a major change in legislation and fire certificates are no longer issued or in force. As an employer, or as someone who has control of a workplace you must take steps to ensure that you have what is known as a ‘suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment’ in place.

This new approach to fire safety law represents the most significant change for over 30 years. The new fire regulations have been introduced to simplify matters and make it more straightforward for people to understand what they should do.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) replaced The Fire Precautions (Workplace) Regulations 1997 as amended in 1999.

Who is responsible for fire safety?

Although everyone who enters your business premises – employees, customers, contractors or other visitors – should ensure fire safety, there is now a legally-designated “responsible person” who must arrange for a risk assessment, identify any possible fire-risks and deal with them.

It will usually be obvious who the responsible person is, although sometimes several people will share the responsibility – for example in shared premises or larger businesses. The responsible person will be someone who has control over premises, or over some areas, departments or systems. For example, it could be:

the owner or manager of a business

the owner or managing agent of premises which are shared between a number of businesses

someone with defined responsibility for shared fire safety equipment

individuals within a multiple-occupancy building, such as self-employed people or voluntary organisations if they control someone within the premises

You should establish who the responsible person is within your business or premises. If it is not clear, then your local fire authority will decide who should be responsible.

Duties of the “responsible person”

The “responsible person” is someone who has control, or a degree of control, over premises or fire-prevention systems within premises. If you are the responsible person, you must make sure that everyone who uses your premises can escape if there is a fire.

The people you need to think about include anyone who might be on your premises, including employees, visitors or members of the public. You need to pay particular attention to those who may need special help, such as elderly or disabled people or children.

You must:

  • carry out a fire-risk assessment and identify possible dangers and risks
  • think about who might be particularly at risk – you may have disabled employees, or people who work with      hazardous chemicals
  • get rid of the risk from fire, as far as reasonably possible
  • put in place fire precautions to deal with any risks that remain
  • make sure there is protection if you use or store flammable or explosive materials
  • have a plan to deal with emergencies
  • record your findings and review them as and when necessary

If you are the responsible person, you must make sure that the fire-risk assessment is carried out. You can get some other competent person to deal with it, but you are still responsible in law.

The enforcing authority, which is usually the local fire authority, must be satisfied with your safety measures. If not, they will tell you what you need to do. If they find major problems they can restrict the use of your premises or close them altogether until you deal with the problems they find.

 

FireSafetyFire risk assessment

The “responsible person” must manage any fire risk on your premises, and to do this they need to carry out a fire-risk assessment. Although fire certificates are no longer needed, if you have one already it will be a useful guide to carrying out a fire risk assessment.

If your premises were built and are being used in line with modern building regulations, the structural fire precautions should be satisfactory, but you still need to do a risk assessment.

The recommended way to carry out a risk assessment is to follow a step-by-step process.

 

Identify the hazards

Hazards include:

  • anything that can start a fire, such as naked flames, heaters or commercial processes such as cookers or hot-air dryers
  • anything that can burn in a fire, including piles of waste, display materials, textiles or other flammable products
  • oxygen sources such as air conditioning, medical products or commercial oxygen supplies which might intensify a fire

Identify people at risk

These include:

  • people who work close to or with fire hazards
  • people who work alone, or in isolated areas such as storerooms
  • children or parents with babies
  • elderly people
  • disabled people

Evaluate, remove or reduce the risk

You should:

  • where possible, get rid of the fire hazards you identified – eg remove build-ups of waste – and reduce any hazards you can’t remove entirely
  • replace highly flammable materials with less flammable ones
  • keep anything that can start a fire away from flammable materials
  • have a safe-smoking policy

Once you’ve reduced the risk as far as practical, you need to look at any risk that can’t be removed and decide what fire safety measures to provide.

 

Building evacuation plans and fire safety equipment

A fire in your workplace must be detected quickly and a warning given so that people can escape safely.

Fire detection and warning system

You must have an appropriate fire-detection and warning system. Whatever system you have, it must be able to warn all people in the building in all circumstances.

You need to decide which type of fire detector is suitable for your premises. It may be that one type of detector is suitable for one part of your premises and another for the rest. Before installing a fire detection system, you are advised to discuss your proposals with your local fire authority.

Means of escape

The arrangements to evacuate your premises form an important part of your emergency plan. You should:

  • Make sure the escape route is as short as possible.
  • Consider how many people are going to be using the escape route.
  • Consider the impact if one of the means of escape has been blocked.
  • Ensure there is a clear passageway to all escape routes – passageways should be one metre wide. Passageways that are more than 30 metres long, or 45 metres in offices and factories, should be subdivided into equal parts by fire doors.
  • Ensure escape routes are kept free of any obstructions, eg they are not used for storing stock.
  • Make arrangements for the evacuation of elderly or disabled people. You must also consider other less able-bodied people who may have access to the building, taking into account both physical and mental impairment.
  • Inform and train all employees in how to escape the building.
  • Install an emergency lighting system.
  • Identify all escape routes with appropriate signs.

Fire fighting equipment

It may be appropriate to provide portable multi-purpose fire extinguishers so that people on your premises can tackle a fire in its early stages. These extinguishers should have a guaranteed shelf-life, and there should be one for every 200 square metres of floor space, and at least one on every floor. Depending on your type of business and the outcome of your risk assessment, you may need other specialised fire-fighting equipment.

 

Fire drills

You should carry out a fire drill at least once a year. It is good practice not to announce fire drills so you get a realistic idea of how effective your fire evacuations plans are.

Everyone must participate in the fire drill. You should record the result of each fire drill in your fire log book.

Training

You must provide all employees with instruction and training so that they know what to do in the event of a fire.

Everyone must know:

  • how to raise the alarm if they discover a fire
  • how to contact the fire brigade
  • how to use the fire fighting equipment
  • how and where to evacuate the building
  • where to assemble and who to report to

 

Record, review and revise your fire safety plans

Record keeping

You must keep the following:

a record of the hazards you have identified, the people at risk, and what you have done about it

an emergency plan designed for your premises, including the action you need to take if there is a fire on your premises or nearby

records of fire fighting arrangements in place to control the fire risk

You should also record the details of the contact at your local fire authority.

Maintenance records

These include details of fire training and instruction provided and details of fire drills carried out, including the date, evacuation time and any problems encountered. You should give staff and visitors to your premises instructions on what to do in the event of fire.

Maintenance and testing of fire equipment

All equipment, eg fire doors or fire fighting equipment, must be regularly checked and maintained. This includes checking that:

  • the control panel shows that all electrical fire detection and alarm systems are working – if not, that all faults are recorded and dealt with immediately
  • all emergency lighting is working – if not, that all faults are recorded and dealt with immediately
  • all escape routes and fire exits are clear of obstacles and the floor is in good repair
  • all fire escapes can be opened without any delays
  • all automatic fire doors close correctly when activated
  • all fire exit signs are in the correct position

Review your risk assessment 

You must make sure that your fire-risk assessment is always up to date, and you should review it at least once a year, or more often if you think it is no longer accurate. You should, for example, look again at your fire-risk assessment if:

  • there was a fire which was caught in time
  • you are storing more flammable materials
  • you start a new night shift
  • you have more people using your premises
  • you make a significant change to your premises, eg adding an extension or subdividing offices

Alcohol at Work continued

Step 2 Decide what to do

A good start is to ask yourself the following four questions:

Question 1 Am I happy for my employees to drink alcohol…

… during working hours?
Yes / No / Depends on…?

… during lunch and other breaks?
Yes / No / Depends on…?

… on special occasions?
Yes / No / Depends on…?

… when entertaining clients?
Yes / No / Depends on…?

Question 2 Do I expect the same from staff working in safety-sensitive jobs when it comes to not drinking alcohol as I do from staff working in non-safety-sensitive jobs or management positions?

Question 3 How would I deal with an employee who is finding it difficult to control his or her drinking and whose work is suffering as a result?

Question 4 How would I deal with an employee who turns up for work drunk or flouts known restrictions on drinking alcohol?

Step 3 Taking action

In taking action, you need to ensure that you have the support of other managers and gain the support of your employees. The personal involvement of the boss will also make a huge difference when it comes to introducing any changes. The most important questions are:

  • What needs to be done?
  • Who needs to do it?

You also need to think about communication and training. How will current staff and any recruited in the future know the company’s rules about drinking? Does anyone need more information or training?

Supervisors and other managers need to be clear about company rules and what to do if they suspect employees’ drinking is affecting their work. They also need to be aware of the implications of not tackling possible alcohol misuse, especially where safety is an issue. Your local alcohol advisory service may be able to help train managers to recognise if someone has an alcohol problem and the best way to handle the situation. The service may charge for training.

Many larger organisations have a policy that describes their position on employees’ drinking. A written alcohol policy has many advantages, for example leaving less room for misunderstanding than an informal ‘understanding’

Step 4 – Checking what you have done

As with any other kind of initiative, you should regularly check if it is working and whether any changes need to be made.

Summary checklist

  1. Find out it you have a problem.
  2. Make a list of who you need to consult.
  3. Decide how your company expects employees to limit their drinking.
  4. Consider how you can make sure that if an employee has a possible alcohol problem, this is noticed and help is offered.
  5. Decide at what point and in what circumstances you will treat an employee’s drinking as a matter for discipline rather than a health problem.
  6. Think about how you will let your workforce know about company policy on alcohol – consider introducing a formal written alcohol policy.
  7. Find out if any of your managers or other staff need more information or training.
  8. Consider providing staff with general information about alcohol and health.

For further information on Alcohol at Work or how to implement policies,

please contact qsuk limited on 0800 458 9421

Alcohol at Work

The legal position

You have a general duty under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of your employees. If you knowingly allow an employee under the influence of excess consumption of alcohol to continue working and this places the employee or others at risk, you could be prosecuted. Similarly, your employees are also required to take reasonable care of themselves and others who could be affected by what they do.

In the transport industry, there is additional legislation in place to control the misuse of alcohol and drugs. The Transport and Works Act 1992 makes it a criminal offence for certain workers to be unfit through drink and/or drugs while working on railways, tramways and other guided transport systems. The operators of the transport system would also be guilty of an offence unless they had shown all due diligence in trying to prevent such an offence being committed.

What can you do?

A straightforward four-step process for dealing with alcohol problems at work is set out below, developed by the Health Education Authority, the Health and Safety Executive, and the Department of Health. All companies – large and small – can benefit from an agreed policy on alcohol.

Step 1 – Find out if there is a problem

Problems may come from employees:

  • drinking during working hours;
  • drinking during breaks or before coming on shift;
  • drinking heavily regularly, outside working hours;
  • getting drunk outside working hours.

 

You may find it useful to find out from your employees what they know about the effects of alcohol on health and safety, what they feel currently about drinking alcohol during working hours and their understanding of any restrictions or rules on alcohol use in your business.

You may also want to explore the information you have on:

  • sickness absence;
  • productivity;
  • accident records;
  • disciplinary problems. This may help you to find out if alcohol is harming your business.

No smoke

Q) Can I smoke my e-cigarette at work?

A) Although smoking in the workplace has been banned since July 2007, electronic cigarettes are not covered by the ban. So whilst they could potentially be ‘smoked’ at work, the idea of smoking whilst working now seems alien, and although reportedly they are not harmful to others, that is as yet unproven, so for now, it’s a ’no’ to smoking e-cigarettes inside.

     So do we ask e-smokers to go outside? Well, that too could be wrong, as non-smokers are entitled to a smoke-free environment, and so they shouldn’t be asked to ‘heat their liquid nicotine’ alongside the traditional smokers having a ‘puff’ in the designated smoking area.
     What are e-smokers to do then? Step outside, but to a separate smoking area, and minimise the amount of work time lost in breaks, as should all smokers, and indeed all of us for any reason.

Tips to Keep Safe this Festive Season

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents estimates that around 80,000 people go to hospital during the Christmas period following injuries at home. The following measures can be taken to keep you and your family safe this Christmas:

table2

 

It’s the little things that matter

Do your bit to limit the spread of bugs this winter, by remembering the ‘Catch it, bin it, kill it’ campaign.  It’s an example of just one small thing that we can do to help make the work environment a pleasant place for everyone. What else can we do?  Here are some suggestions:

  1. Maintaining good personal standards of hygiene is pretty high up the list, so don’t scrimp on deodorant for starters!  Other simple things like saying ‘good morning’ and ‘thank you’ go a long way to a harmonious environment, as does keeping good time when starting work and having meetings.
  2. Discrimination of course in any form is not tolerated, but we can do better than be non discriminatory – we can be actively inclusive of our colleagues – it does great things for team spirit and morale.
  3. If you are unlucky enough to be unwell and off work, please remember two things: i) phone your line manager at the start of the first day, and ii) complete a Self Certification Absence Form as soon as you return.  Take care.