Bristol University Student Accidentally Made Explosive

University buildings were evacuated when a student accidentally made the same highly explosive substance that was used in the Paris terror attacks.

24.02.17

An investigation by Bristol University has found that triacetone triperoxide (TATP) was “unintentionally formed during a routine procedure”.

A cordon was set up around the university’s chemistry block during the incident earlier this month.

No-one was injured and a controlled explosion was carried out.

TATP was used in bomb vests worn by militants in the Paris attacks and later found by Belgian police following attacks in Brussels.

Bristol University said: “We have robust contingency plans in place to deal with incidents of this nature.

“As soon as the presence of TATP was identified the student immediately notified those responsible for laboratory safety in the school.

“A series of actions were then taken which resulted in the precautionary evacuation of the chemistry building and surrounding buildings and the controlled disposal of the substance by the emergency services.”

The university said it was reviewing its procedures to “determine whether additional checks” could be carried out before similar work.

Written by and for the BBC. Click HERE for the original article

Disputes over Health and Safety Executive costs recovery will be settled independently

Disputes raised in relation to the ‘fee for intervention’ (FFI) costs recovery scheme operated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) will in future be resolved by way of a “fully independent” process, the regulator has announced.

gavel

It intends to consult with “relevant stakeholders” on changes to its dispute resolution procedures, which are currently overseen by a panel consisting of two HSE members and one independent person.

The change follows an application for judicial review of the FFI dispute resolution mechanism, brought by facilities management firm OCS Group UK Ltd. In granting permission to proceed with the application, which is due to be heard in May, Mr Justice Kerr said that OCS had an “arguable” case that the regulator was “unlawfully, judge in its own cause when operating the FFI scheme; and that the scheme is either unlawful or being operated in an unlawful manner”.

Health and safety law expert Sean Elson of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said that the introduction of the FFI scheme had changed some duty holders’ attitudes towards the HSE.

“Some have significant reservations regarding the scheme and the way in which it operates,” he said.

“The scheme has been dogged by criticism from the start and many have questioned whether it can continue in its current form, particularly as it has failed to produce anticipated revenues. The HSE appears to have taken account of concerns to some extent at least, and some change now looks almost certain. It will be interesting to see if the opportunity is taken for a wholesale review,” he said.

The FFI scheme came into effect on 1 October 2012 and was designed to shift some of the costs of regulating workplace health and safety from the taxpayer to those responsible for breaches. Those found to be in ‘material breach’ of health and safety laws are now liable for payment of HSE’s related costs, including those incurred as a result of inspection, investigation and taking enforcement action. The duty holder can dispute any fees raised under the scheme.

In January 2014 Martin Temple, who was commissioned by the government to review the work of the HSE, warned that the scheme could have a “detrimental impact” on the public’s perception of the agency’s integrity. Temple, who is now chair of the HSE, has since sought to clarify his comments by stressing that he could accept there were good reasons behind the scheme.

“HSE has always kept the dispute process under review and following a recent application for a judicial review we believe the time is right to move to a dispute process which is completely independent of HSE,” a spokesperson for the regulator said.

Written for Out-Law.com. Click HERE for the original Article

Video warns industry of irreparable hearing damage

A new video aimed to raise awareness of the life-changing consqeuences of hearing damage has been released by Honeywell.

Take Care of Your Hearing is part of a package of tools designed to help employers ensure that industrial workers receive effective hearing protection and training in the workplace.

Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) is the most common permanent injury and, being irreparable and irreversible, it will dramatically affect a person’s quality of life.

“NIHL is entirely preventable, which is why employers must provide proper hearing protection,” says Kjersti Rutlin, hearing conservation manager for Honeywell EMEA.

“Employers have a duty of care and, as part of this, workers need to receive effective training so that they know how to use and fit their hearing protection correctly.

“In doing so, we can avoid incidents that can be detrimental not only to the individual affected but also to their family and friends.”

‘Take Care of your Hearing’ explains how exposure to one extremely high impulse sound can result in permanently reduced hearing ability and tinnitus. The video follows a metal worker who is exposed to a life-changing incident and underlines the importance of effective training in hearing protection.

The video also underpins Honeywell’s new Hearing Conservation Training Programme, which outlines the consequences of noise exposure, explains the importance of using hearing protection devices properly and the key steps to an effective hearing conservation programme.

Written by and for SHP Online Click HERE for the original article and to watch the video.

Modern slavery – be part of the cure, not the problem

More than 45.8 million people are in a form of modern slavery across 167 countries today, according to estimates from the Global Slavery Index.

17.02.17

Over half of that number come from five countries in particular: India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Uzbekistan.

Several of these countries, provide low-cost labour for markets in Western Europe, Japan, North America and Australia.

Businesses are being urged, by Arco, a leading safety company in the UK, to ask suppliers within their supply chain about their ethical assurance measures.

In particular, they are urging to question due diligence processes in relation to slavery and human trafficking in their business and supply chains.

Arco has created a short video raising awareness of Modern Day Slavery, speaking on behalf of people bound by the international crime.

Arco, which was the first distributor to become a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative in 2007, has made a number of recommendations to businesses who buy safety equipment, in order to raise awareness and guide businesses to ensure ethical compliance:

  •  Ask suppliers about their supply chain and the factories manufacturing their products and services.
  • Ask suppliers about their ethical policy and due diligence processes.
  • Ask to see and have explained a supplier’s public statement any company that has a UK turnover greater than £36m and falls under the Modern Slavery Act is obliged to publish a statement,
  • Be sure about your own supply chain by using suppliers that are members of the Ethical Trading Initiative or equivalent organisations.
  • By working with suppliers with a robust ethical strategy, the task of risk assessing the supply chain is simplified and provides assurance that you are working with businesses that you can trust to do the utmost they can to address this issue.

Danny Hobson, Ethical and Quality Improvement Manager at Arco, says: “Arco takes its responsibilities very seriously and that is why we continue to develop and improve our ethical sourcing strategy.

“We welcome the introduction of the Modern Slavery act and the emphasis that this will put on transparency in the supply chains throughout the safety industry.

“Through collaboration and with each business taking responsibility then we can make a real difference in protecting the most vulnerable workers and improving worker welfare.”

Hobson concludes: “It’s important that companies have detailed awareness of their supply chain and continue to drive improvements where necessary.”

Written by Roz Sanderson for SHPOnline. Click HERE for the full original Article and to watch the video

Plumber wins workers’ rights battle against Pimlico Plumbers

A plumber has won a legal battle for working rights in the latest significant court ruling over freelance operations in the modern workplace.

Gary Smith wanted to reduce his working days at Pimlico Plumbers following a heart attack.

15.02.17

The Court of Appeal agreed with a tribunal that said he was entitled to basic workers’ rights although he was technically self-employed.

The decision is the latest to side with workers in a flexible workforce.

This is the highest court to consider such a case and the ruling will now be closely read by others with similar disputes, many of whom will work for businesses in the so-called “gig” economy such as Uber drivers.

The case is about the distinction between Mr Smith’s status as either a self-employed contractor or a worker for the company.

He was VAT-registered, and paying tax on a self-employed basis, but worked solely for Pimlico Plumbers for six years.

After he suffered a heart attack in 2010, Mr Smith, from Kent, wanted to cut the five-day week, which he had been signed up to work with the firm, to three.

However, the firm refused and took away his branded van, which he had hired. He claims he was dismissed.

He argued that he was entitled to basic workers’ rights – which would include the national minimum wage and paid holiday and the ability to bring discrimination claims.

A previous employment tribunal found that the plumbers were workers – but not employees. The Court of Appeal has agreed with that decision, dismissing Pimlico Plumbers’ appeal.

Being given the status as workers means that they would be entitled to more rights than would be the case if they were self-employed and taking on work on totally freelance basis.

Charlie Mullins, the founder of London-based Pimlico Plumbers, said that plumbers were hired on the basis that they were self-employed, provided their own materials, and did not have workers’ benefits, but were paid significantly more as a result. He said Mr Smith was paid £80,000.

After the ruling, Mr Mullins welcomed the clarity offered by the courts and said that he had already changed contracts with those who worked on a self-employed basis.

“Like our plumbing, now our contracts are watertight,” he said.

He said the firm wanted Mr Smith to work for five days and that it was “a shame that we could not continue with his services”.

Mr Mullins said he would be talking to his lawyers but it was likely that he would take the case to the Supreme Court.

Mr Smith’s solicitor Jacqueline McGuigan said that the decision was “huge” and was a “resounding victory” for her client.

She said Mr Smith was “tightly controlled” by Pimlico Plumbers and unable to work for anyone else.

She added that the case had clarified the different models of working that existed and so would have a wider impact in relation to other cases.

Implications

However, there is a note of caution in the ruling from one of the Court of Appeal judges in this case.

“Although employment lawyers will inevitably be interested in this case – the question of when a relationship is genuinely casual being a very live one at present – they should be careful about trying to draw any very general conclusions from it,” said Lord Justice Underhill.

The government has commissioned four experts, led by Mathew Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society for the Arts, to look into the issue of workers’ rights in the “gig” economy.

The review is addressing questions of job security, pension, holiday and parental leave rights. It is also looking at “employer freedoms and obligations”.

A spokesman for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said: “We are determined to make sure our employment rules keep up to date to reflect new ways of working, and that is why the government asked Matthew Taylor to conduct an independent review into modern working practices.”

Written by and for the BBC. for the full original article please click HERE.

Box Manufacturer Escapes £2.5m Fine After Exposing Workers To Unprotected Electrics

A packaging manufacturer has been served a reduced £297,000 fine after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector uncovered poor, longstanding practices involving electrics and machine guarding at the company’s premises in Northfleet in Kent during September 2014.

13.02.17

Under the sentencing guidelines the court could have set the penalty as high as £2.5m but the company’s poor trading position and swift remedial action led to a more lenient sentence.

On 18 September 2014, HSE inspector Robert Hassell visited the cardboard box maker W E Roberts (Corrugated)’s Northfleet premises after the company’s former health and safety officer tipped off the executive to poor safety practices. On arrival, the manufacturer’s then current health and safety manager backed up the complaint and Hassell served eight enforcement notices after identifying problems with machine guarding and the storage of materials.

“I spoke to the director about what I had found and how disappointed I was because they have a history with us and they should have been better,” explained Hassell.

On 19 February 2013, the HSE had served the company with an improvement notice for failing to manage the risks from asbestos in the premises. The company complied with the notice on 26 April that year.

Hassell returned to the premises on 25 September 2014 with an HSE electrical specialist and uncovered further machinery guarding issues and potentially fatal electrical safety failings. He served eight more notices.

 

The breaches included unsecured cabinet doors that exposed unprotected three-phase electrical conductors in a switch room that was open at the time of inspection; a damaged and open guard on the corrugator and an open door in the corrugator, which contained unprotected three-phase electrical conductors on a control. They found five other panels in a similar condition.

“The specialist’s report said, ‘if you touch three-phase electrics, you’ve not got a lot of chance of coming out of it [alive]’,” Hassell told IOSH Magazine.

As Hassell was leaving the premises, he discovered that an external consultant who specialised in corrugated machinery guarding had been on the site on 8 January 2014. “I got his report and his photos and a lot of my notices reflected the recommendations he’d made for improvements,” added Hassell.

“He’d emailed his recommendations through to the two existing health and safety managers and the director in January along with some industry guidance on corrugator safety so they were fully aware of what was required.”

W E Roberts complied with the prohibition notices after the first visit and had started to act on the improvement notices.

 

On 13 and 14 October 2014, the HSE invited the company, the director and another manager to provide written submissions, which were returned on 2 April 2015.

“I was looking to progress [the prosecution] with the director and the company because the director had received the information directly and had done nothing [to act on the specialist’s recommendations],” said Hassell.

After receiving the report from the HSE electrical specialist on 10 July 2015, he received approval to pursue a prosecution case against the director and company on 12 October 2015.

W E Roberts (Corrugated) requested an adjournment to the original hearing at Medway Magistrates Court in January 2016. At the next hearing on 9 February, the company made an early guilty plea, but the director denied the charges.

“This made things a bit more complicated,” said Hassell. “Also, the adjournment meant it kicked over into the new date for the sentencing guidelines … It meant that it couldn’t stay in the Magistrates’ Court because the offences happened before 12 March 2015. Before then, Magistrates can only fine up to £20,000; their unlimited powers only count for offences committed after 12 March 2015 so the case had to go up [to the Crown Court].”

Hassell explained that the prosecution had to weigh up whether a case against the director was in the public’s interest. “The company agreed to extend the basis of plea to encompass some of the issues which we were charging the director with,” he explained. “So, we were guaranteed a reasonable outcome against the company and ceased action against the director.”

W E Roberts (Corrugated) of Boyne Park, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, pleaded guilty to breaching regulation 11 of the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998; regulation 4(2) of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989; and regulation 5(1) of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. The company employs around 80 staff, including nightshift workers, and the prosecution argued they had been put at risk by the poor electrical and machinery guarding standards.

After the director charge was dropped in August 2016, the case was heard at Maidstone Crown Court on 30 January by H H J McDonald who determined that the company’s culpability was high, harm category 1 – since the seriousness of harm was Level A with a high likelihood of harm.

 

W E Roberts (Corrugated) had an annual turnover of £13m, placing the manufacturer in the lower end of the medium range for a starting fine.

“There is no decided case to indicate what the judge should do but we agreed with the defence that he should look towards the lower end of that scale because it seemed harsh to fine the company £2.5m [the top of the category range for high culpability],” said Hassell.

“They could have had a £49m turnover [and still faced the same level of penalty] and also the company isn’t trading very well … The judge did consider [their financial situation]. The fine has to be proportionate to the means. They are technically insolvent but they are trying to trade their way out.

The company was fined £297,000 and asked to pay costs of £14,180.

 

Hassell said that the judge’s lenient penalty reflected the company’s financial situation and the improvement measures made at the premises. W E Roberts (Corrugated) have recruited a corrugator specialist to manage health and safety on-site. It has complied with all of the notices issued, which has improved overall management on-site, and trained individual managers to take responsibility for safety in their departments.

“I have told them that they are due a full inspection because we always follow up within a year of a prosecution to look around,” concluded Hassell. “Hopefully it will be fine. There’s a lot going on and there’s dangerous equipment, so we will take it as we find it.”

Written by Nick Warburton for the IOSH Magazine. Click HERE to be taken to the original article and updates. 

Mental Health Focus: What Is The Construction Industry Helpline?

10.02.17

Who is the helpline aimed at?

Quite simply the Construction Industry Helpline is there for any construction worker and their family.

From steel fixer to surveyor or ground worker and plant hire operator to architect, this 24/7 helpline is always there as a safety net for everyone in the construction community.

The industry has a high proportion of self employed and subcontracted labour and there are very few large companies that directly employ people to fulfil major construction contracts.

Those individuals lucky to be employed directly by a major contractor often have access to an employee assistance programme (EAP). However, for the vast majority the opportunity to access an employee assistance programme is non-existent. Thanks to the generosity of the construction industry our charity can provide a basic EAP for everyone.

We deliver emergency financial aid for families in poverty as a consequence of an accident, illness or fatality of a construction worker.

We also provide assistance to those requiring support on issues such as stress, anxiety, addiction and depression as well as taxation and legal advice which can often be complicated and difficult to understand.

This helpline is not only for current workers, we also support past and retired workers that have done their bit for our industry, whether they were working on highways, railways or buildings.

 

Working in construction you are six times more likely to die from suicide than from a fall from height. What do you think it is about the industry that seems to place so much pressure on workers?

Mental health or inner wellbeing and resilience is a very new area for the industry to tackle.

Sixty years ago the industry lost over 200 people a year due to accidents on site and thanks to a huge focus on safety this number is down to on average 40 a year. This is still 40 too many and I am sure the safety record will continue to improve.

However, though extrapolation of the statistics relating to suicide there could be somewhere in the region of 250 – 500 male suicides a year of workers in construction. Along with the very recent public support from the royal family and the prime minister, the industry has now got this issue firmly in its sights and we will see an accelerated programme of initiatives to understand, identify and address the underlying problems manifesting in the individual’s state of mind that might lead to a potential suicide.

The Health in Construction Leadership Group is a relatively new organisation launched last year to focus on health and as its name suggests it was set up to lead the industry initiatives to tackle these problems. It is vitally important that we stick together as an industry to put in place robust programmes that can be implemented from the largest to the smallest of operators.

However, this is no easy task as the culture of construction is very macho and it will take some time for individuals to feel comfortable about declaring vulnerability and seek help without being judged.

Work has already started and organisations like Network Rail have already deployed a series of educational videos that demonstrate how individuals can confront mental health problems in the workplace.

 

What sort of issues concerning mental health do people tend to be seeking help and advice for?

Mental health is multi-faceted and complex. We can easily have somebody present themselves to our helpline as needing financial support or debt advice but underlying this practical problem is depression and anxiety, this then could affect their work through a lack of concentration while operating machinery.

Ultimately an individual’s problem with money could inadvertently cause a serious accident at work. We will never be able to directly quantify the impact of our helpline and other programmes in this area are making but I think everyone can see the common sense in making sure we do as much as possible to give everyone practical help and coping strategies for their mental health issues.

 

What more can managers do to make sure they are approachable and open to discussions about mental health?

 Cultural change is critical to creating an environment where anyone in our industry, no matter what their job function and especially men, can declare they are feeling anxious, stressed or depressed within themselves or about a situation that they are confronted with.

Then after they have mustered up the courage to declare they are not coping, it is how this is handled that will lead to ultimate success. Whether it is through our helpline or via a work colleague on site, this information needs to be responded to in the appropriate manner and we need to give that individual access to tools and services to improve their inner well being and resilience.

As a charity we are working with Mates in Mind, an initiative coming out of the Health in Construction Leadership Team that has harnessed the knowledge of MIND, Mental Health First Aid and the Samaritans along with input from an Australian programme called Mates in Construction to deliver an education programme to upskill volunteers on construction sites to identify, engage and help workers on site through mental health issues.

These Mental Health First Aiders will be the local physical access point to help. However, should an individual wish to keep the support they need at arms length, then we are also working with Building Site to Boardroom (BS2B).

This is an online educational programme based on the key principles of mindfulness to equip individuals with coping strategies to some of the underlying mental health issue of  anxiety, stress and depression. The educational assets can be accessed via a smartphone or a computer and are fully hones to the construction industry.  Our charity will be providing the 24/7 helpline to both these projects.

 

What can the industry do to help support this service and ensure workers always have somewhere to turn for help and advice?

Our charity has been in operation for over 60 years delivering welfare and benevolent support to our industry. We receive no public funding and rely totally on the generosity of the industry to help its own.

Mental health is an area that we are extremely concerned about and we look forward to collaborating with many agencies and other charities to weald together innovative and practical solutions to support our workforce.

Thanks to Considerate Constructors our Construction Industry Helpline poster has been distributed to over 9,000 construction sites. We now need the underlying educational programmes to encourage our workforce to see that declaring a weakness is actually a sign of strength.

Our construction industry is well known for delivering training and developing specialist tools to overcome practical infrastructure construction problems.

In the long term, I am equally enthused that our industry will use this problem solving ability to address the infrastructure problems of the mind.

Written by Bill Hill for SHPOnline. Click HERE to read the original article. If you feel you need additional support please do contact the helpline.

Australian Man Trapped In Pond With Nose Just Above Water

An Australian man has survived spending hours struggling to keep his nose above water after his excavator rolled into a waterhole.

08.02.17

Daniel Miller, 45, had been riding the machine at his remote property 300km (180 miles) north of Sydney.

When the edge of the dam gave way, the farmer was pinned down by a bar on the three-tonne excavator.

Mr Miller said he adopted a yoga pose – arching his back for air – until a neighbour 500m away heard him shouting.

“I was trapped and had to keep my head up above water using my arms, I guess it was the cobra position,” he told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.

“I’m not a yogi but I guess you could say yoga saved my life. That and the will to live.”

Rescue crews said the ordeal on Tuesday lasted two hours, but Mr Miller’s wife, Saimaa, wrote on Facebook it was five hours.

Mr Miller said he spent “the whole time” thinking about returning to his wife and their two young children.

Police chief inspector Neil Stephens said only Mr Miller’s nose and forehead were above the water.

“He’s been extremely lucky to survive,” he told Nine News.

Firefighters drained some mud and water before wading in to free Mr Miller.

“How he kept his back arched with his nose above the waterline was quite incredible for that amount of time,” said Fire and Rescue New South Wales deputy captain Steve Howard.

‘Sheer mental strength’

Mr Miller was taken by helicopter to a hospital in the nearby city of Newcastle, where he was treated for hypothermia and minor back injuries.

“Dan is OK!” Ms Miller wrote online.

“He was trapped… with the weight of his excavator on his back, and with the boggy dam ground below him slowly slipping away.

“It was literally sheer mental strength and determination to survive that got him through. As well as being fit, strong and healthy. Nothing to do with luck.

“Legendary effort from a legendary man.”

Written by and for the BBC. Click HERE to be taken to the original article and to watch the video

Amanda Telfer’s Mayfair Window Death ‘Avoidable’

The death of a lawyer crushed by three window frames that weighed more than half a tonne could have been prevented, the Old Bailey has heard.

Amanda Telfer, 43, was killed when the frames fell on her as she walked past a building site in Hanover Square, Mayfair, London, on 30 August 2012.

06.02.17

Four people and three companies deny a total of 13 charges over her death.

The frames had been left unprotected and unrestrained leaning against a wall after being delivered the previous day.

Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said builders were not ready to install the frames but that they were delivered anyway.

He said it was “obvious to anyone” that the heavy frames, which together weighed 1,444lb (655kg), carried a “clear and serious risk of death”, including to those walking past.

Mr Atkinson told the court: “There were a series of obvious and, in many cases, straightforward steps that could have been taken to avoid that risk, ranging from cancellation, delay, refusal of delivery on the one hand, to the storage, the use of straps and barriers.

“None were taken by any of the defendants and Amanda Telfer died as a result.”

Damian Lakin-Hall, 50, from Cobham, Surrey, Claire Gordon, 36, from Leeds, and 64-year-old Kelvin Adsett – also known as Kelvin Schultz – from, Slough, Berkshire, deny manslaughter and health and safety breaches.

Steven Rogers, 62, from Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, pleaded not guilty to a single charge of failure to take reasonable care for safety while at work as an employee of Westgreen Construction.

IS Europe of Slough, Westgreen Construction, of Richmond in Surrey, and Drawn Metal of Leeds, also deny health and safety charges.

Written by and for the BBC. Click HERE to be taken to the original article

University Fined £400k After Experiment Nearly Kills Students

The University of Northumbria at Newcastle has been fined after two students fell seriously ill after a miscalculation in an experiment led to them being admitted to intensive care and requiring dialysis.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how students were learning about the effects of caffeine as part of a sports experiment. Part of the course included a practical exercise where volunteer students would take quantities of caffeine to demonstrate the impact.

03.02.17

Two of the volunteer students drank a solution with 100 times the amount that should have been taken as part of the experiment. They immediately suffered from dizziness, blurred vision, vomiting, shaking and rapid heartbeat. They were rushed to hospital where their conditions were considered life threatening. Dialysis was required to rid their bodies of the excessive levels of caffeine.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that the protocols set out for the experiment were not followed. The instructions were to use 200mg tablets but as they were not available the students were provided with caffeine in a powered form. This created a situation where the students miscalculated the amount of powder to use and overdosed the two volunteers.

University of Northumbria pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and were fined £400,000 and ordered to pay costs of £26,468.22.

HSE inspector Cain Mitchell said: “Procedures where students are given supplements to assess their effect on the body need to be stringent and subject to very careful control. Caffeine is most popularly known as a constituent of coffee but it can be very dangerous and life threatening where pure caffeine powder is consumed.

“The University completely failed to control the risks during these experiments and two young students were made seriously ill which resulted in intensive care treatment for a number of nights. In other reported cases people have died after taking doses which were less than those administered to these two students.

“All organisations who engage in experiments where people are given chemical substances should ensure that the risks are fully identified and strict procedures are devised and followed to ensure that the experiments can be undertaken safely.”

Written by Lauren Applebey for SHPOnline. Click HERE to be taken to the original article.