Annual workplace fatality figures for 2019/20

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has  released figures for 2019/20. 

The full annual workplace fatality figures can be found here.

Lowest year on record

The provisional annual data for work-related fatal accidents revealed that 111 workers were fatally injured at work between April 2019 and March 2020.  This is a rate of 0.34 deaths per 100,000 workers and, most importantly, the lowest year on record.   This represents a fall of 38 deaths from the previous year. Coronavirus impact is likely to have accentuated this fall on the economy in the final two months of the year.

In line with previous years’ fatal injury statistics, these figures do not include deaths from occupational disease. Covid-19 infection is therefore not part of these figures and will not feature in fatal injury statistics in subsequent years.

There has been a long-term reduction in the number of annual fatalities.  The number has almost halved in the last 20 years. Aside from the current fall, the number has remained broadly level in recent years.

Spread across industrial sectors

The new figures show the spread of fatal injuries across industrial sectors:

  • 40 fatal injuries to construction workers were recorded, accounting for the largest share. However, over the last five years the number has fluctuated. The annual average for the past five years is 37. The annual average rate over the last five years in construction is around 4 times as high as the all industry rate.
  • 20 fatal injuries to agricultural, forestry and fishing workers were recorded, the lowest level on record. Despite this fall, this sector continues to account for a large share of the annual fatality count. It has the highest rate of fatal injury of all the main industry sectors, around 18 times as high as the all industry rate.
  • 5 fatal injuries to waste and recycling workers were recorded. Despite being a relatively small sector in terms of employment, the annual average fatal injury rate over the last five years is around 18 times as high as the all industry rate.

The three most common causes of fatal injuries continue to be; workers falling from height (29), being struck by a moving vehicle (20) and being struck by a moving object (18).  These account for 60 per cent of fatal injuries in 2019/20.

The new figures continue to highlight the risks to older workers.  27 per cent of fatal injuries in 2019/20 were to workers aged 60 or over.  Even though such workers make up only around 10 per cent of the workforce.

Members of the public killed

In addition, members of the public continue to be killed in connection with work-connected accidents.  In 2019/20 51 members of the public were killed as a result of a work-connected accident in HSE enforced workplaces. 33 of these occurred in the Health and Social work sector.  A further 41 occurred on railways (enforced by the Office for Road and Rail).

Mesothelioma deaths

Mesothelioma, which is contracted through past exposure to asbestos and is one of the few work-related diseases where deaths can be counted directly, killed 2446 in Great Britain in 2018. This is slightly lower than the average 2550 over the previous five years.

The current figures are largely a consequence of occupational asbestos exposures that occurred before 1980. Consequently the annual mesothelioma deaths are expected to fall below current levels for years beyond 2020.

 

 

 

 

Air Compressors

Air compressors are exceptionally versatile, supremely useful, and functionally essential to industries from automotive to pharmaceuticals.  But they are only as valuable as they are safe. Safe operating and maintenance procedures ensure worker safety. They will also protect equipment, reduce downtime, increase productivity, and lower long-term operating and capital costs.

Compressed air can cause serious injury

Air compressors are powerful tools. When used incorrectly, they have the potential to cause serious damage to both workers and equipment. Overheated components can cause contact burns, while damaged or broken air hoses can result in serious bodily injury. Pressurised air can rupture the skin or even internal organs if directed at the body. Burst pressure tanks are liable to result in serious damage.

No amount of time and resources directed at injury prevention and equipment maintenance can ever exceed the costs incurred by serious safety incidents. Prudence demands the implementation of safe operating procedures for all compressed air applications.

Training is essential

First and foremost, it is important to thoroughly read and understand the owner’s manual for your compressed air system before using it. Workers who will be using the equipment should be provided with on-site training.  Follow-up sessions should be scheduled as needed to make sure everyone is up to date on safety procedures. Workers should always wear appropriate protective equipment, including safety glasses or face shields along with adequate ear protection.

Keep equipment in a clearly visible area

Air compressors should be kept in a clearly visible area.  Air tanks need to be positioned out in the open for easy inspection. Instructions for equipment use should be clearly displayed on the air system itself. The air intake should have access to a fresh air source.  If you are operating indoors, you can increase air circulation with fans or other devices.

Ensure electrical safety

Electrical wires should be clean, unobstructed, and inspected for damage before the machine is turned on. Ensure that your machine is properly grounded.  Improperly grounded machines can cause damage to electrical circuits, resulting in electrocution or fire.

Never point equipment at the face or body

When using an air hose with a blowgun, ensure that the nozzle is pointed in a safe direction, and that the trigger is not engaged. Air nozzles or air tools should never be pointed at the face or body. Hair and clothing should always be properly secured and kept away from tools.

Make sure that a shutoff valve is always within reach of operators. If anything goes wrong during operation, immediately cut off the air supply using the shutoff valve and address the issue before restarting the equipment.

Regular monitoring

Intake air usually contains pollutants and carbon monoxide and should never be inhaled without the proper filtration and monitoring equipment. Pressure gauges should be monitored regularly to ensure that the maximum working pressure of the air receiver is never exceeded.

Check air hoses regularly

Air hoses require attention, as damaged or broken hoses constitute significant safety hazards. Hose whipping, which occurs when a pressurized air hose breaks or pulls free from a fitting, can result in significant injury or damage. Whip-inhibiting devices should be placed along the coupling of a hose to avert this particular risk. Use standard or high-flow hose fittings instead of third-party ones, and regularly check to make certain they are well-secured. In addition to being a major safety hazard, loose or small-bore fittings can hinder the performance of your air tools or the machine.

All hoses and fittings should have a maximum pressure rating at or above that of the air compressor itself.  Using hoses with inadequate pressure ratings could cause them to break during operation. Hoses should always be visibly labelled with the max pressure rating to ensure compliance.

Hoses should be kept clean of grease, oil, dirt, and debris.  This will lengthen the life of the entire system. Hoses should be kept organised, out of the way of walkways, and should never be bent or kinked, during or after operation.

Service equipment regularly

Safe air compressor operating procedures should be followed during maintenance as well. Regular servicing and maintenance from your local authorised dealer is the best way to ensure your equipment is in proper working order. Your distributor can also ensure that the equipment is in compliance with  Health and Safety regulations. Only trained personnel should change, replace, or adjust pressure-regulating equipment. These devices should be installed so that they cannot be removed or rendered inactive during operation.

When performing an inspection, shut off the source of air, bleed the air pressure, and disengage the air hose. Turn the machine off and allow oil or fuel  to cool before changing it. Tools should always be isolated from the compressed air system before removal and should be fully depressurised first.

Replace rusted tanks

Air tanks rust over time from the inside-out due to high humidity and the presence of condensate.  They tend to rust out near the bottom where the condensate collects. Rust eats away at the metal leaving it thinner and less capable of handling pressure.  A rusted tank is very dangerous as it increases the likelihood that the integrity of the vessel cannot withstand the pressure and may burst causing major damage to personnel and/or the facility.

Further information

A free copy of the HSE’s Compressed Air Safety publication can be downloaded from their website.

https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg39.htm

 

 

 

Working during COVID-19/Coronavirus 

Working during COVID-19 (written 7/7/20) 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have had to close or have experienced a decrease in productivity. To combat the Coronavirus, certain measures must be put into place for a business to operate safely and for employees to be protected whilst working.

Conduct a COVID-19 risk assessment

Employers should conduct a COVID-19 risk assessment.  This will highlight the risks from being exposed to COVID-19 and the control measures to be put into place to combat this. Update the risk assessment as control measures change and in line with any changes to government guidance. All employees should have seen a copy and understood the risk assessment.  They should then sign it to acknowledge that they have read/understood the risk assessment and have access to it.

Provide information to employees and contractors.

Inform employees of any changes that have been implemented to the control measures in place. If possible, consult with employees on proposed changes to get feedback on whether they will be beneficial and if they will work. Protect those who are at a higher risk of contracting the virus and allow employees to work from home if their roles allow them to do so. Consider how employees may travel to and from work. When they should travel and what they must do upon entering and exiting the premises.

Preparing the working area

Employers should rearrange working areas by moving workstations, tables in canteen areas, working equipment etc. to promote social distancing. Mark out areas using floor markings or signage to help employees socially distance. If the workplace means employees cannot socially distance, the number of persons in the working area should be reduced.  Separate employees by using screens; alternatively persons could be assigned to work in specific areas.  Also consider the possibility of shift working. Where possible, stagger working times of employees including break times. Commonly used equipment and touch points should be cleaned more regularly. Provide additional handwashing facilities.  Open other areas for breaks such as unused rooms or external areas.

Good hygiene

Encourage employees to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer regularly.  This could be when entering new areas within the premises, starting new tasks and after using welfare facilities. Employers should provide additional handwashing areas. Inform employees about avoiding touching their faces and coughing/sneezing into their elbows or tissues.  Reinforce this with signage.

Information and guidance

Provide employees with information on any procedures that have been implemented to work safely. This information must be shared with them before they return to work. Once back at work it must be reinforced with reminders e.g. signage, updates etc. Don’t forget to share this information with all visitors, customers, and contractors.

PPE

Provide employees with PPE normally used, and any additional PPE that may be needed following the risk assessment. Face coverings are not considered to be PPE; however, employers should support any employees who may wish to wear them. It is not the law to wear face coverings in business premises and is the employee’s choice to do so.

Working from home

Any employee who can work from home must do so. The employer must support employees who are working from home by providing any necessary equipment. Regular contact should be made by having Teams/Zoom meetings, phone calls and emails. Employees working from home long-term should complete a DSE assessment to ensure that they are using a suitable workstation.  This will make sure that they are not at risk of related health problems such as upper limb disorders, fatigue, eye discomfort and back pain.

Protecting vulnerable workers

Shielded/clinically extremely vulnerable workers cannot return to the workplace before August 1st. Allow shielded employees to work from home wherever possible. After August 1st 2020 if employees cannot carry out their work at home, they will be allowed to return to the workplace.  This is providing that the COVID-19 risk assessment is regularly updated and the employer is doing everything reasonably practicable in order to protect the employee. Pregnant workers must strictly follow any social distancing measures. Pregnant workers who have been advised to shield by the NHS must work from home. They should be put on paid leave if adjustments to their work cannot be made.

Cleaning

Welfare facilities such as canteens and toilets should be cleaned more regularly, whilst ensuring that social distancing is enforced. Clean work areas and equipment between uses.  Regularly touched surfaces should be frequently cleaned with ordinary household cleaning products. If there is a suspected case of COVID-19 in the workplace a deep clean of the area must take place immediately.

Maintaining records

Employers must maintain records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace. A temporary record must be kept for 21 days of all persons in the workplace. Information should be collected in a way that is manageable. The NHS may request these records. Persons do not have to share their details if they do not want to nor do they have to share accurate information. When deleting these temporary records, do so in a way which complies with GDPR. The following information must be collected:

  • Staff
    • the names of staff who work at the premises
    • a contact phone number for each member of staff
    • the dates and times that staff are at work
  • Customers and visitors
    • the name of the customer or visitor. If there is more than one person, then you can record the name of the ‘lead member’ of the group and the number of people in the group
    • a contact phone number for each customer or visitor, or for the lead member of a group of people
    • date of visit, arrival time and, where possible, departure time
    • if a customer will interact with only one member of staff (e.g. a hairdresser, meeting etc.), the name of the assigned staff member should be recorded alongside the name of the customer
  • Specific guidance – employers must follow measures put forth in their industry-specific guidance published by the Government. Employers must update their COVID-19 risk assessment and any control measures upon amendment of these guidelines.

For further information on this, see: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/assets/docs/working-safely-guide.pdf and https://www.gov.uk/guidance/maintaining-records-of-staff-customers-and-visitors-to-support-nhs-test-and-trace

What should be included in a COVID-19 risk assessment?

  • The work activity or situations which may cause transmission of the virus.  This should include travelling to/from work, poor personal hygiene, high traffic areas such as canteens, corridors, entrances/exits etc.
  • Persons who could be at risk i.e. employees, visitors, contractors, customers, delivery drivers etc.
  • Determine how likely it is for someone to be exposed to COVID-19.  This could be done either as a number rating (1-5) or low/medium/high.
  • In the first instance attempt to eliminate the risk.  If this is not possible, control the risk through measures such as increased handwashing, social distancing, maximum occupancy in areas, one-way systems etc. For industry-specific control measures, consult the Government guidance that has been issued.

For further information on this, see: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/assets/docs/risk-assessment.pdf and https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

What consultation needs to take place with employees regarding COVID-19?

Talk to your employees before they return to work.  This is to develop plans on making the workplace secure and to inform them of any measures to be implemented. Repeat these discussions if something changes.  For instance, amended guidelines are published; the plans are not working as expected and need to be altered; changes to tasks and work – this could be some equipment not being able to be used, staggering shifts etc. Also very importantly if an employee has been diagnosed with COVID-19.

Social distancing

If equipment is currently shared, this may need to be assigned to one person. If possible, additional equipment should be sourced or the employees reassigned.  Tasks may need to be redesigned for one person to do for instance by using mechanical aids.  Rooms may need to have a maximum occupancy.  Someone may need to be in place to enforce that employees are following these measures.

Organising the workplace

Workstations and tables in break areas may have to be moved to promote social distancing.  Screens may have to be installed to separate areas where people may interact.  One-way systems may also have to be implemented to maintain social distancing.  Hand sanitizer will have to be provided in multiple areas to promote hygiene measures.

Cleaning

Common areas such as door handles, handrails, work equipment and welfare areas should be regularly cleaned.  If possible after each use. If travelling to another business premises, ensure that you sanitise your hands before and after visiting.  Consider measures needed to handle incoming and outgoing goods.

Information

Ensure employees know everything they need to work safely.  Ensure any information is passed on in the best way e.g. emails, posters, inductions, conversations etc.  Consider ways to reinforce messages and how to check if employees have understood any messages given to them.  Ensure information is in place for anyone else who may visit your workplace.

Wellbeing and support

Ensure employees are prepared to return to work and feel safe to do so.  Keep in contact with employees, and if possible, allow employees to work remotely.

For further information on this, see: https://www.hse.gov.uk/coronavirus/assets/docs/talking-with-your-workers.pdf

Returning to the office

Whether your business has continued with home working or been on hold, as you consider returning to the office, there are some things you need to think about. Health and Safety being one of them.

The latest government advice can be found here https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

The latest HSE advice can be found here https://www.hse.gov.uk/news/coronavirus.htm

Read more

Lone Working – HSE update their guidance

The HSE have updated their guidance on lone working – Protecting lone workers: How to manage the risks of working alone.

This guidance explains how to keep lone workers healthy and safe. It is for anyone who employs lone workers, or engages them as contractors etc, including self-employed people or those who work alone. Read more

Home working – HSE advice on lone working, DSE and mental health

Do you have people working from home temporarily as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak?

As an employer, you have the same health and safety responsibilities for home workers as for any other workers.

HSE website has advice on how you can minimise the risks to their health, which includes information on the following topics:

  • Lone working
  • Working with display screen equipment (DSE)
  • Stress and mental health

Working Safely with Display Screen Equipment (DSE)

The HSE have redesigned their online guidance for DSE.

It now features a step-by-step guide to working safely with DSE and covers topics from workstations and assessments, to eyesight testing.

Take a look at the redesigned guidance.

Their website also has related resources including their free, downloadable publication Working with display screen equipment (DSE)

Musculoskeletal Disorders

The HSE have updated their guide to Musculoskeletal Disorders (INDG143).

This leaflet (previously published in 2012) provides practical guidance on reducing the risk of injury from hazardous manual handling. It helps employers comply with their duties under the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992. Read more

Craven Safety Services Charity Walk

For the last few years the team here at Craven Safety Services have done a charity walk in aid of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.  So far we have raised around £1000 each year. This year we will climbing Scafell Pike in the Lake District. It is the highest mountain in England and will be a full day’s walk. Read more

Safety First Pack Demo Day

Would you like to get up to date with your Health and Safety Documentation? Would it be of benefit to have all your documents in one place, accessible anytime, anywhere?

We have the solution. Read more