Thursday, 20 September 2018



CO The Silent Killer

At 20:29 on 08 Dec 2017 both fire engines from Newton Abbot were mobilised to a Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarm sounding.
The occupier had correctly exited the house and was waiting outside. Two crew members dressed in BA investigated with a gas detector. They found there was a small reading on the gas detector. We checked all around the log burner and did have constant readings.

CO is a colourless, odourless and tasteless gas produced by the incomplete burning of carbon based fuels. We decided to extinguish the log burner before re checking. During this we noticed a metal bucket on the hearth and needed to use it. It was full of ash, so we took it outside to empty it. Whilst doing this we noticed it was warm. We held the gas detector over the ash and it immediately went into full alarm mode.

We disturbed the crust on the ash and the embers below were hot and orange. The reading on our monitor increased from 129 PPM to 378 PPM (parts per million). Headache and nausea after 1-2 hours of exposure. Life threatening in 3 hours. Symptoms can be found on one of the pictures.
The occupier empties the old ash from the log burner into the bucket regularly but does not take it outside until its full.

The embers were producing CO into the lounge which caused the CO alarm to sound. Luckily for this person they had an alarm!

Please do not leave ash/embers inside your property, remove it to a safe place in the open air immediately after cleaning. In the pictures you can see the Watch Manager holding the gas detector just above the ash, with the lights flashing and the reading of 378 PPM. We checked the log burner inside before leaving which had a reading of zero, confirming the bucket of ash as the source.

 

Friday, 18 May 2018

Noise at work: A brief guide to controlling the risks



The Control of Noise at Work Regulations 2005 (Noise Regulations 2005) require employers to prevent or reduce risks to health and safety from exposure to noise at work. The Regulations require you as an employer to:

Assess the risks to your employees from noise at work; 
Act to reduce the noise exposure that produces those risks;
Provide your employees with hearing protection if you cannot reduce the noise exposure enough by using other methods;
Make sure the legal limits on noise exposure are not exceeded;
Provide your employees with information, instruction and training. Carry out health surveillance where there is a risk to health 


The aim of the risk assessment is to help you decide what you need to do to ensure the health and safety of your employees who are exposed to noise. Your risk assessment should:


Identify where there may be a risk from noise and who is likely to be affected;
Contain a reliable estimate of your employees' exposures, and compare the exposure with the exposure action values and limit values;
Identify what you need to do to comply with the law, e.g. whether noise-control measures or hearing protection are needed, and, if so, where and what type; and
Identify any employees who need to be provided with health surveillance and whether any are at risk



Wherever there is noise at work you should be looking for alternative processes, equipment and/or working methods which would make the work quieter or mean people are exposed for shorter times. You should also be keeping up with what is good practice or the standard for noise control within your industry.

Where there are reasonably practicable things you can do to reduce risks from noise, that are reasonably practicable, they should be done. However, where noise exposures are below the lower exposure action values, risks are low and so you would only be expected to take actions that are relatively inexpensive and simple to carry out.

Where your assessment shows that your employees are likely to be exposed at or above the upper exposure action values, you must put in place a planned programme of noise control



You are required to issue hearing protection to employees:


Where extra protection is needed above what has been achieved using noise control;
As a short-term measure while other methods of controlling noise are being developed.
Provide your employees with hearing protectors if they ask for it and their noise exposure is between the lower and upper exposure action values;
Provide your employees with hearing protectors and make sure they use them properly when their noise exposure exceeds the upper exposure action values;
Identify hearing protection zones, i.e. areas where the use of hearing protection is compulsory, and mark them with signs if possible;
Provide your employees with training and information on how to use and care for the hearing protectors;
ensure that the hearing protectors are properly used and maintained.


  The Noise Regulations require you to take specific action at certain action values. The values are: 

lower exposure action values:
  • daily or weekly exposure of 80 dB;
  • peak sound pressure of 135 dB;
upper exposure action values:
  • daily or weekly exposure of 85 dB;
  • peak sound pressure of 137 dB 

There are also levels of noise exposure which must not be exceeded. These are called exposure limit values: 
  •  daily or weekly exposure of 87 dB;
  •  peak sound pressure of 140 dB.
It is important that employees understand the risks they may be exposed to. Where they are exposed above the lower exposure action values you should at least tell them:


The likely noise exposure and the risk to hearing this noise creates;
What you are doing to control risks and exposures;
Where and how people can obtain hearing protection;
How to report defects in hearing protection and noise-control equipment
What their duties are under the Noise Regulations 2005;
What they should do to minimise the risk, such as the proper way to use hearing protection, how to look after it, store it and where to use it;
Your health surveillance systems.

Health surveillance for hearing damage usually means:


Regular hearing checks in controlled conditions;
Telling employees about the results of their hearing checks;
Keeping health records;
Ensuring employees are examined by a doctor where hearing damage is identified.

Monday, 4 December 2017

A Bit of Christmas Fun



The following is the Elf ‘n’ Safety take on some of our favourite seasonal songs:

Please note that the following is meant as a bit of seasonal fun, no Health & Safety practitioner would ever act like this and the HSE itself do go to extreme lengths to bust these Elf ‘n’ Safety myths. (Courtesy of Tony)

The Rocking Song
Little Jesus, sweetly sleep, do not stir
We will lend a coat of fur
We will rock you, rock you, rock you
We will rock you, rock you, rock you

Fur is no longer appropriate wear for small infants, both due to the risk of allergy to animal fur, and for ethical reasons. Therefore faux fur, a nice cellular blanket or perhaps micro-fleece material should be considered a suitable alternative. Please note; only persons who have been subject to a Criminal Records Bureau check and have enhanced clearance will be permitted to rock baby Jesus. Persons must carry their CRB disclosure with them at all times and be prepared to provide three forms of identification before rocking commences.

Jingle Bells
Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way

A risk assessment must be submitted before an open sleigh can be considered safe for members of the public to travel on. The risk assessment must also consider whether it is appropriate to use only one horse for such a venture, particularly if passengers are of larger proportions. Please note; permission must be gained from landowners before entering their fields. To avoid offending those not participating in celebrations, we would request that laughter is moderate only and not loud enough to be considered a noise nuisance.

While Shepherds Watched
While shepherds watched
Their flocks by night
All seated on the ground
The angel of the Lord came down
And glory shone around

The union of Shepherds has complained that it breaches health and safety regulations to insist that shepherds watch their flocks without appropriate seating arrangements being provided, therefore benches, stools and orthopaedic chairs are now available. Shepherds have also requested that due to the inclement weather conditions at this time of year, they should watch their flocks via CCTV cameras from centrally heated shepherd observation huts. Please note; the angel of the lord is reminded that before shining his/her glory all around she/he must ascertain that all shepherds have been issued with glasses capable of filtering out the harmful effects of UVA, UVB and Glory.

Little Donkey
Little donkey
Little donkey on the dusty road
Got to keep on plodding onwards
With your precious load

The RSPCA have issued strict guidelines with regard to how heavy a load that a donkey of small stature is permitted to carry. Also included in the guidelines is guidance regarding how often to feed the donkey and how many rest breaks are required over a four hour plodding period. Please note that due to the increased risk of pollution from the dusty road, Mary and Joseph are required to wear facemasks to prevent inhalation of any airborne particles. The RSPCA has also expressed discomfort at donkeys being labelled ‘little’ and would prefer they just be simply referred to as Mr. Donkey. To comment upon his height or lack thereof may be considered an infringement of his equine rights.

We Three Kings
We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar
Field and fountain, moor and mountain
Following yonder star

Whilst the gift of gold is still considered acceptable – as it may be redeemed at a later date through such organisations as ‘cash for gold’ etc., gifts of frankincense and myrrh are not appropriate due to the potential risk of oils and fragrances causing allergic reactions. A suggested gift alternative would be to make a donation to a worthy cause in the recipient’s name or perhaps give a gift voucher. We would not advise that the traversing kings rely on navigation by stars in order to reach their destinations and recommend the use of the RAC route finder or satellite navigation, which will provide the quickest route and advice regarding fuel consumption. Please note as per the guidelines from the RSPCA for Mr. Donkey, the camels carrying the three kings of Orient will require regular food and rest breaks. Facemasks for the three kings are also advisable due to the likelihood of dust from the camels’ hooves.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer?
Had a very shiny nose
And if you ever saw him
You would even say it glows

You are advised that under the ‘Equal Opportunities for All’ policy, it is inappropriate for persons to make comment with regard to the ruddiness of any part of Mr. R. Reindeer. Further to this, exclusion of Mr. R. Reindeer from the Reindeer Games shall be considered discriminatory and disciplinary action will be taken against those found guilty of this offence. A full investigation will be implemented and sanctions – including suspension on full pay – will be considered whilst this investigation takes place.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Bonfire & Firework Displays



Firework displays should be enjoyable and spectacular occasions – but they obviously need some responsible planning. The good news is that there is straightforward guidance to help you.
If you are organising a major public event, you will clearly need a robust and detailed approach to planning as well as professional involvement. If you are holding a local firework display, such as those organised by many sports clubs, schools or parish councils, you still need to plan responsibly, but the same level of detail is not necessary or expected. Below are some tips and guidance to help you.

Before the event:

Think about who will operate the display. There is no reason why you should not light a display yourselves provided it only contains fireworks in categories 1, 2 and 3. but remember, category 4 fireworks may only be used by professional firework display operators. In untrained hands they can be lethal.

Consider whether the site is suitable and large enough for your display, including a bonfire if you are having one. Is there space for the fireworks to land well away from spectators? Remember to check in daylight for overhead power lines and other obstructions. What is the direction of the prevailing wind? What would happen if it changed?

Think about what you would do if things go wrong. Make sure there is someone who will be responsible for calling the emergency services

Make sure you obtain the fireworks from a reputable supplier.

If the display is to be provided by a professional firework display operator make sure that you are clear on who does what especially in the event of an emergency

Ensure you have a suitable place to store the fireworks. Your firework supplier or local authority should be able to advise

If you plan on selling alcohol the bar should be well away from the display site

On the day of the event:

Recheck the site, weather conditions and wind direction

Don't let anyone into the zone where the fireworks will fall – or let anyone other than the display operator or firing team into the firing zone or the safety zone around it

Discourage spectators from bringing drink onto the site

Don't let spectators bring their own fireworks onto the site

If you will also have a bonfire at the display then you should:


  • Check the structure is sound and does not have small children or animals inside it before lighting it
  • Not use petrol or paraffin to light the fire
  • Have only one person responsible for lighting the fire. That person, and any helpers, should wear suitable clothing e.g. a substantial outer garment made of wool or other low-flammable material.
  • Make sure that the person lighting the fire and any helpers know what to do in the event of a burn injury or clothing catching fire
  • Never attempt to relight fireworks. Keep well clear of fireworks that have failed to go off

The morning after:

  • Carefully check and clear the site. Dispose of fireworks safely. They should never be burnt in a confined space (eg a boiler)

Additional points to consider if you are organising a major public display

For major displays, particularly those involving category 4 ‘professional’ fireworks or very large number of spectators, a more robust approach is obviously needed.
  • Plan and mark out the areas for spectators, firing fireworks (and a safety zone around it) as well as an area where the fireworks will fall
  • Think about how people will get into and out of the site. Keep pedestrian and vehicle routes apart if possible. Mark exit routes clearly and ensure they are well lit. Ensure emergency vehicles can get access to the site
  • Appoint enough stewards/marshals. Make sure they understand what they are to do on the night and what they should do in the event of an emergency
  • Contact the emergency services and local authority. If your site is near an airport you may need to contact them
  • Signpost the first aid facilities

Insurance

Although it is not required by health and safety law, if you are holding a public firework display, it’s a good idea to have public liability insurance. Bear in mind that not all companies are used to dealing with this type of event, and as with any other type of insurance, it’s worth shopping around: look for a company that’s used to insuring firework and other public events – you are likely to get much better deal and avoid unsuitable terms and conditions. If you have difficulty with the standard insurance terms, TALK to your insurer and find a way forward; they can be very helpful.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Who is responsible for fire safety?



Who is responsible for fire safety?
Generally, the employer (Responsible Person) is responsible for the fire safety of all who are lawfully on the premises (Relevant Persons). These include employees, visitors, contractors, members of the public and any person in the immediate vicinity, such as people walking past. Operational fire fighters at incidents are not included.
Responsibility for managing duties on behalf of the Responsible Person (RP) at the head of an organisation may be shared, for example, between branch or area manager, depending on the extent of control each has i.e. they must have the appropriate authority, skills and training to manage these duties. 
Is it permissible for others to carry out duties on behalf of the Responsible Persons?
Yes, the RP may nominate Competent Persons (CP). For instance, an RP may nominate others to act as fire marshals or wardens with a duty for assisting with evacuation; or an engineer might be given the task of testing fire alarms.
The RP must ensure CPs have the ability to carry out their tasks i.e. they must be properly competent, trained and equipped, or external experts may be brought in to fill any shortfall. 
Please bear in mind that delegating duties falling within the RP’s remit does not absolve a person from responsibility. It is down to the RP to put sufficient checks in place to ensure delegated duties are carried out correctly.
Do employees have responsibility?
Yes, employees must take reasonable care for the safety of themselves and others who may be affected by their acts or omissions at work e.g. wedging open a fire door. It is the RP’s responsibility to ensure employees receive training.
Who is responsible for fire safety in multi-occupied premises?
This may be shared by several people. In a multi-occupied office, the landlord/owner and tenants may be responsible for common areas with each occupier responsible for the areas they control. 
The fire alarm may be the sole responsibility of the landlord/owner if it is common to the entire premises. A tenancy agreement should identify who is responsible for each area of fire safety.
Occupiers have a duty to take reasonable steps to co-operate and co-ordinate with each other.
Who is responsible for fire safety when there is no employer?
The person in control of the premises is responsible. This could be the person or organisation paying the rent or owning the building. e.g. a charity trustee in the case of a charity shop or a parish council in case of a village hall.
Who is responsible for fire safety in an unoccupied building?
This is normally the owner of the building
For more information or help in carrying out a Fire Risk Assessment see our website www.anchorhands.co.uk

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Health & Safety is everyone’s business



There are certain functions within Health & Safety that apply to all personnel, whether they are in the office, on the road or on site. Although the communication and delivery of these functions may differ, dependent upon the location, it is important that everyone recognises them and complies fully with their requirements

There is a legal duty for everyone to take reasonable care for health and safety to themselves and others (this means everyone, staff, public other contractors) as well as not to interfere with or misuse any equipment provide for Health & Safety. In other words, don’t put yourselves or others in danger and use health and safety equipment the way it is designed to be used.

It is important that someone knows where you are, this is so that in an emergency it can be verified very quickly that you are safe, or that you are indeed in imminent danger. To this end, you must comply with the signing in and out procedures laid down at whatever location you may be. When you are in someone else’s premises or on site you must comply with their procedures, make sure you know what they are!

There will be procedures laid down for actions necessary in the event of a fire, when you are on someone else’s property make sure that you have read their procedures and act on them accordingly.

The company will have carried out risk assessments to identify, where possible, any risks that may cause harm, it is important that where applicable these risk assessments are complied with fully. It is a duty of all employees to look after any equipment, tools or furniture in their care, to inspect all equipment for damage and report, without delay, any faults identified. The risk assessments carried out will not be exhaustive, it is therefore a requirement that anyone who identifies a new risk, reports the same back to the company for inclusion within the existing risk assessments.

It is important for everyone to report all accidents, incidents or near misses, no matter how minor, to the appropriate persons. In the event of a serious injury or dangerous occurrence, the company will then decide whether it is necessary to advise the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or not.

It is everyone’s responsibility to identify new risks or hazards. If you come across a health and safety issue that has not been addressed, then you must notify the company as soon as possible, where appropriate assessments should be carried out, and any necessary procedures or actions put into place.

Remember that everyone is responsible for the health and safety of not only themselves, but that of others!

Monday, 24 October 2016

Fireworks and Displays Safety



Firework displays should be enjoyable and spectacular occasions – but they obviously need some responsible planning. The good news is that there is straightforward guidance to help you.
If you are organising a major public event, you will clearly need a robust and detailed approach to planning as well as professional involvement. If you are holding a local firework display, such as those organised by many sports clubs, schools or parish councils, you still need to plan responsibly, but the same level of detail is not necessary or expected. Below are some tips and guidance to help you.

Before the event:

Think about who will operate the display. There is no reason why you should not light a display yourselves provided it only contains fireworks in categories 1, 2 and 3. but remember, category 4 fireworks may only be used by professional firework display operators. In untrained hands they can be lethal.

Consider whether the site is suitable and large enough for your display, including a bonfire if you are having one. Is there space for the fireworks to land well away from spectators? Remember to check in daylight for overhead power lines and other obstructions. What is the direction of the prevailing wind? What would happen if it changed?

Think about what you would do if things go wrong. Make sure there is someone who will be responsible for calling the emergency services

Make sure you obtain the fireworks from a reputable supplier.

If the display is to be provided by a professional firework display operator make sure that you are clear on who does what especially in the event of an emergency

Ensure you have a suitable place to store the fireworks. Your firework supplier or local authority should be able to advise

If you plan on selling alcohol the bar should be well away from the display site

On the day of the event:

Recheck the site, weather conditions and wind direction

Don't let anyone into the zone where the fireworks will fall – or let anyone other than the display operator or firing team into the firing zone or the safety zone around it

Discourage spectators from bringing drink onto the site

Don't let spectators bring their own fireworks onto the site

If you will also have a bonfire at the display then you should:


  • Check the structure is sound and does not have small children or animals inside it before lighting it
  • Not use petrol or paraffin to light the fire
  • Have only one person responsible for lighting the fire. That person, and any helpers, should wear suitable clothing e.g. a substantial outer garment made of wool or other low-flammable material.
  • Make sure that the person lighting the fire and any helpers know what to do in the event of a burn injury or clothing catching fire
  • Never attempt to relight fireworks. Keep well clear of fireworks that have failed to go off

The morning after:

  • Carefully check and clear the site. Dispose of fireworks safely. They should never be burnt in a confined space (eg a boiler)

Additional points to consider if you are organising a major public display

For major displays, particularly those involving category 4 ‘professional’ fireworks or very large number of spectators, a more robust approach is obviously needed.
  • Plan and mark out the areas for spectators, firing fireworks (and a safety zone around it) as well as an area where the fireworks will fall
  • Think about how people will get into and out of the site. Keep pedestrian and vehicle routes apart if possible. Mark exit routes clearly and ensure they are well lit. Ensure emergency vehicles can get access to the site
  • Appoint enough stewards/marshals. Make sure they understand what they are to do on the night and what they should do in the event of an emergency
  • Contact the emergency services and local authority. If your site is near an airport you may need to contact them
  • Signpost the first aid facilities

Insurance

Although it is not required by health and safety law, if you are holding a public firework display, it’s a good idea to have public liability insurance. Bear in mind that not all companies are used to dealing with this type of event, and as with any other type of insurance, it’s worth shopping around: look for a company that’s used to insuring firework and other public events – you are likely to get much better deal and avoid unsuitable terms and conditions. If you have difficulty with the standard insurance terms, TALK to your insurer and find a way forward; they can be very helpful.