Revised "Electricity at work" guidance
Published: 28 Aug 2013
The updated guidance is for people, including the self-employed, who carry out work on or near electrical equipment. It includes advice on safe working practices for managers and supervisors who control or influence the design, specification, selection, installation, commissioning, maintenance or operation of electrical equipment.
In particular, the guidance provides information on:
- correct selection and use of equipment;
- actions for managers and supervisors;
- assessing safe working practices;
- deciding whether to work dead or live;
- actions common to both dead and live working;
- working dead;
- working live.
Public consultation on REACH
Published: 28 Aug 2013
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has received the first application for authorisation under Regulation 1907/2006,†on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH).
The application, made by Rolls-Royce plc, concerns the substance Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP). The use applied for is the processing of a stop-off formulation containing DEHP during the diffusion bonding and manufacture of aero engine fan blades.
The eight-week public consultation closes on 9 October 2013.
Permit revoked for EfW plant
Published: 28 Aug 2013
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has revoked an energy-from-waste (EfW) plant's PPC permit to operate, following persistent breaches in pollution requirements.
Scotgen (Dumfries) Limited's Dargavel plant has been subject to two enforcement notices since the beginning of 2013, the first following multiple breaches of their permit in 2012, and the second after a fire in July resulted in 800 tonnes of odorous waste being left on the site. In revoking the permit, SEPA said the site had "failed to meet any reasonable expectation of environmental performance" since it began operating in 2009.
They commented, "The facility started operations more than four years ago, and in that time has never achieved a level of compliance which would give†SEPA any degree of confidence that future operation would be any different. Since the plant came into operation, we have provided support and assistance to Scotgen, including affording it considerable time and opportunity to demonstrate that this facility can meet best available techniques, and the specific requirements of European Directives designed to protect the environment. Unfortunately despite this, it has not done so."
SEPA†has confirmed that it is revoking the site's permit due to "persistent non-compliance", as well the operator's failure to comply with an enforcement notice, maintain resources at a level to ensure compliance with the requirements of the permit, and its failure to recover energy with a high enough level of efficiency.
Scotgen, which describes the Dargavel plant as "Europe's most advanced EfW facility" can appeal against the decision.
For more information, see:
New bathing waters app
Published: 27 Aug 2013
An new app for Android and iPhone smartphones, which was developed by the charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) and funded by the Environment Agency, has been launched and gives bathers and surfers up-to-date warnings about pollution incidents on beaches. It sends free alerts or messages about sewage discharges and storm water in relation to almost 250 beaches in England and Wales.
This comes as a result of the extremely wet weather observed in 2012 which led to a rise in UK beaches failing to meet minimum standards in water quality.
The new app, called the "Sewage Alert Service", uses data from water companies on combined sewer overflows, which allow untreated sewage and storm water into the sea during heavy rain in order to prevent sewers from backing up.
SAS hopes that the app and its alerts service will allow beach users to bathe safely, by helping them prevent picking up stomach bugs, skin, ear, eye and chest infections or sore throats. However, the app also works in reverse and allows bathers to send messages to water companies and to report pollution incidents to the Environment Agency.
SAS campaign director, Andy Cummins, said, "This truly is an innovative concept, achieved thanks to years of campaigning against secretive combine sewer overflow sewage discharges from water companies."
For more information, see the:
- Bathing Water Regulations SI 2013/1675.
Published: 21 Aug 2013
A Suffolk textile company has been sentenced for serious safety failings, after a worker suffered three years of ill-health following his exposure to chemicals.
The worker was employed at Gainsborough Silk Weaving Company Ltd in Sudbury as the dye house manager from 1993 to his dismissal in 2012. The 57 year old had been suffering from chronic breathing difficulties since 2008 and had been hospitalised on two occasions as a result. He was taking a large quantity of drugs to suppress his symptoms, which improved markedly after he left the company and stopped working with the chemicals.
His ill-health was reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), who have now prosecuted the company for a series of safety offences. They found that the company had failed to assess the risks arising from working with hazardous reactive dyes, despite the risks of respiratory damage being well known in the industry. They also failed to provide their staff with adequate training or equipment to safeguard their health when working with the substances.
In addition, a health surveillance programme for the firm's workforce was stopped in 2004, which if it had been operating, could have helped prevent the employee's long period of ill-health. The company also failed to provide health surveillance for exposure to noise, ignoring the legal requirement to do so where employees are likely to suffer noise induced hearing loss.
Gainsborough Silk Weaving Company Ltd was fined £20,000 and ordered to pay £10,000 costs over three years, after pleading guilty to breaching the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) Regulations SI 2002/2677 and the Control of Noise at Work Regulations SI 2005/1643.
Following the hearing,†HSE Inspector Martin Kneebone said, "Gainsborough Silk Weaving Company Ltd fell well short of their responsibilities over a protracted time period. They neglected to assess the very real health risks involved and take the measures necessary to minimise those risks. They should have installed suitable ventilation equipment for weighing and mixing the dyes. They should also have provided proper information, instruction, training and health surveillance for their employees. The lack of these left workers at a significant risk of contracting respiratory illnesses by their exposure to these chemicals."
He continued, "In addition, the company's failure to provide health surveillance as regards exposure to high noise levels at work has meant that some employees, previously identified as vulnerable, may have suffered further deterioration in their hearing due to continued exposure. Again the risk of employees suffering noise induced hearing loss from working in the weaving industry is well known and preventable."
For more information, see:
- Dyestuffs: Safe handling in textile finishing - Dyeing and Finishing Information Sheet No. 3;
- Hazards from dyes and chemicals in textile finishing: A brief guide for employees - Dyeing and Finishing Information Sheet No. 4;
- Reactive dyes: Safe handling in textile finishing - Dyeing and Finishing Information Sheet No. 5;
- Dust control in dyestuff handling - Dyeing and Finishing Information Sheet No. 6.
RATS ask for change
Published: 21 Aug 2013
A £50 million transformation of a controversial landfill site could create hundreds of jobs as part of a new business park.
Sunderland City Council's planning and highways committee have given their seal of approval to plans by waste management firm Biffa to redevelop Houghton Landfill into an employment park. The company had previously applied to continue landfill operations on the site until 2028, but made a U-turn early last year and announced they would close the site within five years.
The move follows pressure from local residents to close the site, which led to the council asking Biffa to come up with an alternative use for the land. Biffa have since withdrawn their planning application to continue the landfill site, and will now only accept inert waste, including rubble, stones and bricks until a suitable base on which to build the employment park has been achieved.
Action group Residents Against Toxic Site (RATS), which has long campaigned against the landfill site, remains suspicious of Biffa’s intentions. Its chairwoman, Councillor Sheila Ellis, said she was concerned that creating the platform for the development would take much longer and that tipping would go on. "There will not be buildings on this site for about 20 years. There is no evidence of time scales." Councillor Derrick Smith, also part of RATS, said, "How can we trust that the firm is going to landfill for five years. Residents want it to stop now. The site continues to pollute on a daily basis."
The arguments have increased after Biffa's project planning manager, Mike Harty, said the time scale was simply "a realistic estimate." However, he added, "We are reducing the whole nuisance of general waste. This is the quickest solution to getting off the site. This will bring an immediate end to general waste."
Once the new business park has been built, it will support about 500 jobs and also create green energy from solar panels. The plans will put 4.8 hectares of previously-developed land to use, with offices, industrial units, a car park and new access roads.