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Draft Building Safety Bill

This month we have a guest article by Chris McGrath providing an overview of the Draft Building Safety Bill that will aim to improve building and fire safety, so that people will be, and will feel, safer in their homes.

Why this Bill?

On 14th June 2017 a fire broke out at the Grenfell Tower, a 24 storey residential tower. Failures in the building’s design and maintenance caused the fire to spread at high speed. As a result there were 72 fatalities and 151 homes were lost. A major reform was needed.

The Scope of the Bill

It will cover all higher risk buildings.  This will include all multi-occupied residential buildings, (new or existing) of 18 metres or more in height, or more than six storeys (whichever is reached first).

Expectations to improve safety and performance

The expectation is to reduce the risk of fires spreading across multiple dwellings. Also to reduce the risk of major fires.  However, the proposals are not expected to have a material impact on the number of fires.

The Bill includes key new roles, functions and responsibilities

 

The Building Safety Regulator
  • The Building Safety Regulator will introduce a better safety system.  In addition they will be able to impose sanctions and regulations to ensure this happens.
  • They will provide a more stringent regulatory framework to implement a stronger focus around building safety for developers and landlords.
  • They will also instruct an industry-led competence committee, publish non-statutory advice and guidance for various sectors.
  • The Regulator will also take enforcement action.  They will be able to impose sanctions on the corporate bodies or building control companies that do not meet regulatory standards.
Duty holders
  • Duty holders will implement a system in every building to ensure that the person, or entity, that creates a building safety risk is responsible for managing that risk.
  • The building cycle will be split into gateways – phases of the building’s life – with different duty holders for different gateways. For example, the duty holder for the design phase of the build will be the principle designer. For the construction phase, it will be the principal contractor.
  • The regulator will assess the gateway at each handover.  A ‘golden thread of information’ will connect these different phases. This will include details about the original design and construction, as well as details on the changes and upgrades to the building during its life cycle.
  • Once the building is occupied, the duty holder will become the accountable person. The accountable person is usually the building owner.
Accountable Person’s Responsibilities
  • The Accountable Person will submit a Residents Engagement Strategy (which will include a complaints procedure) to the Building Safety Regulator.  They will also listen and respond to concerns and ensure residents are heard.
  • Their responsibilities will also include developing a Safety Case Report.  This will be submitted to the Building Safety Regulator as part of application for a Building Assurance Certificate.
  • In addition they will conduct and maintain a Safety Case Risk Assessment (on new and existing buildings).  They will also appoint a Building Safety Manager to oversee it day to day.
Safety Case

This is a full building description that explains how the fire and structural risks in a building are being managed by the Building Safety Manager.  It will include –

  • An explanation and justification of the approach being taken to manage risks.
  • A hazard and risk assessment.
  • A summary of mitigation measures.
  • The approach to risk management.
Building Safety Manager
  • The Building Safety Manager will support the accountable person in the day-to-day management of the building.  Above all they will ensure that safety standards are adhered to.
  • They will also communicate the work that has taken place on the building to stakeholders.  This will ensure that the building is meeting the regulator’s requirements.  Also that it is on top of any advice or non-statutory guidance put in place by the regulator.
Cost to Leaseholder

Under the new plan, a new “building safety charge” will be set up for leaseholders. Fire Safety works are currently paid for through the service charge. This new charge will be separate to the service charge. The money will need to be held by the Freeholders in a separate account (held by a financial institution). This money will only be available for Fire Safety works.

If the freeholder has not provided a clear breakdown of costs, leaseholders will also be allowed to refuse payment if the charge is deemed “unreasonable”. However, under the new rules, leaseholders will be required to pay the fire safety charge within 28 days of when the bill was issued.  They will be required to cover some of the new measures brought in under the bill.  This will include items such as paying for a Building Safety Manager and the day-to-day management of the building.

New committees
  • A Building Regulations Advisory Committee, to provide evidence-based guidance on new issues that emerge in the built environment sector.
  • Also a new committee for industry competence.  This will overcome the fragmented and inconsistent competence of workers and managers that currently exists in the building safety sector.
  • In addition, a new residents panel will be put in place to ensure residents have a voice in the changes being made to building safety guidance. This will include residents of high-rise blocks and representative tenants groups.
New Homes Ombudsman

A New Homes Ombudsman will allow a better mechanism for new home owners to make complaints against developers about the quality of the construction. (There is currently no mechanism for new home owners to make these complaints.) The Ombudsman will work with developers to come up with a code of practice that could be used in relation to sales, marketing and standard and quality of workmanship.

 

The full details of the Bill can be found on the Government website.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/draft-building-safety-bill

Near miss reporting

What is a near miss?

A near miss is defined as an event that, while not causing harm, has the potential to cause injury or ill health. Whilst near misses are usually individual events, they can also occur at the same time as accidents.  An accident should also be reported as a near miss if more people could have been injured, or injured in a different way, than the main injury occurring during an accident. Reporting both accidents and near misses are important in tackling hazardous situations that may occur when working.

Near misses should be reported and investigated as this will highlight any possible failings or gaps in current health and safety measures.  This could prevent future incidents or accidents. Including near miss reporting in your health and safety practice promotes a proactive approach to safety.  This could also in turn save money in the long run.

It can be difficult to get staff to report near-misses or minor slip accidents.  They are often seen as funny or embarrassing occurrences (until someone is hurt). It is important to create a culture which encourages reporting of these accidents.

What should you investigate?
  • When did the near miss happen?
  • What was the employee doing when the near miss happened?
  • What equipment and working areas were involved?
  • Was the person authorised to be carrying out this task/activity?
  • What caused the near miss?

Investigating near misses will allow a business to identify and implement control measures.  This will aid reducing future near misses and possible accidents. As part of the investigation, you will be able to identify immediate causes, underlying causes and root causes.  This will lead to remedial actions that may prevent this type of near miss or possible accident occurring in the future.

Legal requirements

There are legal duties for reporting and investigating both accidents and near misses. Investigations fall under The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, regulation 5.  This requires employers to plan, organise, control, monitor and review their health and safety arrangements. Investigations also ensure that an organisation is complying with the Health & Safety At Work etc Act 1974.

When to report a near miss

Near misses should be reported as soon as possible and can be reported anonymously. Investigations should also be conducted as soon as possible.  This will be subject to the magnitude of the near risk, the immediacy of any risks involved and the potential of further near misses or accidents.  People’s memories of the event will be clearer if the investigation happens straight after the event.  Motivation to enact any changes following the investigation will also be at their highest.

A good investigation will involve information gathering and anaylsing of this information which will help with identifying all causes (immediate, underlying, root). This will then lead to an action plan for implementation of control measures.  These measures need to be reasonably practicable and with realistic timescales applied to implementing them.

Providing they have the authority to do so, both near miss reporting and near miss investigation can be organised and undertaken by anyone.

Further information

For further information, consult HSG245 ‘Investigating accidents and incidents: A workbook for employers, unions, safety representatives and safety professionals’ https://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg245.htm

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.

 

 

 

 

First Aid Renewals & CPR advice

Many First Aid at Work (FAW) or Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) qualifications have expired since the 16th March 2020.  The HSE have announced an extension to them to the 30th September 2020. This only applies to ones that have expired since 16th March.

The Resuscitation Council (UK) have issued an update about performing CPR on an adult who has suffered from cardiac arrest. Their advice  is to perform chest compression only, not to do rescue breaths. To minimise the risk to the rescuer from being exposed to COVID-19 there should be a cloth covering the casualty’s nose and mouth. Read more

Why do I need a Vehicle Banksman?

Do you have a vehicle Banksman? Most companies have traffic moving on their sites every day.  For some this will be only a few vehicles, for others it will involve constant traffic movement.

Nearly a quarter of all deaths involving vehicles at work occur when the vehicle is reversing. Yet many companies have little or no controls in place resulting in vehicles hitting buildings, racking or people, causing serious injuries or death. Read more

Warehouse Health and Safety

There are many causes of warehouse accidents. The following will give you some idea of the areas to consider.

Vehicles

They are many kinds of vehicles operating in warehouses, such as pallet and forklift trucks.  All drivers should be trained in vehicle use, also warehouse safety procedures should be in place and followed. Where possible, pedestrians and vehicles should be segregated.   All vehicles should be serviced regularly.

Floors

Slips and trips cause many accidents. Floors should be kept dry and clear of obstacles like boxes and trailing wires. All spills should be cleaned up immediately and signage put in place until the floor is dry.  Consider using anti-slip flooring and make sure that all areas are well lit.

Equipment and Signage

Use warning signs where necessary, especially around dangerous machinery or toxic substances. Workers should be supplied with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) where hazards cannot be fully removed.

Training

Workers should be trained in the use of equipment and manual handling.  All workers should be made aware of the safety procedures in place in the warehouse, which should also be covered in the induction procedures when new workers start.  Everyone should also be aware of all procedures in place in the event of a fire.

Handling Stock

All workers should be trained in manual handling and where possible loads should be moved by mechanical means. Consideration should be made to where products are stored e.g. heavy loads should be on the bottom of racks. Badly stored products end up falling and injuring people.

Racking

Racks should be competently fitted and fixed to prevent them from collapsing.  Protection should also be put in place where possible to prevent damage from moving vehicles. Racks should never be climbed on.

 

If you need help in your warehouse, please get in touch or have a look at our support packages.

How to investigate an accident or incident

Each year around 600 accidents or incidents lead to prosecution by the HSE, with about 100 more being prosecuted by local authorities. Personal injury claims are over double this number.

Some lead contractors operate a “3 strikes and you’re out” policy on their subcontractors regarding health & safety issues, so preventing future accidents could be vital to your business, not to mention the moral and legal issues. Read more

Do you know how to RIDDOR report?

Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR) reporting is a simple and straightforward procedure for any accident that needs to be reported to the HSE. The HSE have produced a guide on the RIDDOR Regulations, covering what needs to be reported, who should report the accident and how to go about it.

http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg453.pdf

Electricity – overhead power lines

The law says that any work near electric overhead power lines must be carefully planned and carried out to avoid danger from accidental contact or close proximity to the lines.

The precautions necessary will depend on the nature of the work at the site and will be required even when work near the line is of short duration.

Safety can be achieved by a combination of measures: Read more

RIDDOR

From 1st October 2013 the requirements to report accidents to the HSE under RIDDOR have changed. The main changes will be to simplify the reporting requirements in the following areas:

  • The classification of ‘major injuries’ to workers replaced with a shorter list of ‘specified injuries’
  • The existing schedule detailing 47 types of industrial disease to be replaced with eight categories of reportable work-related illness
  • Fewer types of ‘dangerous occurrence’ will require reporting Read more