With more than 3,500 builders dying each year from cancers related to their work and with thousands more cases of ill-health and working days lost, the HSE is launching its latest construction health initiative.  HSE safety inspectors will be targeting construction sites across Great Britain during the month of October.

The initiative will run from Monday 5 – Friday 30 October and the focus will be on respiratory risks not surprisingly however as a critical health risk COVID security will also be covered by the initiative.

The purpose of this initiative is twofold:

(i) To support HSE’s continuing strategy to improve the health of construction workers.
(ii) To align with the wider government agenda to get people back to workplaces safely and so support economic recovery.

Throughout the initiative Health and safety inspectors across Great Britain will be targeting construction firms with inspections to check that their health standards are up to scratch.

As in previous years these inspections will focus on respiratory risks and occupational lung disease; looking at the measures businesses have put in place to protect their workers’ lungs from the likes of asbestos, silica and wood dust. This is part of HSE’s longer term health and work strategy to improve health within the construction industry.

While the primary focus will be on health during this programme of inspections, if a HSE inspector identifies any other areas of concern, they will take the necessary enforcement action to deal with them. This will include making sure that businesses are doing all they can to protect their workers from the risk of coronavirus and make workplaces COVID-secure.

Inspectors will also be looking for evidence of employers and workers knowing the risks, planning their work and using the right controls. If necessary, they will use enforcement to make sure people are protected.

The construction initiative will be supported by HSE’s ‘Dustbuster’ campaign, aimed to influence employer behaviour by encouraging builders to download free guidance and advice, increasing knowledge and capability to protect workers’ health.

Inspectors will also be looking for evidence of employers and workers knowing the risks, planning their work and using the right controls. If necessary, they will use enforcement to make sure people are protected.

The construction initiative will be supported by HSE’s ‘Dustbuster’ campaign and aimed to influence employer behaviour by encouraging builders to download free guidance and advice, increasing knowledge and capability to protect workers’ health.

HSE’s chief inspector of construction, Sarah Jardine, said: “Around 100 times as many workers die from diseases caused or made worse by their work than are actually killed in construction accidents.

“Our inspection initiatives ensure that inspectors are able to speak to dutyholders and visit sites to look at the kind of action businesses in the construction industry are taking right now to protect their workers’ health, particularly when it comes to exposure to dust and damage to lungs.

“There are a few simple things that everyone can do to make sure they are protecting their health and their future. Be aware of the risks associated with activities you do every day, recognise the dangers of hazardous dust and consider how it can affect your health. We want businesses and their workers to think of the job from start to finish and avoid creating dust by working in different ways to keep dust down and wear the right mask and clothing.”

For more details on managing construction related health risks visit the HSE website here.

 

‘Check your hard hat’, urges brain injury charity:

The brain injury association Headway has teamed up with safety manufacturer Centurion to raise awareness of the importance of using and maintaining hard hats correctly whilst on site.  Hard Hat Awareness Week will be running througout the 21st -27th September and will see a series of activities designed to drive awareness of brain injury and encourage best practice around PPE/safety equipment.

Headway has published the results of a recent survey of 486 respondents, which looked into the use of hard hats in the construction industry and understanding of concussion.  The survey produced some shocking results, revealing that amongst those who experienced a head injury at work:

  • 52% did not report an incident to their manager;
  • Just 6% sought medical attention for their head injury;
  • 15% stored their hard hat in an unsuitable way, such as in direct sunlight or extreme temperatures
  • 58% painted, marked or applied decals or labels to their helmet, which could cause a chemical attack and reduce its durability;
  • 24% were unaware that exceeding the expiry date of a hard hat can reduce the level of protectivity;
  • 28% did not know where to find their helmet’s expiry date or were unaware it even had one.

Dedicated Hard Hat Awareness Week

The chief executive of Headway, Peter McCabe, said: “Brain injury is more common than you think, and its impact can be life-changing for both the injured person but also their wider family. Ensuring your head protection is worn and cared for correctly is key to remaining safe.”

“To all those working on site or in the construction industry, we urge you to always wear your hard hat.”

Chris Tidy, from Centurion Safety Products, added: “We want people to understand the devastating effects of brain injury. It’s not just the individual that’s impacted – a brain injury can change the lives and futures of partners, family members and friends.”

“Centurion and Headway want to drive the awareness of brain injury but also help wearers of safety helmets and hard hats to understand the possibly lifesaving piece of PPE they are wearing.

“We would like a week dedicated every year going forward for all wearers to audit their safety helmet or hard hat for signs of wear and tear, make sure it is in date, remove any unchecked stickers and sanitise/clean this piece of safety equipment whilst in a safe environment. We would like to challenge other safety helmet manufacturers to get involved and publicise this event going forward.

“We also want wearers to understand that 30% of head injuries occur from slips, trips and falls from the same level where the wearer could suffer a rotational injury. We would like to educate the wearer on the risk of concussion and give them a concussion recognition tool that will help them to understand the early warning signs, showing the person may be at risk so they can seek medical attention.”

Liam’s story

Liam Jones, whose name has been changed for anonymity, was working as an overhead linesman when a metal bar fell and hit him on the head, causing what could have been a life-altering injury had he not been wearing his helmet.

Here, he shares his story as part of Headway and Centurion’s campaign to raise awareness of using and maintaining hard hats while on site.

35-year old Liam was working on an overhead line job late at night. It was dark and he and his team had been working all day long.

Liam was working on the ground while colleagues were installing a screw-in pin above him. Accidentally, the pin, weighing 1.6kg and measuring 14 inches, fell and hit him on the head. Thankfully, Liam was following proper protocol by wearing his hard hat.

He said: “Although using hard hats is second nature, seeing my hard hat perform so well and protecting me in a real situation gives me huge confidence in my PPE.”

Liam was left with minor bruising on his head, but he says that without wearing his helmet, things could’ve been far worse.

“The doctor in A&E was thankful I was wearing a hard hat. I feel very grateful to be alive. In my mind, there’s no doubt that the hard hat saved my life or at least from serious injury.”

So just how frequently should you change your ‘Hard Hat’?  – not sure: then check out the Centurion Safety Helmet Wear and Care Guide.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have issued a safety alert highlighting the risk of misleading gas detection readings following a fatal injury.

Gas detection may be used in support of risk assessments associated with, for example, hot work or confined space entry. The appropriate selection of the correct gas detection system ensuring that it is suitable for the intended purpose and gives a sufficiently accurate and reliable indication of the presence of the hazardous material is therefore of extreme importance.

Pumped gas detectors can be used to sample locations at a distance from the detector via a sampling tube and are commonly used.

In a recent incident, a gas detector failed to detect a flammable atmosphere.  Hot work proceeded based on the false reading.  The hot work resulted in ignition of a flammable atmosphere and a fatal injury.

Whilst there were errors in the selection and set-up of the gas detector, the most significant contributor to the failure of the gas detector was the adsorption of the flammable vapour on the surface of the sample tube before it could reach the gas detector.

The aim of the safety alert is to remind operators of the need to ensure the suitability of gas detection system for their intended purpose.

Full details of the Safety Alert can be found at the HSE Website.

 

In what can only be considered good news for the construction sector – the Building Safety Group (BSG) has reported a 41% decrease in the number of COVID-19 breaches occurring on construction sites over the last three month period. The report was based on 4400 independent site inspections carried out between 1st June and 31st August 2020.

The drop in breaches has been attributed to more companies successfully adapting to new and impoved working practices on construction sites as a result of the pandemic. Over time it is expected that this trend will continue as the industry becomes more accustomed to operating under the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus.

The most common types of COVID 19 ‘non-compliances’ reported by BSG Safety Advisers over the last three months have included:

•Management and operatives not following social distancing guidelines.

•Inadequate welfare facilities on site with insufficient cleaning regimes.

•Too many people in the canteen area with insufficient segregation.

•Not enough hand sanitizing stations on site.

•PPE not available when required.

•Outdated Site Operating Procedures found on site.

BSG’s Managing Director, Stephen Bell commented: “We are pleased to see that COVID 19 breaches have fallen since we began risk assessing companies’ prevention measures to counter the coronavirus. Although we expect this downward shift to continue, now is not the time to become complacent so it is vital that our industry remains vigilant and continues to follow government Site Operating Procedure (SOP) guidelines.”

Stephen added: “BSG’s position will be to continue to advise construction companies on how best to avoid COVID 19 transmission as well as mitigate against all other hazards which can occur on site.”

It’s Competition time again – yes, we are giving you another chance to win a training voucher courtesy of Goldcross Training up to the value of £399!  That could be enough to pay for your SMSTS course in full.

The voucher can be used in a variety of different ways i.e. you can take one course or you can take multiple courses (up to the value of the voucher) and you can spend it on either ‘online’ or ‘classroom’ based training.

Importantly you don’t have to be an existing Goldcross customer, the competition is open to all – so whether you are:

  1. An existing; tradesman, specialist, operative, labourer or first aider
  2. Someone who is thinking of entering the; construction, rail, engineering or safety related sectors

this may be an ideal opportunity for you to cover your current training expenses or perhaps take those first steps in gaining the required qualifications to enter a new industry/sector.

How can You win?

The competition will run from Thursday 17th through til midnight on Sunday 27th September and all you need to do to be in with a chance of winning is:

  • Like the Goldcross Training ‘Facebook Page’ (note page not post, but happy with both if you wish)  – visit: https://www.facebook.com/GoldcrossTraining/
  • Scroll down the page to our most recent competition post and:
    • Share the post
    • ‘tag’ two of your friends/colleagues in the comments section of the post.

That it – Good Luck!

The Prize Wheel

This time we have made it a two-stage process and the ‘Wheel of Names’ will be used to determine:

  • The winner
  • The value of the prize voucher which could be anything from £99 up to £399!

The video recordings of the ‘wheel spins’ will be broadcast on Facebook on Monday 28th September

Terms and Conditions

The voucher:

  • will be valid for 12 months.
  • can only be redeemed against a Goldcross Training provided training course.
  • has no redeemable ‘cash value’
  • can only be redeemed by the named winner of the competition.