Posts that are related to Health and Safety.

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Health and safety training opportunities go down, whilst HSE prosecutions go up

Recently released figures by the HSE confirms that the number of prosecutions for breaches of health and safety law have trebled in the last year. To compound this, the value of the fines imposed upon those convicted are also rising. The formulas by which the HSE calculates fines to those in breach of health and safety law are now relative to the annual turnover of the business. No longer will a standard fine be applied to a breach of health and safety law, the new regulations could cause a £1m sized dent in the bank balance.

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At the same time as prosecutions go up, the training opportunities for leaders of business at senior level, such as Senior Executives or Directors are being cut. The qualification criteria to enable delivery of health and safety courses, such as the Leading Safely course delivered by Safety Revolution, Oxfordshire, has risen to a level which now excludes many of the companies that have previously offered leadership health and safety training.

Trainers must now be of a board level themselves – they need to have walked the walk, before being allowed to talk the talk. Safety practitioners such as Oliver Dale of Safety Revolution are becoming few and far between, making it all the more important to ensure you engage with a suitable trainer to be sure of staying within the law and avoiding becoming one of those statistics at the HSE.

About the Leading Safety Course from Safety Revolution

Safety Revolution’s Leading Safely course is a one day IOSH accredited course designed for owners, partners, trustees, directors and all senior level executives of the agriculture and estate management industries.

The course works in conjunction with leaders to cover only what you need – your time is precious and we don’t want to take it from you. Whatever the size of your organisation, the course will show you how investing in health and safety can reap business benefits, including better productivity, increased profits, enhanced reputation and of course, a safer environment for all those on site.

Leading Safely Course Content

  • Recognising the value of strategic Health & Safety and its integration into business management systems and performance
  • Understanding your Health & Safety responsibilities
  • Appreciating the consequences of poor Health & Safety
  • Planning the overall direction for Health & Safety in your organisation
  • Understanding the importance of adequately resourcing your Health & Safety management system
  • Knowing why you should monitor and review your Health & Safety performance

Before the course, delegates run through a diagnostic questionnaire on Health and Safety leadership and the behaviours your company adapts. This then creates a personalised report based on your responses and will generate recommendations and actions to improve your Health and Safety. The assessment is a completion of personal commitment, this is a set of actions to take the following recommendations in your report and other learning, and all delegates receive certification for the course.

Fines routinely hitting senior management

As quoted by the Financial Times, “Chris Morrison, UK head of safety, health and environment at Clyde and Co said: “The data confirms what we have been seeing in practice, with the HSE displaying an increased zeal to prosecute the most senior individuals. By making senior management responsible for the health and safety failings of their business and their staff, the increased enforcement is a serious boardroom issue”

Get in touch with Safety Revolution and book your one-day senior level course today. Call 0800 0281965 or email info@safetyrevolution.

HSE Prosecutions Statistics

Financial Times Article

 

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Prosecution of directors and managers treble in the year to March 2016

The latest HSE figures show that the number of directors and senior managers ‘successfully’ prosecuted for Health & Safety offences has trebled in the last year. Almost all cases involved either serious injury or death of an employee.

Critically the biggest impact has been on businesses in the ‘medium’ size bracket therefore potentially impacting heavily on any substantial farming business. These fines are based on turnover rather than profit. That means that the historic mitigation that profitability of a prosecuted business impacts on its ability to pay any fine has fallen away.

Thirty four of the forty six prosecuted were found guilty (a very high ‘success’ rate) and resulted in twelve prison sentences. HSE commented prosecution of directors is intended to hold them to account for their failings when we have evidence that they have breached the law, for example when the director/manager was personally responsible for the matters relating to the offence.

The salient point here – in relation to agriculture – is that it is often very much easier – due to the close nature of working relationships and the regular, direct instructions from a director to an employee – to establish the link between the director and their teams and hence to evidence the personal aspects than it is in some other sectors.

How can we achieve the best possible defence: ensure that your safety management system is regularly reviewed and updated by refreshing the policy and by a detailed and regular review of each individual Risk Assessment. A little and often approach combined with a formal, annual review that maintains a high quality body of evidence provides the best platform for evidencing compliance to a satisfactory standard.

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Effective management of estate health and safety over winter

Your staff are at higher risk due to the colder conditions, reduced light and possibly reduced numbers of team members. In this article we discuss the risks and how best to manage health and safety on estates during winter whilst maintaining peace of mind.

Fire and carbon monoxide poisoning

The risk of fire, particularly in estates that raise game birds is significantly higher over the winter period.

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Where gas brooders are in place there should be a suitable and adequate air flow and ventilation systems also in place. Other than fire, there is also a reasonable risk to bird breeders of carbon monoxide poisoning. The Health and Safety Executive issued specific warnings on this risk: http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2007/gnnsco04007.htm.

PPE

With reduced visibility during winter PPE must be kept not only clean but  in the best condition, particularly reflective clothing. Consider the increased effectiveness of the equipment by wearing hi-vis and reflective items even during the daylight hours. Although it is the individual’s responsibility to keep the PPE in optimal condition, it is your responsibility as the employer to ensure it is made available to new employees and those who need replacements. At no time should the PPE be obscured by outer clothing such as overcoats.

Vehicle servicing

Winter checks are commonplace on the road. With land management vehicles they are arguably more important in reducing the risk of poor performance off road. Safety checks might include;

Lights – clear and clean

Glass – clear and clean, any chips or cracks to be dealt with as soon as possible

Tyres – treads are in good condition and pressure is optimal for the terrain

Fluids – make sure antifreeze is used where suitable and oil levels are topped up and checked regularly

Guns

With the shooting season continuing through to January it could be a good idea to go through a mid-season service of your firearms. Clean barrels, oil the moving parts and re-align sights. A good pair of winter shooting gloves and a good quality balaclava or neck buff are great investments as are charcoal fuelled pocket hand warmers. In the event of a shoot, make sure it is organised and your site is well planned and full information is shared with co-workers. The use of hi-vis and reflectors may not be appropriate  during a shooting activity and so risks of accidents are somewhat increased.

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Public safety

As an estate owner it is likely that your land will include  public rights of way. During half term holidays and darker afternoons the safety risks to the public enjoying the great outdoors could well be increased and so you need to look after their health and safety needs.

Find out more about the specific needs of the public on our website, including the risks from animals, open farms and your workplace, that could appear to an inviting playground for children.

Managing the health and safety requirements of an estate can be like spinning plates. The areas of knowledge required is ever increasing in key areas, and with the specific health and safety law being a specialist area it is a good idea to engage a professional organisation to help you manage your duty of care.

To help prevent accidents follow these guidelines:

  • Keep all risk assessments up to date
  • Ensure everybody knows the correct procedures in the event of an accident or fire, including when it is safe to tackle the fire or apply emergency procedures, how to raise the alarm and the location of assembly points
  • If you employ lone workers, ensure all environmental risks are considered and there is a procedure in place for keeping in touch with management. It would be advisable to avoid lone working where possible, but emergency procedures should be practiced and regularly evaluated if this is not practicable.

If you’re an estate manager or an agent and would like to know more about how we could help with your H&S and HR management systems, please get in touch with us.

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How to attract the best casual labour candidates for your farm or estate

Spring is the time when agricultural business owners start looking to employ casual labour for their farms, estates or equine operations. And with a large number of students and temporary staff looking for placement, how do you attract the best, most reliable candidates to your operation?

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What does your farm offer casual labour candidates?

It stands to reason that if your operation gives the best impression to candidates when they are comparing you to other options, you will attract the most interest. Guaranteeing a large number of candidates, guarantees a great choice.

  • Training – Training must be undertaken when: you are new worker, new working methods are introduced, new equipment or technologies are brought in. It might be standard practice and the law to ensure this is all taken care of, but demonstrating this to potential casual labour candidates demonstrates your commitment to safeguarding your staff and makes you a more attractive employer.
  • Duty of Care – Establishing the existence of a duty of care ensures precautions are taken to prevent damage to personal property, injury and physical or emotional abuse of staff and protect their general wellbeing. Other than a legal requirement, a duty of care that is talked about and advertised to casual labour candidates is key in building trust, demonstrating your commitment to your employees, improve staff retention, boost productivity and improve employee engagement and loyalty.
  • Accommodation – make sure the accommodation on offer is of a high standard, decent size and if possible has a private wash area, if not a private bathroom or shower room. The candidate’s rooms should be managed in the same way as a landlord would manage a rental property. Take an inventory, refresh the décor, PAT test all portable appliances, deep clean carpets and other fabrics and keep records of gas and fire safety checks and other health and safety measures.
  • Extras – Consider offering extras such as one hot meal per day, family dining or use of company transport for recreation time, even if it’s simply a bicycle. Added extras will be what makes you more attractive as an employer.

 

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What do your casual labour suppliers offer you?

When vetting your candidates there are things to consider that will bring the best potential employees to light.

  • Licenses – It is a criminal offence to use un-licensed labour provider if you use workers in the processing and packaging of fresh food, drink and other produce, agriculture, horticulture and shellfish gathering sectors. More information on the Gangmasters Licensing Authority is available from gov.uk.
  • Long hours – It is the nature of the farming industry that long hours are often required. Your candidates will be working from dawn til dusk on many occasions and should be aware of this fact from early on. This is also where your duty of care as an employer takes effect.
  • Self-management and discipline – Young farmers may require assistance in time management and keeping focus on tasks, especially when they are consistently lengthy. The best candidates will be able to exercise self-management, demonstrate self-discipline and keep focus when operating machinery or undertaking manual tasks for long periods of time.

 

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For further reading on the subject of employing casual labour workers for your farm, estate of equine operation, get in touch with Safety Revolution, or follow the links below.

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Gov.uk – Gangmasters Licensing information: http://www.gla.gov.uk/i-am-a/i-use-workers/

ACAS – Duty of Care: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=3751

 

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The 10 biggest hazards associated with pheasant rearing

1.     ‘Bird Breeder’s Lung’

Initial, short term indications that you may be allergic to dust from the feathers and droppings of birds are tightness in the chest, regular headaches and breathlessness. These symptoms will disappear if you avoid exposure to the allergens, however if you do not take measures to protect yourself, long term serious illness may develop. Disorders such as asthma, bronchitis and ‘Bird Breeder’s Lung’ are potentially life-threatening and pose a risk to your employment. As an employer, you must supply protective equipment to your staff to ensure compliance to health and safety regulations.

2.     Lone working

Considerations must be paid to the employee who is expected to work alone. These should include; assessing the risk of violence, manual handling, medical suitability to be alone and specific environmental risks associated with the duties. In addition to these considerations, procedures should be put in place for keeping in touch with supervisors and raising the alarm should it be necessary. It would be advantageous to avoid lone working conditions, but where this is not possible, emergency procedures should planned, practiced and regularly evaluated.

3.     Gas brooders

Where gas brooders are put in place a suitable and adequate air flow and ventilation system must also be in place. There is a reasonable risk to bird breeders of carbon monoxide poisoning when gas brooders are in use. The Health and Safety Executive issued specific warnings on this risk: http://www.hse.gov.uk/press/2007/gnnsco04007.htm. Flame failure devices should also be inspected and reported if any defects are found. These devices prevent the escape of un-burned fuel into the environment, reducing the risk of ignition and suffocation.

4.     Lyme disease

Lyme disease is contracted via a bite from an infected tick. The initial symptoms are treated easily with antibiotics and can identified as a faint ring shaped rash around the site of the bite, developing into intermittent flu-like symptoms. Left untreated Lyme disease can become a very serious illness.

5.     Weil’s disease – leptospirosis

This illness is contracted from contact between cuts and abrasions and the infected urine of rats. High risk areas include feed stores, hay and straw storage facilities and farm bird enclosures. Symptoms to be aware of include feverishness and headaches and left untreated may be fatal. Employers should make all staff aware of the hazards and issue leptospirosis medical contact cards to all staff that are at risk.

6.     Off road transport

Training should be provided, particularly if the terrain is steep sloped or especially rough, or when the employee will be towing loads. All safety equipment must be provided by the employer and meet specific standards. It is the responsibility of the employee to make use of it, for example wearing seatbelts and helmets. Vehicles must be kept in good working order and comply to licensing laws and when trailing loads behind vehicles such as quad bikes, the employee must not exceed the safety guidelines provided in training.

7.     Steam cleaners and pressure washers

Electrical equipment that use water pose risks of electrocution to the operator. Steam cleaners and pressure washers should be used with a circulating current earth monitoring device, or a residual current device (RCD) sometimes called an ELCB. These devices should be fitted at the mains supply point, protected by a waterproof cover. Regular inspections of the earthing devices, cables, switches and connectors should be made, checking they are watertight and un-damaged. PAT checks should be up to date and certified with date stickers on all electrical appliances.

8.     Electrical safety

Other than making sure PAT check procedures are followed, the user of electrical equipment must ensure the appliance is fit for purpose – that it is suitable for use in the chosen environment. It is the responsibility of the user to perform visual checks over the cables, switches and connections before each use and that any defects are reported immediately.

9.     Personal protection equipment (PPE)

Clothing offering protection from the weather and from specific hazards such as guns and respiratory illness legally required to be provided by you as an employer. If the staff are to be working in exposed environments such as moorland, emergency survival equipment should also be provided. All PPE must be kept in good condition and stored correctly and any instructions for the use must be followed.

10. Guns

The law on safe use of guns sates that ‘employers and people who conduct an undertaking involving the use of guns have a legal duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to take all reasonably practicable measures so that no one is put at risk’. The safe use of guns is imperative and is detailed in the Health and Safety executive’s document: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/ais43.pdf.

The essential reason for highlighting these main points is to make you, as an employer of farm and estate staff aware of the main risks your employees could be under, when working for you. It is also essential that your business is compliant to Health and Safety law at all times to protect the safety and wellbeing of your staff.

The risks detailed in this blog are not the only risks associated with rearing farm birds. The Health and Safety Executive Document, ‘Game Keeping and Deer Farming’, goes into greater detail and can be found here: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg177.pdf