What ridiculous health and safety measures have you come across?

  • Duty holders believed that a qualified electrician needed to test appliances such as kettles and toasters every year, which according to the HSE, is a persistent myth.
  • A customer once visited a show home on a site still under construction where the sales advisor had to contract someone to come in and change a light bulb as the construction site manager had banned all ladders from site for health and safety reasons!
  • One business had written guidelines for walking up stairs. Another had written out risk assessments for everything, including use of a tape measure!
  • An employee had cut her finger in the workplace and a colleague tried to obtain a plaster from the first aid kit but there were none. The employee asked a manager if they could restock them but she replied that due to health and safety reasons i.e. allergies, plasters were no longer supplied for the first aid kit. There is no health and safety regulation which bans the provision of plasters, in fact HSE’s own guidance recommends that a first aid box should stock plasters.
  • Sign in a gym says “We do not make up protein shakes under any circumstances in our blender unless you have brought the protein from us for health and safety reasons. However you can purchase a shaker from us to blend your shake for only £4.99!”  Clearly a commercial decision!
  • Enquirer’s five-year old daughter needed to use the toilet when they were in a shop so asked a member of staff if there was a toilet they could use. The shop’s supervisor said this was not possible and that it isn’t allowed for health and safety reasons. The enquirer had better luck in the shop next door.This is not a health and safety issue. It is not unexpected that customers will ask if they can use the toilet in emergency situations especially if children are “caught short”.

If you’ve come across any ludicrous health and safety measures and want to share with us; email to:   andrew.james@qcompliance.co.uk

 

April 2014 Newsletter

Welcome to our monthly update. We hope you find the information useful.  If you need any assistance at this time please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Fire alarm systems in communal areas within purpose built blocks of flats…

It is apparent that some purpose built blocks of residential flats are equipped with a fire alarm system in communal areas but have no significant structural deficiencies that may require such a system to be in place. With the exception of dwellings such as sheltered housing or extra care housing, it is not necessary to install fire detection and alarm systems in communal areas.

Examples of inadequate structural deficiencies could be:

  • Inadequate compartmentation
  • Inadequate smoke control in single staircase properties
  • Significant increases in travel distances
  • Inadequate means of escape when flats open directly onto single stairway
  • Flats not sufficiently separated from commercial premises below

Clearly, automatic fire detectors linked to automatic opening vents or other smoke control measures form an integral part of the fire strategy for some types of buildings, however there is generally no requirement for manual call points and alarm sounders in communal areas.

There appears to be a growing ground swell in current guidance to either remove fire alarm systems completely or at least to disconnect sounders in order that residents do not unnecessarily evacuate their flat when there is no need.

What Quantum Compliance say…

Although we agree that a fire alarm system is not required, if not linked to automatic opening vents and the property has no significant structural deficiencies we will not ask for its removal but will stress the need to maintain the system in accordance with the appropriate sections of BS 5839, as well as encouraging property managers to ensure residents are thoroughly conversant with the ‘stay put’ policy for the building and closely monitor any reports of false alarms.

Where there is an automatic fire alarm and detection system linked to the automatic opening vents (AOVs)  linked to sounders in the communal areas of the property, again, residents should be thoroughly conversant with the ‘stay put’ policy for the building.

Note: Be aware, an alarm will always be required within converted properties. For converted buildings of no more than two storeys a Grade D LD2 system may be installed, otherwise a Grade A system should be installed.