Week Commencing 05/02/2024 – In The News

Wood dust failures lands £15k fine

A manufacturing company has been fined £15,000 after exposing its own workers to wood dust and failing to comply with two improvement notices.

Wood dust can cause serious and often irreversible health problems, including sino-nasal cancer, asthma and dermatitis. Employers have a legal responsibility to prevent or adequately control exposure in the workplace.

After concerns were raised to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), inspectors from the workplace regulator went to Billy Davidson NV Stables Limited’s premises in Wingate, Durham on 17 June 2022. As a result, notices were served on the firm requiring it to undertake an examination of the local exhaust ventilation (LEV) system fitted to a chop saw and for failing to control exposure to wood dust from the use of a circular table saw.

Read more on the HSM website.

North Somerset residents to receive hangers about lithium battery disposal

Bin hangers explaining how to safely dispose of batteries, vapes and gas canisters are to be distributed from Monday.

North Somerset Council and Avon Fire and Rescue Service will issue the hangers to 102,000 properties.

It comes after three fires broke out in the area in 2023, all believed to have been caused by batteries.

Councillor Annemieke Waite said the “deeply important” campaign should help to keep people safe.

Although the lithium-ion batteries which are found in many everyday household items – including phones, laptops and vapes – are not dangerous when used properly, they can be a significant risk if they are not disposed of correctly.

Read more about the scheme on the BBC website.

HSE report calls for limit on the use of fire extinguishing foams that contain PFAS

A new Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report recommends limiting the use of Poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) or ‘forever chemicals’ which are found in the foams that firefighters use to extinguish fires.

In what has been described as being ‘the most comprehensive British analysis’ of these slow to degrade chemicals, the report has identified the most common and most harmful uses of PFAS and sets out control measures to improve their management.

Published on 4 April under the UK REACH framework, the HSE’s Analysis of the most appropriate regulatory management options (RMOA)  report also recommends limiting the use of PFAS in textiles, furniture and cleaning products.

As the report notes, PFAS are a ‘broad class of more than 9,000 synthetic, fluorinated organic chemicals’, which can remain in the environment for decades. Not only are they very persistent chemicals, but they are used across hundreds of global products posing a major challenge for those who have to manage them.

‘Due to PFAS being detected in human blood samples, there has been growing concern about both widespread environmental contamination and human health risks from PFAS exposure,’ notes the report.

The HSE, which is the regulator for UK REACH, has worked closely with the Environment Agency to gather information and evidence on how PFAS are used in Britain and to identify what the priorities for action should be, so that the regulators can better control the exposure to people and the environment.

The joint regulatory management options analysis (RMOA) is a preliminary step that is used in the UK REACH framework.

For more on the report, visit the IOSH Magazine website.

The planning, conduct and evaluation of emergency exercises in rail transport

Dr Tony Cash, an independent chartered Engineer and International President of the Rail Industry Fire Association sets out top considerations for the planning, design and conduct of major emergency exercises in rail transport.

He highlights why it’s crucial to hold these fire safety exercises and the importance of effective command and control to bring incidents or accidents to a timely conclusion.

Emergency exercises

An emergency exercise is a simulation of an emergency situation, accident or incident.

Exercises have 3 main purposes:

  • to validate plans (validation)
  • to develop staff competencies and provide practice in carrying out specific roles in the plans (training)
  • to test well-established procedures (testing)

For more, visit the SHP website.

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