Week Commencing 23/01/2023 – In The News

Research reveals alarming NHS asbestos figures

emergency department building signThe TUC and a group of MPs have warned hundreds of NHS buildings across London still contain asbestos – including hospitals.

The research was carried out by Labour Research Department (LRD) for the TUC and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health.

Asbestos is still the biggest workplace killer according to the Health and Safety Executive, and Britain has the highest rates of mesothelioma cases in the world. But new research reveals that the majority of surveyed NHS buildings – including hospitals, health centres, blood donor clinics and GP surgeries – still contain asbestos more than 23 years since its use was banned in new buildings.

Learn more on the HSM website.

New fire regulations “a significant step forward”

high rise buildingsNew fire regulations which come into force in England on Monday 23 January are “a significant step forward” toward protecting people occupying high-rise buildings, says IOSH.

Under the regulations, people responsible for high-rise blocks of flats must provide fire and rescue services with information to assist them to plan and provide an effective operational response where needed. In all multi-occupied residential buildings, they will also be required to provide residents with fire safety instructions and information on the importance of fire doors.

The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022 are being laid under article 24 of the Fire Safety Order 2005. They will implement many of the recommendations made to the Government in the first phase of the inquiry which followed the Grenfell Tower Fire in London. The regulations will only apply in England.

IOSH, which has called for swift and decisive action on fire safety, is urging people responsible – normally building owners and others in control of premises – to take heed of the new regulations. While the regulations apply to residential buildings, IOSH is urging those in charge of high-rise and multi-occupied buildings and workplaces to take note.

For more, visit the IOSH website.

Digital burnout in the workplace and how to avoid it

woman holding her head looking stressed in front of a computerThe way we work looks very different to the professional landscape of just a few short years ago. For many, remote working is now a part of normal life with 38% of working adults having worked at home at least one day per week in 2022. That is a significant proportion of the population enjoying the freedom and benefits that working from home brings.

There are also plenty of us who have been given work devices that we can use in the office or at home, meaning we are always connected and available to work. But, every rose has its thorn and for all the benefits of remote working and increased connectivity, there are drawbacks people must overcome.

Perhaps the biggest danger to our well-being is digital burnout, with people being available to work for longer and more often than if they are based at home. There are ways we can avoid overexposure to work and avoid digital burnout.

Digital burnout occurs when we are exposed to our screens for too long. Being forced or feeling compelled to stare at your screen for hours at a time can lead to workplace stress. This can manifest itself in various forms such as tiredness or exhaustion, anxiety, a loss of interest in your job or depression and loss of sleep.

Whether you work into the late evenings while at home, skip lunch or open your laptop at the weekends to check in, we are being overwhelmed by work through our digital devices. This can lead to mistakes and lapses in concentration which can range from falling for the latest security vulnerabilities to being short-tempered with colleagues.

Read more about digital burnout and how to prevent it on the SHP website.

£146k fine for company after joiner crushed to death by 20-tonne excavator

excavatorA construction company has been fined £146k after a joiner was crushed and killed by a 20-tonne excavator.

Philip McDonald had been hired by Birch Brothers (Kidderminster) Ltd to assist with the construction of a concrete overflow weir structure at Monks Pond, near Ashbourne in Derbyshire.

The 48-year-old, from Alfreton, was with colleagues on a road above the work area waiting for the excavator to remove sand from trench boxes when it rotated clockwise and crushed him.

Kidderminster Magistrates Court heard that the Principal Contractor, Birch Brothers (Kidderminster) Ltd, had hired in steel fixers and joiners to undertake the work before tragedy struck on 5 September 2017.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the work had not been adequately planned, and no instruction had been given to the digger operator, or to pedestrians who were working in the area. The risks associated with the work had not been adequately assessed either, and there was no segregation of pedestrians and plant in this area of the site.

Learn more on the HSE website.

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