Firms warned not to ‘sleepwalk’ into health and safety nightmare

Following reports that job vacancies in the UK have hit a record high of 1 million, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has warned employers dealing with staff shortages not to “sleepwalk” into a health and safety nightmare.

The leading professional body for occupational safety and health said that “worker shortages do not and should not mean worker neglect.”

The global professional body is concerned that the drive to maintain productivity levels in understaffed companies could lead to the protection of workers being compromised.

Checklist for worker safety

IOSH has produced a checklist for businesses coping with worker shortages to ensure they are managing both workers’ physical safety and their stress and anxiety.

The checklist includes:

  • Resource planning and ensuring tasks can still be completed safely
  • Policies and procedures and whether they remain viable in the wake of staff shortages
  • Risk assessments and considering whether these should be updated to account for the shortage of workers
  • Safe systems of work / safe operating procedures and whether these account for the shortage of workers
  • Cross training workers to carry out different roles and cover worker shortages
  • Ensuring all safety checks are still fulfilled and that there is limited risk to workers
  • Mental health and wellbeing in the workplace and how this is impacted by a shortage of workers
  • Keeping workers informed about staff shortages and included in discussions and plans

Invest in appropriate training

IOSH’s Ryan Exley said:

“Whether organisations are finding it difficult to recruit, or they’re being challenged financially and need to make cuts in expenditure, it’s vital for their business/organisation and their staff that they ensure those who work for them are kept safe.

“The last thing we want is to see any employer dealing with worker shortages ‘sleepwalking’ into some health and safety nightmare scenario, where ‘getting by’ with a reduced workforce then morphs into a ‘new normal’ that puts their people in long-term danger.

“Continuing to operate with fewer workers may maximise profits but could build up pressure to cut corners and compromise on safety, seriously damaging workers’ mental health in the meantime.”

Meanwhile, IOSH Head of Health and Safety, Ruth Wilkinson, said firms needed to continue to invest in health and safety and appropriate training despite any staffing issues.

She explained:

“There should be no compromise on health and safety, with the prevention of harm and protection of workers being paramount.”

She added that firms must maintain good risk management and continue to: “Provide the appropriate training, such as staff inductions, competency requirements and refreshers, making sure staff are aware of the health and safety arrangements and their responsibilities; good communication and awareness is key.

“It’s always important to ensure there’s a planned and risk-controlled approach to prevention, focused on safe people, safe systems, safe workplaces and safe equipment.”

Health and safety training and support

First Response Training (FRT) is one of the UK’s largest and leading national training providers.

They deliver a wide and diverse range of training for businesses and organisations across all industry sectors and throughout the UK. Their course range includes training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, mental health, food hygiene, specialist safety, health and social care and more.

Their health and safety training is mapped to UK standards and legislation and follows HSE guidelines. Based on a common sense, proportionate approach to workplace safety, training helps learners to understand the true benefits of creating a health and safe environment at work.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“We believe in creating safer working environments with people who care, and know that when workers feel safe, valued and protected, they are likely to be happier and more productive at work. Companies with a strong health and safety ethos can not only reduce workplace accidents and downtime, but also see better staff retention rates and increased employee satisfaction in the future.”

For more information on any of the training courses that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or e-mail info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Firm fined £1 million after man dies in explosion

A chemical firm has been prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and fined £1 million after a man died in an explosion at its site.

The HSE said they hoped the case would help “communicate important safety messages” to the industry after Briar Chemicals Ltd pleaded guilty to breaching the COMAH Regulations 2015.

The company, based in Norwich, appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court after a “complex and highly technical” three-year investigation by the HSE revealed that they failed to take all necessary measures to prevent the fatal explosion.

In addition to their significant fine, Briar Chemicals Ltd were also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £10,967.20.

Health and safety failings

The court heard how, on 27th July 2018, maintenance contractor, Rob Cranston, was carrying out repair work on a mixing vessel during a planned period of shutdown maintenance.

It is believed that his welding torch or grinder accidentally ignited flammable Toluene vapour inside the vessel. This should not have been present when the maintenance work commenced.

Mr Cranston, aged 46, was killed in the blast. His son Owen, aged 22, was working alongside him at the time.

The subsequent investigation by Britain’s health and safety watchdog found that a quantity of Toluene residue had been left inside the vessel after shutdown cleaning took place at the beginning of June 2018. Two damaged valves situated above the vessel in the Toluene supply pipe were also found to be leaking.

The HSE learned that operatives had been instructed to transfer a large quantity of Toluene from one storage tank to another via this pipe, which allowed additional flammable liquid to leak into the vessel. It was supposed to be empty and clean.

‘Horrendous’ and ‘complex’ case

In a Victim Impact Statement read out in court, Mr Cranston’s widow, Claire said his loss had “been horrendous for both our sons, particularly Owen having to deal with actually being there at the time.”

She added: “Our lives changed forever that day. We will never forget him and are only left wondering what the future would have held for us all together. We were still young enough to have had years of happiness ahead. He will miss seeing our sons’ lives develop and grandchildren in years to come.

Meanwhile, HSE Inspector Frances Bailey, who led the investigation into the incident, said:

“This was a complex and highly technical investigation, due to the chemical hazards on site and the number of underlying issues which combined to cause the explosion. HSE hope that this case helps to communicate important safety messages to wider industry so that other fires and explosions are prevented in future.

“Any company handling or storing flammables should consider the potential risk of fire and explosion and ensure they have robust procedures in place to minimise and control risk at all times, including during planned maintenance work.”

Vital health and safety support and training

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider.

They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards in Handling Hazardous SubstancesHealth and Safety, Lone Working, Risk Assessment, Manual HandlingAccident and Incident Investigation and Managing and Supervising Safety, among many others.

FRT is also approved to deliver world-renowned IOSH-accredited and certificated training courses such as IOSH Working Safely, IOSH Supervising Safely and IOSH Managing Safely.

A trainer from FRT explains: “This is a truly tragic case which highlights exactly why it’s so vitally important that employers have a good understanding of health and safety law and that health and safety at work is well managed, with suitable risk assessments, control measures, policies and procedures in place.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

HSE inspectors crack down on respiratory risks

Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will be targeting construction firms across Britain next month to check they are protecting workers from respiratory risks and occupational lung disease.

The month-long inspection initiative, starting on Monday 4th October 2021, will focus on the control measures that construction firms have in place to protect their workers from silica, asbestos and wood dust.

Improving construction worker health

The initiative forms part of HSE’s longer term health and work strategy to improve health within the construction industry.

The HSE will be inspecting construction sitesIt will be supported by their WorkRight campaign, which encourages builders to download free guidance and advice in order to increase knowledge and capability to protect workers’ health.

Britain’s health and safety watchdog is being supported by the Health in Construction Leadership Group (HCLG) and Tier 1 industry contractors to conduct more than 1,000 site visits throughout October.

Inspectors will assess the effectiveness of measures that firms have in place to control workers’ exposure to the respiratory risks from construction dust.

The findings from these visits and a survey will provide the HSE with a wide dataset to evaluate ongoing practices across industry. The insights will support the regulator’s strategic plan to broaden the range and depth of future regulatory health interventions.

Inspectors prepared to take action

Inspectors will be looking for evidence that employers and workers are aware of the risks, planning their work accordingly and using the right control measures.

The watchdog has also warned that, while inspectors will focus on health and, in particular, respiratory risks, during this inspection initiative, they will also take action to tackle any other areas of concern they identify, such as immediate safety risks.

Simple measures to save lives

The focused inspections on construction are driven by some very serious figures. More than 3,500 construction workers die each year after developing cancers related to their work.

There are also thousands more cases of ill-health and working days lost each year due to exposure to dust.

The Chief Inspector of Construction at the HSE, Sarah Jardine, said:

“Around 100 times as many workers die from diseases caused or made worse by their work than are actually killed in construction accidents.”

She added that there were simple measures that everyone can do to ensure they are protecting their health: “Be aware of the risks associated with activities you do every day, recognise the dangers of hazardous dust and consider how it can affect your health. We want businesses and their workers to think of the job from start to finish and avoid creating dust by working in different ways to keep dust down and wear the right protective equipment.”

Construction safety training and support

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider.

They deliver a wide and diverse range of training courses in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, food hygiene, specialist safety, mental health, health and social care and more.

They can offer courses in subjects such as Asbestos Awareness, Handling of Hazardous Substances and accredited options such as IOSH Working Safely and IOSH Managing Safely.

A trainer from FRT says:

“Occupational cancers devastate thousands of lives. It’s so important that employers protect themselves and their workers by following simple, common sense health and safety measures that keep them safe.”

For more information on any of the training courses that FRT can offer, please call them on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Construction firm fined after worker suffers life changing injuries

A construction company has been fined £34,000 after a worker suffered life-changing injuries in an avoidable incident that “could have easily resulted in a fatality.”

Hovington Limited, based in Rochdale, appeared at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court after being prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in relation to the incident, which occurred on 4th February 2019.

The court heard how the company had failed to implement suitable control measures or safe working practices.

At the time of the incident, groundworkers, including the injured person, were working to break out ground using a 13-tonne 360 excavator with a hydraulic breaker attached to an automatic quick hitch. The task was part of trench work to install new drainage at the site of Arconic Forging and Extrusions in Rotherham.

Things went wrong when the breaker became detached from the quick hitch on the excavator and fell, narrowly missing one ground worker and landing on the injured worker’s right foot.

As stated by the burn accident attorney, he sustained injuries which meant that doctors were forced to amputate his right leg below the knee.

A subsequent investigation by the HSE found that Hovington Limited had failed to ensure that a safe method of work had been implemented when working in the vicinity of an excavator. They also found that there was no defined segregation between people and plant and no use of a vehicle plant marshal to ensure that the machine was isolated before pedestrians entered the working zone of the excavator.

In addition, the company had failed to implement a dedicated bucket changing area for the changing of attachments in order to minimise the risk of any attachments falling onto pedestrians. Fully-Verfied will make sure that all these files will be safe in their hands.

The company pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. In addition to their £34,000 fine they were ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,935.84.

Commenting on the case, HSE inspector Trisha Elvy said:

“This incident could have easily resulted in a fatality and could have been avoided by simply carrying out correct control measures and safe working practices.

“There should be suitable, defined safe systems of work so that persons who need to work in close proximity to excavators can do so safely.”

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards in Health and Safety, Risk Assessment, Accident and Incident Investigation and Managing and Supervising Safety.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“It’s crucial that all business owners and managers understand their responsibilities under law with regards to health and safety and that they have appropriate control measures in place to minimise risks and keep people safe. This includes appropriate health and safety training for staff.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

IOSH urges caution as people return to workplaces

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has urged caution over the gradual return of staff to workplaces.

Speaking after the government confirmed that England would move to the final stage of its gradual easing of Covid-19 lockdown measures, IOSH’s Head of Advice and Practice, Duncan Spencer, warned: “Covid-19 still poses a significant threat, so we urge businesses to ensure they continue to do all they can to protect staff from contracting it.”

Ensure a healthy and safe return to work

As the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, spoke out to encourage workers to head back into the office and other workplaces, IOSH advised that businesses be guided by health and safety professionals.

Mr Smith said that risk assessments formed the “starting point” for a safe return to workplaces, “as they can help to identify proportionate controls to protect workers, clients, consumers and communities.”

Advocating continued caution, he added:

“With Covid risks, this might include a reasonable request for people to continue wearing face masks and observe social distancing measures.

“Employers might wish to emulate other socially conscious organisations by asking workers to test themselves regularly, including supplying them with lateral flow test kits.

“It is crucial that any preventative measures are communicated clearly, thereby empowering people to work safely while this disease remains a significant threat.”

Maintain control measures

The (HSE) has issued advice about workplace controls that businesses should maintain despite the removal of lockdown restrictions and social distancing guidance.

Britain’s health and safety watchdog says that organisations must still control the risks of Covid-19 transmission and should continue to review and update their risk assessment.

The following workplace control measures also remain unchanged:

Employers are also advised that communicating with workers and representatives about health and safety matters helps to reduce risks.

The HSE continues to conduct Covid-19 spot checks and inspections to ensure that businesses across the country are managing the risks.

Consider mental health and wellbeing

As a recent survey suggested that 40% of workers feel less resilient now than they did before the pandemic, and that over half feel under pressure to mask mental health challenges as they return to the workplace, transmission of Covid-19 is not the only risk that employers need to manage.

Indeed, Duncan Smith at IOSH agreed that “employers also need to consider the impact of returning to work on people’s mental health and wellbeing, with the possibility that staff may be deeply concerned about returning.”

He added:

“We advocate that open and non-stigmatised conversations are proactively arranged by line managers as part of a strong overall mental health and wellbeing strategy.

“Organisations need to be safe from Covid and safe from the mental health consequences of this pandemic and the impact it has on people’s lives.”

Further training and support for the workplace

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards in Infection Control, Lone Working, Risk Assessment, Managing and Supervising SafetyManaging Stress in the Workplace and Understanding Mental Health, among many others.

They also offer a portfolio of e-learning training courses, including COVID-19 Infection prevention, identification and control.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“Businesses must ensure they conduct a thorough Covid-19 risk assessment and have effective measures in place for cleaning, hygiene and handwashing, ventilation and protecting vulnerable workers. Continuing measures such as social distancing, working from home and wearing face coverings should also be considered where appropriate.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Firm fined £60,000 after worker suffers ‘life-changing’ injuries

A firm has been fined £60,000 after a worker had to have their arm amputated after becoming entangled in a machine.

Superior Machines Ltd, which manufactures agricultural machinery, were prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a 68-year-old employee suffered life-threatening injuries when he became entangled on a manual lathe.

The incident occurred on 25th January 2019 at the company’s site in Driffield, East Riding of Yorkshire. It is thought the worker became entangled on either the rotating workpiece or the chuck as it rotated. This left him with extensive injuries including a punctured lung, broken neck and fractures to the back, ribs, arm and shoulder blade.

Doctors were forced to amputate the man’s left arm at the shoulder.

A subsequent investigation by the HSE found that machinery standards across the entire site were poor and that many of the machines were unguarded.

Inspectors served the company with three prohibition and five improvement notices were served. These included machine guarding, welfare and management issues.

Superior Machines Ltd appeared at York Magistrates’ Court last month where they pleaded guilty to breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and were ordered to pay prosecution costs of £7,618 in addition to their fine.

Commenting on the case, HSE Inspector Sarah Taylor said that such incidents were “far too common.”

She added:

“The worker’s injuries were life changing and he could have easily been killed. This serious incident and devastation could have been avoided if basic safeguards, risk assessments, supervision and instruction had been in place.”

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards in Health and Safety, Risk Assessment, Accident and Incident Investigation and Managing and Supervising Safety.

A trainer from FRT explains: “It’s crucial that all business owners and managers understand their responsibilities under law with regards to health and safety and that they have appropriate control measures in place to minimise risks and keep people safe. This includes appropriate health and safety training for staff.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

HSE continues Covid spot checks as infection rates rise

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have advised that they will be continuing to carry out Covid spot checks and inspections on businesses after the date for the final easing of lockdown restrictions was pushed back.

Businesses must remain covid secureAmid rising infection rates, as the new Delta variant of Covid-19 spreads, businesses must continue to have Covid-secure measures in place in line with government guidance.

Britain’s health and safety watchdog have therefore confirmed that they will continue to work with local authorities to carry out Covid spot checks and inspections on businesses in all areas of the country in order to ensure they are managing the risk.

They have warned it is “vital at this stage that businesses don’t become complacent and continue to have measures in place” to protect workers, customers and visitors

Don’t become complacent

HSE inspectors will provide guidance and advice for businesses where required and will take enforcement action against those organisations which aren’t effectively managing the risk from Coronavirus. This may include the issuing of enforcement notices or stopping certain work practices until they are made safe.

Businesses who fail to comply with HSE guidance or enforcement action could face prosecution.

HSE will check covid secure measuresThe Director of Transformation and Operational Services at HSE, Angela Storey, commented: “[…] As we continue to carry out spot checks and inspections, our support of cross-government work remains. We are committed to helping employers and employees as they work through the pandemic.

“All workplaces are in scope for spot checks which means businesses of any size, in any sector can receive an unannounced call or visit to check they are Covid-secure.”

The HSE provides advice and guidance about making your workplace Covid-secure on their website.

Guidance and training

Businesses must ensure they conduct a thorough Covid-19 risk assessment and have effective measures in place for social distancing, cleaning, hygiene and handwashing, ventilation, working from home and protecting vulnerable workers.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards in Infection Control, Lone Working, Risk Assessment, Managing and Supervising SafetyManaging Stress in the Workplace and Understanding Mental Health, among many others.

They also offer a portfolio of e-learning training courses, including COVID-19 Infection prevention, identification and control.

A trainer from FRT explains: “It’s vitally important, during these final stages, that we do not now let our guard down and that everyone continues to follow the guidance at all times to control the still-present risk of coronavirus.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

HSE continues COVID spot checks

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has warned businesses that it will be continuing to carry out Covid-19 spot checks and inspections as the nation continues on the roadmap out of lockdown.

Britain’s health and safety watchdog is working with local authorities to carry out spot checks and inspections on local businesses as the economy reopens.

They say that, as more businesses reopen their doors, the opportunity for Covid-19 to spread only increases, “so it is critical that businesses shouldn’t become complacent. They still need to have Covid-secure measures in place.”

All businesses in line for inspection

Spot checks and inspections are being carried out on all types of businesses in all areas.

Inspectors will be checking the measures that organisations have put in place to manage and reduce the risks posed from coronavirus, ensuring they are in line with current government guidance.

They will be visiting businesses that have continued their operations throughout the pandemic, as well as those that have only recently reopened or are planning to reopen soon.

The HSE says it is assisting local authorities to target premises in the sectors they regulate, such as hospitality and retail.

Businesses must manage Covid risks

sanitisation remains crucialInspectors will offer businesses advice and guidance during spot checks and inspections, but the watchdog has made clear that action will be taken against any organisation that isn’t managing the risk from Covid-19.

The HSE has the power to issue enforcement notices and halt certain work activities until they are made safe.

Any business that does not comply with HSE action could be prosecuted.

The HSE has outlined some general Covid-secure measures that businesses should have in place:

  • A Covid-19 risk assessment for your workplace, which is updated to reflect any changes in legislation or guidance that may impact on your work activities.
  • Social distancing measures to ensure people are kept 2-metres apart or, where this is not possible, 1-metre apart with additional measures in place, such as screens.
  • Strict cleaning, hygiene and handwashing procedures for your workplace and staff.
  • Proper ventilation and air conditioning to help reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading.
  • Information for workers about providing support and maintaining Covid-19 control measures.
  • Suitable measures to support staff to work from home where required, such as appropriate equipment and regular contact to ensure their wellbeing.
  • Control measures, support, and information to help protect workers who are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus.

Engage with the HSE to protect communities

The Director of Transformation and Operational Services at HSE, Angela Storey, explained: “As we come out of lockdown, we are continuing to work with local authorities to check businesses are Covid-secure and providing guidance and advice where needed.

“Our spot checks and inspections support the cross-government work in helping employers and employees that have worked throughout the pandemic and those returning as lockdown measures ease. All workplaces are in scope for spot checks which means businesses of any size, in any sector, can receive an unannounced check from HSE or an inspection from the local authority, to check they are Covid-secure.

“If you are contacted by the HSE or your local authority, please engage with us. By checking businesses have measures in place to manage the risks, we can benefit the health of local communities as well as support the local and national UK economy.”

The HSE provides guidance on remaining Covid-secure on their website.

Training can help you manage the risks

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Infection control is crucialTheir diverse portfolio includes training awards in Infection Control, Lone Working, Risk Assessment, Managing and Supervising Safety, Managing Stress in the Workplace and Understanding Mental Health, among many others.

They also offer a portfolio of e-learning training courses, including COVID-19 Infection prevention, identification and control.

A trainer from FRT explains: “After many months of restrictions, it’s great to see things start to open back up and many businesses begin to return to some sort of normal. This is vitally important for the economy as well as for the mental health and wellbeing of employers and employees.

“It’s equally important, though, that, as restrictions ease, we do not let our guard down and continue to ensure that we are following guidance at all times to control the still-present risk of coronavirus.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Occupational safety and health leads Covid recovery

The Director of Professional Services at the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has commented on how the occupational safety and health (OSH) profession is leading the way in the recovery from Covid-19.

In a commentary featured in the Hays UK Salary and Recruiting Trends Guide 2021, Vanessa Harwood-Whitcher spoke of how OSH professionals had found themselves “front and centre of organisations’ recovery from Covid-19,” saying that leadership figures are turning to the profession for guidance to protect their workers and the future of their businesses.

As we slowly move out of the third national lockdown and the roadmap has been laid out to restarting the economy, many employers want to know how they can restart their operations safely, prevent virus transmission on their site and protect remote workers.

Ms. Harwood-Whitcher cautioned that OSH professionals must also “ensure their employers don’t lose sight of non-Covid risks.”

She added: “To achieve this, OSH professionals must be attuned to how their organisation is run and how OSH can enable it to sustain its future and achieve strategic goals. They must be able to adapt quickly as new risks emerge and provide senior leaders with assurance.”

This rise in demand for OSH expert advice will continue well into 2021 and beyond, she predicts.

As a result, IOSH aims to ensure there is a “significant pool of high-calibre people who can respond.”

They are hoping to achieve this through their Student Membership Scheme, their IOSH Mentoring platform and their Future Leaders community. These initiatives all help people at different stages to build their OSH career.

There is high demand for relevant health and safety skills, and IOSH is looking to help meet this demand by moving their main health and safety training products online.

Ms. Harwood-Whitcher says such measures are “why I am confident our profession can continue to deliver, to protect the futures of organisations and those who work for them.”

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards in Infection Control, Lone Working, Risk Assessment, Managing Health and Safety, Managing Stress in the Workplace and Understanding Mental Health, among many others.

FRT is also approved to deliver world-renowned IOSH-accredited and certificated training courses such as IOSH Working Safely, IOSH Supervising Safely and IOSH Managing Safely.

They also offer a portfolio of e-learning training courses, including COVID-19 Infection prevention, identification and control.

A trainer from FRT explains: “For too long, health and safety has been considered no more than an administrative burden to employers, but this really highlights how sensible health and safety approaches can really benefit businesses and how they will be instrumental in helping firms build back better after the pandemic.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

HSE Chair reflects on 12 months of Covid

The Chair of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Sarah Newton, has shared her reflections on the past year, which saw Britain and its workplaces battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

Launching the HSE’s new regular website blog, Ms. Newton, who became Chair of Britain’s health and safety watchdog in August last year, explained that her and her colleagues would be publishing blogs sharing their thoughts on a wide range of topics related to HSE’s workplace safety mission.

Speaking of the 12 months since April 2020, she admits it’s “safe to say that it has been a year unlike any of us have ever experienced.”

Ms. Newton explained that, as Britain gradually emerges from lockdown and the pandemic, the HSE will be applying “renewed vigour to our work enabling Covid-secure workplaces. Drawing on what we are continuously learning from the data and science. With a focus on controlling risk, from identifying it to mitigating for it.”

She confirmed that the vast majority of businesses and workplaces were adhering to government guidelines and were making prompt changes to the way they work in order to keep employees and other members of the public as safe as possible.

Where enforcement action has been needed, however, Ms. Newton is clear that the HSE has been decisive in taking that action.

The regulator has been at the heart of the government response to the coronavirus pandemic in Great Britain, working alongside Public Health bodies and local authorities. It has ensured, through spot checks, inspections and advice, that workplaces are doing everything possible to provide Covid-secure working environments.

Ms. Newton says:

“HSE takes the Covid pandemic and the welfare of workers incredibly seriously. Of course, we do. That is written into our DNA and, since 1974, that has been our mission.”

She summarised some of the actions taken over the past 12 months to help make workplaces Covid-secure. These included:

  • Shifting their organisational resources onto Covid-related work and utilising an additional £14 million in funding to add new services to support workers and employers
  • Completing over 165,700 Covid-19 spot checks and responding to over 210,000 concerns
  • Carrying out around 2,000 workplace checks each day
  • Supporting Public Health bodies with 646 reported outbreaks of Covid-19
  • Targeting spot checks in those industries where workers are most vulnerable to transmission risks
  • Leading a Covid-19 national core study, funded by the Government, on transmission of Covid-19 in the environment. This encompasses workplaces, transport and other public settings. The aim is to answer essential policy and operational questions around the pandemic.

The Chair of the HSE concluded:

“All of the above, and more, has taken place against a backdrop of HSE continuing to regulate traditional, non-Covid related occupational health and safety in a multitude of industries.

“As well as setting up the new Building Safety Regulator and dealing with the complex regulatory responsibilities associated with the end of the EU transition period and the intake of new staff that these have entailed. I think that’s a real achievement everyone in HSE can be proud of.”

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards in Infection Control, Lone Working, Risk Assessment, Managing Health and Safety, Managing Stress in the Workplace and Understanding Mental Health, among many others.

They also offer a portfolio of e-learning training courses, including COVID-19 Infection prevention, identification and control.

A trainer from FRT explains: “Businesses have lots to consider right now; they must ensure they are keeping people as safe as possible and minimising the risk of transmission of Covid-19, following government guidelines and effectively implementing suitable control measures. It is great that the HSE has been there to provide advice, guidance and take action where needed.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

HSE guidance for reopened schools

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has issued guidance for schools on ensuring they remain Covid-secure as they reopen for the Spring term.

England’s health and safety watchdog has reminded schools that they must have mitigating measures in place to control the risks from Covid-19, as well as “arrangements in place to ensure effective supervision, monitoring and review of expected standards.”

Inspectors from the HSE conducted spot checks and inspections on primary and secondary schools over a 3-month period from September to December 2020.

They contacted 5000 schools in England and Wales to check they were following the correct guidelines, with spot checks spanning all regions and including a proportionate number of state-maintained, independent and special schools.

Government guidelines for the reopening of schools have not changed substantially since these inspections, and the HSE has set out its findings, including areas for improvement.

Inspectors found that around 80% of schools had a good understanding of the guidance and what it means to be Covid-secure.

The HSE undertook over 1,000 follow-up inspections at those schools where it was less certain that they were correctly following guidance to check the measures they had in place.

For more than half of the schools visited, there was no further action. For most of the remaining inspections only minor issues were detected which resulted in verbal advice.

Formal interventions and improvement measures were required in less than 1% of schools visited, after health and safety contraventions were uncovered by inspectors.

Areas of concern included social distancing in staff rooms and kitchens or canteens, cleaning regimes and ventilation in some school buildings. Inspectors found that most schools were relying on well painted walls and windows or doors being open for long periods of time in order to achieve ventilation. This led to issues around maintaining comfortable room temperatures for students and staff members, especially during the colder months.This measures can also be adopted to home for healthy living. My House Painter can also help you out in getting your home improvement services done.

The HSE has since updated its own guidance regarding ventilation and air-conditioning, which they say should help school leaders to balance these needs.

Other issues that inspectors provided advice on included:

  • Schools using generic risk assessments that did not include specific detail for their site
  • Lack of effective systems for the regular monitoring and review of risk assessments
  • Fire doors being propped open in order to provide ventilation
  • Inappropriate rooms being used for isolating suspected cases
  • Arrangements for managing external visitors and/or contractors

Inspectors also found lots of examples of schools promoting good practice in innovative ways, such as:

  • Promoting social distancing by issuing pupils with coloured lanyards to identify their bubble and to help avoid mixing between different bubbles
  • Using brightly coloured floor markings in school playgrounds to encourage two metre social distancing between parents and pupils during drop-off and collection times
  • Focusing on handwashing and UV light as a means of promoting effective hand hygiene as part of specific school projects, such as science projects
  • Producing video walkthroughs explaining Covid-secure arrangements for pupils and parents
  • Use of classroom seating plans to help with self-isolation measures
  • Using a click-and-collect app to purchase food from the canteen to reduce queues and avoid crowding
  • Using video conferencing for staff meetings and phones in classrooms to speak to other staff in order to reduce face-to-face contact.

The government has provided specific guidance about actions schools should take during the coronavirus pandemic in the UK.

The HSE has said that it will continue to investigate any concerns or incidents reported to them about school safety measures.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care, safeguarding and more.

They work with a large number of early years and childcare providers, as well as schools, colleges, and children’s services. Their courses include Safeguarding Children, Understanding Mental Health and Anxiety Awareness.

They can also provide accredited trainers to deliver Youth Mental Health First Aid training, certificated by Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England.

A trainer from FRT says: “It is fantastic that schools have been able to reopen as this is so vital for the mental health and wellbeing of children, as well as their physical, mental and social development and, obviously, their education.

“It’s now really important that schools understand the guidance and the measures they need to maintain so that they can keep their staff and students as safe as possible.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

IOSH partners with WHO to protect lives and livelihoods

The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) has partnered with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to provide free online learning to help businesses and workers develop their knowledge around Covid-19.

The two organisations have developed a new course which teaches people about preventing transmission of Covid-19 and managing the risks of returning to work and remote working.

They say it has been created with the aim of “protecting lives and livelihoods.”

The free online training can be accessed by anyone across the world on the WHO online learning platform.

The IOSH and WHO first joined forces last year in order to support businesses, workers and safety and health professionals in managing the risks posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

IOSH’s Chief Executive, Bev Messinger, said they were “delighted” to have worked with the WHO to develop the training modules.

She explained: “The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the way we work, as well as the way we live.

“Many organisations have opted for remote working, although this has been beneficial for employers and workers, it is something which can create significant risks, not least around mental health.

“Organisations are also planning their recovery and have been doing for some time. This includes how they can allow people back into workplaces in a safe way, ensuring that the risks of Covid-19 transmission are managed. Some organisations, of course, have had to continue operating in workplaces and we have supported them too.”

She said the training modules would “support people in organisatons of all sizes, including small and medium enterprises and start-ups who might otherwise find it challenging to access such training. Across these organisations, they will enhance the way workers are protected and, as a result, protect lives and livelihoods.”

IOSH has created modules on Safer Teleworking and Reopening your workplace safely, while peer reviewing the other training modules.

The Safer teleworking module focuses on issues such as isolation and work-life balance.

The full course includes interactive content and is available on the WHO’s online learning platform.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards in Infection Control, Lone Working, Risk Assessment, Managing Health and Safety, Managing Stress in the Workplace and Understanding Mental Health, among many others.

They also offer a portfolio of e-learning training courses, including COVID-19 Infection prevention, identification and control.

A trainer from FRT explains: “Businesses have lots to consider right now; they must ensure they are keeping people as safe as possible and minimising the risk of transmission of Covid-19, following government guidelines and effectively implementing suitable control measures.

“But they must also think about their employee’s mental health and wellbeing. With the stress and anxiety of the pandemic, the potential isolation of working from home and the strain of national lockdowns, many of their workers may be struggling with low mood, stress, depression or anxiety.

“Health and safety duties for employers are not limited to an employee’s physical health and safety – they also include the responsibility to support their mental health.

“That means it’s not just crucial that employers understand Covid-19, its routes of transmission and how to minimise the risk – as well as other physical safety considerations – they should also understand how they can promote and support positive mental health and wellbeing throughout their organisation.

“A range of training is needed to help foster a truly safe and healthy workforce.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Aviva reducing office space in favour of permanent home-working

Investment company Aviva has announced that it will be closing many of its offices across the UK and allowing staff to work from home as standard practice.

Aviva currently employs 16,000 people in the UK and sought to assure that the changes they were making would not amount to job cuts and that staff who preferred to work in an office environment would still be able to do so.

The company issued a statement explaining: “The way we use our office space is changing significantly.”

Explaining that their staff were being consulted on the proposals, Aviva’s statement added: “We are combining office space in some locations and reducing the space in others. Our intention is to invest in our sites to provide a more vibrant, inspiring and flexible workspace for our people.”

Aviva currently has offices in Birmingham, Bristol, Eastleigh, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leatherhead, Leeds, London, Manchester, Norwich, Perth, Sheffield, Worthing and York.

They are looking to reduce their two offices in York to just one, while in Norwich two offices at the Broadland Business Park will both be closed and staff will be relocated to their city centre site by the end of the financial year.

Companies extend home-working

After many companies were forced to facilitate staff working from home wherever possible when the first coronavirus lockdown was put in place in March 2020, a number have since announced extensions to their work-from-home policies, with many deciding to allow employees to work from home on a permanent basis.

Companies that have made the switch to long-term remote working arrangements include: Adobe, Amazon, Capital One, Facebook, Mastercard, Nationwide Insurance and Siemens.

Flexible working and work-from-home policies can improve employees’ work/life balance and therefore enhance their mental health and wellbeing.

Many studies have also shown that, contrary to the fears of many bosses, flexible working and working from home can lead to increased productivity for firms.

Staff who are granted flexible working arrangements that ensure they can work to the best of their ability, in a way that fits around their circumstances, often feel more valued and happier, and are more likely to stay with their employer for a longer time.

Health and safety for home workers

It is important for employers to be aware, however, that they have the same health and safety responsibilities towards employees who are working from home as they do those working onsite.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) explains that employers needs to consider the following for home workers:

  • How they will keep in contact with them?
  • What work activities they will be completing and for how long?
  • Can the activities be completed safely?
  • Do they need to put any control measures in place to protect them?

Home workers are essentially lone workers with no direct supervision, so it is vital that employers and colleagues maintain regular contact with them. This can be important for noticing the early warning signs of stress or mental ill health. If you are stressed or anxious, you can try using D8 gummies as it will help you relax

For those working at home long-term, the risks associated with display screen equipment (DSE) should be managed, and this includes carrying out workstation assessments at the employee’s home.

Specific training may also be needed for home-based and lone workers.

Home working arrangements should be kept under continual review, with companies assessing whether any additional measures are needed to protect worker health and safety.

Consider specific training

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider who has a really good website design. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards in Lone Working, Risk Assessment, Managing Health and Safety, Managing Stress in the Workplace and Understanding Mental Health, among many others.

A trainer from FRT explains: “Working from home can offer great flexibility for some workers and it’s great that many organisations are deciding to offer this long-term.

“Employers must remember, though, that they still have the same responsibilities to safeguard the health, safety and wellbeing of home workers as they do for staff based in the office.

“During the pandemic, working from home has offered better protection for employees and has safeguarded businesses, but it can also create feelings of loneliness and isolation, while for those who have children that are home-schooling, there can be increased stress and anxiety.

“It’s important to regularly check-in on people who are working from home, and ensure they are healthy, happy and safe and able to work productively.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

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HSE checks Covid-secure measures in transport and logistics

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has been conducting spot inspections on transport and logistics firms to ensure they’re managing the risk of Covid-19 during periods of high demand.            

Britain’s health and safety watchdog has been working with local authorities to carry out the spot inspections and ensure that businesses in the transport and logistics sector who has left in-charge to Strader Ferris International, have maintained strict Covid-secure measures throughout the festive period and New Year sales.

Inspectors were pleased to find examples of good practice being demonstrated on many of their visits.

These included good provisions for access to toilets, handwashing facilities and rest areas, as well as arrangements to enable visiting drivers to safely access site facilities.

Other good safety measures observed included:

  • Active monitoring to ensure staff were following procedures
  • Limiting numbers of workers allowed in canteens and break rooms to ensure social distancing
  • Providing Covid-kits to drivers, which contained hand sanitiser and wipes
  • Grouping workers who typically work closely together
  • Providing delivery notes electronically for drivers while they remained in their cabs, rather than requiring them to visit the transport office
  • Staggering shift start times to reduce congestion at entry points
  • Rearranging desks and fitting screens in offices to enable office workers to work safely

sanitisation remains crucialThe HSE says that its very important that goods can be quickly and safely despatched to stores and to customers via home delivery during the coronavirus pandemic.

They highlighted these “novel ways” that businesses have been implementing Covid-secure measures in order to manage and reduce the risk of transmission for workers, visitors and others.

Inspectors did, however, also report areas for improvements across some sites.

They said that some office spaces lacked good ventilation while some sites lacked a site-specific risk assessment and that hand sanitiser was sometimes too far away from workstations to allow regular use.

A number of workplace transport issues were also observed, including:

  • Poor marking of pedestrian routes
  • Footpaths being blocked
  • Inadequate controls to prevent vehicle driveaway incidents

These failings prompted verbal advice or, where there was a serious risk of harm to workers, enforcement action. The HSE reports that, in the majority of cases, issues could be quickly resolved during the inspection.

The watchdog says that, to be Covid-secure:

“businesses need to keep up to date with the latest guidance and put measures in place to manage the risk and protect workers, visitors and customers.”

Guidance for businesses on being Covid-secure can be found on the HSE’s website.

Inspectors from the HSE are continuing spot checks and inspections on all types of businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.

First Response Training is a leading, national training provider. They deliver a wide range of training for businesses and organisations across all industry sectors, and throughout the UK.

They can provide training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their health and safety range includes the IOSH-approved Managing Safely as well as other courses such as Health and Safety, Risk Assessment, Managing and Supervising Safely and Accident and Incident Investigation.

In 2020, they also developed the COVID-19: Infection prevention, identification and control e-learning training course, to help businesses learn how to manage the risks from coronavirus.

A trainer from FRT says: “The HSE are continuing their inspections and will be looking to see that businesses are maintaining all proper health and safety measures – as well as Covid-19 secure measures – during the pandemic.

“It’s very important that where people are continuing to go to work, carrying out essential roles, that they are protected from harm as far as possible.

“This includes the risk of infection with coronavirus but also other risks they may encounter at work. Businesses must continue to do all that is reasonably practicable to protect those affected by their activities.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300, or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Nestle fined £640,000 after workers arm trapped in machine

Nestle UK Ltd have been prosecuted and fined £640,000 after a worker was injured when their arm became trapped in a machine.

The company appeared at Bradford Crown Court, where they pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations in relation to the incident, which “could so easily have been avoided.”

The court heard how, on 13th February 2016, a technical operator was observing the operation of the After Eight production machine at the company’s Albion Mills site in Halifax.

They were told that the employee placed his right hand close to a gap in the machine housing. He was holding an emery cloth, which was dragged into the machine, pulling his arm with it. He couldn’t reach any of the emergency stop buttons located around the machine from the position he was trapped in and had to wait to be released from the machine by the paramedics.

The employee suffered a double compound fracture to his arm, which required surgery.

A subsequent investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that the company had failed to prevent access to dangerous moving parts of the machine, namely an ‘in-running nip’. There was also a gap large enough to allow access at a belt conveyor entry on the After Eight line.

As a result, Nestle UK Ltd were prosecuted for breaching the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

In addition to their £640,000 fine, they were also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £26,234.

Commenting on the case, HSE Inspector Jacqueline Ferguson said: “This is a tragic incident that could so easily have been avoided. The risks inherent in failures to properly guard dangerous parts of machinery are well-known in industry and to Nestle.

“Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider.

Working with companies from all industry sectors and throughout the UK, they deliver a wide range of courses in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their courses include Managing and Supervising Safety, Accident and Incident Investigation and Risk Assessment.

A trainer from FRT says: “It’s so important that all companies understand their duties in relation to health and safety, and the control measures they must apply in order to protect their workers.

“Every worker deserves to go home healthy and safe at the end of their working day, and that is why health and safety law exists.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.