Carbon emissions halved
Published: 11 May 2011
Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne, has pledged that the UK will speed up green measures in an effort to halve its carbon emissions by 2025 compared to 1990 levels. This will see the UK putting in place the most ambitious targets on greenhouse gases of any developed country.
The Climate Change Act 2008 sets a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the UK by at least 80% on 1990 levels by 2050, and also requires the Government to set "carbon budgets". The pollution limits in the latest (fourth) carbon budget, run from 2023 to 2027, and will put the UK on target for 60% cuts by 2030.
Analysts claim the UK will have to generate 97% of electricity from low carbon sources such as nuclear or wind, insulate 3.5 million homes and ensure 60% of new cars run on electricity by 2030 to meet the target. It may also have to utilise green taxes to force industry and business to cut carbon. The policies necessary to meet the new carbon targets will be set out in October.
Published: 09 May 2011
A document released by the Department for Work and Pensions has outlined the "terms of reference" of Professor Ragnar Löfstedt's review, which was announced last month as part of a shake-up of the health and safety system.
Within the scope of the review will be the 200-plus statutory instruments owned and enforced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and local authorities, along with their associated Approved Codes Of Practice which provide practical advice on compliance with health and safety law. However, it has emerged that the review will not focus on the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 or the other 16 Acts in question, which relate to health and safety offences, offshore safety and explosives. Any stakeholders comments relating to those Acts, however, will be taken into consideration as part of the review.
Regulations owned and regulated by bodies other than the HSE and local authorities, such as those dealing with fire, product and transport safety as well as other issues widely believed to be health and safety, such as working time, will not be covered by the review.
The review, which is expected to be published by the autumn, aims to determine:
- the scope for consolidating, simplifying or abolishing regulations;
- whether the requirements of EU Directives are being unnecessarily enhanced when implemented into UK law;
- if lessons can be learned from health and safety regimes in other countries;
- whether there is a link between regulation and positive health and safety outcomes;
- if there is evidence of inappropriate litigation and compensation arising from health and safety legislation;
- whether changes to legislation are needed to clarify the legal position of employers where employees act in an irresponsible manner.
HSE gets RIDDOR phone service
Published: 09 May 2011
In line with the extensive cutbacks currently taking place, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has announced that their Infoline telephone service, used for reporting work-related injuries and incidents under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) SI 1995/3163, as well as providing guidance to businesses, will close on 30 September 2011.
Anyone required to report work-related injuries, dangerous occurrences, diseases or gas-related incidents, will need to use the forms found on the HSE's website, from 12 September.
The move to a strictly online service is an attempt to make the reporting process quicker and easier, and to reduce administrative and cost burdens on both businesses and the HSE. However, notification of fatal and major incidents and injuries will still be able to take place by phone.
Trevor Carlile, HSE's Director of Strategy said, "More than half of reportable injuries are already notified to the HSE through the website and this proportion has been increasing steadily over the past seven years. Taking advantage of the growing use of the Internet allows the HSE to be more efficient in the way it works. We do recognise, however, that people reporting a traumatic event still need that personal interaction so the notification of fatal and major incidents and injuries will still take place by phone."
Refuse to accept you've bin nicked?
Published: 09 May 2011
A waste company's "mixed messages" on safety may have contributed to an incident in which the driver of a refuse collection vehicle reversed over a female pedestrian, fatally injuring her. Team Waste (Southern) Ltd was fined £250,000 for breaching the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 over the accident.
Anna Smith was hit by the vehicle as it reversed up a pedestrianised street in Brighton City Centre, at 6:20am on 5 March 2007. The driver, Colin Bullard, was working with a trained banksman (reversing assistant) who remained in the truck as Bullard reversed up the street. They did not realise they had struck Ms Smith until her body lay about three metres in front of vehicle. She died later in hospital as a result of her injuries.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that the vehicle's rear blind spot covered an area of about 4m wide and extended 50m back. It also had a defective CCTV at the rear, and the audible reversing siren was functional but had been deactivated as the driver believed the use of such alarms was prohibited before 7:00am.
HSE principal inspector Russell Adfield described the fine as sending out a very strong message to the industry, and warned that even though technological devices can aid safety, "The use of a banksman is, by far, the most effective method of ensuring safety in incidents involving reversing vehicles." He also warned that it is not enough for companies to have policies in place - they must also ensure that workers are following them.
Mind the bump
Published: 09 May 2011
Barmy Butlins bosses have banned bumper car bumping at three resorts over health and safety concerns.
The bumpjoy edict requires that cars be driven sedately around a course in one direction, following each other and overtaking only when there is sufficient room to do so. Visitors who flout a strict "no bump" rule will receive a driving ban. Butlins confirmed the rules on their "Experience Dodgems" at three seaside resorts in Bognor Regis, Minehead and Skegness.
One holidaymaker described the fairground ride at Bognor Regis as like "trundling round an exitless roundabout". He said, "I'm not convinced the dangers were great, given that the cars were equipped with huge rubber bumpers and seatbelts. There were no airbags for the drivers, but it can be only a matter of time before there are."
Many people thought the "no bumping" signs were a joke. However, Bognor Regis venue director, Jeremy Pardey, revealed he could not allow the cars to bump for health and safety reasons. He said, "The point of our dodgems is to dodge people and not run into them." He stated there had been injuries in the past including broken bones and that the rules were "pretty vigilant" to avoid anyone being hurt, although customers are not asked to wear crash helmets.
Health and safety minister, Chris Grayling, commented, "There is nothing in health and safety law to ban bumping in dodgems. The company has absolutely no obligation to take this controversial decision. "
It is thought the company is concerned about potential legal claims for whiplash or other injuries suffered during a bump. Whilst anecdotal evidence suggests people have attempted to claim compensation for injuries sustained while in a bumper car, there has not been a single successful case. Lawyers believe it would be very difficult to prove fault on the part of a driver and that the level of impact would simply be too low for a compensation claim.
Butlins has fallen in line with many fairgrounds which display "no bumping" signs, though few go as far as banning those who break the rules.
The document, "Fairgrounds and Amusement Parks: Guidance of Safe Practice HSG 175", details all the appropriate measures that need to be taken by those involved in the industry to work safely and comply with the law.
Published: 09 May 2011
A mother was asked to leave Tesco on health and safety grounds this month, because her three-year-old son had a balloon tied to the handle of his buggy.
A security guard stopped Mrs Alicia Chrysostomou, as she pushed her son around the aisles. The guard advised her that balloons were banned in the store in case they caused a severe reaction when brushing against someone with a latex allergy.
Mrs Chrysostomou said, "I have never heard such absolute nonsense. You hear people talk all the time about health and safety gone mad, but this really was. I felt like a shoplifter, but all I had done was to go in there with a balloon. A crowd gathered with people muttering and staring because it must have looked as if I had committed some grave offence."
Tesco apologised for any offence caused, saying the balloon ban was in place because a worker at the store had a severe latex allergy.
Natural rubber latex (NRL) is an integral part of thousands of everyday consumer and healthcare items. As with many other natural products, NRL contains proteins to which some individuals may develop an allergy. Although NRL is a widely-used and cost-effective material, which for the majority of the population is not a clinical risk, the following are most in danger:
- healthcare workers;
- individuals undergoing multiple surgical procedures;
- individuals with atopic allergies (such as hay fever, skin irritations, and asthma);
- individuals with a history of certain food allergies;
- individuals exposed to NRL on a regular basis.
The proteins naturally present in NRL cause the allergies either through direct contact with the skin or by inhalation of powder. For example, NRL allergens attach to cornstarch used in powdered gloves making the NRL proteins airborne when these gloves are used, enabling the allergens to be inhaled.
More information can be found in the Health and Safety Executive Guidelines, at www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg320.pdf.