Week Commencing 31/07/2023 – In The News

That Flaming Cargo Ship Is Loaded With Nearly 500 EVs, Not 25

The prognosis for a fire onboard a cargo ship transporting thousands of cars has taken a turn for the worse, as news has come out that the vessel is carrying far more electric vehicles than initially reported. It worsens the odds of containing the fire and salvaging the ship, which is reportedly at risk of sinking in an ecologically significant area.

Currently situated off the northern coast of the Netherlands is the 653-foot Fremantle Highway, a Panamanian-flagged cargo ship chartered by the Japan-based K Line. According to Reuters, the ship was en route from Germany to Egypt when a fire began “near” one of the EVs in the hold. The blaze spread rapidly, and one of the 24 crew was killed. Seven of the remaining 23 were reportedly injured, but are now receiving medical treatment in the Netherlands.

Initial reports indicated there were only 25 EVs on board, but K Line has now reportedly confirmed the Fremantle Highway is carrying 498 EVs out of 3,857 cars total. (Their brands have not been identified.) A Dutch emergency responder was reportedly heard attributing the fire to an EV battery on TV news channel RTL.
Read more on The Drive website.

Bibby Stockholm: Health and safety worker checks delaying barge taking asylum seekers

A Home Office source tells Sky News problems with a door being fitted incorrectly led to initial setbacks on the Bibby Stockholm – but now the HSE is looking into working practices.

Delays to moving asylum seekers onto the Bibby Stockholm barge are now being caused by checks on working practices, Sky News understands.

A Home Office source confirmed reports that fire safety issues did lead to initial setbacks, saying a door had been put on the wrong way round.

But now that has been fixed, there is another hold up because the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is looking at working practices for port authority workers, they added.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said it believed the vessel was a “death trap”, but Net Zero Secretary Grant Shapps dismissed the claim, telling ITV there was “no reason why it wouldn’t be absolutely safe”.

A government source also accused the union of a “betrayal of our country and the British people”, telling Sky News that their real reason for opposing the barge was “because it suits their political games”.

For more on the delay, visit the Sky News website.

Driver welfare: Are you fit to drive?

In his monthly column, Simon Turner sheds light on the far-reaching implications of driver welfare beyond organisational care, emphasising its direct influence on road safety.

Driver welfare goes beyond the pastoral care good organisations offer to employees – it has a direct effect on road safety.

Driver welfare is a broad term covering both the pastoral duties employers may undertake to support their workforce, and the very specific issues which organisations must manage as part of their health and safety responsibilities.

Most employers like to believe they are supportive of employees’ health and well-being. However, for those who drive professionally there are several physical and mental factors which have a direct impact upon their road safety. These issues tend to intersect, eg drivers who are chronically tired will tend towards carbs-based foods, lower mood, and other potential health problems.

Marcus de Guingand, Managing Director of Third Pillar of Health, says: “Organisations who go beyond basic controls for fatigue, such as drivers’ hours regulations, and proactively address the topic are likely to see significant benefits. Those regulations have some merit but they are a very poor control against the myriad of issues that could be causing driver fatigue.”

Learn more on the SHP website.

Indefinite CE marking use extension announced

The department for Business and Trade (DBT) has announced its intention to indefinitely extend the use of CE marking for businesses, applying to 18 regulations owned by DBT.

This comes as part of a wider package of smarter regulations designed to ease business burdens and help grow the economy by cutting barriers and red tape. Following extensive engagement with industry, British firms will be able to continue the use of CE marking alongside UKCA.

The Business Secretary acted urgently on this issue, to prevent a cliff-edge moment in December 2024 when UKCA was set for entry. This intervention will ensure businesses no longer face uncertainty over the regulations and can cut back on unnecessary costs freeing them up to focus on innovation and growth.

Business Minister Kevin Hollinrake said, “The Government is tackling red tape, cutting burdens for business, and creating certainty for firms – we have listened to industry, and we are taking action to deliver.

By extending CE marking use across the UK, firms can focus their time and money on creating jobs and growing the economy.

For more on the extension, visit the HSM website.

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