Assignment duty to assess risks in the

Assignment
1 – Health and Safety Legislation and Responsibilities.

 

Comparing
both Plymouth City College and Babcock, Plymouth Dockyard as two engineering
environments in regard to current health and safety legislation, looking into
the responsibilities of both employees/students and employers. Additionally,
exploring the penalties given if the employers do not abide by these laws.   

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Employees and employers have a duty of care to follow the ‘Health and Safety at Work Act 1974’ when in an engineering
environment. This entails a legal responsibility
to make sure of your own safety and others, working with or around you. This
also involves others that may be affected by what you’re doing (Hse.gov.uk,
2017). It is an employer’s duty
under health and safety law to protect the health, safety and welfare of both
their employees and others, who might be affected by their business. Everything
reasonably practicable must be done by the employer to accomplish this.
Furthermore, employers must also give adequate information on the risks in the
workplace, how you’re protected from them, and must also train you on how to
deal with said risks if and when they arise. Again, by law, the employer has
the duty to assess risks in the workplace and carry out risks assessments which
address all potential risks that could cause harm. Additionally, employers must
consult all employees on health and safety issues either directly or through a
safety representative that is either selected by the employees or appointed by
a trade union (Hse.gov.uk, 2017). Employees/students must apply the appropriate
behaviour and be attentive in the workplace, through both training and working
roles. They also have a duty of care of their own health and safety and others
who may be affected by their actions. Along with this they must not tamper with
any equipment, such as PPE, that has been provided to protect them. To
safeguard the welfare of people at work several legislations have been put in
place:

‘Management of Health and
Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (as amended in 2003)’ (Hse.gov.uk, 2017) this
requires employers to assess risks and be aware of all the ‘main’ risks in the
workplace, as well as knowing what steps to take to manage them responsibly. It
also aids the employer implement emergency procedures, and ensures all employees
have been sufficiently trained.  
Furthermore, everything reasonably practicable needs to be done to
protect people using the workplace. Risk assessments also need to be produced
and completed which can prevent the risks from happening by using their span on
authority and informing every one of the potential risks. Students/employees
must ensure they work under these regulations at all times by following
procedures such as risk assessments and the listening to all given
training.    

 

‘Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992 (as amended)’ (Hse.gov.uk,
2017) MHOR is in place to reduce
musculoskeletal disorders due to them being the most commonly reported work-related
illness (Hse.gov.uk, 2017). MHOR places responsibilities on the employers in
regards to their employees. The employer must also avoid the need for his
employees to undertake any manual handling operations at work which involve a
risk of injury. If not possible, a suitable assessment of the risks must be
completed that shows all appropriate steps to be taken which reduces the risk
of injury as much as possible. The student/employee however, must use both
initiative and common sense when it comes to lifting in regards to the weight
of an object and how the go about carrying it. Employees have to take into
consideration their own safety and welfare. 

 

‘Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998’ (Hse.gov.uk,
2017) LOLER is a collections of
regulations that enforce duties to employers who own lifting equipment. All lifting
involving lifting equipment must be planned, supervised and conducted in a safe
manner. These regulations also require all equipment to be ‘fit for purpose, appropriate for the task and suitably marked.’ The
equipment also has to be inspected, and records are kept of said inspections to
note any defects or problems with the equipment. This is then passed onto the
employer or whoever is responsible for the equipment so the appropriate actions
can be taken e.g. replacing the defect equipment. Students/employees must
comply by these regulations by only using lifting equipment if the correct
training (training courses can also be given to employees depending on the
equipment) and authorisation has been given, they also must be wearing all
required PPE for the task they are undertaking. The regulations give steps on
how to correctly undertake lifting operations:

 

–         
Plan
properly

–         
Using
competent people

–         
Supervise
them appropriately

–         
Ensure
the task is carried out in a safe manner  

 

‘Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992’ (Hse.gov.uk,
2017) this covers a wide range of basic health, safety and welfare issues and
apply to most workplaces. This regulation ensures that workplaces meet the
health, safety and welfare of each employee including people with disabilities
(ramp access etc.) Employers have to ensure their workplace complies with the
regulations and any required facilities, such as wash stations, toilets etc.
are provided. The regulations have an extensive list that has to be obeyed by
the employer, it includes but is not limited to: ‘Maintenance of workplace, and of equipment, devices and systems,
Ventilation, Temperature in indoor workplaces, Lighting, Cleanliness and waste
materials, Room dimensions and space, Workstations and seating, Condition of
floors and traffic routes, Falls or falling objects, Windows and transparent or
translucent doors, gates and walls.’ This regulation can provide the
employer with a useful aid in ensuring the workplace meets these regulations
and is suitable for employees to work. Similarly, students/employees can use
these regulations as a guide to their ‘rights’ in terms of equipment or
facilities provided e.g. on site toilets. 
  

 

‘Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations 2002’ (Hse.gov.uk,
2017) COSHH gives requirements on
how to prevent or reduce employee’s exposure to hazardous substances.
Furthermore, COSHH requires employers to control the substances correctly, and
store them. Employers can also use given steps to prevent/reduce employee’s
exposure by:

 

–         
Finding
the hazardous

–         
Risk
assessments

–         
Control
measures

–         
Information/instructions
given out

 

Substances hazardous to
health come in many forms including: Chemicals, fumes, dusts and vapours. There
are many control measures that can be taken in regards to COSHH such as the processes
used to discard the substances down to how they are stored. COSHH cupboards are
a very common measure used by employers as they safely store hazardous
substances in a lockable protected cupboard that prevents anyone from accessing
the substances within. Students/employees must follow this regulation by only
using hazardous substances if given the correct training on how to do so and guidance.
 

 

Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations
2013 (RIDDOR) (Hse.gov.uk, 2017) RIDDOR is the law that requires employers to report all ‘work related’ accidents/near misses
and record them. Employers are also required to create/use an online ‘system’
where both employers/employees can access and report any incidents that take
place in the workplace. Guidance notes and booklets can be given by the employer
so any employee can independently use the system if and when needed. There are
different types of reportable injury:

 

–         
Deaths

–         
Specified
injuries to workers

–         
Injuries
that require the worker to be off work for 7 days or more

–         
Injuries
to non-workers that require treatment at hospital

–         
 

Reporting these
accidents/near misses on the system allow hazards to be prevented by looking at
what caused the previous incidents, and also stop them from causing future accidents.
Student/employees are trusted to use the system and must do so correctly,
explaining exactly what happened so the correct safety measures can be put into
place.

 

‘Personal Protection at Work Regulations 1992’ (Hse.gov.uk,
2017) this regulation requires employers to provide employees with personal protective
clothing for their working activities. PPE is intended to be worn/held to
protect themselves from potential risks in the workplace. PPE can come in many
different types of clothing and equipment; this list includes but is not
limited to: ‘Respiratory, Eye, Hearing,
Hand, Foot, Head, Skin.’ Students/employees are required to wear all
correct PPE for their given task, must not tamper with any PPE given to them,
and report any issues or damages with the PPE so it can be immediately replaced
before any workplace activity is carried out.    

 

‘Work
at Height Regulations 2005’ (Hse.gov.uk, 2017) The purpose of this regulation is to
prevent any injury being caused by falling from a height. Employers are
required to ensure all work that is to be carried out at height is properly
planned and undertaken by ‘competent
people’ with the correct training. As well as this, employers must also
provide employees with all suitable PPE and assess all possible risks with the
task before any work is commenced. Employees also have duties of their own,
they must take care of themselves or anyone that could be effected by their
work.

All of the regulations above apply to both engineering environments (PCC
and Babcock) and are in place to guarantee the safety of student/employees and
people that may enter an employer’s workplace (e.g. a contractor or external
teacher). Both environments are required by law to follow the above regulations
(Legislation.gov.uk, 2017) however, they apply to the two different environments
at different extents. Plymouth City College will use all the above however the
‘Working at Height Regulations 2005’ will not be applicable to students due to
them never having to work at height. Moreover, other regulations such as COSHH
will be more controlled solely down to the limited amount of hazardous
substances being used in the college, this is contradictory of Babcock, where
working at height and handling hazardous substances is much more customary due
to the nature of the work being carried out. Correspondingly, Babcock will have
more safety measures in place in regards to health and safety regulations,
along with more, in depth training to ensure employees are competent in the
required areas.  Due to the nature of the
college, being a learning establishment and educating people from 16+ there are
different aspects to the regulations that may apply. For instance, under the ‘Management of Health and Safety at Work
Regulations 1999’ a young person (under 18) must not be exposed to ‘lack of experience, being unaware of
potential risks, lack of maturity’ (Hse.gov.uk, 2017). This isn’t to say age changes any regulations, as under health and
safety law every employer has to ensure the health and safety of all employees
regardless of age or any disabilities. Employing people under 18 just adds
different measures to the above regulations which further ensure the welfare of
the younger people.  

Breaching the Health and Safety Legislation is criminal offence and can
result in being prosecuted by imprisonment or a fine up to £20,000. There are
different enforcing authorities, the Health and Safety Executive, Health and
Safety Inspectors or even local Environmental Health Officers. Not only this
but health and safety authorities can also issue an improvement notice which
requires the employer to make an improvement in 21 days. As well as this,
authorities can also issue a prohibition notice, which requires an activity to
terminate within a given time limit; in some emergency cases this can be immediately,
essentially a suspension of business. These notices are seen as obligations so
employers must act on these, if not, this can lead to prosecution in the
magistrates or town court (Lawgistics.co.uk, 2017). The HSE is the ‘body’ who
are primarily responsible for regulation enforcement in the workplace
(Hse.gov.uk, 2017). The HSE can also launch investigations into breaches of
health and safety law.  Failure to comply
to health and safety legislations by either Babcock or PCC can be extremely
detrimental in terms of business and employees. Any negative company reputation
shown of either environment sheds a bad image and causes the public to
re-evaluate their options, furthermore, any ‘rival’ then comes into question in
regards to business or place to study (e.g. a future customer may change their
decision and chose a rival company of Babcock due to seeing bad press from a
work related injury). A fine can also really hurt both environments due to the
amount of money the fine can be as well as legal/court costs that may follow.
This can effect job budgets, which can result in losing current and future work
or even result in wage cuts, for both Babcock and PCC. The legislations are in
place to protect all employees or people on site, failing to follow every regulation
can result in loss of employee, whether that be temporary or permanent. moreover,
this can result in legal action being taken, if an employee is harmed due to
the employer being negligent in providing a safe working environment, said
employee can then pursue legal action and sue the employer. As well as this,
any employee harmed whilst working can impact the morale on the other employees,
making them feel uneasy or unsafe at their place of work/study.

  

Incident

In May 2014 Babcock International was prosecuted by the Health &
Safety Executive (HSE) for breaching health and safety regulations (see appendix for ‘Case study 1’).

Three men were exposed to high levels of hand arm vibration (HAV) caused
by using hedge cutters, strimmers and other power tools whilst maintaining the
grounds at HMS Raleigh. Occupational health providers diagnosed all three men
with Hand Arm Vibrations Syndrome (HAVS) or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS). HSE
launched an investigation, which shown Babcock were aware that each worker had
vibration-related conditions or health issues from health surveillance reports
conducted within the company several years prior to the incident. With this
knowledge, Babcock failed to implement control measures to prevent these issues
escalating. Babcock also failed to assess risks faced by their employees and
make suitable arrangements, such as providing alternate tools. The investigation
found that grounds maintenance staff could regularly work eight-hour days using
the same tools throughout.

 

Consequences

The consequences of this breach for the three employees was permanent
damage to their health and a significant impact on their ability to work and
their quality of life. This investigation resulted in Babcock admitting two
breaches of the Control of Vibration at
Work Regulations 2005 and being fined £10,000 in costs. This is all the
information that has been made available; however, the people responsible for
this breach could face loss of employment and or further fines from the HSE. If
serious, the business could face further investigations and potentially
termination of business (temporary or permanent).  

 

Possible solutions

Several solutions could have been implemented to prevent this from
happening. Once the health reports were completed and Babcock were aware of the
health issues of the three staff involved, the availability of the power tools
should have been reduced or a non-vibrating variant should be issued. The
amount of hours working should have been adjusted throughout the week depending
on the amount of time used with vibrating tools. When aware of the conditions
of the employees, the employer could have offered the employees a different
role or responsibility within the business to reduce exposure of vibrations. Babcock
could have also looked back through accident and ill health records to try to
identify any possible patterns emerging (all groundsmen suffering from the same
injury e.g.). Looking back through the records also allows the business to
prevent the any of the previous incidents to happen again (in the same way) as
you can implement safe working practices or provide more suitable PPE (personal
protective equipment) etc.

 

 

Solutions

In wake of this incident, Babcock introduced several procedures to
prevent it happening again to any employee. Firstly, they risk assessed all
electrical and pneumatic tools, furthermore they created an ‘approved tool
catalogue’. The catalogue colour codes every tool according to their associated
vibrations values.

Green = 5.0m/s² (400 points reached in less than 8
hours). These tools carry time limits and control measures unique to each tool.
Every effort should be made to avoid use of red tools wherever possible,
including alternative tools, planning and work methods

If you exceed the daily tool use limit for a red tool, you cannot use
any other vibrating hand tool that day. When adding up exposure points for
multiple tool use, you cannot exceed 400
points per day (24 hours). Furthermore, any tools that are not in the
catalogue must first be approved and assessed by the Occupational Hygiene Team
(OHT), this prevent employees exceeding the safe working time and ensures any
vibration injury/condition does not happen again. 

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