Friday 13 July 2012

Eight fire safety offences at pub

A pub landlord has pleaded guilty to eight fire safety offences after failing to understand he had become responsible for fire safety when his lease changed.

The offences related to the Duke of York pub on Church Street, Eccles, and followed an inspection by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority (GMFRA) in August 2011.
The offences were: 
  • failing to make a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment;
  • failing to ensure that routes to emergency exits were kept clear; 
  • failing to ensure adequate fire resistance to escape routes; 
  • failing to ensure that emergency routes and exits lead directly to a place of safety; failing to provide a suitable fire alarm; 
  • failing to provide adequate emergency lighting;
  • failing to provided suitable and sufficient firefighting equipment; and 
  • failing to comply with a prohibition notice.
Paul Darnborough, prosecuting for GMFRA, said that had a fire occurred rather than providing a safe escape the emergency routes would have provided a "corridor of smoke and fire that would trapped people upstairs".

Assistant chief officer Peter O'Reilly, director of prevention and protection at GMFRA , said: "We were right to bring this prosecution as members of the public had been put at risk - but the decision of the magistrates recognises that the pub landlord did not seek to put profit over safety but rather failed to understand his responsibilities. I hope that this case will encourage people setting up or entering businesses to ensure they research their legal responsibilities. Anyone entering into a lease arrangement must ensure they fully understand their obligations and the legal implications.”

Source: Info4Fire

Diesel fumes reclassified as carcinogen

The World Health Organsiation (WHO) has reclassified diesel fumes as a Categerory 1 carcinogen, similar to tobacco.  The primary risk is that of lung cancer, but there may be a link to bladder cancer. This has resulted in a spate of enquiries about measuring diesel fumes.
Diesel exhaust fumes are a complex mixture of particulate and gaseous pollutants. The highly respirable particles consist mainly of a carbonaceous core and adsorbed organic compounds. The most important adsorbed organics are n-alkanes and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Oxides of nitrogen in the exhaust gas may react with PAHs to form highly carcinogenic nitro-PAHs.

Because diesel fumes are complex, it is not straightforward to measure fumes. The current best practice is to measure elemental carbon.  This can be done using cassettes and a sampling pump with subsequent laboratory analysis.

However, there is nothing with which to compare any results.  There is no WEL or any other figure. So we can get a set of results and not know if they are good or bad.

Saturday 7 July 2012

HSE promote sensible approach to PAT testing

Good to see that the HSE are now promoting the sensible approach to electrical safety testing that SSS have always advocated.  If you have situations such as offices, it is not necessary to have equipment tested annually.
Their publication "Maintaining portable electric equipment in low-risk environments" is short and readable.  You can read it at
And their web page  "Portable applicance testing - frequently asked questions" is also worth looking at.

Friday 6 July 2012

SSS provide safety support for Deburring Services

SSS have completed the first block of health and safety support for Deburring Services, of Cheltenham.

Deburring Services carry out specialist services for aerospace. medical, Formula 1 and other applications.  

The support provided by SSS included, risk assessment, CoSHH assessment and fire risk assessment.  A programme of on-going support has been agreed, comprising periodic visits.

Following the initial block of work, John Wood, Managing Director of Deburring Services said that, "I'm delighted with the standard and professionalism of this work. Finding Strategic Safety Systems was like finding the golden nugget.  It has reduced the burden of health and safety on us considerably.  We will certainly recommend them."

 Deburring Services has coming under increased pressure to become certified to ISO 14001, and will use SSS to provide the systems for this.

See more about risk assessment services from SSS.

Thursday 5 July 2012

Beware the CE mark, yet again

We have recently reviewed a machine which is the first of its kind.  This machine is being Beta tested at one of our customers and they asked us to review the safety aspects of this machine.  Though the type of machine that the new one is destined to replace is horrible, and has caused major injuries and deaths throughout industry, we found a number of shortcomings with the new machine.  These were:
  • Access platform from which the machine is loaded and unloaded extended for only 33% of the full width and had no end handrails. Operators were therefore required to reach out over the edge twice for every item processed. (Risk of falls)
  • Scissor lifts for raising material had no devices to protect against crush injury either during normal use or during maintenance. (Risk of crush or foot amputation)
  • No guarding on feed mechanism underside. (Risk of entrapment)
  • No guarding of gaps which could cause finger amputation injury. One gap is right next to handles on a part being moved. (Risk of finger amputation)
  • Potential for heavy part of the machine to be dropped.  Stops to prevent this were marginal. (Risk of upper body or lower body crush injury)
Because of legal concerns, we cannot show photographs of the machine or name the manufacturer.  
All of the above risks were immediately apparent.  Suitable risk control measures are readily available and cost little when compared with the overall cost of the machine.

Remember the following:

PIAC to close after 32 years

The Printing Industry Advisory Committee, which was chaired and driven by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), supported by stakeholders from the industry has come to an end after 32 years.

The safety committee was set up and introduced by the regulator back in July 1979, to help improve safety standards for the industry when health and safety regulations began to swamp the workplace, in particular the early nineties.

The committee was responsible for monitoring accident trends, identifying target areas for campaigning, introducing guidance documents, supporting the HSE in developing Safe Systems of Work and many more areas of support, to help raise safety standards and for employers to comply with workplace health and safety regulations.

Certain committee members were also involved in the development of the well-known Printer's Guide to Health and Safety, a publication commonly known as the ‘printer's safety bible', and its ongoing updates. But sadly the committee closed at the end of its last meeting on 28th March 2012. The driver behind this decision has been the HSE and its unpopular Manufacturing Industries Sector Strategy document, which went to consultation back in August 2011, placing the Print sector in the band D category (low risk), and therefore, not requiring an IAC status. These decisions have been made due to harsh cutbacks in Government Office.

As a past member of this committee and a contributory author to The Printer's Guide to Health and Safety, I'd like to say how sad I am that this has happened. 

Tuesday 3 July 2012

October start for HSE cost-recovery confirmed

The HSE’s cost-recovery scheme, known as Fee for Intervention (FFI), will begin on 1 October, subject to Parliamentary approval, the regulator has announced.

As well as confirming the start date for the scheme, the HSE has also published initial guidance explaining how the scheme will work in practice, along with examples illustrating how it will be applied.

The scheme was originally expected to come into force in April but was postponed following the HSE’s decision to take more time to discuss certain “technical details” and carry out a test run. Announcing the date of the scheme’s launch (29 June), HSE programme director Gordon MacDonald stressed that law-abiding businesses will not pay a penny and that the Executive will only recover costs from duty-holders that are found to be in material breach of health and safety law. “We have worked with industry representatives in shaping the final form of the scheme, and the published guidance explains how the scheme will work and what businesses can do to comply with the law and avoid incurring a fee,” he explained.
“It is right that those who break the law should pay their fair share of the costs to put things right, and not the public purse. Firms who manage workplace risks properly will not pay.”   

Detailed advice on the scheme’s operation is now available in a newly published guidance document on the HSE’s website. The guidance includes a number of examples of material breaches but does not cover every scenario where FFI might apply. It also explains how the scheme will operate in accordance with the HSE’s existing Enforcement Management Model (EMM) and the Enforcement Policy Statement (EPS).
The process for handling queries and disputed invoices is also covered, although full guidance on these procedures will be published on the HSE website in advance of the Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012 – under which FFI is being introduced – coming into effect.

The new guidance confirms that the fee payable by duty-holders found to be in material breach of the law is £124 per hour, except where work is contracted to the Health and Safety Laboratory, or a specialist third party, in which instances the actual cost to the HSE of the service will be recovered from the duty-holder. The fee includes all work that is needed to identify a material breach and all work to ensure that the breach is remedied.

FFI will apply when an inspector:
  • identifies a contravention of health and safety law;
  • is of the opinion that the contravention is serious enough to require written notification (i.e. it is a material breach); and
  • notifies the person contravening the law of their opinion, in writing, by a notification of contravention, Improvement or Prohibition Notice, or prosecution.
Invoices will generally be sent to duty-holders every two months, and payment is due to the HSE within 30 days of the date of the invoice.

With disputes, all initial inquiries will be treated as a query for which no fee is payable. However, if duty-holders are not satisfied with the response to their query, they can formally dispute the invoice by writing to the HSE and setting out the specific reasons why they do not believe the charge is valid. A fee is payable for handling disputes.

Existing arrangements for making an appeal against an Improvement or Prohibition Notice remain unchanged.
Steffan Groch, a partner at DWF solicitors, said FFI is of particular concern for smaller businesses. “Depending on experience and style, some inspectors may take longer than others to complete the investigation, which will undoubtedly lead to discrepancies across the board, meaning some businesses could pay much more than others,” he explained. “Apart from knowing that the hourly rate will be £124, businesses will have no way of knowing what the final bill will come to until the very end of the case. What’s more, there appears to be no room for discussion or negotiations until this stage either, as the first time that a business can raise an objection is when they receive the invoice for the investigation. Ultimately, it is smaller businesses that are going to suffer as a result of the FFI regulation.”

The initial ‘Guidance on the application of Fee for Intervention’ is available at but a final version will be published prior to the start date of the scheme.