Archive for December 2008


Posted on 30th December 2008
“It’ll only take a minute”

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Posted on 24th December 2008
Four-year-old boy died after a mantelpiece collapsed

A Coroners court jury has recorded a narrative verdict following inquiry into the death of Matthew Green who died from chest injuries after a 50kg stone mantelpiece fell on him at his home in Northamptonshire. The jury said the mantelpiece became detached because of a failure to apply sufficient fixings.The coroner report added that “The lack of national industry standards and regulation for the fitting of fire surrounds, including training, installation, quality inspection, secondary review and audit paper trails, were also a contributory factor”. 

David and Gail Green purchased the house from Persimmon Homes in 2003. Mr Green reported hearing a “loud crash” from the living room and found his son under the stone mantel. Experts told the inquest that there was “insufficient” mortar built into the mantelpiece to keep it together and no additional screws or metal dowels. This was not the first incident of this kind.

A Persimmon spokesman said “It is group-wide policy to obtain appropriate health and safety assessments for all sub-contractors and we expect they carry out their duties in accordance with current regulations and industry standards. Sadly there have never been any such regulations or industry standards in relation to fireplace installation.”


Posted on 18th December 2008
Elevated levels of chromium VI found in bagged cement

It has been reported that Lafarge is to recall 7k tonne of cement produced at its Westbury Works in Wiltshire due to the incidence of elevated levels of Chromium VI. The bags involved are said to be on sale throughout the south west. Lafarge managing director, Erdogan Pekenc told Contract Journal : “we have taken this precautionary measure to be proactive and transparent with our customers, and to ensure that the products we supply are of the highest quality. We apologise to our customers for the disruption caused by this and we are extremely grateful for their help and support at this time.” Customers who have any queries can contact Lafarge on 0845-470 0100. 

Comment: The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (Amendment) Regulations 2004 (COSHH 2004) prohibits the supply or use of cement which has a chromium VI concentration of more than 2 parts per million. As well as cement itself, the restriction applies to a wide range of products that contain cement such as mortars, grouts, tile adhesives etc.


Posted on 18th December 2008
NASC directory for 2009 now available

The National Access and Scaffolding Confederation (NASC) has released their latest ‘definitive directory of regulated scaffolding companies for 2009′. The directory (84 pages) is a critical publication for construction project teams as it also details all NASC guidance. The directory is available free of charge from the NASC or it can be download from their website.


Posted on 18th December 2008
‘Health and Safety in Roofwork’ new edition now published

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Posted on 17th December 2008
Package to help support clients on health and safety

The Construction Clients Group (CCG) has produced a package of measures to help construction clients manage health and safety when they procure construction work. The CCG believes the package will contribute significantly to raising client awareness of H&S during construction. The package includes:

  • Self Assessment Tool – web tool for businesses that procure work to help them assess CDM 2007 compliance;
  • Research into Client Views of CDM – to obtain a view on how CDM 2007 is working with an initial report in early 2009;
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) – clients setting out their H&S performance expectations;
  • Information Sheets – to help clients understand what is meant by the ‘management arrangements’ clause in CDM 2007 Regulation 9 and behaviours that competent clients should be practicing.

Peter Cunningham CCG CEO said ‘this is proud day for CCG, the fruits of our efforts are clearly demonstrated in this package of measures, thanks to all our members and those who fed back during our consultation to make this happen’.


Posted on 17th December 2008
Contractor, client and the public appreciate safe lifting!

This short video clip shows that when lifting operations go wrong everyone can become involved in the potential fall out. In this case the only consequence was a damaged vehicle although judging by the crane operator fleeing the scene he feels there could be more trouble in store!


Posted on 17th December 2008
HSE confirm that hook-loaders subject to LOLER

Loading a skip on to the vehicle bed involves a combination of lifting and pulling or dragging. The process of loading the skip on to the vehicle bed could not be acheived without initially lifting it. The reverse sequence involves an initial lifting of the end of the skip so as to facilitate lowering the skip to the ground. On this basis HSE has ruled that hook-loaders are within the scope of Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER).


Posted on 17th December 2008
Alternative to ‘tunneling’ or ‘traversing’ method of scaffold erection

The ASP ScaffStep® allows installation of upper level scaffold guardrails in advance of any decking elements therefore ensuring full protection is acheived prior to any operatives requiring access onto that level. The product is designed for use within scaffold structures and is “suitable for all scaffold types including independents, façade and birdcages.” 

The supplier states that the ScaffStep® methodology is recommended in National Access and Scaffolding Confederation – NASC publication SG4:05 Appendix A and offers an alternative method of scaffold erection to the ‘tunneling or ‘traversing’ method. Installation is a ‘1 click’ operation and it folds away for transportation and storage. 

Comment: Let PPCS know of information about any other products that you feel are worth sharing with others.


Posted on 17th December 2008
“It’ll only take a minute”

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Posted on 16th December 2008
Guidance on vehicles at work site layout and maintenance

Information intended for workplace managers responsible for the safe movement of traffic and pedestrians around the workplace is available on the HSE website. The pages cover site layout and maintenance and may therefore also be of interest to construction clients and those with duties as designers under CDM 2007.


Posted on 13th December 2008
Exposure to risk and failure to act on advice targeted

A developer has been prosecuted after failing to heed advice about poor standards on an apartment development. Mr Mir Baz Khan of Rotherham has been ordered to pay £8k for breaches of CDM Regulations 2007 and the HSW Act 1974.

The prosecution followed three visits by HSE when each visit resulted in the site being closed. Despite significant advice and information the project continued to operate without effective safety management. There was inadequate welfare and serious lapses in the standards of scaffolding, electrical installations and fire precautions.

Construction Inspector Rob Cooper said: “HSE has gone to great lengths to help Mr Khan but he failed repeatedly to act upon the good advice he was given.  If he had employed professionals to manage his site he could have avoided the significant fine awarded against him today. As a result of that poor judgement, Mr Khan now has a criminal record. ”

Comment: Over the last three years HSE has aimed to increase the number of prosecutions based upon the degree of exposure to risk. The HSE Sheffield office responsible for the above prosecution is reported to have instituted 13 such ‘non injury’ prosecutions in the last 15 months with defendants (on average) paying over £6k in fines and costs incurred by the prosecution in addition to their own legal costs. The recent House of Lords decision in the Chargot case may provide greater impetus to this approach.


Posted on 12th December 2008
HSE Construction Chief to take up post early in 2009

Mr Philip White has been appointed HSE Chief Inspector of Construction. He will take up post early in 2009. Since 2005 Mr White has advised Government on H&S policy and the work of HSE. He was previously Head of HSE Construction Operations for the London East and South-East Unit.

Commenting on his appointment, he said: “I am delighted to be taking on this important position at such a challenging time. I look forward to working with the industry and trades unions in bringing about further improvements in health and safety. There’s still much to be done. That said, I’m encouraged by the progress made since the Construction Summit in 2001.”


Posted on 12th December 2008
Prosecution need only prove exposure to risk

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Posted on 11th December 2008
Half of construction sites visited served enforcement notices

The HSE Merseyside and Cheshire Construction inspectors recent visits found significant breaches of H&S legislation and led to five prohibition notices stopping work immediately. The initiative was part of a rolling inspection programme targeting poor performing sectors of the construction industry e.g. refurbishment.

HSE Inspector Catherine Willars said: “Some site managers had reasonable health and safety awareness and were managing jobs well in difficult circumstances, but others were struggling. Persons in charge of construction activities need training and the competence to do so. Training courses are readily available to help site managers and foremen to gain the necessary competence.” The issues dealt with included:

  • risk of falling from scaffolding, roof rafters and into excavations;
  • uncontrolled movement of machinery near excavations and workers;
  • electrical supplies at mains voltage especially in wet areas;
  • welfare facilities falling short of the standard required and;
  • waste materials not managed causing slip and trip hazard.

Comment: The results of this local initiative paint an all too familiar and depressing picture. Despite copious advice available to small and larger enterprises the HSE messages are still not consistently delivering results on site. The initiative report does not indicate the size of project or contractor involved but it is likely that many involved smaller enterprises. There is an urgent need to consider how the HSE messages can be delivered more effectively to the construction SME sector and what changes to enforcement practices might promote better outcomes.  


Posted on 11th December 2008
User friendly guidance for working on roofs now available
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Posted on 10th December 2008
Provisional analysis of HSE fatal injury data 2008/09

PPCS has analysed the construction fatalities reported to HSE during the period April-September 2008. This represents the first 6 months of the 2008/09 reporting period. A summary of initial (‘not validated’ by investigation) fatal injury notifications to HSE are published in HSE Board Meeting papers and this data has been supplemented by information from press etc. Our key provisional findings are:

  • 25 construction sector fatalities are included in the data (23 worker/2 public);
  • public deaths involved a falling wall and fall into a basement;
  • falls from height represent 65% of worker deaths;
  • falls through fragile roofs/rooflights account for 27% of worker fall deaths;
  • other fall deaths included ladders, scaffolders, shafts and roof edges;
  • 22% of worker fatalities involved excavators, lift truck falling loads and mewps;  
  • 3 workers died in collapsing excavations;
  • 3 deaths occurred on utility industry projects and; 
  • 33% of deaths occurred on ‘larger’ projects involving major contractors. 

Comment: The total number of deaths at the half-year mark tentatively suggests there may be a further end-of-year reduction on the 2007/08 number of worker deaths (72). However, falls through fragile roofs remain the largest single cause of worker fatal falls and deaths due to excavation collapses are up on previous years. There have thankfully been no further fatalities involving overturning cranes. The recently announced government inquiry into construction fatalities will no doubt provide a more detailed analysis in 2009.


Posted on 10th December 2008
Proceedings on major conference now published 

To encourage sharing of good practice and discussion HSE ran a ‘Worker Involvement in Health and Safety’ conference on 14 October 2008. This coincided with launch of new guidance on worker involvement and consultation. The proceedings of the conference that drew together key stakeholders from a variety of sectors are now published.

Comment: HSE regard involvement of the workforce as central to effective H&S management and part of their long term strategy. Now is a good time to review how you engage and consult the workforce and consider how you could be more effective in carrying out this element of your H&S management system. 


Posted on 10th December 2008
Investigators examine use of excavator semi-automatic quick hitch

A recent fatality involving an excavator on the Skanska/GrantRail Docklands Light Railway extension in London could be related to a semi-automatic quick hitch used on the machine. We understand that the workman may have been struck by the excavator bucket. A man arrested at the time of the death, on suspicion of manslaughter, has been bailed until mid-January. 

Comment: There were three deaths related to excavator semi-automatic quick hitches in 2007 and these led to guidance from HSE on the use of existing machines and a manufacturer/supplier agreement not to supply such hitches on new machines. This latest incident should prompt all principal contractors to ensure that the HSE guidance is communicated throughout the supply chain and checks carried out to see that the precautions are being implement fully. 


Posted on 10th December 2008
Building trades asbestos campaign supported by Ian Wright 

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Posted on 9th December 2008
Remote demolition reduces risk to the demolition team provided…

The risk to demolition workers over the last 20 years has been reduced dramatically through the progresssive introduction of remote demolition techniques. However, as this short video clip shows, proper assessment of the structure and a planned demolition sequence are still essential to safety.


Posted on 6th December 2008
Government inquiry into ‘underlying causes’ of construction deaths

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Posted on 5th December 2008
How to avoid the manual handling of bricks

This short video clip demonstrates that it is possible to avoid manual handling of bricks that are being off-loaded after delivery at a construction site. 


Posted on 5th December 2008
RoSPA organise H&S event for housing associations

This event is designed to show how HA’s can reduce liabilities and ensure the safety and well being of the workforce, contractors and tenants. The Programme is scheduled with a number of external speakers including Rosi Edwards HSE Construction Division Head of Operations for Wales, Midlands, South West who will cover application of CDM in the Housing Association sector, role of the client and managing contractors.


Posted on 4th December 2008
New GB health and safety strategy published for consultation

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Posted on 4th December 2008
Homebuild and refurb projects come under scrutiny in NW

HSE has announced that this inspection initiative is part of a rolling inspection programme and will be ‘targeting house building and property refurbishment projects’. In 2006/07 these sectors accounted for 60 percent of all accidents in construction, but represents only 40 percent of all construction activity. During an initiative in February 2008 enforcement action was taken in 103 out of 187 visits. Projects visited during this initiative are being warned by HSE that they should expect robust enforcement action where poor H&S standards are found.

Comment: A major problem for HSE may be in finding housebuild projects that are in progress in the current climate. In addition there has been some indication that standards in the homebuild sector have improved over the last 12 month. Refurbishment projects, especially when carried out by those new to property development, are still failing to reach the required standards.       


Posted on 4th December 2008
Major players combine to share information in United Arab Emirates  

Build Safe UAE is a not for profit organisation aimed at improving HS&W through the free exchange and sharing of information between organisations working in the UAE. It consists of a number of major (International and Local) developers, contractors, consultants, project managers and service organisations of the UAE Construction Industry who have agreed to share their ‘Best Practice Safety Information’. This includes risk assessments, safe working methods, safety presentations, safety alerts, tool box talks and best practice case studies. Build Safe UAE is also intended to demonstrate to those outside of the UAE that the country has construction stakeholders who are committed to best practice HS&W.

Comment: The website requires the visitor to register in order to access the information. The site contains information that will be of interest to those working in the UK Construction Industry.


Posted on 2nd December 2008
Contractor faces prosecution after death of child in scaffold fall

It has been reported that Lovell Partnerships Ltd (a wholly owned subsidiary of Morgan Sindall plc) is due to stand trial following the death of a 7 year-old boy who fell from scaffolding at a block of flats in Washington, Newcastle in April 2006. The announcement follows an inquest at which Gateshead coroner Terence Carney said that lessons had to be learnt.

The Coroner said: “I hope the organisations involved might identify from this death some effective and practical ways that the care of children, even if they are doing something they ought not to be, can be effectively ensured and they are protected even from themselves at all times. A lad of seven should not have been allowed to get on to the roof where he fell to his death”

The initial hearing is set to take place at Newcastle Crown Court on December 11th 2008.


Posted on 2nd December 2008
More work deaths at Shell than any other western oil company

The Financial Times has reported that Royal Dutch Shell has a rate of fatalities twice as high as BP. Two employees and 28 contractors died working for Shell in 2007, compared with three employees and four contractors for BP, and eight contractors for ExxonMobil. The companies are roughly comparable in size although Shell has a larger workforce, with 104,000 employees at the end of last year, compared with 98,000 for BP and 81,000 for Exxon.

Using a strictly comparable measure of workforce deaths per 100 million hours worked the death rate for Shell was more than twice that of BP last year. Shell said: “We are deeply saddened by these losses. Of these fatalities, 17 happened in our upstream business, mainly on the roads, or at high-risk locations like Nigeria, where two lives were lost due to assaults and a third died as a result of a fire caused by criminals stealing oil from a pipeline.”


Posted on 2nd December 2008
Board and director leadership at the heart of new HSE strategy 

HSE are set to launch a new strategy for H&S. It will be launched simultaneously at events in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff on 3rd December 2008 and mark the start of a 3 month consultation process. The strategy will set out to optimise the performance of the overall health and safety system and clarify the roles of the regulated, the regulator, the workforce and others.

Judith Hackett HSE Chair told a recent conference: “We will emphasise the importance of leadership – from the top of every organisation starting with the Boards and individual directors. We will place leadership at the heart of what we see as the overriding strategic aim – the prevention of death, injury and ill health to those at work and those affected by work activity.” 

She went on to add: “We need every organisation to take ownership of the process to identify its own risk profile. It is clear that the risks, and hence the priorities, for dutyholders, employees and regulators will differ considerably between for example construction on the one hand and a large NHS Trust on the other. It is essential that our new approach addresses the key priorities sector by sector, business by business and region by region. We will also continue to put effort into those sectors which continue to carry a high risk and higher actual occurrence of serious injuries and fatalities.”

It is expected that the HSE enforcement policy will remain unchanged.