Health & Safety Newsletter May 2017

Are your stair barriers safe?

The minimum required stairway protection is that described in the Approved Code of Practise (ACoP) to the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

Tip 1. Check that your staircase meets the minimum standard in the ACoP: the open side(s) must have a rail at 900mm or higher; plus a lower rail. You must also have one handrail, though the upper rail of the barrier usually doubles as a handrail.
Tip 2. There should be handrails on both sides if there’s a particular risk of falling, e.g. narrow treads or heavy usage. You may need a handrail down the middle of a stairway if it is especially wide.

Fee For Intervention

What is FFI?

Fee for intervention is the process under which the HSE charges for its inspectors’ time when it uncovers material breaches of legislation. The HSE says that in 2015/16 it invoiced £14.7 million, covering a high proportion of its costs for regulatory work. The current rate is £129 per hour and the average bill is nearly £700. Inevitably this is unpopular with those on the receiving end and complaints are sometimes made.

Thermal Comfort

Is there a maximum temperature?

Q. As soon as we had a warm day this year one of our staff said that their workplace was too hot and “in breach of safety regulations”. We dismissed their argument but are we on safe grounds to do so?
A. There isn’t a maximum workplace temperature. The legal position is that the workplace temperature must be “reasonable”. This will vary depending on the type of work that’s being completed and the level of physicality involved.

Water provider sentenced over catchment operator’s drowning

A South West water provider has been fined £1.8m after it failed to properly risk assess a routine maintenance task that an employee was carrying out when he drowned. 

The employee was working on the sand filtration unit at a water facility at Falmouth Docks on 30 December 2013, Truro Crown Court was told, when he slipped and fell into the tank.

The water supplier dispatched a colleague to the site four and a half hours later, in response to its lone worker alert system. He found the employee floating face-down in the water.  
HSE inspector Georgina Speake said: “This tragic case could have been prevented if the company had reduced the size of the hatch used to access the sand filters, and properly considered hazards of the operations, including how close the worker was to the water.” 

The water provider, which provides services to Cornwall, Devon and some parts of Dorset and Somerset, pleaded guilty to breaching s 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act. It must also pay £41,608 costs.

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