Week Commencing 19/04/2021 – In The News

UK Sets Radical New Climate Change Commitments

What Would Be Required to Hit UK Climate Change Targets graphic, including illustrations representing electric cars, low carbon heating, renewable electricity and less meat and dairy. The Government has announced more radical climate change commitments which will see the UK aim to cut carbon emissions by 78% by 2035, bringing forward the current target by 15 years.

Hitting the targets would require:

  1. More electric cars
  2. Low-carbon heating
  3. Renewable electricity
  4. For many, cutting down on meat and dairy

In addition, for the first time, climate law will be extended to cover international aviation and shipping. If these commitments, which are to become law, are achieved it would be a world-leading position.

Read more from the BBC.

Building Contractor and Clients Fined After Numerous Safety Breaches

Workers on a construction site.

The clients and principal contractor of a construction project have been fined and sentenced following numerous serious health and safety failings.

The companies were involved in the construction of two semi-detached houses in Essex. Health and safety concerns were raised by members of the public and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) visited the site on five separate occasions between 26 July 2017 and 23 March 2018. They identified ongoing health and safety breaches relating to work at height, site welfare and security, as well as an accumulation of domestic and construction waste on site. There were also reports that bricks had fallen from the scaffold, and the building’s gable end wall apex section had at one point collapsed onto the neighbouring property.

Despite HSE serving a number of enforcement notices and notification of contravention letters, serious breaches of health and safety law continued and there was a failure to comply with the enforcement notices.

The companies hit with varying amounts of fines as well as custodial sentences and electronic curfews.

Read more about the safety failings from the HSE’s press release.

Driver Stress Increases Following Year of Lockdown

Graphic showing the results of research into driver stress following a year of lockdownNew research from road safety charity Brake, and insurer Direct Line, has revealed that stress and anger behind the wheel has increased since the first national lockdown, in March 2020, and that drivers themselves admit that these negative moods are having a detrimental effect on their driving behaviour.

The research found that in March of this year:

  • 9 in 10 drivers admitted to feeling stressed or angry when behind the wheel (an increase of 6% compared to last year)

  • More than 1 in 10 drivers now say they feel stressed or angry every time they are behind the wheel (an increase of 3% compared to last year)

  • More than half of drivers admitting these feelings have an impact on their driving behaviour (such as braking and accelerating more harshly, driving faster and being less focused)

Brake advises the following steps when feeling stressed or frustrated behind the wheel:

  • Focus on calm, controlled breathing, which can help release muscular tension and relieve stress.
  • Plan routes carefully and allow plenty of time for the journey to avoid feeling pressured to rush.
  • Drive at appropriate speeds for the road environment and avoid overtaking unless absolutely necessary, to reduce feelings of tension.
  • Have something to eat before setting off, as hunger can affect concentration. However, do not eat at the wheel as this could distract from driving.
  • Consider alternatives to driving, such as walking, cycling, or public transport, as these may help you to arrive feeling calmer and more refreshed.

Read more about the research from SHPOnline.

Company Fined After Worker Suffers Multiple Serious Injuries

Wood texture

A specialist construction company has been fined after a worker was injured when a number of wooden floor panels fell on him at an industrial unit in London.

On 11 September 2018, a steelworker employed by Mr Mezzanine Limited was working beneath a partially constructed mezzanine floor when several panels, each weighing 38 kg, fell from the edge on to him. He was struck repeatedly and sustained serious injuries which included multiple fractures of his skull, spine, legs and 11 ribs. He has not returned to work.

An investigation by the HSE found the company had been contracted to install a mezzanine floor in the unit. They failed to properly plan or supervise the work, which resulted in a lack of exclusion zones or measures to prevent the panels from falling.

Mr Mezzanine Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 4(1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005. They were fined £16,000 and ordered to pay £7,284 costs.

Read more on the case from the HSE.