Resources
Wednesday
Dec092015

Is this the most dramatic change in Health & Safety Enforcement since 1974?

In November 2015, new sentencing guidelines for Health & Safety offences were published, these will have a dramatic effect on punishments handed out to business owners. Fines will be greatly increased across the board and more custodial sentences will be handed out as a lower threshold for imprisonment is implemented.

Important Change –Risk Based not Outcome Based

Included in these changes is a new aspect to the basis for sentencing. Until now breaches in Health & Safety law that have caused serious injuries have been the ones that have attracted the higher fines and custodial sentences, but from 1st February 2016, the courts will impose punishments that fit more closely to ‘the level of exposure to risk’ regardless of whether serious injuries have occurred or not.

As the law requires all business owners to identify the risk, it therefore becomes much more important for them to know where their ‘high risk’ Health & Safety issues lie and to take appropriate action to be compliant.  This becomes a ‘deliberate breach’ if it has been identified and not remedied.

It remains to be seen how the level of punishments for Health & Safety breaches will actually turn out, but these changes will come in on 1st February 2016 , and the new guidelines are retrospective, so will apply to offences that have already been committed which come up for sentencing after that date.

If you would like any further information and advice please contact Safety Aide Ltd.  

During the months of December and January, Safety Aide is offering heavily discounted prices for its statutory H&S online training.  Please call us on 08000 806 801 for more details.

Thursday
Nov192015

Are you up to speed with licence checks?

In June 2015 counterpart driving licences were abolished and the information became available online instead. What are the practicalities of using this system and is there anything you should watch out for?

New system

As we reported in May 2015, employers may be held liable for the actions of their employees if they allow them to drive on company business without a valid licence. The DVLA’s new arrangement provides access to real-time information on endorsements and licence categories, thus reducing the opportunity for fraud.

How?                          

To check a licence the first step is to ask the employee (or prospective employee) to go to the DVLA micro-site on GOV.UK and click the instruction “view or share your licence information”. Tell them that they’ll need their driving licence number, National Insurance number and postcode in order to receive the “check code”.

Note. When the driver accesses the system they receive a PDF report which contains the endorsements etc. and check code. Many vehicle hire companies are simply using this PDF report. However it doesn’t have any legal status and could be counterfeit. To be certain that the information is valid, use the code to access the information online.

How to use the code

The code is valid for one-time use for 21 days after its generated.

Tip. To use the code online you’ll require the last eight digits of the driving licence number as well as the check code.

Be careful

It may be tempting to use information you hold on an employee’s file, i.e. their National Insurance number, driving licence, etc. in order to directly access the information, but don’t do it. This is in breach of the data protection requirements of the DVLA.

How often can you check?

We recommend at least an annual check but since penalty points can accumulate rapidly you may wish to do this more often. Some organisations apply a scale so that, for example, those drivers who are three points away from losing their licence have frequent checks whereas those with no or few points stay on annual checks.

Tip 1. Each time you want to check up on an employee’s licence you’ll need them to generate a new check code. They’ll also need to do this if the code has expired, i.e. more than 21 days has elapsed since it was generated.

Tip 2. Set up a spreadsheet to log the details retrieved and make sure it triggers re-checks at the frequency you’ve determined.

Note. Having such a robust system may be vital when defending yourself against a prosecution. Imagine, for example, the level of scrutiny which is now being applied to Glasgow City Council’s licence checking procedures following the bin lorry crash in December 2014 which killed six pedestrians.

Thursday
Jul232015

Why give special consideration to young people in the workplace?

 Because of their age, immaturity, and inexperience, young people could be at greater risk in the workplace.

When they are new to the workplace, they will encounter unfamiliar risks from the work they carry out, and from the working environment.

Employers must ensure that they assess the risks to young persons and make sure they put in place controls to reduce the risks.

 

 

Definitions of young people and children by age:

  • A young person is anyone under 18 and
  • A child is anyone who has not yet reached the official minimum school leaving age (MSLA). Pupils will reach the MSLA in the school year in which they turn 16. 

The Law - Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999  

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, an employer has a responsibility to ensure that young people employed by them are not exposed to risk due to:

  • lack of experience
  • being unaware of existing or potential risks and/or
  • lack of maturity

An employer must consider:

  • the layout of the workplace
  • the physical, biological & chemical agents they will be exposed to
  • how they will handle work equipment
  • how the work and processes are organised
  • the extent of health and safety training needed
  • risks from particular agents, processes and work

These considerations should be straightforward in a low-risk workplace, for example an office environment.

In higher- risk workplaces the risks are likely to be greater and will need more attention to ensure they’re properly controlled.

Employers need to consider whether the work the young person will do:

Is beyond their physical or psychological capacity

This doesn’t have to be complicated, it could be as simple as checking a young person is capable of safely lifting weights and of remembering and following instructions.

Involves harmful exposure to substances that are toxic, can cause cancer, can damage or harm an unborn child, or can chronically affect human health in any other way

Be aware of substances a young person might come into contact with in their work, consider exposure levels and ensure legal limits are met.

Involves risk of accidents that cannot reasonably be recognised or avoided by young people due to their insufficient attention to safety or lack of experience or training

A young person might be unfamiliar with ‘obvious’ risks. An employer should consider the need for tailored training/closer supervision.

Has a risk to health from extreme cold, heat, noise or vibration

In most cases, young people will not be at any greater risk than adults and for workplaces that include these hazards it is likely there will already be control measures in place.

Dispelling the Myth - Young Persons need a separate risk assessment!

This is incorrect but is a commonly held view.  The HSE have recently issued new guidance (INDG364 (rev1)) which makes it clear what is required and explains how to take a proportionate approach.  There is no requirement for an employer to complete a separate risk assessment specifically for a young person.  Employers are required to manage risks in their workplaces and should not be adding unnecessary bureaucracy.  

To obtain this new guidance, please go to the HSE website or find a copy here.

Wednesday
Apr012015

On-site Trained First Aiders – Is it a requirement?

People can suffer injuries or be taken ill at work at any time.  It doesn’t matter whether the cause of the injury or illness is due to their work or not, immediate First Aid should be given.

The ‘Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981’ require “the employer to provide adequate and appropriate first-aid equipment, facilities and people so your employees can be given immediate help if they are injured or taken ill at work”.

The level of cover in this area will depend on the size and type of your business.  The table below provides suggested first aiders required at all times at work.

Most agricultural premises would be classed as higher hazard. Safety Aide has always encouraged each site or depot to have at least 2 trained first aiders to cover for illness and holidays. 

It is important to remember that accidents and illness can happen at any time.

Provision for first aid needs to be available at all times people are at work.

In the event of injury or sudden illness, failure to provide first aid could result in a casualty’s death. HSE will prosecute in cases where there is a significant risk, a disregard for established standards or poor compliance with the law.

What can employers do to meet the standards required by law?

The HSE have provided a leaflet (INDG214REV2) which answers the basic questions regarding first aid provision at work. This leaflet can be downloaded here or from the HSE website.

Safety Aide also provide on-site Fully Accredited Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) training for four or more staff.  Please contact us on 08000 806 801 if you are interested in more information or check our offers page on this website.

Tuesday
Feb172015

Get it Right from Day One!

All too often companies take on new employees without considering the necessary legal requirement they have under health and safety law.

The Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 requires employers to provide whatever information, instruction, training and supervision as is necessary to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health & safety of their employees. This is further expanded by the Management of Health & Safety at Work Regulation 1999, which identify situations where health & safety training is particularly important, e.g. when people start work or are exposed to new or increased risks.

On taking up a new appointment, line managers have a duty to ensure that all new members of staff receive an effective health & safety induction, and understand the relevant information given.

So what should you cover as part of induction?

  •          Health and safety policy of the company
  •          Summary of health and safety managements system (names of direct supervisor, safety representative and where health and safety information is stored)
  •          Employees responsibility for health and safety including any site rules
  •          Accident reporting procedure, location of accident book, first aid kits and first aiders
  •          Fire and other emergency procedures
  •          Summary of risk assessment and safe systems of work
  •          Location of welfare facilities (rest room, toilets etc)

Additional information that is specific to the job will need to be included:

  •          Correct use of personal protective equipment and maintenance procedures
  •          Manual handling techniques and use of lifting aids
  •          Details of hazardous substance and health surveillance procedures as applicable
  •          Internal/external traffic routes and pedestrian walkways.

Now that you have took the new member of staff through all the relevant health and safety information it is vitally important that the employee signs a record to confirm effective induction training was received. This record may be required should there be a subsequent legal claim against the company.

Ask yourself

Do you provide induction training to all new members of staff on the day they start? Are you sure your cover all the necessary health and safety information? Can you prove evidence that induction training was given to every member of staff?

If the answer to any of the above questions is no, then prompt action is required.

Safety Aide offers an online health and safety induction solution. If you are interested in receiving a free trial of one of our e-learning modules, please email info@safetyaide.com for more details.

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