Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Skin Cancer Awareness Month – May 2022. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the world, therefore not only is May Skin Cancer Awareness Month in the UK, it’s also World Skin Cancer and Melanoma Awareness Month. See below for more information about the risks and what you can do to protect your self when working outdoors.

What is the problem?

Too much sunlight is harmful to your skin. A tan is a sign that the skin has been damaged. The damage is caused by ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight.

Who is at risk?

If work keeps you outdoors for a long time your skin could be exposed to more sun than is healthy for you. Outdoor workers that could be at risk include farm or construction workers, market gardeners, outdoor activity workers and some public service workers. You should take particular care if you have:

  • fair or freckled skin that doesn’t tan, or goes red or burns before it tans;
  • red or fair hair and light coloured eyes;
  • a large number of moles.

People of all skin colours should take care to avoid damage to the eyes, overheating and dehydration.

What are the harmful effects?

In the short term, even mild reddening of the skin from sun exposure is a sign of damage. Sunburn can blister the skin and make it peel.

Longer term problems can arise. Too much sun speeds up ageing of the skin, making it leathery, mottled and wrinkled. The most serious effect is an increased chance of developing skin cancer.

What can you do to protect yourself?
  • Keep your top on.
  • Wear a hat with a brim or a flap that covers the ears and the back of the neck.
  • Stay in the shade whenever possible, during your breaks and especially at lunch time.
  • Use a high factor sunscreen of at least SPF15 on any exposed skin.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
  • Check your skin regularly for any unusual moles or spots. See a doctor promptly if you find anything that is changing in shape, size or colour, itching or bleeding.
Where can you get further information?

The following free leaflets have been produced by HSE:

The following website also provides useful information:

SunSmart: the UK’s national skin cancer prevention campaign

HSE safety alert: Mast climbing work platforms (MCWPs): Failure to detect mechanical failure in drive units

HSE has issued a safety alert advising of a serious technical fault found with mast climbing work platforms (MCWPs).

The alert requires those involved in MCWP activities to check that MCWPs comply with Regulation 4 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, specifically, to ensure that undetected mechanical failure in drive units cannot lead to the uncontrolled fall of the platform.

It includes advice on detection and prevention of potential failure where MCWPs rely on two drive units per mast as the means to ensure safety.

MCWPs are used widely across construction projects and in other industries. Employers, users and suppliers/installers should take the actions required in this alert. Source: HSE Safety Alert

Splott church collapse: Four sentenced over scaffolder death

Four men receive suspended prison sentences after worker dies following church collapse. South Wales Safety Consultancy Ltd fined £97,500 after pleading guilty to failure to discharge a duty.

Scaffolder and father-of-two Jeff Plevey, 56, of Cardiff, was crushed to death at the Citadel Church, Splott, as he worked on its demolition in July 2017. The men were sentenced for offences related to health and safety breaches. Four firms, of which three of the men were directors, also received combined fines in excess of £340,000. Mr Plevey died when the rear wall of the church gave way as he worked on it. His body was later found in the rubble. Judge Mrs Justice Jefford said each of the defendants “bear some degree of responsibility for the sad and unnecessary death of Jeffrey Plevey”. Prosecutor Andrew Langdon QC said it could have been avoided with proper diligence, and that there was “insufficient coordination and oversight” in the project.

The four men and firms received a number of sentences and fines during a hearing at Cardiff Crown Court:

• Keith Young, 74, of Llandough, Vale of Glamorgan: 45-week sentence suspended for 18 months after being convicted of failing to take necessary steps to ensure a structure does not collapse. He must pay costs of £66,000.
• Stewart Swain, 54, of Whitchurch, Cardiff: 39-week sentence suspended for 15 months after being convicted of failure to discharge a duty. He must pay costs of £25,000.
• Philip Thomas, 57, of Thornhill, Cardiff: 36-week sentence suspended for 15 months after pleading guilty to failure to discharge a duty along with costs of £20,000.
• Richard Dean, 60, of Abertillery, Blaenau Gwent, and his company: 35-week sentence suspended for 15 months after pleading guilty to failure to discharge a duty. He must pay costs of £20,000.
• Swain Scaffolding Ltd (director Stewart Swain): fined £120,000 with costs of £25,000 after being convicted of failure to discharge a duty
• South Wales Safety Consultancy Ltd (director Philip Thomas): fined £97,500 with £17,500 costs after pleading guilty to failure to discharge a duty
• NJP Consultant Engineers Ltd (director Richard Dean): fined £93,300 with £6,700 in costs after pleading guilty to failure to discharge a duty.
• Strongs Partnership Ltd: fined £33,500 with £17,500 in costs after pleading guilty to failure to discharge a duty

Young was the contractor in charge of the demolition while Swain was the sole director of Swains Scaffolding Ltd.

Following the hearing, Catrin Attwell of the Crown Prosecution Service said: “The demolition of the church was dangerous work and the Health and Safety Act and Regulations are designed to make dangerous work as safe as is possible. “It places duties on employers to ensure the safety of employees and others who may be affected by their work.”

Source: BBC (Image – South Wales Police)

Storm Eunice: Rare Red weather warning issued for parts of the UK

BSG recommends that should your site or operations be in an area which will be impacted by the forecasted storm, you will need to assess the impact.
 
All Scaffolding and Temporary Works 
Any scaffold or temporary structure, such as site hoarding or false works should also be inspected by a competent person each time it is exposed to conditions likely to cause deterioration, for example, following adverse weather conditions. 
 
Therefore, BSG recommends inspections should be carried before the arrival of any high winds and again before putting back into use.
 
Roof Works
Is there a wind speed above which roofing work should stop? Do not consider going on any roof in poor weather conditions such as rain, ice, frost or strong winds (particularly gusting) or if slippery conditions exist on the roof.  Winds in excess of 23mph (Force 5) will affect a person’s balance.
 
All Working at Height
Any working at height planned during these adverse weather conditions should be reassessed and the additional hazard from very high winds should be considered.
 
Lifting Operations
BSG recommends that all lifting operations are suspended during these high winds.
 
*If your company has any questions about this warning, please don’t hesitate to contact us at BSG: enquries@bsgltd.co.uk, Tel 0300 304 9070

Government to make it illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving ‘under any circumstance’

New mobile phone laws, making it illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving under virtually any circumstance, will come into force on 25 March. The move follows a follows public consultation which found that 81% of people supported the proposals. 

It is already illegal to text or make a phone call (other than in an emergency) using a hand-held device while driving. From 25 March 2022, laws will go further to ban drivers from using their phones to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists or play games. 

This will mean anyone caught using their hand-held device while driving will face a £200 fixed penalty notice and six points on their licence.

Drivers will still be able to continue using a device ‘hands-free’ while driving, such as a sat-nav, if it’s secured in a cradle. They must, however, always take responsibility for their driving and can be charged with an offence if the police find them not to be in proper control of their vehicle. 

Speaking after the announcement, Edmund King, AA President, said: “There is no excuse for picking up a mobile phone when driving so we are pleased this loophole will be closed.

“Phones do so much more than calls and texts, so it is only right that the law is changed to keep pace with technology. Tweets, TikTok and Instagram snaps can all wait until you park up.

“These new rules will clarify the law and help drivers realise that this dangerous act can have the same consequences and be as socially unacceptable as drink driving.

“If you can’t resist the temptation to pick up your phone, then you should convert your glovebox into a phone box.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Too many deaths and injuries occur while mobile phones are being held. 

“By making it easier to prosecute people illegally using their phone at the wheel, we are ensuring the law is brought into the 21st century while further protecting all road users.

“While our roads remain among the safest in the world, we will continue working tirelessly to make them safer, including through our award-winning THINK! campaign, which challenges social norms among high-risk drivers.”

It had been thought that the new rules would take effect alongside changes introduced to the Highway Code on 29 January. However, the Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed that the new rules will take effect from 25 March, with the necessary legislation now making its way through Parliament.

For access to government research on the use of mobile phones while driving, click here.

Source: SHP Online

Employers need to communicate highway code changes to all workers

Employers who have staff that are required to drive as part of their work need to ensure that they communicate the implications of sweeping changes to the Highway Code as part of their policy for managing work-related road safety.

In total, nine sections of the code have been updated, with 50 rules added or updated, including a new risk-based ‘hierarchy of road users’. The changes came into force on Saturday, 29 January. 

Road safety charity, IAM RoadSmart, which welcomes some of the changes, has said that one of the most important is the placing of more responsibility on the drivers of larger vehicles to look after more vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians.  

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart’s director of policy and research, told IOSH magazine: ‘The government has waited until the very last minute before issuing information about the new code and that is simply unacceptable. Very few drivers read the Highway Code and all road users need to know what is expected of them so a major campaign is needed to communicate changes in a simple, memorable and timely fashion’.

According to the Department for Transport, the introduction section of the code has been updated to include three new rules about the ‘hierarchy of road users’, placing the most at-risk road users in the event of a collision at the top of the hierarchy. There is still a requirement, however, for all road users to behave responsibly. 

Neil says that employers should look out for official radio and social media campaigns in mid-February and again in May.

People crossing the road at junctions is one of the key changes flagged by the government. Under the new rules, a pedestrian waiting to cross a side road has priority and other traffic should give way.

The updated code also confirms that if pedestrians have started to cross the road and traffic wants to turn into the road, the people crossing have priority and traffic should give way. 

People driving, riding a motorcycle or cycling are also required to give way to people on a zebra crossing and people walking and cycling on a parallel crossing.

Drivers also need to be aware of changes that affect other road users as these can impact on their own driving. 

Cyclists are now advised to keep at least 0.5 metres away from the kerb edge (and further where it is safer) when riding on busy roads with vehicles moving faster than them. Cyclists in groups are allowed to ride two abreast, particularly in larger groups or when accompanying children or less experienced riders, but are asked to be aware of people driving behind them and allow them to overtake, for example, by moving into single file or stopping when it is safe to do so.

Importantly, the code also includes updated guidance on safe passing distances and speeds for drivers or motorcyclists when overtaking vulnerable road users. These include:

  • Leaving at least 1.5 metres (five feet) when overtaking people cycling at speeds of up to 30 mph, and giving them more space when overtaking at higher speeds.
  • Passing people riding horses or driving horse-drawn vehicles at speeds under 10 mph and allowing at least 2 metres (6.5 feet) of space. 
  • Allowing at least 2 metres of space and keeping to a low speed when passing pedestrians walking in the road, for example, in areas where there is no pavement. 

The code says that drivers must wait behind vulnerable road users and not overtake them if it’s unsafe or not possible to meet these clearances. 

Drivers should also be aware that the updated code does confirm that cyclists can pass slower-moving or stationary traffic on their right or left. 

It advises cyclists to proceed with caution as drivers may not be able to see them, especially on the approach to junctions and when they pass large vehicles. 

Drivers should be particularly aware that cyclists have priority when going straight ahead at junctions. Unless road signs or markings indicate otherwise, cyclists have priority over traffic waiting to turn into or out of a side road. 

It is also important that people driving or riding a motorcycle know that they must give priority to people cycling on roundabouts. 

The updated guidance makes it clear that they should not attempt to overtake people cycling within that persons’ lane and allow people cycling to move across their path as they travel around the roundabout. 
Importantly, they are also reminded that people cycling, riding a horse and driving a horse-drawn vehicle are still allowed to stay in the left-hand lane of a roundabout when they intend to continue across or around the roundabout. 

The government advises people driving that they should take extra care when entering a roundabout to make sure they do not cut across people cycling, riding a horse or driving a horse-drawn vehicle who are continuing around the roundabout in the left-hand lane. 

Neil says that hidden in the depths of the new Highway Code are some other sections which employers might find useful to share with their drivers. New tips on weekly car checks, electric vehicle charging and using smart motorways all contain useful information.

IOSH said it welcomes the changes, as work-related road traffic accidents are a significant cause of preventable death and injury.

It is reminding employers that they have clear duties under the Health and Safety at Work Act and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations to manage occupational road risks as part of their wider OSH management responsibilities. 

Organisations should ensure that they produce and effectively communicate a policy for the management of work-related road safety with their staff, IOSH adds, recognising it as an investment and not a cost. 

Road safety policies should cover a number of key factors, including driver suitability, fitness and training; and realistic timescales for journeys to prevent stress or pressure to take risks. Employers also need to control the risk from ‘driver distraction’ such as prohibiting phone-use and eating while driving, and include this in their driver policy. 

IOSH added that self-employed workers and small firms are particularly at risk because they are less likely to have the resources to develop a road safety policy.

The Department for Transport’s provisional estimates for reported road casualties in Great Britain for the year ending June 2021 note that there has been a 11% decrease in reported road deaths and a 9% decrease in casualties of all severities compared to the year ending June 2020.  

However, the government also acknowledges that the downward trend has been influenced by the lockdown measures imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As businesses continue to recover and road transport numbers increase accordingly, campaigners have advised employers to ensure the Highway Code amendments are communicated effectively as part of their road safety policies. 

‘IOSH supports the changes in the Highway Code, which aim to improve hazards that impact on all road users, including those at work,’ said Ruth Wilkinson, head of health and safety (policy and operations) at IOSH. 

‘IOSH encourages all organisations to familiarise themselves with the new changes and communicate them in a timely manner to all workers,’ she added.

Source: IOSH Magazine

Building Safety: 2021 reflections and projections

What a year it’s been for building safety. The construction sector has seen a significant amount of progress in this area.

To give some perspective on how things have changed, partner Simon Lewis, managing associate Michelle Essen and solicitor Ryan Lavers at Womble Bond Dickinson looked at the biggest leaps forward in 2021; and have also cast an eye towards 2022 to consider what we can expect next.

Building Safety Bill

The most talked about legislative development in 2021 was the steady progress of the Building Safety Bill, which was officially laid before Parliament in July. While it was based in large part on the draft that was circulated for comment in 2020 and was therefore in many respects already familiar, its provisions are being increasingly scrutinised in its passage through Parliament.

The Bill’s proposed changes are considerable, and include:

  • more-than-doubling the limitation period for bringing a claim for breach of s.1 Defective Premises Act 1972 (DPA). This requires residential buildings to be habitable and built in a professional or workmanlike manner with proper materials. The Bill increases that limitation period from 6 to 15 years – and it would apply prospectively (going forward) and also retrospectively, meaning that claims that are currently time-barred would become an option again,
  • inserting a brand new s.2A into the DPA, which would extend the DPA to cover subsequent building works (as s.1 only covers the original construction of the building), with a limitation period of 15 years prospectively,
  • bringing s.38 Building Act 1984 into force, to allow claims for damage caused by breach of Building Regulations, with a limitation period of 15 years prospectively,
  • establishing a new Building Safety Regulator (BSR), and
  • creating a new “duty-holders” regime – where duty-holders would have greater responsibility to explain how they are managing safety risks and to show the BSR that a building is safe for occupation. Duty-holders would include existing duty-holders under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, such as (Principal) Contractors, (Principal) Designers, and the Client.

As we have said before, we are still just at the start of our journey with the Building Safety Bill. The effects of the changes it will bring and its impact on industry, including around risk and insurance, are hot topics of discussion which we explored with industry leaders recently.

In the meantime, the Bill continues to make its way through Parliament, and is expected to receive Royal Assent in 2022.

It is worth reiterating though that the Bill when it becomes law will have a more limited effect in Scotland, which has its own building and fire safety regime.

Fire Safety Act 2021

The Fire Safety Bill, which we have considered before, was given Royal Assent in April, becoming the Fire Safety Act 2021.

It was not smooth progress into law for the Bill, as the House of Lords requested leaseholder protection on three separate occasions because it wanted building owners to be responsible for the costs of remedial works, or a system of government grants or loans in place if leaseholders were to bear the cost of repairs themselves.

In the end, the Act did not take this leaseholder protection into account, and instead it is possible for building owners to pass the costs of fire safety works onto leaseholders via increased service charges or similar.

Again, the position in Scotland is different, as the Fire Safety Act only applies to England and Wales.

Cladding Remediation – Government Funds

The Building Safety Fund (BSF) of £1bn, which was set up in 2020, has continued to provide support in 2021 to help landlords who own residential buildings of 18m or more in height to remove unsafe non-aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding.  The aim of this fund is to protect leaseholders from the cost of these remediation works through increased rent payments or service charges.

2021 also saw a brand new fund created – the Waking Watch Relief Fund – to provide an additional £30m for applicants to the BSF to fund waking watch (i.e. building patrols to detect fire), since the cost of fire alarms are not covered by the BSF funding.  This fund was announced in December 2020 and opened for applications in January 2021. £22m of the £30m available was to be spent in cities where private-sector buildings were deemed most at risk due to their prevalence of built-up areas (namely Greater London, Greater Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, Newcastle and Bristol), with the remaining £8m planned for other private-sector buildings in England plus all social-sector housing over 18m . The fund closed in April, reopened in May to distribute unused funding, and then closed again in June.

It is also worth noting that in the Autumn Budget, the Chancellor said “we’re also confirming £5bn to remove unsafe cladding from the highest risk buildings partly funded by the Residential Property Developers Tax”. We know about that Tax but details about what constitutes the rest of that funding is still awaited.

Changes to Planning Permission Requirements

The Hackitt Report’s recommendations included the addition of several “Gateways” to check that newly designed buildings are safe for residents to live in.

In August 2021, Gateway One came into force, in the form of new planning requirements.  Now high-rise developers must consider fire safety in new developments at the planning permission stage, to be evidenced as a part of the planning permission process through the submission of a fire statement. Local authorities are expected to engage with the Health and Safety Executive when reviewing the fire statements provided by developers, but this role is expected to be taken over by the new BSR when it is operational.

Gateways Two and Three under the Building Safety Bill will be before the building works start and when the building works are completed respectively, and are anticipated to come into force around late 2023.

What to look out for in 2022

We anticipate a number of other significant developments in building safety in 2022:

  • Phase 2 Grenfell Inquiry – despite delays due to COVID-19, the Phase 2 hearings continued in 2021. So even with the new Omicron variant, we expect that the hearings will continue in one form or another in 2022. At the moment, the hearings are expected to finish in the Summer, with the Phase 2 report potentially being published at the end of 2022.
  • A new tax – between April and July 2021, the Government ran a consultation on a new Residential Property Developer Tax on residential property developers’ profits above £25m p.a., to raise £2bn (over 10 years) towards remediating unsafe cladding in residential buildings over 18m. Draft legislation was then published for industry comment between September and October 2021.  In the Chancellor’s budget in October 2021, he referred to the Residential Property Developers Tax saying, “I can confirm [it] will be levied on developers with profits over £25m at a rate of 4%”. This is set to apply from 1 April 2022.
  • A new levy – as part of the Building Safety Bill, a new Building Safety Levy is being proposed on developers of certain high-rise buildings at “Gateway Two” (the seeking of regulatory permission to construct high-rise buildings). A consultation on this levy ran from July to October 2021, seeking industry input on the design and structure of the levy, timings for implementing it, and any potential impacts on the supply of housing which may result from it. An update on the outcome of this consultation is expected in 2022.
  • Building Safety Bill – as mentioned above, Royal Assent is expected in 2022, with changes to the limitation periods under the DPA and Building Act expected to follow shortly after.

Source: UK Construction Media

Illuminating the future of roads

Trials have been carried out by National Highways, which have seen the future of roads explored.

The research has focused on how intelligent street lighting can be used as part of the digital roads infrastructure.

Closed circuit television and wireless technology that enables vehicles to communicate could be neatly stored inside the lanterns of street lights alongside the National Highways network, enabling existing infrastructure to push out information on traffic updates, speed limits and diversions.

Bandwidth has restricted air wave transmissions in the past, but with the roll-out of 5G and the IoT (Internet of Things) infrastructures lighting could be equipped with devices such as wireless access points and cameras.

The ‘proof of concept’ trial was carried out over five months, on the M40 junction 15 Longbridge roundabout near Birmingham. The technology was successfully able to communicate data to office equipment and tablet computers.

The knowledge gained in the trial will be used to help shape National Highways’ strategy for managing the Connected and Autonomous (CAV) infrastructure.

National Highways’ Innovations Lead for the Midlands, Lisa Maric, said: “These are exciting times as we progress on our Digital Roads journey with the growth of digital technology and the move to electric, connected and autonomous vehicles that will fundamentally change how we use roads in the future.

“National Highways is committed to ensuring we are at the forefront of this digital revolution and are preparing the way for the greener and safer roads of tomorrow.

“Initial trials such as Illuminate will help us identify new innovations, technology and methods to meet our digital goals. We were pleased with how Illuminate performed as a proof of concept and the useful knowledge gained as we continue to plan for the roads of the future.”

National Highways worked with Kier Highways on the Illuminate trial. Kier Highways Project Manager, Carla Vicente, said: “Being able to install technology, such as CCTV, while we are replacing street lighting is a more efficient way of working and provides better value for customers. More importantly, it is a safer and less disruptive way of working, reducing the amount of road closures required.”

The trial has been funded through National Highways’ Innovation and Modernisation Fund which is helping to maximise the opportunities offered by developments such as automated vehicles while putting safety at the forefront of emerging technologies.

Source: UK Construction Media

5 toxic workplace habits affecting employee wellbeing

New research by Bupa has revealed five toxic workplace habits harming employee wellbeing, including ‘chronic procrastination’ and ‘workplace stress’. Lauren Gordon, Lead Behavioural Insights Advisor at Bupa, gives tips on how to overcome toxic habits.

With so much change in the workplace over the last few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees may have found themselves falling into negative working patterns. These toxic traits, like working too many hours or skipping a lunch break, could have a huge impact on wellbeing, job satisfaction and productivity. 

Research from Bupa has identified the biggest toxic habits to avoid this year, with employees turning to Google for advice on coping with harmful working environments:

  1. 53% increase in Google searches for ‘chronic procrastination’

Procrastination is the habit of delaying an important task. There are lots of reasons why we might put off completing a task at work. It might be that a task feels too big or that isn’t challenging enough. It could also stem from mental health issues, such as stress and anxiety. 

With so much change to our working lives over the past year, our usual work behaviours and routines have been disrupted. This is causing many employees to feel anxious, stressed and underwhelmed in their working lives – which can lead to chronic (long-term) procrastination. 

  1. 50% increase in Google searches for ‘multitasking’

Multitasking is completing more than one task at a time, dividing attention, and ultimately making it harder to focus. This can lead to lower levels of efficiency at work and increase the chances of making a mistake. 

Over the past year, many employees may have found themselves multitasking more than usual. This is particularly true for working parents who had to juggle their home and work life during lockdown.

With businesses also going through such a huge period of change, lots of people found their workloads increasing too.  

  1. 30% increase in Google searches for ‘workplace stress’

The pandemic has taken its toll on our mental health and it’s no surprise that employees are increasingly experiencing work-related stress. High workloads, longer working hours and a lack of stability in a job can all lead to workplace stress. 

During the peak of the pandemic, research by Bupa revealed that over one in four employees reported that their workload had a negative impact on their wellbeing. Everyone reacts to stress differently, but common signs of work-related stress are withdrawing from work and colleagues, increased absence, lower productivity, and motivation levels.

  1. 22% increase in Google searches for ‘signs of burnout at work’

Work burnout is caused by feeling overwhelmed or being under too much pressure at work for a long period of time. 

For some employees experiencing burnout, the boundaries between work and home can become blurred, making it harder to switch off from work and find a work-life balance. 

We know that work can have a huge impact on our mental health and it’s no surprise many employees have experienced burnout in their working lives. Multiple lockdowns, remote working and social distancing restrictions have led to many feeling a loss of control – both at home and work. 

  1. 14% increase in Google searches for ‘decision fatigue’

Decision-making is a cognitive process that can leave you feeling exhausted – especially when it comes to making bigger business decisions. As a result, employees can experience decision fatigue – where the ability to make high-quality decisions decreases after a series of choices have already been made. 

Feeling exhausted, making more mistakes, and experiencing brain-fog are all symptoms of decision fatigue and can lead to lower levels of productivity. Due to the pandemic, many employees have had to make more new decisions each day over the past year – increasing the likelihood of experiencing decision fatigue. 

Below are 5 positive habits employers should adopt in 2022 to support employee’s wellbeing, according to Bupa:

  1. Collaboration is key

With an 83% increase in Google searches for ‘effective teamwork’ last year, there’s no better time for collaboration. There are lots of ways you can collaborate effectively, from working on shareable documents to regular catch ups (in-person or over the phone). As a manager, you can set standards of collaborative behaviour and lead by example. 

  1. Promote a work life balance

A positive work-life balance helps to reduce work-related illness, such as stress and anxiety.

27% more people searched for ‘work balance’ towards the end of last year, so encourage your team to spend the evenings doing activities or hobbies that bring them joy or spending time with friends and family.

  1. Support your employees with their work set up

Research from Bupa revealed 11 million UK employees experienced injuries as a result of working from home during 2020. If your team is working from home, check in with your employees, ask if extra equipment might be needed such as ergonomic chairs or laptop risers to improve their set up. 

  1. Communicate with your team

There has been a 22% increase in searches for ‘effective communication’ on Google last year.

Effective communication supports teamwork, collaboration and productivity at work. As a manager, you can lead by example and encourage your team to make time to chat during the day to help them to feel connected.  

  1. Encourage resilience techniques

Google searches for ‘resilience in the workplace’ have increased by 23% over the last year.

Resilience is a key part of employee wellbeing and helps employees to bounce back from adversity. As a manager, it’s important to understand how to support your team with building their resilience.

Being available to talk through any worries and concerns, as well as providing access to support, such as Employee Assistance Programmes can help. 

Source: SHP Online

Construction News launches 2022 mental health survey

Construction News has launched a survey to investigate the mental health of the industry’s workforce.

As part of CN’s award-winning mental health campaign, Mind Matters, an anonymous survey has been opened to get a picture of the mental health of UK construction workers and find out what has changed in recent years.

Statistics continue to demonstrate shocking mental health issues in the construction industry. An analysis of recently published data from the Office for National Statistics by Glasgow Caledonian University professor Billy Hare found that those in the industry are 3.4 times more likely to take their own life than workers in other sectors.

In recent months, CN has published accounts of those who have experienced difficulties and shown how they have recovered, as well as interviewing key figures about what could be done to address the sector’s poor record.

Previous editions of the survey have highlighted long working hours as the biggest contributor to poor mental health, and that two-thirds of operatives who have taken time off for mental ill-health have hidden their reasons from their employer.

The pandemic has had a profound impact on society as a whole, and CN is investigating the changes that have occurred during that time, as well as whether the overall mental health picture in construction has improved.

To do this, we need to hear from you.

Help us to understand the issues by clicking the link above or completing the survey below.

Source: Construction News

Health and safety compliance considerations for surveyors

Safety is paramount in all industries, not just to protect people but to ensure that businesses remain compliant with health and safety legislation. Whether you’re a commercial landlord or a prospective tenant, you might not realise that surveyors could be at risk in your property. These are a few of the elements often overlooked when surveying a building that could pose a threat to surveyors. 

Risk assessments

The first step a surveyor should take is to carry out a risk assessment prior to the inspection, identifying how they can minimise any risks that they identify. It can be useful to have evidence of this in case of an accident during the survey, and it also means that any issues that could limit your inspection will be noted. They will need to familiarise themselves with the layout of the building and be clear on the exit points of the property so they can leave safely and quickly if an emergency occurs.

Derelict buildings

In some cases, surveyors might be faced with a property in disrepair where a report identifies more serious ‘condition 3’ defects which need to be repaired or investigated as a matter of urgency. This can put surveyors at risk, so if you sustain an injury during the inspection, postponing it until you have recovered from your injuries can ensure you don’t come to any further harm.

If you’re working alone, you need to be aware of the risks that come with being in a derelict building. For example, if the property has been left for some time, it might have been subjected to stagnant conditions that have led to dormant wood rot, or leaking roofs that could cause ceilings to collapse.

Likewise, vandals may have caused damage that could result in broken glass or sharp edges around the property. So, surveyors need to protect themselves as much as possible by dressing in robust clothing and footwear that’s designed to protect, ensuring they have a powerful torch with them, check for bare cables or dangling wires when accessing a room, and being mindful of the smell of gas from appliances or heaters that might have been left.

Loft inspections

Inspections for lofts are a key feature of a survey, but they’re also one of the riskiest aspects of the inspection. So, it’s essential that surveyors exercise caution when carrying out this element. Firstly, surveyors need to know how to use ladders and any additional equipment safely and have had safety training on this to minimise the risk of accidents. But, it’s also important that the ladders used have been inspected to ensure they’re safe to use. This inspection should be carried out by someone qualified and competent for the task, and that the details have been recorded on the Ladder Association’s Statutory Register.

When you’re working at height, check that it’s absolutely necessary for you to do so before you begin. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, but if there is a safer alternative, this should always be the first port of call. Where you can’t eliminate the risk, do as much work as you can from the ground and then ensure that there’s a safe route to where you need to work from height. The equipment shouldn’t be overloaded and surveyors should ensure they’re not overreaching when they’re working, as this can cause the ladder to tip or the surveyor to injure themselves by stretching beyond their limits.

Roof voids

rooftop1

Surveyors will be tasked with looking inside roof voids and often have to enter into them too. However, this requires an assessment from the surveyor to judge whether this is practical and safe to do. There are obvious risks to entering a roof void from the various hazards you could encounter, many of which could be unknown until you’re already in a difficult position. Surveyors need to assess that the method they’re using is safe and stable, not just moving into the space but also when shifting equipment around.

Before entering the roof, check for any obstructions or dangers that might be lurking, which includes checking for signs of infestation from wasps, rodents or bats. Surveyors also need to check that any floors that have been laid are suitable to walk on and are securely fixed in place, while also means checking for any protruding nails that could cause an injury. A roof void may also have a presence of asbestos, so if this is spotted, the surveyor needs to exit the roof immediately to avoid the associated health risks, causing as little disturbance as possible to the material.

Flat roofs

If the survey requires an inspection of a flat roof, surveyors need to judge whether it’s practical and permitted to inspect the area without causing damage to the space or themselves. Often, a flat roof can be visually inspected from a vantage point from the property grounds, which should be the priority to avoid the risk of the roof collapsing if it’s not stable. Surveyors might be at risk of sharp edges from damaged materials, loose materials that could pose a trip hazard and dust inhalation. They should wear suitable clothing and a mask if possible to prevent inhaling any harmful substances. And, as with roof voids, there could be the threat of insects or rodent infestations.

Key takeaways

With the risk of hazardous materials, derelict buildings and the increased position of being alone (without any support or assistance to hand), surveyors often work in difficult conditions. Health and safety is a key feature of any job, but it needs to be at the forefront of every decision when you’re working in difficult conditions. From making sure you know how to use equipment safely to being mindful of defects and disrepairs, these are some of the key considerations that surveyors need to make to avoid accidents and injuries from occurring.

Source: SHP Online

HSE creates new toolkit for high-rise building safety cases

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has created a new toolkit to help inform owners and managers of high-rise buildings about the new safety case regime.

The law relating to building safety in England is expected to change when the Building Safety Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, is enacted.

The toolkit builds on the safety case principles the HSE published last year.

The first part of the toolkit is a short summary of the key things business owners and managers can do to prepare: https://www.hse.gov.uk/building-safety/how-to-prepare.htm

The HSE said this would be followed in the coming months by further information that builds on the safety case principles from last year, based on suggestions and comments from early adopters, private landlords, social housing providers, and other industry consultees.

Tim Galloway, deputy director of the Building Safety Programme at HSE, said: “I am really pleased that we’ve published this information in such a digestible form. I want to thank all our partners for their invaluable contribution. We all want safe buildings and I would encourage building owners to start their preparations for the new regime now rather than wait for all the details to be developed. I think the existing principles, this headline document and the further information to come will really help.”

Commenting on the building safety regime changes, Steve Coppin, chair of CIOB’s Health, Safety & Wellbeing Team, and strategic technical adviser for SJC Risk Management Solutions, said: “Clients or developers who own or manage high-rise buildings should be gathering relevant information about how their building was built (including the design intent – why it was built the way it was). Include any changes that have been made since it was first built, and the measures in place to control building safety risks.

“Every building is different so they will need other items of information that they may not but should have. Some information will be obvious or easy to find but may require investigating the building through surveys undertaken by competent professional surveyors for help and assistance.”

Read more about safety cases and safety case reports here: https://www.hse.gov.uk/building-safety/safety-cases-reports.htm

Source: Construction Management

Mobile tower fall death: Background to a tragedy

On 15 January 2022 at Cambridge Magistrates’ Court, Peter Saunders Builders Ltd was fined £16,000 after pleading guilty to breaching regulation 8 (a) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, following an incident that saw one of its workers, Sean Harding, fall from height and subsequently die.

The fine was the culmination of four years of investigations and legal proceedings. But while £16,000 might seem like a rather small penalty following an occupational fatality, this particular incident was far more complex than the headline ‘fatality after fall from height’ might suggest. 

In a recent interview with Stephen Hartley – building safety and construction principal inspector with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) – he spoke about the background to an unusual but tragic accident.

Mobile tower

‘The original incident occurred on 15 September 2017, when workers for Peter Saunders Builders were trying to level a steel beam that was going on top of a standard-height door lintel. The man who subsequently died was using a low-level mobile tower with its decks set three rungs up – somewhere in the region of five to six feet from floor level – and was using a crowbar to manoeuvre the steel beam to place a sim in,’ Stephen said. 

’It wasn’t an overly complicated job but unfortunately Sean snagged his sleeve on the top of the tower and that was enough to unbalance him. The mobile tower only had one guard rail, so in the absence of a second guard rail, he went over the side and fell down to the ground. He was then taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital to receive treatment.

‘At the HSE, we first learnt about this incident shortly after it occurred because it was reported as an injury in line with RIDDOR. At the time, the extent of injury didn’t warrant investigation – effectively we had only a relatively low-key incident with injuries that needed hospital attention but which weren’t multiple fractures.’

However, the incident was to come back to the HSE’s attention some months later.

Developments

Sean stayed in hospital for six weeks and was discharged on 27 October to convalesce at home. Sadly, he was readmitted to hospital with abdominal pain and infection the following month, on 27 November, before developing a blood clot that ultimately led to his death.

‘In January 2018 we received a concern alerting us to the death of the individual in question,’ explained Stephen. ‘We were asked if we were aware he had died – I think it was one of his co-workers who came to us about that.

’We started to make some enquiries and confirmed that he had indeed passed away, and we also engaged with the coroner. Peter Saunders Builders also reported the injury as a death. It was at that point that we started to investigate the matter because it met the incident selection criteria that we use for deciding what to investigate.’

The decision whether to prosecute, though, took a fair while longer and was only settled in October 2020, following the inquest into Sean’s death.

’The inquest was quite complicated. It wasn’t clear initially if the coroner would conclude that the death arose from the injury from the fall or not,’ Stephen said.

‘The gentlemen who died had had a previous work-related injury, which affected his abdominal muscles and his liver, and therefore the internal injuries that arose from the fall affected him more than they might have affected others. So it was only once we had the inquest in 2020 – delayed massively by the pandemic – that we got to the point where we had a clear connection between the fall, the injury and the death, and we were able to proceed with a decision about prosecuting.’

Culpability

The HSE investigation concluded that Peter Saunders Builders hadn’t got its selection of access equipment right, or if they did, they hadn’t used it properly. 

’They were trying to use this mobile tower underneath some structural steel work and that meant that they couldn’t position the tower in the way that they wished to, and ultimately they ended up using it with just a single guard rail. These towers have screw-in casters, so they could have dropped the tower down, which would have allowed them to get the second guard rail in. The second option would have been to use some kind of prop to lift the steel work and place the shim in,’ Stephen explained.

Because of its role in Sean’s death, Peters Saunders Builders was prosecuted. Due to the company’s small size, the potential fine was set at a starting point of £30,000. However, this wasn’t a case of Mr Harding being a faceless employee – the small family-owned nature of the company and the seriousness with which its management reacted to the incident, saw that fine being reduced significantly.

‘They took it very seriously and they regarded the gentleman who died as a family friend – that was very evident. I’m sure none of them will ever forget this sad situation,‘ Stephen says.

’The key mitigation was that the business had been in operation for 25 years without any issue; we could not fault Peter Saunders Builders for their full support and cooperation with the investigation; and they even had the company director in court. That all saw the fine reduced by £6,000. Then they accepted responsibility and lodged a guilty plea at the very first hearing, which reduced the fine by a further third.

’So those were the reasons why we ended up with, on face value, not a very big fine. Although, it’s also worth noting that, in summing up, the district judge made it very clear that no fine could reflect what had happened to Sean’s family.’

Learnings

For all of those directly affected, it was a tragedy. For others working at height, this incident provides some important lessons. 

’We have to remember, it doesn’t need to be very high to be dangerous and people can die. In my 25 years as an HSE inspector, I have dealt with numerous serious and even fatal incidents that have involved relatively low falls. That’s often where I think people get lulled into a false sense of security,’ Stephen added.

’The second thing to recognise is that it’s vitally important to choose the right piece of equipment for the job and then use it properly. It’s the lower heights that we often take for granted because they don’t look or feel terribly dangerous. They’re not particularly out of the ordinary, but nonetheless, they very much deserve respect.’

Source: IOSH Magazine

Multiple safety failings bring ban and fine

An Irvine-based construction company and its director have been sentenced for multiple safety failings on a house-building site.

Kilmarnock Sheriff Court heard how three inspections by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) took place at the construction site at Eglington Park in Irvine between October and December 2016.

As a result of these inspections, multiple prohibition and improvement notices were served on Stable Homes Limited for health and safety failings including unsafe scaffolding, unsafe electrics, inadequate
welfare, unsafe traffic management, site tidiness and lack of general fire precautions.

The HSE investigation found that, the client and principal contractor, had failed to put an adequate plan in place to manage and monitor the construction phase of the project and this had led to significant risks
on site. It also failed to take adequate action to rectify the failings and comply with the enforcement notices.

The HSE investigation also found that director of the company, was acting as site manager and directly involved in the failings of the company.

The Irvine-based construction company pleaded guilty to seven charges under health and safety regulations and was fined a total of £35,332.

The director of the company, of the same address, pleaded guilty to six charges under Section 37(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 for the offenses by the company being committed with his
consent or attributable to his neglect. The director was sentenced to 166 hours community payback order and was disqualified from holding a directorship for two years.

After the hearing HM inspector Helen Diamond said: “Companies should be aware that HSE will not hesitate to take appropriate enforcement action against those who fall below the standards required on construction sites. HSE will also take action against senior people in those companies for their role in the creation of unacceptable risks on sites.”

Source: The Construction Index

Designers of high-rise buildings urged to start preparations for new building safety regime

Everyone involved in the design of high-rise buildings should take a proactive approach to managing building safety by planning ahead and preparing for the biggest overhaul of the regulatory framework in 40 years.  

That’s the message from the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) new Building Safety Regulator, which is urging designers to act now and ensure they are sufficiently prepared for the requirements set out in the Building Safety Bill, which is expected to come into full force in 2023

Once the bill receives Royal Assent, the new regime will overhaul existing building safety standards by bringing into force all of the recommendations outlined in Dame Judith Hackitt’s Building a Safer Future report, which will have far-reaching implications for the construction industry.

Developed in response to the Grenfell Tower fire on the night of 14 June 2017, which claimed 72 lives, the reforms outlined in the Building Safety Bill will introduce far more stringent safety measures governing the design and construction of high-rise buildings, otherwise known as Higher-Risk Residential Buildings (HRRBs). 

Importantly, the legislation includes clear responsibilities on designers to ensure any buildings that are designed and constructed are safe, as well as new measures designed to ensure that everyone involved in design or building work has the competence to carry out that work in line with building regulations.

‘Designers have a strong influence on safety and standards, particularly during the very early planning and design stages of a building project’

Under the post-Grenfell regime, anyone who works on the design of a high-rise building – from the development of a planning application through to building regulations approval – will be required to understand the building’s intended use, correctly identify the risks, and own and manage those risks to make sure the building is safe.

Once the bill becomes law, designers will have a legal requirement to record and provide evidence of how decisions were made during the design process from the early stages through to final handover to the client. 

‘Designers have a strong influence on safety and standards, particularly during the very early planning and design stages of a building project,’ says Peter Baker, the HSE’s chief inspector of buildings and head of England’s new BSR.

‘Their decisions not only affect the safety of those carrying out the building work, but also those maintaining, using, or living in a building after it is built.’

Appointed to his new role in February 2021, Baker will oversee the regime’s new project gateways, safety case reports (covering safety risks associated with the building and how they are controlled) and new legal dutyholders, who include principal designers, principal contractors, and accountable persons, typically the person or organisation that holds responsibility for common parts of the building. 

In an interview shortly after he took up his role, Baker explained that the BSR will operate as the building control body for new builds while enforcing safety standards and professional competency requirements in around 12,500 existing HRRBs across England. 

The BSR has the powers to impose sanctions, issue compliance notices and, importantly, prosecute dutyholders, who could face fines or even imprisonment if they are found guilty of breaching safety standards. The BSR is also setting up a new mandatory reporting system for structural and fire safety breaches. 

‘Once The Building Safety Bill becomes law, there will be requirement for a safety case report when a building is completed and occupied’

In his interview, Baker explained that the BSR will scrutinise all new build HRRB projects – buildings with two or more dwellings that reach either 18m or seven storeys.

As these constructions are the most susceptible to fire or structural failures that could lead to multiple fatalities (see our explanation here), no new HRRB can be occupied under the new regime until the BSR has signed the building off as safe to occupy. Even after residents move in, the HRRBs must be managed in accordance with the BSR’s Building Assurance Certificate or, in the case of existing HRRB, the approved safety case report.

The Building Safety Bill is currently at the Report Stage in the House of Commons. Although it is anticipated that the new regime could receive Royal Assent in mid-2022, Rhian Greaves, legal director and Claire Moore, an associate in the regulatory – safety, health and environment department at DAC Beachcroft, suggest the bulk of its changes are unlikely to be in place until late 2023.

Even so, the extensive scope and reach of the proposed legislation has prompted the BSR to call on designers to start preparing now so they can respond effectively to the new regime’s requirements when they do come into force. 

‘These changes are coming,’ said Colin Blatchford, operational policy lead for  gateways and building control at the BSR. 

‘Those involved need to plan ahead through correctly identifying, taking ownership and managing the risks – ensuring key decisions are recorded throughout the process. 

‘Once the Building Safety Bill becomes law, there will be requirement for a safety case report when a building is completed and occupied. It is important to consider this at the early design stage for your clients and future residents’ safety… We urge that you act now.’

Source: IOSH Magazine

Employers must provide same level of protection to all workers under amended PPE regulations

Employers in Great Britain need to ensure they are ready to provide the same level of protection to workers who carry out casual work as employees who have a contract of employment when amended personal protective equipment (PPE) regulations come into force on 6 April.

The Personal Protective Equipment at Work (Amendment) Regulations 2022 (PPER 2022) extend employers’ and employees’ duties, which remain unchanged, to limb (b) workers and increase the coverage of people carrying out work activities that must be protected under the new rules. 

Section 230(3) of the UK’s Employment Rights Act 1996 describes limb (b) workers as individuals ‘who generally have a more casual employment relationship and work under a contract for service.’ Until now, they have not been covered under the PPER 1992 regulations.

The amended OSH rules will have significant implications for employers across a wide range of industries regardless of whether their workforce is a combination of employees and casual workers or is only comprised of workers that carry out activities on a casual or irregular basis. 

Under the amended rules, an employer that uses both employment types must now ensure that there is no difference in the way PPE is provided to workers, as defined by the amended regulations. 

As Great Britain’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) notes, ‘This means assessing the risk and ensuring suitable PPE is provided, when needed, to all people that fall under the definition of worker.’

The employer, regardless of whether they use both employment types or not, must also ensure that everyone undertaking work activities is provided with training and instruction so they know how to use the PPE properly. 

Under regulation 11 of the PPER 1992, employees are required to report any supplied PPE that is subsequently lost or becomes defective to the employer. Under the new rules, this requirement has been extended to limb (b) workers. 

For businesses that are entirely reliant on casual workers, there will be a significant cost implication as they are now required to provide all PPE free of charge. 

IOSH has welcomed the amendment as it affords all workers, regardless of their employment type, the same protection for the tasks they complete. 

However, in its response to the HSE’s consultation on the forthcoming PPE amendments last summer, IOSH did highlight the challenges that the new rules would pose for managers, including the short time-frame proposed to implement the requirements, as well as ensuring that employers would be ready to carry out the required risk assessments for all workers and training on PPE use by the enforcement deadline.

In its response, IOSH noted that important PPE controls such as face-fit testing of limb (b) workers undertaking irregular hours could present an issue to employers, due to the practicalities of them attending site at a particular time. 

‘The requirements for the provision [of ppe] should be as an outcome of the risk assessment for the task, and the issuing of the protection should not be led by the type of worker they are classed as’

Limb (b) workers would use PPE less often than full-time employees, meaning that they would get less use out of PPE with an expiry date before it needs replacing. 

The professional body also raised the issue of cost for organisations that employ or may choose to employ casual workers. IOSH noted that although the relative cost of purchasing PPE per worker, which on average is around £284 per year, was reasonable for higher hazard or specialised industries, for some (smaller) organisations, it wasn’t. 

‘The focus should be on protection and risk management,’ IOSH said in its response. ‘The requirements for the provision [of PPE] should be as an outcome of the risk assessment for the task, and the issuing of the protection should not be led by the type of worker they are classed as.

‘This will bring organisational benefits in relation to reputation for equality, diversity and fairness, making it more attractive for prospective workers, who might appreciate working more flexibly, but not wanting their safety compromised.’ 

The decision to extend protection to workers who carry out casual or irregular work was prompted by a High Court judgment in November 2020 that concluded that the UK had failed to adequately transpose aspects of two EU Directives into UK law – Article 8(4) and 8(5) of the EU Directive 89/656/EEC. The court’s ruling said the UK implementation of these provisions should extend to limb (b) workers.

The HSE ran a four-week public consultation last year to raise awareness of the coming changes to the PPER 1992 regulations and to ‘gain an insight into the potential costs’ arising from the amendments.

The reason for the shorter than normal consultation period was that the Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions had already agreed the amendments to the PPER 1992, to align it with the court’s judgment and to provide clarity for workers and employers. The PPER amendments will apply to England, Scotland and Wales. 

In its announcement last week, the HSE has also reminded employers that the changes to the PPER 2022 does not apply to all risks, for example, lead exposure and asbestos. In these circumstances separate regulations will apply to managing the risks and how they will be enforced. 

Ruth Wilkinson, head of health and safety at IOSH, said: ‘Even though PPE is considered the last resort for control measures, after all other controls are considered, IOSH would welcome the change to the PPE regulations, meaning that all workers, regardless of their contract with their employer, has the same rights and forms of protection while at work.’

Source: IOSH Magazine