Additional safety issues

This section covers a number of safety issues that do not fit neatly into any of the previous sections in this book.  They are presented in no particular order.

1.1                      Housekeeping

Housekeeping is a term used in relation to how clean and tidy work locations are kept.  It does not always seem like a big issue but 50% of all trip accidents are caused by bad housekeeping.  Other things to consider include leaving flammable materials lying around can cause a fire risk, and clutter can hinder access and egress including during an emergency.  There is a cultural element to housekeeping and people tend to feel safety is more important if their workplace is tidy and well ordered.  To achieve good housekeeping it is necessary to have:

  • Walkways through the workplace that are clear, with no trailing wires or obstructions;
  • Places to put waste materials that are used promptly after waste is produced (e.g. packaging, broken equipment and parts) and emptied as required;
  • Enough room to store tools, equipment and supplies, and for it to be normal practice to return items to the correct store immediately after use.

It is all simple stuff that does not cost any money.  But it can have a big impact on safety and how people perceive the importance of safety.

1.2                      People requiring special consideration

1.2.1                       Women of child bearing age

Unborn and young babies are particularly vulnerable to certain hazards.  Therefore, any workplace where women of child bearing age may be present must assess the risks to unborn and young babies.  It is not good enough to just deal with this when someone announces they are pregnant as a lot of damage can be done in the early weeks of pregnancy, and it must be recognised that a woman may not know she is pregnant at this time.

Particular concerns are where any of these are present or can occur:

  • Working in awkward spaces and workstations;
  • Vibration;
  • Noise;
  • Radiation;
  • Biological agents;
  • Infections;
  • Chemical hazards;
  • Handling drugs and pesticides;
  • Lead;
  • Inadequate facilities (including rest rooms);
  • Excessive working hours (nightwork etc);
  • Unusually stressful work;
  • Exposure to cigarette smoke;
  • High or low temperatures;
  • Lone working;
  • Work at heights;
  • Travelling;
  • Exposure to violence.

Also, it is recognised that expectant and new mothers can suffer from pregnancy related health problems that need to be taken into account.

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to take particular account of risks to new and expectant mothers.  They require risks to be assessed and results made known to all women of child bearing age.

Reference – ‘New and expectant mothers at work’ available free at http://www.hse.gov.uk/mothers/

1.2.2                       Medical conditions and disabilities that can impact on someone’s safety

The health of people can be a significant risk factor for hazardous work.  Problems can arise because a medical condition may be exacerbated by the activity and/or if they do have a problem it may not be easy for them to receive appropriate medical treatment in a timely manner.  Also, medication can have an affect.  These need to be considered in risk assessments.  The following may be an issue for activities involving work at height (especially from a ladder), driving, confined space entry:

  • Recurring dizziness;
  • Epilepsy;
  • Psychiatric conditions (including fear of heights);
  • Heart condition;
  • Severe lung conditions;
  • Alcohol and drug abuse;
  • Significant impaired joint function;
  • Medication that recommends you do not operate machinery could also be a problem;
  • Sight and hearing problems.

When people are working with hazardous substances it is important to consider whether they are more susceptible than most due to a health problem (e.g. eczema, lung problems).

Special attention is required where a condition may impair on someone’s ability to evacuate in an emergency.

Reference – ‘Supplementary Guide – Means of escape for disabled people’ https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/422202/9446_Means_of_Escape_v2_.pdf

1.2.3                       Young people in the workplace

Young people can be at higher risk than others.  The following need to be considered in risk assessments when young people are at work.

  • People are at particular risk of injury in the first six months of a job as they may be unaware of existing or potential risks;
  • Young people may lack experience or maturity or may be unaware of how to raise concerns;
  • They may not have reached physical maturity and therefore lack the strength demanded;
  • They may be eager to impress or please people with whom they work.

A young person’s first employer has an excellent opportunity to instil safe and healthy work in them that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Legislation defines young people as being under the age of 18.  It places restrictions on some activities and the hours they are able to work.

The HSE has a website dedicated to young people at work at http://www.hse.gov.uk/youngpeople/index.htm

1.3                      Working arrangements requiring special consideration

1.3.1                       Lone working

People working alone are not really exposed to any different hazards than if someone else was present, but the risks can be greater and so need to be considered in assessments.  The following may apply to lone workers:

  • If they have an accident or fall ill it may be a long time before they are discovered;
  • They may be more prone to violence;
  • They may be tempted to perform tasks that really require two or more people because there is no one available to help;
  • They may break rules more often because there is no supervision;
  • Some may have psychological problems working alone, and find it stressful.

As a result of a risk assessment it should be possible to determine if it is safe for someone to work alone.  If it is, measures are likely to be required that ensure lone workers do not have health problems that make them unsuitable, provide communication, ensure adequate competence and supervision for normal work and foreseeable emergencies.  There are alarm systems that automatically alert to a ‘man down’ situation, but of course it is important to ensure there is someone to receive and act on any alarm.  Some systems are now available that work via ‘smart’ mobile phones

Reference – ‘Working alone in safety’ available free at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg73.pdf

1.3.2                       Working away from base

People may work at a location away from their main base for some or all of their work (e.g. working from home) or may travel away from base to work (e.g. to visit clients).  In both cases, the problem is that it is more difficult to know what hazards are going to be encountered and hence to assess the risks and implement controls.  Also, travelling is a risk in its own right.

Where people work at a separate location on a regular basis, it should be subject to the same assessments and controls as the normal work space.  If the work is hazardous, the additional controls necessary may make working away from base uneconomic.

Where people visit sites controlled by another organisation it is difficult to impose any further controls.  The employer should take reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety standards at the site are adequate, and to impose restrictions on what the employee can and cannot do.  The employee should be competent in assessing their own risks and know to stop work if they consider it to be unsafe.

There are some steps employers can take to minimise the risk of travelling.  These include making sure vehicles are in good condition, providing driver training (e.g. defensive driving) and planning routes in advance.  Policies for use of mobile phones and other devices (e.g. satellite navigation) should be developed.  Checking an employee’s driving licence, insurance (if using their own vehicle) and medical history including eyesight are reasonable steps that an employer can take to manage the risks of driving for work.

1.3.3                       Violence at work

The potential for violence at work is a risk that needs to be managed.  There are two sources of violence that need to be considered, employees attacking each other and members of the public attacking employees.   People working in health sectors, education, handling cash (retail outlets and cash deliveries) and people in positions of authority (e.g. police) are most at risk, especially if working alone.

Whilst violence is largely unpredictable, there are certain factors that make it more likely. They include:

  • The incentive for violence (e.g. perception that large amounts of money or drugs can be obtained);
  • The perception of the likelihood of getting caught;
  • The potential for conflict (e.g. situations where people may disagree with what is happening, such as when being arrested);
  • Likelihood that people are drunk or have taken drugs.

The job and working environment need to be designed to minimise the opportunities and incentives for violence.  Employees who are at risk need to be trained to deal with it, including recognising warning signs and taking appropriate action.  Arrangements need to be made to summon help when required and to increase deterrents (e.g. CCTV).  Violent incidents should be recorded and investigated in a similar way to accidents, in order to identify trends.

Reference – ‘Violence at work – a guide for employers’ available free at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg69.pdf

1.4                      First aid in the workplace

Even in the least hazardous workplace people can suffer injuries or become ill.  Whatever the cause, it is important that they receive prompt and appropriate attention.  First aid can prevent minor problems becoming worse, and for more serious events, calling an ambulance and getting the casualty to hospital can save lives.

1.4.1                       Making first aid arrangements

As a minimum, any work site must have a suitably stocked first-aid box and an appointed person to take charge of first-aid arrangements.  However, the following may require a higher standard of first aid provision:

  • People working with hazardous substances, tools, machinery, loads or animals;
  • Accidents or cases of ill health experienced in the past;
  • A large number of people employed;
  • Inexperienced workers and people on work experience;
  • Employees with disabilities or special health problems;
  • Premises that are spread out;
  • Shiftwork or out-of-hours working;
  • A workplace remote from emergency medical services;
  • Employees who travel or work alone;
  • Members of the public visiting premises.

1.4.2                       First aid responsibilities

The main responding promptly to all requests for assistance

  • Summoning further help if necessary
  • Providing treatment within the limitations of their competence
  • Looking after the casualty until recovery has taken place or further medical assistance has arrived
  • Reporting details of any treatment provided
  • Undertaking a monthly check of first aid kits and replenishing them as necessary.

A ‘first aider’ is someone who has undergone a training course in administering first aid at work and holds a current first aid at work certificate.  Their main responsibilities are to respond promptly when someone requires assistance, summoning further help if required, looking after the casualty and providing any treatment that that competent to do.

HSE approve training organisations.  There are two types of course:

  1. Emergency First Aid at Work (1 day course);
  2. First Aid at Work (3 day course)

The Emergency First Aid at Work course is a new development implemented in October 2009.  For many companies it will be provided for people who acted as an Appointed Person in the past.  The role of Appointed Person still exists, and may be all that is provided at companies where a risk assessment has identified that trained first aiders are not required.  The role is simply to take charge when someone is injured or falls ill.  They do not receive any first aid training.

People receiving the full training will be required to attend a 2 day requalification course every three years.  HSE strongly advises that companies provide all their trained first aiders with some form of refresher training annually.

Reference – ‘First aid at work – Your questions’ available free at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg214.pdf

1.4.3                       Basic principles of first aid

The priorities in an emergency where someone is injured or has fallen ill are:

  1. Assess the situation, without putting yourself in danger;
  2. Make the area safe;
  3. Assess all casualties to identify any that are unconscious, which would be the highest priority for treatment;
  4. Send for help.

When assessing a casualty the first thing to do is to check their consciousness.  This can be achieved by seeing how they respond when gently shaken by the shoulders and asked loudly ‘Are you all right?’ If there is no response the priorities are to:

  1. Get help;
  2. Open the airway;
  3. Check for breathing,
  4. Take appropriate action

If the casualty is not breathing or their heart has stopped Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) will be required. Injuries requiring particular attention include severe bleeding, broken bones and spinal injuries, burns and eye injuries.

It is good practice to keep records of any first aid administered.  This can assist with any subsequent investigation of the causes of the incident.

Reference – ‘Basic advice on first aid at work’ available free at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg347.pdf

1.4.4                       First aid regulations

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require employers to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to enable first aid to be given to their employees if they are injured or become ill at work.

The Health and Safety (First-Aid) Regulations 1981 require employers to provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities and personnel to enable first aid to be given to employees if they are injured or become ill at work.  These Regulations apply to all workplaces including those with five or fewer employees and to the self-employed.

What is adequate will depend on the circumstances in the workplace. This includes whether trained first aiders are needed, what should be included in a first aid box and if a first aid room is needed.  Employers should carry out an assessment of first aid needs to determine this.

The Regulations do not place a legal obligation on employers to make first aid provision for non-employees such as the public or children in schools.  However, HSE strongly recommends that non-employees are included in a first aid needs assessment and that provision is made for them.

Reference – Approved Code of Practice L74 ’ First aid at work. The Health and safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981’ available free at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/l74.htm

1.1                      Control of High Hazard Industries

Major accidents may give rise to serious injury to people or serious damage to the environment, both close to and further away from the site of the accident.  This has been demonstrated in many accidents that have occurred globally.

Certain industries are recognised as being particularly hazardous.  This can be because of the substances it stores, processes or handles (flammable, explosive, toxic, hazardous to the environment and nuclear).  Or because of the specific nature of the operation (e.g. offshore oil and gas, mines).

Employers or operators working in high hazard industries must demonstrate that they have taken all measures necessary to prevent major accidents and to limit their consequences for human health and the environment.  For the most hazardous operations this is achieved through the development of a comprehensive ‘Safety Report’ or ‘Safety Case.’

There are several regulations that apply to high hazard industries.  They include: