Icy conditions and winter weather

With the cold weather arriving from the East this week, we thought it would be useful to remind you of the current guidance detailed on the HSE website.

Slip and trip accidents increase during the Autumn and Winter season for a number of reasons: there is less daylight, leaves fall onto paths and become wet and slippery and cold weather spells cause ice and snow to build up on paths. There are effective actions that you can take to reduce the risk of a slip or trip. Regardless of the size of your site, always ensure that regularly used walkways are promptly tackled.

Ice, frost and snow

  • To reduce the risk of slips on ice, frost or snow, you need to assess the risk and put in a system to manage it.
  • Identify the outdoor areas used by pedestrians most likely to be affected by ice, for example: – building entrances, car parks, pedestrian walkways, shortcuts, sloped areas and areas constantly in the shade or wet.
  • Monitor the temperature, as prevention is key.
  • You need to take action whenever freezing temperatures are forecast. Keep up to date by visiting a weather service site such as the Met Office or the Highways England .
  • There are also smart signs on the market, available to buy at low cost, which display warning messages at 50 and below.
  • Put a procedure in place to prevent an icy surface forming and/or keep pedestrians off the slippery surface;
    o Use grit (see separate article below for more detail) or similar, on areas prone to be slippery in frosty, icy conditions;
    o Consider covering walkways e.g. by an arbour high enough for people to walk through, or use an insulating material on smaller areas overnight;
    o Divert pedestrians to less slippery walkways and barrier off existing ones.
  • If warning cones are used, remember to remove them once the hazard has passed or they will eventually be ignored.

Gritting

The most common method used to de-ice floors is gritting as it is relatively cheap, quick to apply and easy to spread. Rock salt (plain and treated) is the most commonly used ‘grit’. It is the substance used on public roads by the highways authority.

Salt can stop ice forming and cause existing ice or snow to melt. It is most effective when it is ground down, but this will take far longer on pedestrian areas than on roads.

Gritting should be carried out when frost, ice or snow is forecast or when walkways are likely to be damp or wet and the floor temperatures are at, or below freezing. The best times are early in evening before the frost settles and/or early in the morning before employees arrive. Salt doesn’t work instantly; it needs sufficient time to dissolve into the moisture on the floor.

If you grit when it is raining heavily the salt will be washed away, causing a problem if the rain then turns to snow. Compacted snow, which turns to ice, is difficult to treat effectively with grit. Be aware that ‘dawn frost’ can occur on dry surfaces, when early morning dew forms and freezes on impact with the cold surface. It can be difficult to predict when or where this condition will occur.

Quantum’s Advice

We would advise you to develop ‘winter plans’ for your properties which will enable you document on risk grounds the areas of your site you will treat and how. For example, pay particular attention to entrances, slopes, steps and areas of pavement which are used more frequently.

Further information

http://www.hse.gov.uk/logistics/slips-trips-bad-weather.htm

BS 8300-2:2018

Design of an accessible and inclusive built environment. Buildings. Code of practice

What is this new standard about?

A wide range of inclusive design solution guidance already exists. This standard brings that diverse advice together to provide a definitive source of authoritative recommendations on the inclusive and accessible design of buildings.

This is the second part in a two part standard. Part 1 deals with designing accessible and inclusive external environments.

 

Who is this standard for?

  • Local government officers in planning, access, design, conservation and building control
  • Their private sector counterparts
  • Architects
  • Interior designers
  • Landscape designers

 

Why should you use this standard?

It gives recommendations on designing buildings to accommodate users with the widest range of characteristics and capabilities. It applies to:

a) External features of a building or group of buildings, such as entrances, outward opening doors and windows, where they affect external access routes, and
b) Interiors of buildings such as entrances and reception facilities, horizontal and vertical movement, and facilities in the building.

The recommendations given apply largely to new buildings, but can also be used when assessing the accessibility and usability of existing buildings and, where practicable, as a basis for their improvement. The extent to which the recommendations apply to listed and historic buildings is determined on a case-by-case basis.

This part of BS 8300 applies to a wide range of buildings such as:

  • Transport buildings
  • Industrial buildings
  • Administrative and commercial buildings
  • Health and welfare buildings
  • Refreshment, entertainment and recreation buildings
  • Religious buildings and associated facilities
  • Educational, cultural and scientific buildings
  • Residential buildings (e.g. nursing, residential and care homes, student accommodation, common parts of blocks of flats)
  • Temporary structures accessible to or usable by the general public

NOTE: This standard does not apply to individual dwellings, or to residential buildings that are designed specifically to meet the requirements of people with complex or multiple impairments.

 

What’s changed since the last update?

This standard replaces BS 8300:2009. It is Part 2 because a new standard – BS 8300-1:2017 – has been added on designing accessible external environments. The numbering follows the logic of the original BS 8300, starting outside the building and working in.

As to what’s changed:

  • Previous editions of BS 8300 advised specifically on designing for disabled people. This new BS 8300-2 explains how to design, build and manage the built environment in a way that is inclusive. Designing to address and integrate the access requirements of all people, irrespective of their personal circumstances, as part of mainstream design, achieves an inclusive environment which is always preferable to designating separate or specific features.
  • The standard draws on experience gained during the design and operation of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and gives extensive guidance on the development of inclusive design strategies, the use of design and access statements and the development of an access strategy.
  • The standard has also started to consider the needs of people with neuro-diverse conditions, though it is recognized that more research is needed in this area.

ISO 45001 due for publication in March

ISO 45001, Occupational health and safety management systems is a new standard which will help organisations in providing a framework to improve employee safety, reduce workplace risks and create better, safer working conditions.

ISO 45001 will replace OHSAS 18001, which will be withdrawn after its publication. Organisations that are certified to OHSAS 18001 will have three years to migrate to the new standard, according to the UK standards body BSI Group.

The standard has been developed by a committee of occupational health and safety experts, and will follow other generic management system approaches such as ISO 14001 and ISO 9001.

For more information click https://www.iso.org/files/live/sites/isoorg/files/archive/pdf/en/iso_45001_briefing_note.pdf

High Rise Cladding Update

Just three tower blocks out of almost 300 with the same cladding as Grenfell Tower have had panels taken down and replaced.

Seven months after the fire a report published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government revealed “three buildings have finished the installation of replacement cladding”.

Only a further six had begun to replace the cladding, made of aluminium composite material.

The report said it had identified 299 tower blocks that had failed safety tests because they had the same cladding system that “therefore present fire hazards”.

Sajid Javid, the Housing Secretary, told MPs that 312 buildings had been tested for fire safety and that all but 13 had failed.

The fire in the 24-storey tower block in west London in June is now subject to a public inquiry. The cladding, installed as part of a multi-million pound refurbishment, has been blamed for the rapid spread of the blaze which began with a fire in a fridge-freezer on the fourth floor.

Local authorities have been seeking extra funding from central Government to pay for the work in taking down and replacing the flammable cladding. Camden council, which has stripped cladding from five tower blocks, has estimated the cost of replacing it at £50 million and will take until the summer of 2019 to complete.

The official report identified six councils with 11 or more tower blocks with a ‘cladding system’ that failed safety tests. Four are in London and the other two in the north west.

Out of the 299 high rise residential blocks with the dangerous cladding, 168 are managed by either local councils or housing associations. Of those 160 “are unlikely to meet current Building regulations guidance” states the report, issued monthly as part of the Government’s response to Grenfell.

The Housing Ministry declined to say why just three buildings had been re-clad in the wake of the fire but insisted that the number one priority was the safety of tower block residents.

Smoking related fire deaths rise in London

Most fatal fires are started by discarded cigarettes, matches and lighters according to Fire Facts, the London Fire Brigade’s comprehensive annual review of fire data. The report covers up to the end of 2016 and does not include the tragic Grenfell tower fire that happened in June last year.

So many of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented

Overall fires are down, but the Brigade remain concerned about the number of fatalities and injuries from fires that are largely preventable such as those caused by smouldering cigarettes, unattended candles but also faulty white goods such as fridges and freezers.

London Fire Brigade Director of Operations Tom George said:

“Last year, there were around 11 smoking related fires per week and at least one smoking related fire fatality every month. These are often small fires started when people have fallen asleep smoking or have been drinking and smoking. It’s not uncommon for people to have died in these sorts of fires before the alarm is even raised.

So many of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented either by switching to vaping or, providing personal sprinkler systems and fire proof bedding for the most vulnerable.

This shows how important our community safety work is. Modern firefighting is about stopping fires happening in the first place, prevention is much than better cure.

These figures show that there is still more prevention work that can be done and the Brigade is keen to maximise its partnership work with local authorities, health providers and community groups. Far too many older and vulnerable people are dying unnecessarily in avoidable fires due to mobility issues or because fire detection systems are just not in place or working properly.”

Homes need multiple smoke alarms so that they are properly covered

Last year crews carried out around 84,000 home fire safety visits where they fitted smoke alarms, provided safety advice and worked with councils and housing providers to provide fire proof bedding and other practical equipment. The Brigade’s focus is to visit vulnerable people who have lifestyle characteristics that put them at greater risk from having a fatal fire.

The Brigade wants to see homes with multiple smoke alarms so that they are properly covered. Smoke alarms should be fitted in all rooms where fires can start, including rooms where you leave electrical equipment running like satellite boxes, computers or heaters; any room where you smoke, and anywhere you charge your mobile or laptop. As a minimum you should have smoke alarms on every floor – in the hallways and the rooms you use the most, plus a heat alarm in the kitchen.

The report found that;

• Half of accidental fatal fire deaths in the home were caused by smoking.
• Kitchen appliances caused 419 fires last year, up 15 on the previous year.
• There were more fire related injuries caused by cooking than smoking and candles combined.

Fewest primary fires since records began
Fire Facts also shows that there were 10,587 ‘primary fires’ in 2016, the fewest since official records were logged in 1966. Primary fires include all occupied building fires, those involving casualties or rescues and any that require five fire engines or more.

Primary fires are down by over 50 per cent from their highest point in 2001 (22,655) when the Brigade’s community safety strategy started. This changed the Brigade’s focus from being a permeably reactive emergency responder to a more proactive service with community fire safety at the core of its activities. Since then primary fires have reduced on average by around 850 fires per year and all other fire categories have shown a consistent downward trend.

The Fire Facts series gives the public more access to key London Fire Brigade data. It is divided into four sections: long term trends, where fires happen, fires in the home and fires in other buildings. The report also finds;

• The busiest time for fires in London is 7pm with the quietest being 6am.
• Most fires start in the kitchen but are less likely to be fatal, most fatal fires in the home start in the living room but this is often where people are asleep.
• 1976 had the greatest number of fires followed by 2003, 1989, 1995 and 2001.

Quantum’s Advice
These statistics illustrate the need for us all to take care when using electrical appliances and especially when charging electrical devices, and to ensure higher risk sources of ignition e.g. smoking materials and candles are disposed of safely and never forgotten about.

Fall from height – two construction companies fined over £1m

Two construction companies have been handed fines exceeding £1m after their failure to place physical barriers around building work led to a tenant falling 5.5 m.

The accident happened during remedial refurbishment work at the Du Cane Estate in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. The tenant was walking along a balcony walkway to her flat on 19 June 2015 when she fell through a fragile cement sheet and landed on the level below. She fractured her pelvis in five places. Engie, which last year acquired Keepmoat, a homebuilder that specialises in regenerating buildings for local authorities, had been contracted to undertake the refurbishment project. Part of the work involved replacing top floor balcony walkways throughout the estate and this was subcontracted out to roofing specialist Superior Roofing and Building Services. Southwark Crown Court was told that the subcontractors had been working on the walkway for four days before the accident, but had failed to inform the residents the work was being carried out. No physical barriers had been erected to prevent people stepping into the work area. The HSE said both companies implemented sufficient steps to prevent falls from height after the accident. However, its investigation found operatives had part fallen through a cement soffit in August 2014 as they worked around another fragile surface. Both firms had failed to properly plan the work, the HSE said. Engie pleaded guilty to breaching regs 13(1) and 22(1)(a) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, which covers the duties of a principal contractor. It was fined £800,000 on 4 January. Superior Roofing was fined £300,000 after it admitted breaching regs 4(1)(a) and 4(1)(c) of the Work at Height Regulations, which require employers to ensure work at height is properly planned and carried out in a safe manner.

Quantum’s Advice
This case illustrates the importance of adequately planning higher risk work and effectively communicating risk assessments and method statements between sub-contractors.

Housing Association receives £100k fines for exposing workers to HAVS

Cwmbran Magistrates’ Court heard how Charter Housing Association Ltd. reported six cases of HAVS following a health surveillance programme launched in June 2015. The affected employees were all part of the maintenance team for this programme.

Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) is a serious and permanent condition caused by regular and frequent exposure to hand-arm vibration. HAVS results in tingling, numbness, pain and loss of strength in the hands which may affect the ability to do work safely and cause pain, distress and sleep disturbance.

An investigation by The Health and Safety Executive’s found the six workers’ conditions were likely to have been caused or worsened by the use of vibratory power tools while in Charter Housing’s employment. It was also found that staff in the maintenance and refurbishment departments at Charter Housing experienced significant exposure to hand arm vibration in their daily work which put them at risk of developing or exacerbating existing HAVS.

The investigation also revealed that the company:

neither adequately planned its working methods nor trained or informed employees on the risks to their health
did not limit the duration and magnitude of exposure to vibration
failed to put in place suitable health surveillance to identify problems at an early stage.

Charter Housing Association Ltd (now part of Pobl Group Ltd) of High Street, Newport pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005. The company was fined £100,000 and was ordered to pay costs of £9,896.88.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector Joanne Carter said:

“An individuals’ health should not be made worse by the work they do. If Charter Housing had correctly implemented its health surveillance earlier, it would have ensured the right systems were in place to monitor workers’ health. The six affected employees’ conditions may have been prevented from developing or developing to a more severe stage.

How people work today can affect their health and wellbeing tomorrow. This case serves as an important reminder of the necessity of task based risk assessments to establish the level of exposure, control measures to reduce that exposure to as low as is reasonably practicable and effective health surveillance systems. In the case of Charter Housing this realisation came too late.

All employers need to do the right thing to protect workers’ health.”