Fire Risk

 

August 2014 NEWSLETTER

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Staggering number of businesses are ignorant of Fire Safety Laws

A Survey was conducted by FireUK and comprised of 580 restaurateurs, publicans, takeaway owners and owners of office-based businesses.

The survey found that a staggering ninety percent of small businesses with fewer than 10 employees were failing to conduct appropriate fire-risk assessments or follow basic fire-safety procedures.

For further statistics, common confusions about Fire Risk and legal requirements please read more.

 

Neglecting Fire Safety Duties resulting in Fines 

Property managers are reminded of the importance of fire safety duties after a firm of estate agents in Bexhill have been fined more than £28,000 and ordered to pay court costs in excess of £10,000 after being found guilty of breaching fire safety regulations in properties that they managed.

East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service (ESFRS) inspected the premises following a fatal fire in 2011.  They discovered inadequate fire protection, lack of separation of fire escape routes and fire alarms, as well as no emergency lighting.  During this fire, an occupant became trapped on the top floor and required rescued by firefighters.

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Casualties on the roads of Great Britain

Provisional statistics concerning road casualties in Great Britain in 2013 have been published by the Department for Transport.  They show that overall road deaths are down by 2 per cent.

Other statistics show that the number of people killed on motorways increased by 14 per cent to 100 in 2013 (traffic on motorways did increase by 1.5 per cent); the number of pedal cyclists killed dropped by 8 per cent to 109 and there was a 21 per cent decrease in the number of children killed in reported road traffic accidents, reversing the increases seen in 2011 and 2012.

For further information and statistics please read more.

Mythbusting by the HSE

The HSE Myth Busters Challenge Panel provides a mechanism to independently challenge potentially disproportionate or inaccurate advice or decisions, made in the name of health and safety.

“We think that communicating these decisions will help all our clients with a better insight into the ongoing ‘perception v’s reality’ arguments which appear in the media from time to time”.

Phil Jones

Engineer not allowed to climb a stepladder to replace a meter

A newspaper article stated that a man was left dumbfounded when an electricity engineer refused to replace his meter – because he was not allowed to climb a stepladder.

Read the Panel’s decision HERE.

Supermarket staff not allowed to water dying plants

Following a visit to a local supermarket store the enquirer complained about the state of plants that were on sale. They had dried out and were dying, due to lack of water. The staff told them that they had been instructed not to water the plants due to health and safety.

Read the Panel’s decision HERE.
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Firefighters Strike

Firefighters have been striking throughout the month of July.  They joined hundreds of thousands of other public sector workers taking strike action which started on Thursday 10 July.

These strikes come due to the long-running dispute over firefighters’ pensions.  They see a further day of strikes at the same time as a walk out by local government workers, teachers and civil servants over a range of issues, including attacks on pay and pensions and workloads.

For strike dates and times please read more.

Find out more HERE.

Hear from our Fire Safety expert Chris Fitzgerald.

He talks Fire Risk and the importance of managing it!

Read his comments HERE

Case study of the monthTo read more about our working relationship with Savills, services provided and the outcomes, please read more by clicking the logo below.

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Workplace deaths

Death at work rate drops by 85% over four decades

According to new figures from the Health and Safety Executive, nationally, the number of people who lose their lives at work has dropped sharply by 85 per cent over the past 40 years.  This is down from more than 650 every year in 1974 to a record low of 133 last year.

The number of injuries at work has also reduced considerably by 77 per cent over the same time period, from 336,701 to 78,222.

These statistics illustrate the impact of the Health and Safety at Work Act, which came into being in 1974.

In the West Midlands during 2012-2013, there were 14 fatal work place incidents, and 1,855 major injuries suffered in the work place. There were also 6,043 injuries suffered by workers which kept injured persons off work for seven days or longer.

The 1974 Act paved the way for the creation of the Health and Safety Commission and the establishment of the Health and Safety Executive as we know it today – which regulates health and safety law working with industry to help them manage their health and safety risks effectively and also bringing irresponsible employers to justice.

Minister of State for Health and Safety, Mark Harper, said:

“Britain has come an incredibly long way over the past forty years in protecting its workforce. Our workplace safety record is now the envy of the world, with businesses and governments queuing up to tap into our expertise.  Any death at work is a death too many. But few can dispute that the reduction in fatalities and injuries over the past 40 years is a significant step forward. Britain is now officially one of the safest places in Europe – and the world – to work.  So, while we all rightly curse false health and safety excuses, it’s worth thinking how fortunate we are today that we can go out to do a hard day’s work safe in the knowledge that our safety is being taken seriously.”

Samantha Peace, HSE’s director for Wales, the Midlands and the South West, said:

“Our health and safety law places responsibility on those who create risk to manage that risk in a proportionate practical way.”

Health and Safety advice for Facility Managers

Guidance from BIFM (British Institute of Facilities Management) is specifically aimed at FMs (Facility Managers), aiming to provide a step-by-step approach to the management of health and safety of contractors, which is not covered by the existing guidance on the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007.  However the principles can also be applied by the FM for the selection and management of any contractor working on site.

It is timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and Section 3 of the Act which specifically requires employers to ensure the health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable, of not only their own employees but also that of others on site who are not employees. This refers to contractors working on site and it is therefore essential that FMs have this in their arsenal of knowledge.

Group Safety Health Environmental & Quality Director at energy and facilities management firm GSH, Co-writer Robert Greenfield, explains:

“The trend for outsourcing non core activities within a business to allow it to concentrate on its core activities makes good business sense but how does the FM ensure that contractors brought in to do the work will not take risks and potentially harm their own staff and others whilst they are present on site? In fact one of the highest risks that an organisation faces is as soon as a contractor walks onto their site and starts work.

How do you know they have the experience and knowledge to carry out the work and how do you manage them whilst on site?

“Time and time again as safety practitioners we see preventable accidents that have been caused by poor selection and management of contractors and we hope that by applying the simple step by step approach demonstrated in this guidance, that the risks faced by FM’s and their organisations will be greatly reduced. In short we want it to prevent accidents and keep people safe in the workplace”

The guide is free for BIFM members. For more information, see BIFM

Seasonal workplace dress codes

In light of recent high temperatures, the TUC has urged employers to temporarily relax workplace dress codes to help their staff work as comfortably as possible.

The TUC is advising employers to allow their staff to wear less formal attire to work.  It says that workers who are unable to come to work in smart summer clothing and who work where there is no air-conditioning, fans or cold drinking water will feel lethargic, and lack inspiration and creativity.
While it may not be possible for staff who regularly attend meetings with external clients, who deal with the public or who wear company uniforms to go to work in vest and shorts, so long as employees are smartly turned out, it should be possible to agree on a dress code that fits with the corporate image and helps keep staff cool.

To keep work cool, the TUC would like to see employers:

  • allow staff to adopt less formal attire – with jackets and ties out, and short sleeves, vest tops and shorts in
  • distribute fans to staff and provide portable air cooling cabinets
  • install air conditioning and maintain it regularly, so that it doesn’t break down during a heatwave
  • allow flexible working so that staff can have the option of coming in earlier and staying later to avoid the sweltering conditions of the rush hour commute
  • move desks away from windows, draw blinds or install reflective film
  • allow staff to take frequent breaks and provide a ready supply of cool drinks.

 

Property Management Guidance

Essential health and safety guidance for the Facility Management industry

Leading energy and facilities management company GSH has sponsored the production of a BIFM (British Institute of Facilities Management) guidance document specifically aimed at FMs to highlight its commitment to health and safety in the workplace.

The document is now available for download to all BIFM members and has been co-written by Robert Greenfield, Group Safety Health Environmental & Quality Director at GSH and Michael JW Morgan the Managing Director of Safety Action Services. They are also the Chair and Deputy Chairman of the BIFM Health & Safety Special Interest Group and co-authors of the book ’Simply Safety’.

This essential guidance for facilities managers provides a simple step-by-step approach to the management of health and safety of contractors which is not covered by the existing guidance on the Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2007. However the principles can also be applied by the FM for the selection and management of any contractor working on site.

It is timed to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 and Section 3 of the Act which specifically requires employers to ensure the health and safety, so far as is reasonably practicable, of not only their own employees but also that of others on site who are not employees. This refers to contractors working on site and it is therefore essential that FMs have this in their arsenal of knowledge.

Robert Greenfield explains:

“The trend for outsourcing non core activities within a business to allow it to concentrate on its core activities makes good business sense but how does the FM ensure that contractors brought in to do the work will not take risks and potentially harm their own staff and others whilst they are present on site? In fact one of the highest risks that an organisation faces is as soon as a contractor walks onto their site and starts work.

How do you know they have the experience and knowledge to carry out the work and how do you manage them whilst on site?

“Time and time again as safety practitioners we see preventable accidents that have been caused by poor selection and management of contractors and we hope that by applying the simple step by step approach demonstrated in this guidance, that the risks faced by FM’s and their organisations will be greatly reduced. In short we want it to prevent accidents and keep people safe in the workplace”

For more information, please view the links within this article.

Property maintenance firm fined

After ignoring safety concerns at it’s joinery workshop in Dukinfield, a property maintenance firm has appeared in court.

The property maintenance firm, High Peak Remedial Services Ltd of Buxton Road in Stockport, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after it failed to comply with an enforcement notice requiring its wood dust extractor to be properly tested.

Trafford Magistrates’ Court was told an HSE inspector issued an Improvement Notice during a routine visit to the Park Road workshop on 13 July 2013, after it emerged the company had not arranged a recent test of its extraction system.

If it is inhaled, wood dust can cause serious health problems, including cancer of the nose. Woodworking firms are therefore required by law to put measures in place to prevent dust becoming airborne, and to make sure extractors are tested at least every 14 months.

The court heard High Peak Remedial Services was given just over eight weeks to comply with the enforcement notice, but asked for an extension on the day before it was due to expire.  The firm was then given another four weeks to arrange a test but it again failed to meet the deadline.

High Peak Remedial Services Ltd, was fined £8,000 and ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,662 after pleading guilty to a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by failing to comply with an Improvement Notice.

For more information on this article, please visit the HSE