There are three new entries this month, with subscribers calling our helpline for help with policies, driving for work and health surveillance, while legislation and accidents remain key concerns. For advice on these or any other health and safety issue, speak with a qualified consultant on 0844 561 8149.

1. Accidents (stays the same)

Slips and trips are the most common cause of injury at work, and account for 31% of all workplace accidents. Slips and trips can easily lead to other types of serious accidents, eg falls from height.

Practical steps to reduce the risk of slips and trips at work include the following.

  • Stop floors becoming contaminated: fix any leaks from machinery or buildings, clean any spillages immediately.

  • Make sure that your cleaning method is effective for the type of flooring in place.

  • Check for loose, damaged and worn flooring and replace as needed.

  • Where floors cannot be kept clean and dry, slip-resistant footwear can help prevent slip accidents.

  • Consider how work is organised and managed to avoid rushing, trailing cables, etc.

The Slips, Trips and Falls topic contains in-depth information and guidance, as well as a model policy and a useful training presentation.

2. Policies (NEW)

A health and safety policy indicates an organisation's commitment to health and safety. There is a legal requirement for the preparation of this policy, but the size and scope of the documentation for it can range from a single simple statement to detailed sets of manuals.

One issue that should be covered, if it applies to the organisation’s work activities, is work with display screen equipment (DSE).

The aim of a DSE policy is to ensure you provide a safe place and system of work for employees using equipment with display screens. Creating a DSE policy allows employers to understand their obligations and lay out roles and responsibilities. It should include details for training and providing information to DSE users.

It’s important to highlight information relating to staff entitlements, including the right to request reasonable adjustments. You should also ensure staff members are aware of their right to eye tests upon request.

If tests show certain employees require glasses for use with certain technology, they can request further help in ensuring they receive a suitable set.

3. Legislation (stays the same)

We expect the approaching summer months to signal a rise in queries about legal workplace temperature.

Currently there is no legal maximum indoor workplace temperature in the UK. Employers do have a legal obligation to provide a “reasonable” temperature to allow for worker comfort. This can be between 21°C to 26°C, depending on the environment; other factors such as air movement, ventilation and air conditioning, work activities being undertaken, etc can all have an effect.

There is, however, a legal minimum indoor temperature of 16°C (or 13°C for those doing physical work). Again, all reasonable steps should be taken to achieve a temperature which is as close as possible to comfortable. See the Workplace Environment topic for more details.

4. Driving (NEW)

At the end of September 2018, there were 38.4 million vehicles licensed for use on the roads in Great Britain, of which 31.6 million were cars. Driving for Better Business (DfBB), the Government campaign group which encourages work-related road safety in the UK, states that driving for work is one of the most dangerous activities most employees ever undertake — more dangerous than deep-sea diving and coal mining.

See the topic Occupational Road Risk for the risks and control measures that should be considered when an employee is driving on the organisation’s business.

5. Health surveillance (NEW)

Health surveillance provides a system for detecting early signs of work-related ill health in employees who work in environments or with materials that can cause ill health. It can also indicate the effectiveness or failure of a control measure for hazardous substances.

A safety alert from the Health and Safety Executive has recently been published, entitled Change in Enforcement Expectations for Mild Steel Welding Fume.

This safety alert is applicable to all workers, employers, self-employed, contractors and any others who undertake welding activities, including mild steel, in any industry.

There is new scientific evidence from the International Agency for Research on Cancer that exposure to mild steel welding fume can cause lung cancer and possibly kidney cancer in humans. The Workplace Health Expert Committee has endorsed the reclassification of mild steel welding fume as a human carcinogen.

  • Make sure exposure to any welding fume released is adequately controlled using engineering controls (typically local exhaust ventilation).

  • Make sure suitable controls are provided for all welding activities, irrelevant of duration; this includes welding outdoors.

  • Where engineering controls alone cannot control exposure, then adequate and suitable RPE should be provided to control risk from any residual fume.

  • Make sure all engineering controls are correctly used, suitably maintained and are subject to thorough examination and test where required.

  • Make sure any respiratory protective equipment (RPE) is subject to an RPE programme; an RPE programme encapsulates all the elements of RPE use needed to ensure that your RPE is effective in protecting the wearer.

Advice

To discuss the above issues in more detail, or for any other health and safety advice, please call a qualified health and safety consultant on 0844 561 8149.

Last reviewed 15 April 2019