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Safety bulletin – Ergonomic Issues of DP…

19-12-2016

A semisubmersible DP drilling rig lost control of position for several minutes.  During this time it was obliged to shear the drill pipe and disengage the lower marine riser package...

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Safety bulletin – Offshore Crane Safety …

18-11-2016

This Alert is to remind duty holders of the requirement to have measures in place to verify the correct operation and the correct settings of all safety systems and limits...

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Suspended ceiling inspection

27-07-2016

1 September marks the deadline by which theatre owners should have had their suspended plaster ceilings inspected by a specialist to ensure that they are safe. New guidance about this...

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Safety notice – Use of barrier glands in…

02-02-2016

The current International Standard allows the use of a ‘standard’ Ex certified flameproof gland as opposed to a Ex certified ‘barrier gland’ without the requirement to apply the previous flowchart...

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Safety alert – Catastrophic failure of a…

21-09-2015

This safety alert highlights the issue of inadequate material properties of small diameter clamp connectors and the potential for sudden brittle failure following an incident which occurred on an offshore...

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Written by Administrator   |   01 December 2011
Lofstedt Report finally published

The long-awaited independent review of health and safety legislation has been published.

Employment Minister Chris Grayling commissioned the review in March 2011 and appointed Professor Ragnar Löfstedt (Director of the King's Centre for Risk Management at King's College, London) to chair it.

Professor Löfstedt has made recommendations aimed at reducing the burden of unnecessary regulation on businesses while maintaining Britain's health and safety performance, which is among the best internationally. The Government has accepted his recommendations.

Judith Hackitt, the Chair of HSE, said:

"Professor Löfstedt's insightful report will go a long way to refocusing health and safety in Great Britain on those things that matter - supporting those who want to do the right thing and reducing rates of work-related death, injury and ill health.We must have a system of health and safety which enables employers to make sensible and proportionate decisions about managing genuine workplace risks". 

A copy of the report can be downloaded here

Written by Steve McClean   |   16 July 2011
Health & Safety guidance for schools slashed to 8 pages, whilst a school gets prosecuted following accident to caretaker.

The Department for Eduction has (following the recommendations made in the governments Common Sense Common Safety report), revised health and safety guidance for schools, summarising how the existing health and safety law affects schools, local authorities, governing bodies, and staff, particularly in relation to school trips. This advice has been slashed from 150 pages of unduly complex information to just 8 pages. The document aims to cut through myths relating to risk assessment and encourage schools to give pupils more opportunities to learn outside of the classroom.

The package also includes a statement from the Health and Safety Executive on how health and safety is implemented. This states: "If things do go wrong during a trip, provided sensible and proportionate steps have been taken, it is highly unlikely that there would be any breach of health and safety law involved, or that it would be in the public interest for HSE to bring a prosecution." 

However more recently a Shenfield school was fined £6,500 and ordered to pay over £2000 costs following an accident to one of its caretakers. The School in Brentwood was prosecuted by the HSE for failing to implement reasonable precautions which lead the accident in which the caretaker fell from the kitchen roof. The 54-year-old was working with a colleague on an unguarded work platform when he lost his footing and fell 1.9 metres to the ground. He broke two ribs and needed a three-inch metal plate and multiple metal screws inserted into a broken arm. The investigating HSE Inspector stated "… it could have been avoided altogether if an appropriate work platform had been provided by Mr Springett's employers. The school has a duty to protect its staff and working at height brings with it risks they should be aware of, and protect against”. 

The above articles highlight that as many schools are moving from Local Education Authority control to ‘Academy’ status, it is increasingly important that the Board of Governers and Senior Management teams receive the best health and safety advice and support. This will ensure that they not only meet their legal obligations to ensure the health, safety and welfare of the staff, students, and others, but that they achieve this with a ‘reasonable’ and common sense approach. 

Safety Management Consultancy has much experience of working in the Eduction sector and we have recently produced a pragmatic and sensible package for schools to ensure they meet their obligations without being over-zealous. Please feel free to call us for more information.

Written by Steve McClean   |   05 July 2011
Corporate Manslaughter - A warning for many companies following First Conviction

In the recent case of R v Cotswold Geotechnical Holdings Limited the jury found that Cotswold Geotechnical, a small mining company, had ignored safety guidelines which led to the death of Alexander Wright, a geologist who died when a pit collapsed. The company was fined £385,000 on the company, a fine which represented 250% of the company's turnover, and would mean it could go into liquidation as a result. An appeal to the conviction was rejected in May 2011.  

The Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act 2007 came into effect in 2008 and clarifies the criminal liabilities of companies (including large organisations) where serious failures in the management of health and safety result in a fatality. This landmark piece of legislation makes the company responsible for failing to ensure a duty of care to their employees and can result in the organisation being found guilty of corporate manslaughter.

The recent case, the first of its kind, highlights the fact that the courts are willing to impose substantial and unlimited fines on companies who contravene the Act, which are calculated according to the size of the company. As this is the first case, on a fairly small company, it could be argued that we have yet to see the full power of this legislation. The real test will come when one of much larger and more complex companies falls foul of it. 

All organisations both large and small must therefore ensure that they have Health and Safety Management systems that not only ensures that serious accidents are prevented but does not fall below the standards expected. Safety Management Consultancy has a range of Consultancy services and Training designed specifically to help organisations meet these obligations. Our Policies and Procedure development can assist SME's establish a formal health and safety management system whilst our independent Health and Safety Auditing can check on the efficacy of the management systems within large corporate entities. We also offer the IOSH Safety for Senior Executives course which is specifically designed for senior personnel and includes detail on the requirements on the Act.

Written by Steve McClean   |   28 June 2011
Advantage ..All England Lawn Tennis Club

It appears that has been a bit of 'off-court' backhand rallying taking place between some big hitters in the Safety and Tennis worlds last week. During the first week of the prestigious Wimbledon event there was media reports that the All England Lawn Tennis Club (who run Wimbledon) had denied tennis fans the ability to watch the action on a large screen from the grassy hill known as 'Murray Mound'. It appears they had made the decision on the basis of 'health and safety', during a period of heavy rain, as they did not want the fans to injure themselves by slipping on the wet grass.  Incensed by the media reports, and what she say as health and safety being used as an excuse yet again, the Chair of the Health and Safety Executive, Judith Hackitt wrote an open letter to the AELTC. She stated "There is nothing in health and safety legislation which prohibits the continued broadcasting of centre-court action to the crowds on the hill during the rain.... If [you were] concerned about people slipping and suing for their injuries the message should have made clear the decision was ‘on insurance grounds." However the Chief of the AELTC quickly responded claiming it was inappropriate for the HSE Chair to write an open letter in such manner without due information or making relevant enquiries as to the decision. He added "The decision was indeed based on the grounds of the safety of those present and was made by relevant professionals who have a substantial experience of the terrace and the event."

Whether we agree with the HSE or the AELTC, the matter that concerns me is that we live in a society where the HSE feels that it has to go on the offensive ('as the best form of defense') when the media is very quick to report on 'public fun' being spoiled on the basis of health and safety. Having worked in event safety for a number of years, sometimes it is extremely important to make hard decisions in the interests of participant and spectator safety, which may appear to be spoiling the fun. Unfortunately such decisions get mixed in with the 'unreasonable' judgements where health and safety is used as an excuse and the media seem to love telling us about (to fuel the fire).

At SMC we believe in pragmatic health and safety management and have been working with many event organisers to ensure the successful and safe running of their events to the enjoyment of all those involved. We hope this continues....

Written by Steve McClean   |   24 June 2011
Health and Safety on the Frontline

I watched with interest ITV's Tonight programme entitled 'Health and Safety on the Frontline'. The programme discussed whether health and safety legislation was restricting or limiting the emergency services from conducting their duties. It outlined several recent incidents where the emergency services had made decisions whereby service officers were prevented from 'taking risks' in attempting to rescue members of the public, on the grounds of health and safety. They had also conducted a survey amongst emergency service personnel on whether health and safety was having an impact on their performance.

Whilst I agreed in part with the underlying message of the need to review health and safety legislation (which the government supports) to reduce the bureaucracy in health and safety (which I also support), I was a little disappointed that they consistantly blamed health and safety for the decisions that the emergency services had made.

My experience of working in health and safety (and with the emergency services on projects) is that often it is not the health and safety legislation that is to blame, but the misinterpretation of such that creates some of the bureaucratic decisions and policies that are constantly criticised. Coupled with the litigious socitey that we find ourselves in, the role of lawyers and the insurance companies, and the public that demand action when service personnel are killed,  I can understand, but not necessarily agree with, the reasons why senior emergency personnel make some bureaucratic decisions that they believe are in the interests of protecting their personnel (and albeit their own liablity if something was to go wrong).

I keep saying this, and will no doubt keeping saying it, its all about sensible, and pragmatic health and safety. I hope we continue to work with the emergency services and the essential public services, providing sensible consultancy advice and training, to try and bring this message home.